Page 1


reetings from 806 W. Franklin St.! Our year is off to a terrific start. We’ve welcomed two new faculty to the department – Zewelanji Serpell, Ph.D., and Kurt Crandall, Ph.D. (Page 10)- and our research mission received a giant boost with the receipt of an $18.1 million five-year grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to study so-called modified risk tobacco products. Co-led by Tom Eissenberg, Ph.D., and Robert Balster,Ph.D., the FDA grant—the third largest in VCU’s history—will establish the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products in our department. The Center will focus on evaluating novel tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes and developing an evaluation tool to help inform U.S. tobacco regulatory policy. As a hub for health and prevention research on the Monroe Park Campus, the Department of Psychology is striving to grow our emphasis in substance abuse research and training. Given that the grant includes a training component for pre- and postdoctoral students, the FDA funding will help us capitalize on opportunities for research and training in the area of tobacco and tobacco products. Read more about the award on Page 5. Our department also seeks to expand our focus on prevention, including the prevention of youth violence, substance abuse, academic failure, depression and other mental health problems, and obesity and associated health disorders. Our department is a national leader in work on the prevention of youth violence. We are particularly proud of Albert Farrell, Ph.D., whose contributions to the field of youth violence prevention were recognized by the university at this year’s faculty convocation when he was awarded the university’s highest academic honor, the University Award of Excellence (see Page 11). Our strong focus on community-based prevention and intervention is also evidenced by a $2.4 million grant award to Joshua Langberg, Ph.D., from the Institute for Educational Sciences. The four-year grant will be used to compare two different types of school-based interventions for improving the academic performance of middleschool students with ADHD (see Page 8). In addition to our faculty, our students continue to excel. Read about the accomplishments of Linda A. Mensah-Etsi (cover photo), a junior psychology major, on Page 17 and Adriana Rodriguez, doctoral student of clinical psychology on Page 16.

Wendy Kliewer Chair

Michael Southam-Gerow Director, Graduate Studies

Linda Zyzniewski Director, Undergraduate Studies

Dorothy Fillmore Associate Director for Academic Operations

PROGRAM DIRECTORS Eric Benotsch Health Jeff Green Social Barbara Myers Developmental Bruce Rybarczyk Clinical Everett Worthington Counseling

Jody Davis Web and Facebook

Jennifer Elswick Newsmagazine Production

Important Alumni Links Submit a class note. Update your contact information. Join VCU Alumni .

We are looking forward to an exciting fall and hope you will drop us a line and let us know what is happening in your life. Sincerely,

Wendy Kliewer Professor and Chair

View the alumni directory. Get your alumni email address.


1

10

16

Cover photography by Alexis Mathis (class of 2015) Featured in photo: Linda Metsah-Etsi, class of 2015

Meet our new faculty members Kurt Crandall, Ph.D. Zewelanji Serpell, Ph.D.

Graduate student spotlight: Adriana Rodriguez, M.S., Clinical psychology program

11

17

Recipient of the University Award of Excellence Al Farrell, Ph.D.

Undergraduate student spotlight: Linda Metsah-Etsi, class of 2015 (cover photo)

12-13

18-19

VCU students, faculty and alumni contribute to advancing the treatment of insomnia Bruce Rybarczyk, Ph.D.

Spotlight on international research and learning Paul Perrin, Ph.D., goes to Spain

See undergraduate student spotlight, p.17

4-5 Research Spotlight: Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D.

20

6-7

Campus vistors Kristin Heron, Ph.D., Penn State and Shigehiro Oishi, Ph.D., University of Virginia

Alumni news and notes

8-9 Department news and updates

14-15

21

The impact of recent U.S. government actions on the department’s research mission Brigette S. Pfister, M.H.R.D., C.R.A.

August 2013 graduates

22 Department contact information


Research Spotlight Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D. A common misconception and a leading contributor to the increase in the popularity of waterpipe smoking is the belief by non-cigarette smokers that waterpipe smoke is less dangerous than cigarette smoke. One of the goals of his research is to determine whether or not there are data to support these beliefs.

smoke inhalation from a smoking session can range in quantity from 50 to 100 times the amount of inhaled smoke than the amount inhaled from a single cigarette.

