Faculty Research Topics

The Department of Psychology conducts research on a wide variety of topics related to human behavior. Learn more about individual faculty members’ interests and ongoing work through their websites, which are linked from our faculty directory.

Clinical Child Psychology

four white lab coats hanging on pegsThompson Davis: specific phobias and exposure therapy; child anxiety disorders; autism; developmental psychopathology; evidence-based assessment and treatment.

Matthew Jarrett: developmental psychopathology; ADHD; anxiety disorders; interface of neuropsychological functioning and co-occurring symptomatology in children, adolescents, and emerging adults with ADHD.

Randall T. Salekin: psychopathy; callous unemotional traits; treatment of psychopathy; treatment of interpersonal callousness.

Theodore S. Tomeny: risk- and protective-factors for typically-developing siblings and parents of those with ASD; quality of life for those with ASD; perceptions of ASD; long-term outcomes for adults with ASD and their families; unique challenges faced by low resource families.

Bradley White: developmental psychopathology; development, impacts, prevention, and treatment of disruptive behavior problems and associated conditions (e.g., psychopathic traits); effectiveness and dissemination of evidence-based intervention.

Susan White: developmental psychopathology; evidence-based assessment and treatment; intervention research; neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism; ADHD; learning disorders.

Clinical Geropsychology

Rebecca Allen: cultural dynamics (race/ethnicity; rural/urban) of healthcare decision making; interventions to reduce the stress of individuals, family, and professional caregivers within the context of advanced chronic or terminal illness; clinical training.

Patricia A. Parmelee: the interrelations of physical and mental health; quality of long-term care, and particularly staffing issues in residential care settings; interventions to support family caregivers.

Lynn Snow: implementation of nursing home organizational change aiming toward higher-quality person-centered care; building stronger nursing home teams and quality improvement systems; dementia care.

Clinical Health Psychology

Matthew Cribbet: sleep; early life adversity; cardiovascular disease risk; emotion regulation; close relationships.

Jenny M. Cundiff: socioeconomic and racial health disparities; interpersonal processes that link social context to disease; close relationships (e.g., romantic couples, parent-child) and physical health; biological, psychological, and social pathways linking stress and health.

Heather Gunn: interpersonal behaviors; relationships; sleep; family approaches to improving sleep and other health behaviors.

James C. Hamilton: motivational explanations for excessive medical illness behavior; dynamics of the victim role; social psychology of death attitudes and death acceptance.

Clinical Psychology and Law

a man and woman in the testing labJennifer Cox: the interplay between psychological assessment and the legal system; conceptualization and assessment of psychopathic personality (psychopathy); influence of psychological expert testimony on legal decision making; how legal decision-makers understand and consider psychopathy evidence during the trial process.

Lauren Kois: forensic mental health assessment (competence to stand trial and criminal responsibility); competence restoration programming; gender differences in forensic assessment, risk, and intervention; forensic mental health needs assessment and program evaluation.

Karen Salekin: intellectual disability and the death penalty; assessment of intellectual disability in Atkins cases; forensic assessment with offenders with intellectual disability; mitigation in death penalty cases; ​perceptions of individuals with intellectual disability in the criminal justice system.

Cognitive Psychology

Sheila Black: cognitive aging, racial disparities in cognitive aging, contributions of African Americans to the field of psychology

Erin Harrell: applied cognition, health adherence and decision making, human factors approaches to understanding aging, technology adoption and successful longevity

Ian McDonough: episodic memory; intelligence; aging; structure and functional neuroimaging; dynamic fluctuations of brain activity; biomarkers of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease intervention; health disparities.

Beverly Roskos: comprehension, representation, and use of spatial information, including group and individual differences; wayfinding; sex differences in spatial ability; media comprehension; visual creativity; perceptions of temporary spaces.

Developmental Science

Summer Braun: teachers’ social and emotional competencies, occupational health, and well-being; influence of teachers on children’s social and emotional development; social and emotional learning; school-based interventions for teachers and children; mindfulness-based interventions; teachers’ management of classroom social dynamics; prevention science; implementation science.

Frances Conners: language and cognition in individuals with intellectual disabilities, especially Down syndrome; early cognitive aging in youth with Down syndrome; reading and mathematical abilities in Down syndrome; peer experience of adolescents with Down syndrome.

Caitlin Hudac: developmental cognitive neuroscience; social cognition; social attention; social motivation; emotion perception and regulation; neurodevelopment disorders (NDD) including autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID); genetic etiology of NDD.

Ansley Tullos Gilpin: fantasy orientation and pretend play; executive functions; school readiness; children’s use of testimony (information from other people) to learn about the world; imaginary companions; development of religiosity; pretend play’s role in early childhood intervention (ASD).

Andrea Glenn: psychopathy; callous/unemotional traits in youth; biologically-based prevention and intervention; fMRI; hormones; morality; neuroethics.

Rajesh Kana: Basic and translational research on understanding the neurobiology of autism spectrum disorders; neurobiology of social cognition, language comprehension, higher cognitive functions, clinical and translational neuroscience; uses a variety of brain imaging techniques, such as functional MRI, structural MRI, diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) to study the functional and anatomical organization of the brain in autism.

Kristina McDonald: precursors and consequences for youth who endorse hostile social motivations; how friendship interactions influence social cognitions; how social context affects peer relationships; how physiological reactivity to social threat interacts with social cognitions to predict behavior.

Laura Stoppelbein: Developmental psychopathology with a specific interest in family and environmental stressors that impact the expression of child emotional and behavioral problems; coping with stress and the relation between child and parent coping and psychopathology; biopsychosocial models of stress and the expression of internalizing and externalizing symptoms among children with various types of mental health disorders (e.g., autism, ADHD, trauma experiences).

Mengya Xia: family system processes and dynamics; contextual and individual factors of adolescent well-being; individual competence and social-emotional development; mixture modeling (e.g., LCA/LPA); SEM and multilevel modeling; advanced methods for intensive longitudinal data design; informing strength-based intervention/prevention.

Social Psychology

Katie Garrison: self-control, emotion regulation, motivation, electroencephalography (EEG)

Will Hart: social cognition; the relation between personality and self-presentation; how people form and update ideas.

Alexa Tullett: How can we use social psychology to understand how to be better scientific thinkers? This research tackles this problem from two different angles, one basic and one applied. Focus is on the fundamental psychological processes that prevent us from being open-minded, agnostic consumers of information. Then understanding and examining the ways in which social psychological research is conducted and understood.