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Psychopathology is the study of abnormal cognitions, behavior and experiences. It can be broadly separated into descriptive and explanatory. Descriptive psychopathology involves categorizing, defining and understanding symptoms as reported by people and observed through their behavior.


Click to expand each of the below faculty members' research focus, program affiliation, and lab information in the Psychopathology research area.

Steven Beach

  • Steven Beach is interested in the interconnected nature of problems in the family, problems with depression, and health-related outcomes. He also has focused on identifying ways to utilize social relationships as a method of enhancing health and well-being by constructing or enhancing resilience-promoting social resources (Brody, Yu, & Beach, 2016). His current work focuses on identifying biological markers, inflammatory processes, and epigenetic mediators of environmentally triggered effects on health and health behavior (Beach, Lei, Brody, Miller, Chen, Mandara, Philibert, 2017). This work contributes to the understanding of modifiable environmental factors that may indirectly drive biological and behavioral risk processes. Of particular interest are biological effects of family and social relationships.

Ron Blount

  • Ron Blount studies medical adherence, quality of life and adjustment to illness, medical outcomes, transition from pediatric to adult medical care, and related topics. His primary patient research groups include solid organ transplant recipients, patients with inflammatory bowel disease, cardiac conditions, and their families. Additionally, he has a variety of pediatric research interests and is currently or has recently conducted research on therapeutic camps and Tourette syndrome.

Brett Clementz

  • Brett Clementz has two general goals. The first is to understand how accurate sensory processing is maintained within the context of changing environmental circumstances. The second is to understand neurobiological distinctions between different subgroups of brain diseases called the psychoses (defined clinically by the presence of hallucinations, delusions, and cognitive disturbance), which have demonstrated, for the majority of cases to have a substantial genetic diathesis. For Dr. Clementz, the first goal, which often involves the study of the healthy brain, informs the second goal of understanding deviations in brain functions associated with manifestation of psychosis in order to facilitate improved diagnosis and treatment of severe psychiatric disorders. The methodological core of Dr. Clementz’ research involves use of simple and complex behavioral paradigms combined with use of neuroimaging technologies including electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). He uses sophisticated approaches to analyzing data collected with these technologies and is known for developing innovative analysis techniques. He and Dr. McDowell co-direct the Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory.

Justin Lavner

  • Justin Lavner conducts basic and applied research to understand family dynamics over time and how family relationships can be improved. His basic research examines how relationships change and factors such as individual characteristics (e.g., personality, mental health), relationship dynamics (e.g., communication), and external stressors (e.g., discrimination, financial strain) predict these changes. His applied research focuses on developing interventions to promote couple and family health and well-being, particularly among marginalized populations.
    • Program affiliation: Clinical Psychology

Jennifer McDowell

  • Jennifer McDowell studies the nature of cognitive control. Effective cognitive control mediates important decisions on a daily basis. Healthy people have wide variations in their ability to invoke cognitive control, but specific subgroups have far greater problems with this behavioral regulation mechanism. Cognitive control deficits occur in many clinical groups, ranging from children who are obese to adults with psychiatric disorders, and especially those with psychotic disorders. Dr. McDowell integrates behavioral and multi-modal brain imaging methods (f/MRI, DTI, EEG, MEG) to provide a comprehensive understanding of cognitive problems. An important goal is to determine the extent to which cognitive control is plastic, and particularly how it may be enhanced. This is highly relevant for populations at risk, and also relevant for people who do not have clinical diagnoses, but may be at risk by virtue of being genetically related to someone with a psychiatric disorder, being obese, or having other characteristics that may predispose one to improperly modulated cognitive control. She and Dr. Clementz co-direct the Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory.

Isha Metzger

  • Isha Metzger focuses on reducing mental health disparities through increasing engagement and enhancing mental health treatment outcomes among underserved minority populations (e.g., African Americans). Specifically, she is interested in preventing engagement in risky behaviors (e.g., sexual activity, alcohol use, delinquency) as well as understanding risk and resilience factors (e.g., trauma experiences, racial socialization and racial discrimination, family and peer relationships) that impact the relation between trauma exposure and problematic outcomes (e.g., STI/HIV exposure, unintended pregnancies, revictimization, drunk-driving accidents, legal system involvement). She is also engaged in translational research including the conceptualization, implementation, dissemination, and systematic evaluation of prevention programming aimed at reducing mental health and health disparities among African American youth.

Josh Miller

  • Josh Miller studies the interplay between personality and psychopathology with a focus on personality disorders such as psychopathy and narcissism.

Anne Shaffer

  • Anne Shaffer studies social and emotional processes in families and close relationships. Her research primarily focuses on the emotional context of parenting, including emotion socialization and communication, and emotional maltreatment, as well as emotion regulation as a predictor of parenting behavior. This research extends to clinical applications in treatment and prevention settings.

Greg Strauss

  • Greg Strauss focuses on the phenomenology, etiology, assessment, and treatment of negative symptoms (i.e., anhedonia, avolition, asociality, blunted affect, alogia) in individuals with schizophrenia and youth at clinical high-risk for psychosis (i.e., those with prodromal syndromes). He uses a multi-modal approach to studying affective and reward processing mechanisms underlying negative symptoms, including EEG/ERPs, eye tracking, digital phenotyping, and fMRI.

Cindy Suveg

  • Cindy Suveg directs the Development and Psychopathology Lab, with the goal to conduct research that can help foster healthy development in children and families from diverse sociodemographic backgrounds. To that end, our research examines risk and protective processes in typically- and atypically-developing youth and their families using a multi-level, multi-method assessment strategy (behavioral observations, physiological assessment, ecological momentary assessment).

Lawrence Sweet

  • Lawrence Sweet integrates multimodal neuroimaging and neuropsychological assessments to examine brain-behavior relationships in clinical and at-risk populations (e.g., addictions, cardiovascular disease, early life adversity, aging). The Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory (CNS Lab) specializes in experimental design, and data acquisition, analyses, and interpretation for studies that employ functional magnetic resonance imaging, structural morphometry, and white matter lesion quantification. The CNS Lab is responsible for data analyses and consultation for several local and multi-site NIH-funded research studies.
    • Program affiliation: Clinical Psychology, Behavioral and Brain Science, Neuroscience
    • Laboratory: Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory

Affiliated Faculty

L. Stephen Miller

  • L. Stephen Miller works to understand central nervous system mechanisms related to cognition seen in aging, aging pathology, and traumatic brain injury. This is accomplished through the use of traditional neuropsychological paradigms, structural and functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (MRI/fMRI), and cognitive intervention. Special foci of this work include geriatric aging and functional independence, aging psychopathology, concussive injury, and evaluation of data validity.

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