Reginald Adams is interested in how we extract social and emotional meaning from nonverbal cues, particularly via the face. His work addresses how multiple social messages (e.g., emotion, gender, race, age, etc.) combine and interact to form unified representations that guide our impressions of and responses to others. Of particular interest is the functional correspondence between static and expressive cues; at a fundamental level both signal basic intentions to approach-avoid, dominate, and/or affiliate. With this in mind, his current work examines the influences of eye gaze, social group memberships (e.g., gender and race), and facial appearance on the way we process and perceive others’ mental and emotional states. Although his questions are social psychological in origin, his research draws upon visual cognition and affective neuroscience to address social perception at the functional and neuroanatomical levels.
(Dr. Adams will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Peter Arnett’s research interests lie primarily in the area of adult clinical neuropsychology. Current research focuses on understanding neuropsychological consequences of multiple sclerosis (MS), a demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system. Recent projects have evaluated neuropsychological correlates of depression in MS and factors (such as coping ) that may moderate the relationship between common symptoms of MS and depression. Recent studies have also explored the nature of depression in MS and how it differs from depression in non-neurological patient groups. Dr. Arnett also oversees the program on neuropsychological consequences of sports-related concussion for Penn State Athletics. This program involves baseline neuropsychological testing of first-year Penn State athletes involved in contact sports. When athletes experience concussions, they are re-tested and their postconcussion testing compared with baseline test results. This information is then used to assist return to play decisions. Current research from this program focuses on the influence of motivation on baseline performance, optimal ways of estimating baseline cognitive ability, and exploring the relative sensitivity of computerized versus paper-and-pencil neuropsychological tests to concussion.
(Dr. Arnett will be recruiting a graduate student for 2024-25)
Child clinical psychology and family processes and risk issues. Her work focuses on maternal behavior, child abuse, gender and aggression, and legal issues affecting families (e.g., definitions of parental competence for custody evaluations; racial, ethnic, and class bias in legal treatment of families).
My research seeks to understand how people think creatively. In our lab, we use brain imaging and behavioral experiments to examine neural and cognitive systems that support creative thinking. One line of research uses fMRI to characterize brain network dynamics during creative task performance. A goal of this work is to link brain activity during creative performance to specific cognitive processes (such as memory, attention, and cognitive control), using network analysis and multivariate modeling of fMRI data. We also combine brain imaging with neuromodulation (e.g., tES-fNIRS) to test causal questions regarding neurocognitive mechanisms of creativity, with the longer-term goal of understanding whether and how creativity can be enhanced. We study creativity in a variety of contexts and domains, including musical improvisation and scientific problem solving. We also develop open access resources to measure creativity for educators and researchers, using natural language processing and other computational tools.
(Dr. Beaty will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Sheri Berenbaum is interested in social and cognitive development, primarily from a neuroscience perspective. Current work focuses on prenatal sex hormone effects on gender development, genetic influences on pubertal development and on the association between pubertal timing and behavior, and the neural substrates of individual differences in cognitive abilities. A goal is to understand the ways in which biological predispositions and the childhood social environment work together to produce individual differences in social behavior and cognition.
Dr. Bierman’s research focuses on the design and evaluation of school- and community-based prevention programs that promote social-emotional learning and school readiness. She has directed several longitudinal studies evaluating the long-term impact of early school-based and family-focused preventive interventions designed to reduce aggression (Fast Track) and enhance school success (Head Start REDI). She has also developed and evaluated small-group social skill training interventions for peer-rejected children (Friendship Group). Her current research focuses on the longitudinal follow-up of the REDI classroom and parent prevention program participants (funded by NIH) and the evaluation of two new parent-focused guided play interventions to support preschool STEM and social-emotional skills (funded by NSF and IES respectively).
