Quick Contact

Marjorie Sanfilippo
Associate Dean of Faculty
Professor of Psychology

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

Send a message

local: (727) 864-7562
toll-free: (800) 456-9009



Staff & Student Bios

Lauren Highfill

Lauren HighfillAssistant Professor
CEC 235 (727) 864-8428


  • Ph.D., Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi, 2008
    Doctoral Dissertation: "The Use of Personality Assessments in Designing Environmental Enrichment for Small-eared Bushbabies (Otolemur garnettii)"
  • M.A., Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi, 2006
    Master's Thesis: "Judging Personality Traits in the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)"
  • B.A., Psychology, Meredith College, 2002

As a comparative psychologist, I believe it is very important to intersect many areas of psychology within my research. Therefore, some of my current research interests include animal personality, animal cognition, and environmental enrichment. I am also very enthusiastic about involving students in my research program. As an undergraduate, I was always encouraged to perform research and am confident that this encouragement was vital in shaping my career.

Current student researchers

Christine Dumbleton – Lab Manager/Lead Researcher

Christine DumbletonChristine, a sophomore, is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Environmental Studies. Christine currently serves as a student observer at Busch Gardens, Tampa. Using behavioral ethograms, she records the daily behaviors of a herd of five female Asian elephants. Additionally, Christine is conducting a study on dog cognition. Specifically, Christine is investigating whether dogs can make count. Click here more information about Eckerd College dog projects.

Alicia Lorfink – Lead Researcher

Alicia LorfinkAlicia, a sophomore, is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Marine Science. Alicia is very involved with Eckerd’s Search and Rescue Team (EC-SAR) and Eckerd’s student government (ECOS). She is currently volunteering at the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa and is conducting a cognitive study with several species of cats (e.g. servals, cougars). Specifically, Alicia is investigating whether big cats can make relative quantity judgments of food. Alicia would like to eventually work with manatees and establish herself as a Comparative Psychologist studying animal behavior for education and conservation efforts.

Ashley Chambers – Assistant Researcher

Ashley ChambersAshley is a sophomore majoring in Psychology and Marine Science. She is currently a student observer at Busch Gardens Tampa recording the behavior of five Asian elephants.  In the past she has done work with the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and the Pier Aquarium in St. Petersburg. She hopes to pursue a career in animal care and education with a focus on comparative psychology.

Past student researchers

Sarah Nadler

Sara NadlerDuring Sarah's four years at Eckerd, she volunteered at several animal care facilities including the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary and Southeast Guide Dogs Inc. Currently, she is a manatee specialist at the South Florida Museum's Parker Aquarium where she cares for and trains "Snooty" the manatee. Sarah assisted Professor Highfill on cognitive studies with a variety of animals including: dogs, sea lions, and lemurs. She is currently applying to graduate school and plans to pursue her goal of animal-assisted therapy.

Patrick Reed

Patrick ReedDuring his time at Eckerd, Patrick was a student observer of elephants at Busch Gardens Tampa and a marine mammal intern at Gulf World Marine Park, Panama City Beach, FL. In his final year of college, Patrick interned at Discovery Cove in Orlando. He would commute between St. Petersburg and Orlando every week! His dedication paid off and he was ultimately hired as a marine mammal trainer at Discovery Cove.

Brooke Alexander

Brooke AlexanderBrooke graduated with a Biology major and Psychology minor. While at Eckerd she was the lead student researcher for a project at the Lemur Conservation Foundation's Myakka City. Brooke was able to present her data at the International Conference on Comparative Cognition.

B.A. or B.S.

Students majoring in psychology have the option of completing a Bachelor of Arts or Science. The B.A. program is intended for students who want a strong background in psychology as preparation for careers in such areas as law, public health, and medicine. The B.S. program is intended for students who plan to go on to graduate school in some area of psychology.

The Eckerd Difference

<strong>Rachel Feinberg</strong>---Atlanta, GA---Psychology

"Eckerd met every one of my expectations and more. Here I can be driven, focused, and able to explore any area I please thanks to the dedication of teachers, faculty, and friends. At the same time, I am able to take advantage of Eckerd's beautiful environment, calming atmosphere, and fun activities to make my education experience an enjoyable one." - Rachel Feinberg, Psychology major