According to Eissenberg, there is no reason to believe waterpipe smoking is less lethal than cigarette smoking or causes less dependence. Hookah smoke, as it Eissenberg and his team have assessed the turns out, also contains high levels of toxic composition of waterpipe smoke, what compounds, including tar, carbon monoxTom Eissenberg, Ph.D., came to our decompounds in the smoke make their way ide, heavy metals and cancer-causing partment in 1997 and has not slowed into the smoker and what physiological chemicals (carcinogens). Because waterdown since. A professor of biopsychology and subjective effects waterpipe smoke pipe smokers inhale tobacco smoke along and health psychology, Eissenberg rehas on the smoker. with charcoal smoke, the full inhalation searches the addictive properties and also contains higher levels of carbon monhealth effects of the use of alternative to- As part of this assessment, the research oxide than does cigarette smoke. team has found that hookah smokers bacco products, such as electronic cigaAnother shared belief among many waterrettes—see exciting new grant announce- often take relatively large puffs when smoking—up to ten times larger than that pipe users is that the water somehow filment on opposite page. For the last ten of the average cigarette puff. Though an ters the smoke they inhale making it less years, Eissenberg and his collaborators have also been studying the effects of wa- average cigarette smoker will inhale 50 ml toxic than cigarette smoke. Eissenberg, of smoke per puff, for example, the hook- though, says there is no evidence to supterpipe or “hookah” smoking. ah smoker averages 500 ml of smoke per port this claim. He says that the levels of The origins of waterpipe smoking can be puff (about one quarter of a two liter nicotine, carbon monoxide and other comtraced back to the 1600’s in the Middle bottle). During a typical 45-minute smok- pounds remain constant in the hookah East and India. More recently, hookah ing session, waterpipe smokers will take smoke both before and after the smoke smoking has become extremely popular in an average of 100 puffs and end up inhal- hits the water. the United States and continues to grow ing 50,000 ml of smoke. Typical levels of Eissenberg also notes that dependency among adolescents and young can become a major problem acadult populations. Often used in companying waterpipe smoking, social settings such as in “hookah especially in places where the wabars,” waterpipe smoking is a terpipe has a longer history of popular method of smoking touse, such as in the Middle East. bacco (usually flavored), where Eissenberg and his colleagues one puts charcoal on top of a perhave worked on strengthening forated piece of aluminum foil their research methods by develwhich is then placed on the head oping and validating a new techof the hookah—see diagram. As nology – the real time smoke samthe smoker inhales through the pler – which randomly samples mouthpiece, the water in the basmoke content in the lab when sin of the pipe cools the smoke research participants are smoking making the smoke milder and a waterpipe. The tool can measmore palatable than the smoke ure how many puffs are taken, from cigarettes. how long the draws are, how


much time elapses between puffs and the speed at which the air is drawn from the waterpipe. He then takes the data and sends them to his colleague Alan Shihadeh, Ph.D., at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. From the data, Shihadeh can create an exact replica of the smoking session all the way down to the same tobacco. This allows him to measure the content of the smoke in a noninvasive manner. Upon validation of the instrument, the real time smoke sampler was taken out of the lab setting into a popular café in Beirut to gather data in a more natural environment. The composition of the smoke in the bar was found to be consistent with similar measures taken in the lab. The next step in this line of inquiry will be to conduct the same research in waterpipe bars in Richmond.

In addition to conducting his own research, Eissenberg actively works to promote the responsible conduct of research, particularly with regard to interactions between local Institutional Review Boards and behavioral scientists. His work in this realm resulted in a recent invitation from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to join the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Human Research. The purpose of the committee is to advise the secretary on a range of issues involving experimentation with humans, such as clinical trials, research with children, deception in research and consent and confidentiality in Internet research. Furthermore, Eissenberg is a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s tobacco product scientific advisory committee. Because the FDA has been given

the authority to regulate tobacco products in recent years, the scientific advisory committee was formed to keep the agency abreast of the most current scientific research findings on tobacco and tobacco products. The next step for Eissenberg is to devote his energies to the establishment and management of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products (see news article below). The Center will be a hub of scholarship and training and will yield opportunities at VCU to generate more multiinvestigator funding in the future. Its goal is to better inform government agencies through evidence-based research about the regulation of tobacco and tobacco products as pertinent legislation is considered. Submitted by Megan Sutter, doctoral student in the health psychology program

Read the full article on VCU News. Excerpt: "Virginia Commonwealth University has received an $18.1 million federal grant – VCU's third largest to date – to study so-called modified risk tobacco products and other novel tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes, and to develop an evaluation tool to help inform United States tobacco regulatory policy. VCU is among 14 institutions across the country selected to participate in a regulatory science research program that will provide vital scientific evidence to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. Researchers in the VCU Department of Psychology's Center for the Study of Tobacco Products in the College of Humanities and Sciences will study methods for evaluating modified risk tobacco products as one of 14 Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science, a new program launched by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of VCU’s Clinical Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory, and Robert Balster, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the VCU School of Medicine, are the co-principal investigators on the grant. ..." Listen to Eissenberg’s interview on Richmond public radio.


Alumni News and Notes

Christopher Kilmartin (M.S. ‘86, Ph.D. ‘88) is a professor of psychology at Mary Washington University. For the current year, though, he is Distinguished Visiting Professor of Behavioral Science and Leadership at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. His work on the “culture of hyper-masculinity” was highlighted in a recent New York Times op-ed article by Frank Bruni called “Tackling the Roots of Rape.” In addition, he and coauthor John Lynch, Jr. (M.S. ‘86, Ph.D. ‘89) just published the second edition of the book “Overcoming Masculine Depression: The Pain Behind the Mask.”

Adam Prus, Ph.D., holding his new book, “An Introduction to Drugs and the Neuroscience of Behavior.”

biospsychology at VCU, will be using this very book for spring 2014 when he teaches the new undergraduate course, “Psychopharmacology: Drugs and Behavior.”