(Dr. Bierman will NOT be recruiting a graduate student for 2023-24)
Dr. Burkhouse’s program of research broadly focuses on identifying behavioral-brain risk phenotypes and preventive interventions for youth depressive disorders. Much of this work focuses on utilizing multiple levels of analysis (i.e., behavioral, ecological momentary assessment, EEG, fMRI) to identify cognitive-affective and reward processing styles involved in the transmission of depression from parents to their offspring. A second focus of her research involves applying this mechanism-based work to prevention efforts for youth at high risk for internalizing disorders. The ultimate goal of this work is to improve the identification and prevention of internalizing disorders in children and adolescents.
(Dr. Burkhouse will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Kristin Buss is interested in emotional development and temperamental variation from birth through early childhood. Her work spans multiple areas of research within social development, psychobiology, and neuroscience. Her current work is focused on the development of risk for adjustment problems, such as anxiety symptoms in toddlers with fearful temperaments. This work has demonstrated significant effects for types of situations where children show fear as well as their physiological stress reactivity.
(Dr. Buss will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Dr. Cameron investigates the psychological processes involved in empathy and moral decision-making, using an interdisciplinary approach drawing on affective science, social cognition, and moral philosophy. In much of his research, he examines motivational and situational factors that shape empathic emotions and behaviors toward others. In other research, he uses implicit measurement and mathematical modeling to assess empathy and moral judgment in healthy, clinical, and incarcerated populations. To learn more about his research, please visit the Empathy and Moral Psychology Lab web page.
Richard Carlson is studying how individuals control their mental activity in complex tasks such as symbolic and spatial problem solving and reasoning. His current research is concerned primarily with the roles of spatial and temporal frames of reference in the conscious control of skilled mental activity. His major conceptual focus is developing a theory of consciousness that relates conscious agency and information processing accounts of cognitive control. This theory emphasizes the parallel structures of perceptual, symbolic, and emotional awareness.
Louis Castonguay’s interest is on different aspects of psychotherapy. The research conduct in his lab has examined therapy participants (client and therapist variables), process of change (e.g., intervention and relationship variables), context variables (e.g., center effects), and training (e.g., peer supervision). Some of these empirical investigations have focused on predicting who will benefit more or less from therapy, who will return for new episodes of therapy, and will do worst during treatment; on examining how much therapists differ in their ability to foster change, to facilitate attendance to therapy sessions, and to reduce drop out from therapy; on investigating the complex relationship between techniques (unique to particular approaches and common to all treatments) and outcome; and on clarifying the role of the working alliance (is it facilitating change or is it providing a corrective experience, and is it more important for some clients than others). Most of these studies are currently conducted in naturalistic settings (also called practice-oriented research or practice base evidence), particularly in the context of different practice-research networks — which involve the active collaboration of researchers and clinicians. Some of the lab’s research has also taken place within the context of randomized clinical trials (e.g., cognitive therapy and integrative treatment for generalized anxiety disorder).
(Dr. Castonguay will NOT be recruiting a graduate student for 2024-25)
Pamela Cole’s research focuses on the early development of emotion regulation in normally developing children and in children who are at risk for later psychopathology. A new project, in collaboration with Crnic, Nelson, & Blair (HDFS) examines emotion regulation and its development between 18 and 48 months, in particular, the development of effective and flexible emotion regulation strategies and of awareness of strategies. A second area of interest is cultural variations in emotion regulation and the socialization of emotion, particularly in Asian (Nepali & Japanese) societies, and the implications of cultural differences for the relation between emotional functioning, competence, and psychopathology.
(Dr. Cole will NOT be recruiting a graduate student for 2023-24)
Jonathan Cook studies how identity threat from important social categories, like race, gender, sexual orientation, or chronic illness, can affect cognitive, affective, and physiological processes over time. His research examines consequences that are shared across disparate stigmatized group memberships, as well as the unique consequences of given social identity groups or identity types (e.g., based on ability to conceal). His research also seeks to develop and test psychological interventions to reduce identity threat or mitigate its consequences.
