UT Knoxville psychology professor Deborah Rhatigan has died of colon cancer at age 40. Rhatigan, an award winning teacher and mentor, continued to work tirelessly for the university and for her students throughout her heroic battle with cancer.
Psychology department head James Lawler noted that Rhatigan “was an extraordinary woman and her long struggle with cancer is an inspiration to us all. She will be greatly missed.”
Rhatigan received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2002. She completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Boston VA Healthcare System National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2004.
From 2005 to 2006, Rhatigan served as an assistant professor at the University of Houston, Downtown. From 2006 to 2007, she was a UT Knoxville Visiting Scholar, and was hired as a tenure-track assistant professor in the psychology department in 2007.
Rhatigan’s research focused on examining risk factors and resiliency among battered women. She was particularly interested in developing and refining interventions aimed at reducing the risk for abuse. She studied risk factors for abuse, such as substance abuse and other psychological problems, and protective factors, such as self confidence and the ways in which family and friends provide support. This work has the potential to transform the way in which battered women receive treatment.
“Deb cared deeply about her graduate students and their training,” said Deborah Welsh, director of the department’s clinical psychology program. “She was enormously loved and respected by everyone who knew her. She provided an example of how to live a rich and meaningful life, even while enduring the hardships of cancer and its treatment.”
Survivors include Rhatigan’s husband, UT Knoxville psychology professor Todd Moore, and their 5 year-old daughter, Anna.
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