Jeffrey Holder (B.S. ‘05) is currently working as a BPM/Six Sigma Black Belt Consultant for a local company based in Richmond. BPM means business process manDorothy Espelage, Ph.D., (B.S. ’91) recent- agement and Six Sigma is improvement ly accepted the Lifetime Achievement and project management work. Over the Award from the American Psychological past two years he has traveled to Jamaica, Association’s Prevention Section. Award- Prague and Belgium and has discovered a ees are recognized for their outstanding great affinity for Eastern Europe and WWII achievements and contributions to psyhistory. He says he has “….a small coffee chology. Her work stood out in a disorder in that he has to have it!” and "crowded and impressive group," and was misses the college environment and the described as exemplifying excellence in academic level of discourse. prevention science and practice, according Melinda Moore (Ph.D. ’07) has started her to the APA section. Espelage has also own company, Spectrum Transformation been appointed Edward William Gutgsell Group. The company is a Richmond-based & Jane Marr Gutgsell Endowed Professor behavioral health organization offering at the University of Illinois at Urbanaintensive, one-on-one treatment services Champaign. We were thrilled to welcome for children with autism and related neuEspelage back to campus in May when she rodevelopmental disorders. delivered the commencement address at Ian Wallace (M.S. ‘06, Ph.D. ‘09) recently the diploma ceremony for Psychology started a new position as a counseling psygraduates. chologist in Counseling and Psychological Adam Joseph Prus (Ph.D. ‘04) is an associ- Services at The California Maritime Acadeate professor in the Department of Psymy (a California State University campus) chology at Northern Michigan University. located in Vallejo, Calif. He and his wife, He recently published the book “An Intro- Claire, welcomed their second son, Miles, duction to Drugs and the Neuroscience of to the family in July. Behavior.” Joe Porter, Ph.D., professor of

Raymond Tademy (B.S. ‘03, M.S. ‘07, Ph.D. ‘10) finished his three-year postdoctoral fellowship with our department in the Center for Cultural Experiences in Prevention and is now working as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Norfolk State University. He says he is enjoying this wonderful new personal and professional challenge and expresses thanks to our department for preparing him so well for the teaching, research, community service and advising aspects of his new position. Tademy has wasted no time jumping right into things at Norfolk State and is already part of several department and university committees. Lindsey Dorflinger (M.S. ‘09, Ph.D. ‘11) recently accepted a position at the Connecticut VA Health Care System in West Haven as health behavior coordinator. She says she is having a blast working alongside VCU postdoctoral fellows, Leila Islam (M.S. ‘03, Ph.D. ’13) and Aaron Martin (Ph.D. ’13). In this new position she will get to participate in a wide range of activities, including individual and group interventions for health behavior change, research, training physicians and other medical providers and program development and evaluation. She is also part of the clinical health psychology training program which she particularly loves and where she gets to work with Aaron, Leila and the other health psychology trainees. It is a busy and exciting time for K.C. Conley (M.S. ’09, Ph.D. ’12 ). She completed her internship at the New Jersey VA in August 2012 and her postdoctoral fellowship in college mental health at Pace University in August 2013. She is happy to report


having passed the Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology in May and receiving her New York license this September. Conley recently accepted a staff psychologist position at the Center for Motivation and Change where she will be treating individuals who have problems with substance use and/or compulsive behaviors. She just celebrated her one year wedding anniversary and is happily living in Brooklyn, N.Y.! Shannon Hourigan (M.S. ‘09, Ph.D. ‘12) completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Boston Children's Hospital at the end of August and then accepted a position in the Division of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry as a full time attending psychologist working in the Optimal Weight for Life Program, part of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at BCH. She also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School as an instructor in psychology in the Department of Psychiatry.

Half of her time is spent doing clinical research and she is currently working on an exciting interdisciplinary collaboration—a combined behavior and nutrition interWe want to hear vention pilot using a telehealth approach to reach families and served by an excelfrom you, too ! lent community pediatrics practice with whom her program is partnering. As the Click HERE and give us your update only psychologist on the team, she deto feature in the next issue. signed and has been implementing the behavioral intervention. Her work on this project has been significantly informed by the ADAPT study and Chorpita's modular approach. to collaborate with the Brazleton Institute. The other research project in the works is a secondary prevention study with a local pediatrics practice for toddler children to provide anticipatory guidance to parents regarding behavioral issues around feeding to facilitate development of healthful eating. This has been partially informed by her dissertation as well as her work with the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center. She and the Center are planning to submit an R21 and hoping

In addition to her clinical work, she has been tasked with developing the behavioral medicine curriculum for the clinic. In Memoriam James E. Conner, Ph.D. (B.S. ’49), of Raleigh, N.C., Jan. 4, 2013, at age 88. Maria Devens (M.S. ’93, Ph.D. ’96), of Chicago, April 10, 2013, at age 46. Robin B. Bunster (B.S. ’99), of Lake Oswego, Ore., April 20, 2013, at age 45.