(Dr. Cook will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
I am interested in the effects of aging on episodic memory using both behavioral and neuroimaging (fMRI) methods. Regarding neuroimaging, my lab utilizes univariate, multivariate (pattern classification, representational similarity analyses), functional connectivity, and structural analytical approaches in our investigation of encoding and retrieval processes underlying memory performance. An emphasis is placed on understanding the cognitive and neural processes underlying false memories and associative memories. With respect to cognitive aging, my research examines neural markers of age-related cognitive decline, as well as mechanisms supporting neural compensation. Other lines of research pursued within the lab include cognitive training, cognitive control, and statistical learning.
Language is a ubiquitous aspect of human life. Yet we are just beginning to understand the neural infrastructure that supports this complex social and cognitive function. Broadly, my research focuses on the relations between the brain and behavior. My lab has examined semantic and phonological aspects of language comprehension and production. Most recently I have been examining age-related differences in language. Specifically, this research project looks at neural factors that contribute to age-related retention (semantics) and decline (phonology) that have been observed in language production. We investigate the relations between structural factors (i.e., white matter integrity), functional activations, and behavior.
(Dr. Diaz will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Rina Eiden’s research focuses on understanding developmental trajectories among children at risk for maladjustment due to multiple adversities linked to parental substance abuse, as well as early childhood interventions designed to ameliorate these risks and promote competence. Her studies, many of which follow cohorts of children across multiple developmental stages (e.g., birth to adolescence), seek to understand developmental mechanisms that may explain the association between parental risk factors and child outcomes (e.g., infant-parent attachment, parent-child self-regulation, individual differences in children’s autonomic and stress reactivity, and immune/inflammatory mechanisms). She has a particular interest in prenatal and early childhood interventions for substance using parents, with the goal of promoting family health, including positive developmental cascades for children.
James Farr’s research interests are in the area of industrial/organizational psychology with emphasis on personnel selection, criterion development, and work motivation. Current research projects are concerned with the evaluation of personnel selection systems; the effects of individual and workgroup factors on performance feedback seeking and giving; factors affecting work performance evaluations; and issues related to older workers’ job performance and motivation.
My program of research strives to address drivers of racial inequities in child and adolescent mental health by: (1) advancing scholarship on the intersection of cultural, developmental, and familial risk and protective factors in predicting youth psychopathology, including the influence of racial-ethnic discrimination, racial-ethnic identity development, and racial-ethnic socialization processes; (2) improving our measurement of racism-based traumatic stress in youth of color; (3) developing and testing interventions that draw on cultural strengths, such as racial-ethnic socialization processes, to disrupt pathways from racial stress to psychopathology; and (4) improving clinical training in cultural humility and anti-racism to ensure that the next generation of mental health providers and researchers are equipped to address the unique stressors and leverage the inherent strengths of youth and families of color.
(Dr. Galán will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Karen Gasper is interested in affect and social cognition. Currently, her research examines how feelings shape people’s thoughts and actions. Her work focuses on how everyday feelings, such as boredom, neutrality, happiness, and hope alter people’s creativity, attitudes, decisions, environmental behaviors, and social interactions. She is also investigates how these states arise, how people regulate them, and how feelings shape people’s sense of subjective well-being.
(Dr. Gasper will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Rick Gilmore’s research asks three questions: What are the representations underlying spatial perception and action? How are these representations instantiated in the brain? How do they develop, and why? The developmental cognitive neuroscience approach he takes to these questions combines insights from behavioral studies, biological experiments, and computational models. The ultimate aim is a unified, biologically and computationally plausible, account of the development of spatial perception and action early in life.
Research has focused on emotional labor (e.g., effort to provide “service with a smile”) and workplace mistreatment (sexual harassment, incivility, verbal abuse), and the performance and health of service workers. She also seeks to bring voice to underrepresented groups by studying workplace diversity (age/gender/racial/political), with a current focus on gendered aging (i.e., menopause) and implications for stereotypes and career trajectories.
(Dr. Grandey will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Dr. Hausman is an Assistant Director of the Psychological Clinic. Her primary interests include typical and atypical regulation of both positive and negative emotions in children and adolescents. Specifically, her work has focused on atypical regulation of positive emotion (affective, cognitive, neurobiological) with respect to anxiety and depressive symptoms and disorders in children and adolescents. She also has interests in clinical training and supervision as means of disseminating evidence-based practices.
