Division Rock Star: Charles Merbitz

Charles Merbitz

Charles Merbitz

Charles “Chuck” Merbitz, Ph.D., BCBA-D, was nominated for recognition as October’s Division 22’s Rock-star by his colleagues and former students Mia Bergman, Ph.D. and Penny Wolfe, Ph.D. Chuck is affiliated with the University of Michigan, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He specializes in Applied Behavior Analysis, Precision Teaching, rehabilitation as learning, measurement and data for Quality Improvement in rehabilitation outcomes.

Chuck’s career has blended Applied Behavior Analysis and Rehabilitation Psychology.  His research and publication topics have covered a wide range, including pressure ulcer prevention after spinal cord injury, logical problem solving after brain injury, and communication disorders and gait improvement measures after stroke.  His paper in the ­Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, “Ordinal Scales and Foundations of Misinference”, was recently recognized in a “Top 100” list as the 23rd most cited paper in medical rehabilitation.  Chuck has also served as a reviewer for the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) and the journals Stroke, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Behavior Research Methods Instruments and Computers, and The Behavior Analyst.

Chuck’s faculty appointments prior to retirement included: Northwestern University Medical School, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where he started and chaired the Applied Behavior Analysis Department.  At Northwestern’s Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), he won $869,425 in grants; as Director of RIC’s Learning Research Unit he advanced the systematic study of teaching and learning behaviors in rehabilitation, and measuring the outcomes of rehabilitative services.  At IIT he was PI or leading author for $1,750,976 in grants and contracts. He taught and supervised Masters and Doctoral students in Rehabilitation Counseling and Rehabilitation Psychology, and established the Rehabilitation Engineering Technology Lab at IIT. He was also Director of IIT’s Center for Disability Resources, with responsibility for all accommodations for the University. 

Chuck served multiple terms on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Spinal Cord Injury Psychologists and Social Workers. He currently serves on the Boards of the Standard Celeration Society and the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. Chuck also consults privately and is lead researcher on a federal grant through the University of Michigan, where he is working on a self-improvement app to help people with disabilities track their goal-related activities.

In addition to all of the above-mentioned accomplishments, Chuck has been a tremendous mentor to many in the field of Rehabilitation Psychology. His enthusiasm and professional generosity have provided invaluable learning, growth and development opportunities for numerous students and colleagues.


Chuck enjoys running (with four marathons under his belt), reading, and walking the family dogs, Teddy and Izzy. He and wife Nancy go camping, hiking, and kayaking whenever schedules permit.