VCU Alumni travel 2014 opportunities Panama Canal 100th Anniversary cruise: Jan. 4-12 Tahitian Jewels: Jan. 15-25 Asian Explorations: Feb. 20-March 10 Tanzania Safari During Great Migration: March 3-13 Lesser Antilles cruise: March 10-17 Southern Culture & The Civil War paddlewheel cruise: March 28-April 6 Passage to India: April 2-15 Historic Reflections Mediterranean cruise: April 20-May 1 Italy’s Lake District: May 13-21 Mediterranean Grandeur: May 15-26 Oxford England: May 17-25 Mediterranean Antiquities: May 21-29 The Great Rivers of Europe: June 7-22 National Parks & Lodges of the Old West: June 28-July 7 Canadian Rockies Parks & Resorts: July 17-23 Adriatic Antiquities cruise: June 26-July 9 Iceland to Greenland cruise: Aug. 2-14 Discover Switzerland: Aug. 6-21 Russia Revealed: Moscow to Petersburg river cruise: Aug. 21–Sept. 5…. (see more)


Department News and Updates Jasmine Abrams, M.S., a doctoral student in the health psychology program, is the 2013 recipient of the Psychology of Black Graduate Student Women Award for Abrams her manuscript entitled "Demystification of the ‘Strong Black Woman.’” Abrams was honored during the Division 35: Section 1 awards ceremony at the 2013 American Psychological Association convention in Hawaii.

have been awarded a VCU Presidential Research Quest Award for Project HEART. Their study will examine the impact of stress on the physical body for mothers of teenagers in underserved communities in the Richmond area and its surrounding communities. Also, the study will examine relationships between stress and resiliency on heart health in adolescents and mothers living in underserved communities. Read more about this important interdisciplinary effort at improved community engagement and health.

Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., professor of social psychology and director of the Center for Cultural Experiences in Prevention, will serve as the faculty fellow for advancing Belgrave diverse faculty in research in VCU’s Division for Inclusive Excellence. In this role, she will be responsible for providing seminars, consultation and professional development to support diverse faculty in sponsored research.

what students need to know to ensure a successful experience. Joe Porter, Ph.D., professor of biopsychology, and his undergraduate student, Porter Brian Joseph, were featured. Watch the video. Bruce Rybarczyk, Ph.D., director of clinical training for our clinical program and newly promoted professor of clinical psychology, was recently featured in an article in the magaRybarczyk zine “Virginia Living” for his expertise in the study and treatment of insomnia. Read the article.

Joshua Langberg, Ph.D., assistant professor in the clinical psychology program, received a $2.4 million grant from the Institute of Educational Third year doctoral stuSciences for the project, Langberg dent in the health psy“Efficacy of an Organizachology program, Daniel tional Skills Intervention for Middle School Snipes, M.S., recently Students with ADHD." The four-year grant learned that his first auwill be used to compare two different thor publication (cotypes of school-based interventions for authored by Eric BeSnipes improving the academic performance of notsch, Ph.D.) entitled "Highmiddle school-age students with ADHD. Mary Beth Heller, Ph.D., risk cocktails and high-risk sex: Examining Read more about it. will serve the department the relation between alcohol mixed with as interim director of the Micah McCreary, Ph.D., energy drink consumption, sexual behavCenter for Psychological associate professor in the ior, and drug use in college students " was Services and Developcounseling psychology the second most downloaded article in the ment. Her appointment program, led a group of journal Addictive Behaviors for the month follows the departure of seven students and one of August. Read the abstract. Heller Leticia Flores, Ph.D. Flores kindergarten teacher to Michael Southamis the new associate director of University the ravaged island of Haiti Gerow, Ph.D., professor McCreary of Tennessee’s Psychological Clinic. as part of the VCU service- in the clinical psychology learning Haitian Empowerment Program Wendy Kliewer, Ph.D., program, director of between science and religion. Read the professor of developmengraduate studies and conews release from VCU News. tal psychology and dedirector of the Anxiety partment chair, and Jo Lynne Robins, Ph.D., assistant professor in the VCU School of Nursing,

Kliewer

VCU recently made a promotional video highlighting four faculty/student research partnerships and discussing some of the benefits of participating in research and

Clinic at the Center for Southam-Gerow Psychological Services and Development, was recently called upon to address the management of the


Department News and Updates anxiety children sometimes feel about going back to school in the fall. Read the VCU News Q&A. Another bit of good news for Southam-Gerow is his recent promotion from associate professor to full professor. Everett Worthington, Ph.D., director of clinical training in the counseling psychology program, was nominated for the prestigious Joseph B. and ToWorthington by Gittler Prize. The $25,000 prize includes a medal and a lecture at Brandeis University by the recipient. The awardee must have produced a body of published work that reflects scholarly excellence and a lasting contribution to racial, ethnic and/or religious relations anywhere in the world.

Kappa Phi. Her term will be for the 2014-15 school year. ΦΚΦ faculty have made significant contributions to advancement of knowledge Zyzniewski and understanding through research, publication, professional innovation or artistic creativity; sustained excellence in teaching; achievements transcending customary levels of service in academic or professional societies of national scope, recognition by other major honor societies, special honors and awards; and significant leadership in the VCU academic community.

Support Staff Updates Jennifer Elswick, Director for Strategic Initiatives and Assistant to Chair, was appointed to serve as one of two inaugural staff members on the VCU Academic Elswick Affairs Committee. She was also featured in a recent article in the College of Humanities and Sciences newsletter.