(Dr. Hausman will NOT be recruiting a graduate student for 2023-24)
The research in my lab focuses on the assessment of cognitive deficits and application of structural and functional MRI methods to understand systems-level plasticity in moderate and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Since the shift in the fMRI literature toward brain connectivity over a decade ago, we pioneered the first TBI studies using resting connectivity and graph theory while documenting the large-scale connectivity changes occurring during early recovery windows (3-12 months post injury). In most recent work we have focused on the developmental trajectories of TBI outcomes into late adulthood with the goal of identifying novel markers of cognitive resilience. For example, some of our work has aimed to determine if the enhanced neural network response observed after TBI (i.e., hyperconnectivity), translates to improved functioning later in life, but also if the same response represents risk for cognitive decline. The ultimate goal for this work is to develop insights into how neural systems adapt to significant disruption not only in the short-term, but over the course of the life span. Most recently I have led multi-site MRI data sharing initiatives, including the Resting-state fMRI and Adult Mod-Severe Brain Injury ENIGMA working groups, focusing on team science and increasing reproducibility of our findings in human neuroimaging (see: https://enigma.ini.usc.edu/ongoing/enigma-tbi/).
Cynthia Huang-Pollock is a child clinical psychologist who is interested in identifying neurocognitive deficits that may be associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In recent studies, Cynthia has used cognitive paradigms of attention to determine whether attention as a cognitive process is in fact dysfunctional in children with extreme levels of behavioral inattention and hyperactivity. Dr. Huang-Pollock is also interested in determining whether our current understanding of the structure of cognitive processes remains valid when normal development is disrupted. Future research is focused on determining how neuropsychological performance may be affected by motivation, reward, and timing deficits in children with and without ADHD.
Dr. Jackson is a board-certified, clinical child psychologist and is the Associate Director of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network at Penn State. Her federally funded research focuses on the development of models of the process of resilience for youth exposed to trauma with a specific focus on youth exposed to child maltreatment and the intergenerational transmission of trauma. Her work includes observational and physiological techniques in addition to survey measures in longitudinal and prospective research approaches. She also works on the development of assessment for trauma as well as the assessment of emotion regulation and cognitive functioning for youth and families exposed to adversity.
Rick Jacob’s studies several topics in industrial psychology. In work in performance analysis, Dr. Jacobs studies individuals longitudinally to understand why, with seniority, some people improve while others remain relatively stable or deteriorate. He also studies the conceptual and practical distinctions between seniority and experience. In work on personnel decision making and applied information processing, Dr. Jacobs studies individuals’ use of multiple cues in forming composite judgements (e.g., for decisions on managerial promotions, risk analysis in nuclear power plants, union participation). In work with teachers, Dr. Jacobs uses results from surveys of more than 47,000 teachers to test hypotheses concerning gender differences, the impact of seniority on various job attitudes, and the link between job attitudes and the intention to leave the profession of teaching.
Dr. Laurent studies how people think and feel about other people’s minds and actions, including how people form and revise their moral judgments. Topics of interest include social and moral cognition, perspective taking and empathy, intentionality and mental states, and also intersections between psychology and the law.
(Dr. Laurent will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Research Interests: Personality & Organizational Behavior
For the last 20 years, I have focused on developing, testing, and revising the Conditional Reasoning Theory of Personality. This theory is anchored on the basic concept of motivated reasoning. Specifically, we believe that individuals with strong personality motives (e.g., motive to aggress; motive to achieve; motive for power) develop cognitive biases (e.g., hostile attribution bias; efficacy of persistence bias; agency bias) whose purpose is to facilitate the pursuit of behavior that satisfies the underlying motives (e.g., harming others; working evenings and weekends; pursuing positions of leadership). As part of this research program, I have been involved in the development and validation of several measures designed to assess the implicit motives to aggress, to achieve, and for power. We have then relied on these measures to test hypotheses linking personality to organizational outcomes including counterproductive work behavior, leadership, team processes & performance, and job attitudes.
Research Interests: Measurement and Applied Statistics
I also have secondary interests related to research methods and statistics. I am a past editor of Organizational Research Methods and recently co-edited the APA Handbook on Multilevel Theory, Measurement, and Analysis. My current interests include topics related to meta-analysis, multilevel research, and the development and validation of surveys/tests used in organizational research.
(Dr. LeBreton will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Ken Levy is a broadly trained clinical psychologist whose research interests bridge the areas of social, personality, and developmental psychology. His research focuses on attachment theory, emotion regulation, personality disorders, and psychotherapy process and outcome. Recent projects have examined the relationship between adult attachment organization (including mentalization) and personality disorders, neural and neurocognitive aspects of attachment and personality disorders, as well as psychotherapy process and outcome in the treatment of personality disorders. Current projects examine mechanisms of change in psychotherapy for borderline personality disorder, the contextual and personality factors that influence post-treatment adjustment in patients with borderline personality disorder, and the developmental precursors of personality problems in children of parents with personality disorders. He and his students pursue this research in their laboratory at Penn State and also in collaboration with colleagues at the New York Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.
Lynn Liben is interested in both cognitive and social development, and in their interface. Current work in cognitive development focuses on children’s growing ability to understand graphic representations, including maps, satellite imagery, photographs, and drawings. For example, in a collaborative grant with geographers, astronauts, earth scientists, educators, and other members of the psychology department, she is studying the use of various scientific visualization tools (e.g., Geographic Information Systems software) with children and adults. Also under study are the origins and amelioration of sex differences in spatial skills. Work in social development focuses on gender and racial stereotypes, with particular interest in the ways in which cognitive processes play a role in understanding and modifying these stereotypes.
Dr. Lunkenheimer’s research program revolves around regulatory processes in the family, with the dual goals of (1) understanding how mother-child and father-child interaction patterns act as risk and protective processes for developmental psychopathology and (2) uncovering malleable relationship processes that could aid in the tailoring and improvement of preventive intervention programs for families at risk. Grounded in dynamic systems theory and using dynamic time series statistical approaches, Dr. Lunkenheimer studies the moment-to-moment coregulation of emotions, goal-oriented behaviors, and physiology between parents and young children in relation to familial risk factors and child outcomes (e.g., children’s self-regulation). A primary interest is examining the role that these parent-child coregulation patterns play in the development of child maltreatment, as well as their association with related maltreatment risk factors (e.g., harsh parenting, parental mental health problems and stress, children’s behavior problems). Ultimately, this work is designed to obtain a better understanding of the etiology of developmental psychopathology and inform the prevention of child maltreatment.
Mel Mark’s current interests include: (1) application of recent models of affect to prevention and to risk-taking behaviors; (2) the appropriate use of social science research in social policy, particularly in the context of program evaluation; and (3) a revision and extension of terror management theory.
Amy Marshall is interested in social information processing deficits and contextual variables that contribute to engagement in aggression and violence toward family members (e.g., intimate partner violence, child abuse, sibling violence). A particular focus is placed on understanding how and when exposure to potentially traumatic and other adverse events potentiate vs. prevent engagement in violence. Additional related research themes include cross-dyad spillover of aggression, sex and gender differences, interactions with biological mechanisms across development, PTSD, and innovative assessment methodologies.
At the broadest level, Dr. Matsick is interested in social and health disparities, and she seeks to bridge psychological science and feminist perspectives to address social issues. Dr. Matsick examines how marginalized groups experience stigma and how stigma contributes to psychosocial well-being (e.g., belonging, safety and threat, pride, stress). Much of her focus is on sexual and gender diversity as she considers how sociopolitical and historical contexts shape marginalized groups’ experiences and perspectives. In her research, she thinks critically about intersectionality theory and justice-centered outcomes. She favors mixed-method approaches to research, and her work creatively couples quantitative practices (e.g., experiments, longitudinal surveys, scale development) with qualitative approaches (e.g., online qualitative prompts, content analysis, thematic analysis). Across her research and teaching activities, she aims to (a) highlight the standpoints of people whose perspectives have been historically underrepresented and (b) integrate feminist approaches into psychological science.