Stephanie Hart, M.B.A., C.R.A, service center director of operations, participated in the National Congratulations to the Council of University Rerecipients of this year’s search Administrators annual department facFinancial Research AdHart ulty awards for excelministration Workshop. The lence. The Outstanding two and a half day workshop focused priWorthington has also been featured in Service Award was given marily on the financial aspects of research several media and print outlets recently. to Barbara Myers, administration and provided an in-depth For example, an article he wrote on forgivMyers Ph.D., for sustained exlook at financial compliance issues ing the man who murdered his mother cellence in service to her community, unithrough a combination of lecture, case appeared in September’s issue of Christiversity, College, department and field. studies, review of federal audit reports anity Today, the largest popular magazine Myers has been instrumental in establishand a discussion of best practices. in American Christianity. He was also ing and maintaining VCU’s community quoted as an expert in forgiveness in a Yin Huang, grants managrecent online article regarding the ordeal partnership with Richmond City Jails. er, just completed the of Ariel Castro and the three women he The winner of this year’s Outstanding three-credit course BusiGreen Hulsey Van Tongeren held as captives in his Cleveland baseScholarship Award goes to Joshua Langness Statistics to supplement. berg, Ph.D. Langberg is a strong ADHD ment the knowledge base researcher who continues to publish high for her position. In addition, Worthington has published a impact findings and obtain substantial new book, “Moving Forward: Six Steps to Diana Pauley, executive Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from grant funding for his work. secretary, received a Spot Award for Daythe Past,” that was featured in a VCU Finally, we would like to recognize Micah to-Day Excellence for her persistence in news article. Read an excerpt. McCreary, Ph.D. as this year’s winner of getting Williams House a new roof. the Outstanding Teaching Award. Linda Zyzniewski, Ph.D., associate professor of social psychology, director of under- McCreary continues to be one of the highgraduate studies and dean’s fellow for the est student-rated instructors in our department. He provided an excellent serCollege of Humanities and Sciences, is vice learning opportunity for our students president-elect of VCU’s chapter of Phi this summer in Haiti.


Meet our New Faculty Members

Kurt Crandall, Ph.D.

Kurt Crandall, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist who joined our faculty this fall. Crandall received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Kansas with a specialty in health psychology. He interned at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he worked in psychiatric triage, counseled patients with chronic pain and conducted group therapy for veterans who were enrolled in a partial hospitalization program. Following his internship year, he spent three years as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. From there, Crandall left academia and returned to clinical work to complete a postdoctoral fellowship with an emphasis on couples and family therapy at a community mental health center in Chicago. After his postdoctoral experience, he worked as a staff psychologist in the Primary Care Clinic at the VA Hospital in Seattle. Upon his move back to the east coast, Crandall returned to academia and joined the psychology faculty at Longwood University. For the past several years he has also been employed as a psychologist in a private practice here in Richmond. Crandall practices as a cognitive behavioral therapist and is trained to work with adults. His clinical areas of interest and experience include

promoting health through behavioral change; treating mood and anxiety disorders; helping clients cope with physical illness and disease; facilitating stress management; and counseling couples. His general research interests are in the areas of health psychology and positive psychology. More specifically, he is interested in the effect positive frames of thinking (e.g., hope, optimism, forgiveness) may have on one’s physical and emotional health.

Serpell’s principle research interest is harnessing advances in cognitive science to develop interventions that target executive functions. Translation is a particular goal of her work, which often takes the form of a series of iterative small-N lab studies to individualize or perfect the design of interventions, followed by often challenging attempts to implement these interventions in the real world of schools.

Serpell currently has three active projects. In collaboration with former department assistant professor, Michelle Ellefson, Ph.D., and Teresa Parr (B.S. ‘93, M.S. ‘95, Ph.D. ‘99), the first project explores whether the mental activities associated with playing chess improve executive function and academic outcomes in elementary school students. The second and third projects are funded by the National Science Foundation and conducted in collaboration with colleagues from Virginia State University and University of California San Diego. These Zewelanji Serpell, Ph.D. projects involve testing the efficacy of comZewelanji Serpell, Ph.D., joined our depart- mercially available “brain training” programs with African American students and ment this fall as an associate professor in the developmental program. Before VCU, examining the role of non-cognitive factors, specifically motivation and affect, in cognishe was an associate professor in the psytive training contexts. chology department at Virginia State University. Prior to that, Serpell held a reSerpell was born and raised in Zambia and search faculty position at James Madison reports having family all over the world. University and served as the associate diShe received her bachelor’s degree in psyrector of the Alvin V. Baird Attention and chology from Clark University in Worcester, Learning Disabilities Center. She has also Mass., and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in held research positions at the Research Tri- developmental psychology from Howard angle Institute-International, the Eunice University in Washington, D.C. In her spare Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child time, Serpell enjoys reading novels, cooking Health and Human Development Study of vegetarian meals and swimming with her Early Childcare, the American Association two sons. She says she came to VCU for the for Colleges of Teacher Education and the research opportunities—new faculty collabCenter for Research on Children Placed At- orations, working with VCU’s diverse stuRisk. dent body and getting involved with efforts to improve outcomes for K-12 students attending urban public schools.