Dr. Matsick directs the Underrepresented Perspectives Lab. To learn more about Dr. Matsick’s research, team, and projects, please visit her lab’s website: https://jmatsick.wixsite.com/uplab
Ginger Moore is a child clinical psychologist with research interests in infant emotion development in high-risk contexts, including parental psychopathology, family conflict and violence, and maternal incarceration. Her recent research examines the development of normal and abnormal patterns of physiological and behavioral regulation in response to high-conflict and violent environments, mechanisms that explain risk and resilience in the face of these environments, and emotion-focused interventions to promote optimal emotion development and regulation within families.
My research has focused on understanding how genes and environment work together to shape development throughout the lifespan. Much of this research has focused on interpersonal relationships – including parent-child, spouse, sibling and peer relationships. Examining how individuals influence their environments, and what role genetics may play in this (gene-environment correlation), has long been a focus. I have also examined gene x environment interaction (GxE) and the role of early life experiences, including prenatal experiences, in shaping development throughout the lifespan. My more recent research has included an examination of the roles of neighborhood context and pubertal hormones on child and adolescent development in combination with the other environmental and genetic influences. I have used studies of twins, siblings, adopted children, and other family members to examine these research questions. All of my research has included extensive assessment of the environment within the household, family relationships, peer relationships, adult and child adjustment, temperament and personality and other related measures. Most recently, in an effort to help address rural health disparities, I have begun a collaboration with Drs. Rina Eiden and Danielle Downs to understand risk and protective processes in families living throughout rural Pennsylvania.
(Dr. Neiderhiser will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Keith Nelson’s interests concern cognitive developmental theory. His research involves children’s acquisition and use of language and art. He also works with microcomputer-multimedia applications in educational research aimed at improving communication, art, and thinking in normal and handicapped children. Another facet of theorizing deals with the ways that cognition, emotion, and motivation are intertwined in children’s learning.
Michelle Newman’s research focuses on the nature and treatment of anxiety disorders and depression. Dr. Newman uses cutting edge methodology to examinine the etiology and classification, individual predictors of psychotherapy outcome, and impact of brief psychotherapy with respect to these disorders. Dr. Newman is also conducting several basic experimental studies examining underlying processes related to these disorders. Further, she is examining issues relevant to health implications of anxiety disorders. Current research projects include; artificial intelligence for emotion detection, diagnostic classification, and prediction of therapy outcomes; evaluation of technologically driven mobile momentary interventions in the U.S.; assessment and classification of anxiety disorders and mood disorders; momentary assessment of symptoms and emotion in anxiety disorders; examination of the impact of psychotherapy beyond the targeted symptoms of a particular disorder; mediators and moderators of psychotherapy; emotion regulation in anxiety disorders and its relationship to therapeutic mechanisms; dysfunctional interpersonal styles in anxiety disorders.
Koraly Pérez-Edgar is interested in the relations between temperament and psychopathology. In particular, children with the extreme temperamental trait of behavioral inhibition and shyness show increased risk for social anxiety. However, individual differences in attention mechanisms may play an important role in ameliorating or exacerbating these underlying vulnerabilities. In conducting her work, Dr. Pérez-Edgar has taken a multi-method approach involving direct observation of behavior and cognitive functioning, psychophysiology (EEG & ERP), and neuroimaging (fMRI). Her next projects examine the emergence of attention to threat in the first two years of life and use mobile eye-tracking technology to observe social behavior in young children.
(Dr. Pérez-Edgar will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
I believe that interpersonal functioning is an integrative nexus for psychological science and practice, bringing together a variety of theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of adaptive and maladaptive human behavior. This belief guides my research program, which is broadly informed and influenced by Contemporary Integrative Interpersonal Theory (CIIT). CIIT integrates aspects of trait theories, object-relations theories, attachment theory, social learning theories, and social cognition to synthetically investigate clinical phenomena.