Recipient of the University Award of Excellence Albert Farrell, Ph.D. An affable psychology professor with a tidy office, Dr. Albert D. Farrell warmly greets visitors to the West Franklin Street space that houses the Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development. The institute serves as a hub for studies led by Dr. Farrell, its director and one of the nation’s leading research scientists on risk and protective factors associated with problem behaviors during adolescence. He began his academic career at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1980 as an assistant professor with the goal of “working with students who are involved in and excited about research.” In 1992, he joined an effort that dramatically shaped the rest of his career. It began with evaluating a Richmond youth violence prevention program. Since then, Dr. Farrell has received nearly $16 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue researching youth violence, including developing and evaluating a middle school program, Responding in Peaceful and Positive Ways, which was designed to reduce violence by promoting positive problem-solving skills. Grants totaling $26 million have supported his research, which has been cited more than 1,500 times and as often as 100 times annually in recent years. Dr. Farrell’s work has been continuously funded by the CDC for 21 straight years. “His empirically supported model for youth violence prevention is considered the gold standard by psychologists,” writes Dr. James Coleman, dean of the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences. In 2005, the Clark-Hill Institute was selected by the CDC as one of eight Academic Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention and received $4.3 million in funding over five years. Five years later, VCU edged out Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Columbia and the University of California, Berkley among others for a second round of funding, securing $6.5 million to run the institute through September 2015. “I’m really proud we were able accomplish that,” Dr. Farrell says. “We competed extremely well against elite institutions with considerable resources.” For one CDC-funded project, Dr. Farrell collaborated on the Multisite Youth Violence Prevention Project with researchers from Duke University, the University of Georgia and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He developed most key aspects of the study, according to Dr. Thomas Simon, deputy associate director for science in the CDC’s division of violence prevention. “Dr. Farrell has a gift for bringing together diverse opinions and identifying a path that utilizes the best science and practice principles,” Dr. Simon writes. He uses that same quality in the classroom, where he continues to teach the “Research Methods in Clinical Psychology” course he created 32 years ago. Dr. Farrell describes his role as more facilitator than teacher as he works to get students thinking about problems instead of looking to him for answers. Dr. Monique Vulin Reynolds, a former student, describes his class as one of the most useful and enjoyable she took at VCU. “His own passion and dedication to the subject matter was what made the difference in keeping us absorbed and working hard to meet his expectations,” she writes. He earns near-perfect ratings on student evaluations, according to Dr. Wendy Kliewer, chair of the psychology department. That’s an unparalleled feat, she writes, especially since he taught a graduate statistics course she says both students and faculty shy away from. Dr. Scott Vrana, a VCU psychology professor, notes that one thing is missing from Dr. Farrell’s resume — that he pours “thousands of hours into promoting and advancing the careers of other faculty members, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.” His record does reflect some of that time: Dr. Farrell has chaired advisory committees for 30 master’s theses and 22 doctoral dissertations. Students and faculty describe him as a mentor who is approachable, open and supportive, and who always makes time for others no matter his schedule. In reflecting on his career at VCU, Dr. Farrell says the way its pieces ended up fitting together seems sensible. Its specific course, however, was strongly shaped by opportunities that presented themselves along the way. Being at VCU provided advantages over other universities he worked with on youth violence prevention research, he says — chiefly the lack of barriers between VCU and the community because most Richmonders are connected to VCU in some way. While he has no imminent plans for retirement, Dr. Farrell says he hopes that he will be remembered as the first director of the Clark-Hill Institute as it continues making important strides in youth violence prevention. “We are so totally aligned with VCU’s Quest for Distinction,” he says. “We’re interdisciplinary and well---positioned to really expand. We have tremendous potential.” Picture and article courtesy of VCU University Relations


VCU Students, Faculty and Alumni Contribute to Advancing the Treatment of

Insomnia Bruce Rybarczyk, Ph.D.

Graduate students in the clinical and counseling psychology doctoral programs have completed a series of studies under the mentorship of Bruce Rybarczyk, Ph.D., (‘89 clinical program graduate, professor of clinical psychology and director of clinical training) making substantial contributions to advancing the treatment of insomnia in individuals with co-morbid psychiatric conditions. Three of those studies were featured in a special issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychology. Two of the studies were intervention studies with individuals with psychiatric diagnoses. The first was a dissertation by Nile Wagley, Ph.D., (’10, counseling program) providing cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to patients undergoing treatment at the VCU Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic. These patients were receiving treatment for an average of 3.6 years and continued to have insomnia symptoms in spite of their psychiatric care. Two sessions of CBT for insomnia, including one conducted via

telephone, were effective in improving sleep and reducing depressive symptoms. Among the twenty patients who participated in treatment, 38% were able to achieve normal sleep eight weeks after the start of treatment relative to none in the control group. A second dissertation study at the same clinic employing a large group of patients, all of whom were dependent on hypnotic medication for managing their insomnia, and a longer format of treatment was recently completed by sixth year clinical psychology graduate student Hannah Lund. It also obtained encouraging results that will be written up for publication in the near future.