My research applies CIIT to investigate: (a) conceptualization and assessment of personality disorders, particularly pathological narcissism, (b) dynamic interpersonal processes in personality, psychopathology, and psychotherapy at multiple timescales, (c) structural personality factors in psychopathology and psychotherapy, and d) dimensional models of psychopathology.
Recent work has focused on dynamic interpersonal processes in daily life using ecological momentary assessment, momentary interpersonal processes in dyadic exchanges (e.g., psychotherapy) using Continuous Assessment of Interpersonal Dynamics (CAID), and collaborations with the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) consortium.
William Ray’s work can be seen as a bridging of clinical questions and cognitive neuroscience approaches. This work can be viewed under three separate but interrelated perspectives. The first perspective involves the study of affective disorders including psychophysiological changes following psychotherapy. A second research stream is that of understanding dissociative experiences within nonclinical populations. The third perspective involves basic research paradigms examining the relationship of electrocortical activity and the planning and execution of motor behaviors.
My core interests lie in understanding how children form representations of the visual world and how emerging functional specificity of the developing brain supports this process. Specifically, I am interested in the developmental trajectory of face representations because the discrimination and recognition of faces is one of the most taxing perceptual challenges confronted by people in their day-to-day life. Also, faces are the pre-eminent social signal, therefore, studying developmental changes in the behavioral and brain basis of face processing in typically developing individuals and in those affected by social-emotional disorders may index a core set of developmental changes within the broader social information processing system.
My approach allows me to address some of the most pressing questions about how developmental changes in brain function and structure support changes in behavior. I employ converging methodologies, including functional and structural magnetic resonance, and diffusion tensor imaging along with detailed behavioral paradigms in both typically developing populations and those with developmental disorders, with particular emphasis on autism, to examine development across multiple time points from early childhood to adulthood. My goals are to 1) understand the mechanisms by which these representations change developmentally, particularly during adolescence when pubertal maturation has a profound influence of the re-organization of neural circuits and the processing of social information, 2) understand how cortex develops the capacity to represent and compute face representations that support multiple aspects of face processing, including face identification, categorization, and, in the future, the process of garnering social attributions from faces, 3) elucidate the consequences when psychological or neural processes deviate from the normal trajectory, and 4) develop intervention paradigms that may alter abnormal developmental trajectories in both the behavioral and neural aspects of face processing.
(Dr. Scherf will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Stephanie Shields’ research is at the intersection of the psychology of emotion, the psychology of gender, and feminist psychology. Her current work focuses on questions concerning when, why, and how emotion and emotionality are explicitly labeled in everyday situations, especially in the workplace. She also studies the social context of psychological research, especially the history of the psychology of women and gender, and women’s participation in American psychology.
Susan Mohammed’s research interests are primarily in the area of organizational psychology, with an emphasis on decision making and group/team dynamics. Her decision making work investigates the processes by which individuals with different perceptions arrive at group-level interpretations of strategic issues. Her current team research is examining the influence of various types of team composition variables on group processes and outcomes. In addition, she continues to build on earlier conceptual work on team mental models by exploring ways to expand measurement options.
(Dr. Simkins will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
José Soto is a clinical psychologist interested in the influence of culture on psychological and physiological processes. Much of his work has centered on understanding the role that culture plays in emotional functioning. More specifically, he has examined how culture and ethnic background affect: 1) how we experience and express emotions and 2) how accurate we are in inferring the emotions of others. He has approached the study of culture and emotion from a multi-method perspective, using psychophysiological measures to supplement behavioral and self-report data. Recent projects have focused on how the interaction of culture and emotion can affect mental and physical health conditions such as depression and chronic pain. Future research studies will also begin to explore the influence of culture on the regulation of emotion and the development of cultural differences in emotional processes.