(imagery rehearsal therapy) with forty combat veterans (mean age 37.7 years) who served in Afghanistan and/or Iraq, a group that has experienced high levels of both PTSD and insomnia. The treatment sessions were provided at the McGuire Veterans Administration Hospital in Richmond. The treatment led to significant improvements in self-reported and objectively measured sleep, a reduction in PTSD symptom severity and PTSDrelated nighttime symptoms and a reduction in depression and distressed mood compared to the waitlist control group. This study was replicated by Laurin Mack, Ph.D. (’13, clinical program). Her study provided a classroom CBT intervention to a wide array of veterans as A second intervention study targeting a follow-up supplement to a recently recent veterans with Post-Traumatic completed a psycho-educational course Stress Disorder (PTSD) conducted by Skye Margolies, Ph.D., (’11, clinical pro- on coping with PTSD. This study replicated the earlier findings of improved sleep gram) was also featured in the special issue. This dissertation study tested four although it did not obtain the same resessions of CBT-I and an optional supple- sult for reductions in PTSD symptoms, possibly related to the fact that many of mentary treatment for nightmares


the participants had PTSD for several decades rather than several years. Both Margolies and Mack were funded by prestigious Rehabilitation Research Fellowship awards, for over $61,000 combined, from the Department of Veteran Affairs.

other treatments they are receiving that are targeting the primary mental health diagnosis. Not only is sleep substantially improved as a result of these interventions, but other mental health symptoms are alleviated as a consequence of improved sleep. Additionally, there are no side effects, treatment is brief, the beneCBT for insomnia was developed by a fits are sustained over time and the cost group of pioneering researchers beginning twenty-five years ago. VCU Psychol- is limited, especially when employing self -help materials. The challenge that lies ogy and Psychiatry has a long history ahead is training more clinicians to delivwith this pioneering work. One of the er this brief treatment and getting the most prolific researchers in this area, Jack Edinger, Ph.D., (’78) is an alumnus of word is out to health professionals and the clinical psychology program and an- the public that this should be a first line treatment for persistent insomnia. Altother prominent researcher, Charles hough a 2005 National Institutes of Morin, Ph.D., was a faculty member at VCU. While here, Morin conducted one Health expert panel recommended that CBT be offered to all chronic insomnia of the first randomized clinical trials sufferers before prescribing a medicashowing that CBT was superior to hypnotic sleep medications. CBT has several tion, there has been very limited protreatment components, including an ini- gress in dissemination thus far. This is due to the public and professional bias tial reduction in sleep to increase sleep drive and retrain normal sleep as well as towards the use of medications and the lack of awareness of this newer treata method for eliminating time spent in bed while awake to weaken the associa- ment approach. To address the sciencepractice gap, future research by tion between being in bed and having Rybarczyk and colleagues will test a anxiety about not falling asleep. The treatment also includes education in the “stepped care” approach to delivering science of sleep, in order to provide the patient with an “owner’s manual” for their sleep system.

CBT in primary care, using varied levels of treatment intensity and different methods of delivery, including the Internet. This stepped care approach will be tested in primary care offices. The concept was detailed in a 2011 publication by Mack and Rybarczyk. Although there are less than two hundred clinical psychologists who are experts and researchers in CBT for insomnia, a remarkable number of them are VCU clinical psychology alumni. In addition to Edinger and Rybarczyk, Jason Ong, Ph.D., (’04, clinical program) is board certified in behavioral sleep medicine and is a prominent insomnia researcher at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Don Townsend, Ph.D. (’99, clinical program) is a board certified sleep clinician at the Fairview Sleep Center in Minnesota and Kevin Smith, Ph.D, (’04, clinical program) is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is board certified in behavioral sleep medicine. VCU alumni are likely to have an even larger impact on the growing field of behavioral sleep medicine in the future, as all four of the recent graduates who conducted the research described above are continuing to work in this field.

These studies contribute to growing evidence that CBT for insomnia is a treatment that should be offered to all mental health patients as a supplement to Bruce Rybarczyk, Ph.D., and Denise Borden, M.D., discuss a patient’s care in VCU’s Primary Care Clinic.

VCU faculty contributors to the studies described above include Drs. Steve Danish, David Leszczyszyn, John Lynch (M.S. ‘86, Ph.D. ‘89), Tim Nay and Scott Vrana.


The Impact of Recent U.S. Government Actions on the Department’s Research Mission Brigette S. Pfister, M.H.R.D., C.R.A. Over the past year, the news has been filled with ongoing legislative disputes in Washington. Terms like fiscal cliff, debt ceiling and sequestration have become part of our vocabulary. With myriad predictions being made, it can be hard to decipher what impact recent government actions could have here in our department.