(Dr. Soto will NOT be recruiting a graduate student for 2023-24)
Janet Swim’s research addresses perceptions and responses to current social and environmental issues. She examines the impact of information and motivation (e.g., values, beliefs, and emotions) on climate change and water protection.
Dr. Testa is an Assistant Director of the Psychological Clinic. Her primary interests include the role which exposure to adverse conditions (e.g., acute/chronic/traumatic stress, insufficiency of conditions necessary for flexible adaptation) may play with respect to the cultivation of diminished self-regulatory capabilities across cognitive, affective, interpersonal, physiological, and neurobiological domains of functioning that may render an individual susceptible to both general and specific forms of psychopathology. Special interests include complex PTSD/stress syndromes, anxiety disorders, and characterological disturbances.
(Dr. Testa will NOT be recruiting a graduate student for 2023-24)
Janet Van Hell is interested in the cognitive and neural processes related to language development and language use. There are two broad themes to her current research. One focuses on cognitive and neural processes that enable the learning and use of multiple languages in bilinguals at different levels of proficiency. Her students and her study developmental patterns of cross-language interaction and transfer related to lexical and morpho-syntactic processing, as well as neural and cognitive mechanisms involved in language-switching. They also study sign-speech bilinguals who use spatial and oral languages from two different modalities. The second research theme focuses on language development in school-aged children with typical or atypical development (including children with dyslexia or with specific language impairment, children who are deaf, and bilingual children from an ethnic minority background).
(Dr. van Hell will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Terri Vescio’s research seeks to understand the factors that facilitate and temper the expression of sexism, racism, and heterosexism. Within that context, Terri is interested in the interplay between the stereotypic behaviors of powerful people and the consequences that those behaviors have for the emotions, motivation, and performance of low power women, gay men, and people of color. She also studies the role of hegemonic masculinity (as a personal identity and cultural ideology) in the maintenance of the status quo via political preferences, use and acceptance of sexual violence, preferences to dominate women, acceptance of violence against people of color. She is particularly interested in how subtle and hegemonic processes reinforce and maintain the status quo.
(Dr. Vescio will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)
Dr. Wadsworth’s research program aims to develop a rich, contextual understanding of how children in poverty adapt to their difficult life circumstances. Through a biologically informed stress-and-coping lens, Dr. Wadsworth’s work focuses on identifying individual, family, and community strengths that promote positive outcomes for youths exposed to poverty-related stress and trauma. She also develops and evaluates youth, family, school, and community-level interventions that target these strengths and assets rather than deficits.
Stephen Wilson’s primary area of research interest is addictive behavior, with a specific focus on cigarette smoking. The overarching goal of his research program is to advance our understanding of the self-regulatory failures characteristic of drug addiction. He utilizes an interdisciplinary approach that integrates theory and methods from traditional behavioral addiction research with those derived from the affective, cognitive and social neurosciences (e.g., functional brain imaging). Theoretically, his work is guided by contemporary neuroscientific models of executive/cognitive control and emotion regulation. These perspectives provide a novel framework for elucidating the mechanisms whereby exposure to drug cues leads to failures of self-regulation. His current work is directed at examining how the engagement of such resources affects the performance of tasks requiring cognitive control, as well as how such effects vary as a function of individual differences in cognitive ability and the nature of the task being performed.
(Dr. Wilson will NOT be recruiting a graduate student for 2024-25)
Dawn Witherspoon is interested in how context shapes adolescent development. Her work focuses on neighborhood, school, and family factors that affect adolescents’ socioemotional and academic adjustment. In addition, she examines how race, ethnicity, and other cultural attributes interact with contextual characteristics to influence adolescent outcomes. Her current work examines adolescent development from middle to high school to understand how aspects of the residential neighborhood, school, and family contexts are related to adolescents’ academic adjustment and beliefs as well as their deviant behaviors. A goal of her research is to elucidate the development of urban and rural adolescents, with particular attention to contextual supports.
(Dr. Witherspoon will be recruiting graduate students for 2024-25)