result, we have received fewer new awards and our continuing awards have been reduced. VCU President Michael Rao estimated in February that VCU’s grant portfolio could see reductions of $12-$21 million by September 2013 as a direct result of sequestration. Luckily, we have not seen this dire outcome just yet—VCU’s grant award portfolio showed excellent performance in fiscal year 2013—but that There are several recent government actions that could sub- does not mean that effects will not be felt later. stantially influence research activity in Psychology. The first is known as sequestration, or the “fiscal cliff.” This For example, at the department level, fewer new grant was a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which im- awards could result in a lack of replacement funding for posed across-the-board cuts to defense and discretionary projects slated to end soon. Individuals paid from those programs in the event that Congress could not reach a com- projects would likely be laid off if no source of new fundpromise on the federal budget. The Act was supposed to ing could be found. Reduced budgets for continuing promotivate Congress to reach a solution, as no one wanted or jects could result in cuts to the number of people a given expected to see sequestration implemented. Unfortunately, project could support. Sequestration will also make it hardCongress failed to reach a compromise and sequestration er for new faculty to get their first grants, as grant programs went into effect on March 1, 2013. become increasingly competitive. This in turn makes it harder for them to support graduate students and postdocSequestration resulted in substantial budget cuts to our ma- toral associates. There could also be an impact on federally jor federal funders. The National Institutes for Health, Psy- funded fellowships, scholarships and student aid. The fedchology’s largest funding source, lost 5% of its total budget eral work-study program, for example, could lose up to $50 amounting to $1.55 billion! Since these were across-themillion dollars as a result of sequestration. That represents board cuts, no area of health research was spared. As a a substantial number of students who would have to find other sources of income. As if that were not enough, sequestration is only one piece of the puzzle. Other government actions have the potential to compound the impacts. One such action is the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare.” Aside from the obvious controversy, the ACA has had some unintended consequences. In Virginia, it resulted in the Manpower Control Act, or the "29-Hour Rule." This law limits part-time and hourly employees to a total of 29 hours per week. This has resulted in loss of income for students and other part-time employees, some of whom have historically held multiple jobs at the university. Multiple university jobs are no longer allowed under the Manpower Control Act. In addition, since the rule applies to adjunct faculty, too, it has resulted in a reduction in the number of credit hours they can teach. This means an additional burden on the already overloaded full-time faculty, who must make up


Architect of the Capitol

the shortfall in credit hours taught, in addition to their existing responsibilities—like grant writing. This could further depress our new award activity over the next few years. The recent government shutdown adds another dimension of complexity. The government shutdown was brought about by circumstances similar to those of sequestration. Once again, legislators needed to compromise on the federal budget in order to avert disaster. This time the point of contention was the Affordable Care Act. Republicans wanted to defund the ACA as a condition of passing the Continuing Resolution that would keep the government operational. Democrats refused to approve any bill that attempted to defund or otherwise nullify the ACA. Once again, no compromise was reached and the government shutdown took effect on October 1, 2013. Immediately, many federal systems were taken offline. We could not submit new proposals, progress reports or even establish new accounts. Awards already delayed and reduced by sequestration stopped altogether for the duration of the shutdown. Though there is widespread conjecture on the subject, no one really knows what the long term impact will be on university research. During the shutdown, work on existing projects was allowed to continue provided that funding had already been made available. However, we were unable to draw down funds from the federal government. In other words, if we didn’t already have it, then we couldn’t spend it. If the shutdown had gone on longer, even existing projects would have probably had to lay off grant funded personnel, and in some cases, completely stop work. Also, the government doesn’t process passports and visas during the shutdown, so projects that depend on foreign travel were held up considerably. The situation could worsen if Congress fails to devise a workable long-term solution when the current debt ceiling expires on February 7. If there is failure to compromise, the United States could default on our national debt. There is no clear picture of what the impacts of that would be, but we know they would not be positive. Since our overall grant portfolio at VCU did not appear to suffer in fiscal year 2013, it might be tempting to disregard some of the more dire warnings. However, it is important to recognize that incoming awards are based on proposals submitted in fiscal year 2012 or earlier, so many of those

Dome, United States Capitol , Washington, D.C.

funding decisions were made prior to the most current crisis. We probably won't see the true impact of all of the above until fiscal year 2014 or thereafter. At minimum, the cessation of all proposal activity during the shutdown will result in delayed resumption of award activity in addition to the delays and budget cuts already happening because of sequestration. This will likely cause our total awarded dollars to decrease over the next few years. Overall, the impact on VCU research may not be disastrous, but at the department level, grant projects and the individuals working on those projects could suffer significant impact from the cumulative effects.

Page 9

Brigette S. Pfister is director of sponsored programs for the College of Humanities and Sciences at VCU.


Graduate Student Spotlight Adriana Rodriguez, M.S., Clinical Psychology program that she felt inspired and motivated by the energy and innovation that SouthamGerow brings to the field of psychology. “It was the best decision I could have made.”

Adriana Rodriguez graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a minor in ethnic studies. Following graduation, Rodriguez obtained a research assistant position with Bruce Chorpita, Ph.D., at UCLA helping to advance the effectiveness of mental health treatment for children and adolescents. Her work with Chorpita further solidified her aspiration to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, working specifically with racial and/or ethnic minority youth. Rodriguez joined the Michael SouthamGerow, Ph.D., research laboratory as a doctoral student in clinical psychology in the fall of 2010. When asked why Rodriguez decided to attend VCU, she stated

In reflecting on her experience at VCU, Rodriguez is struck by how collaborative the department in general, and her lab in particular are. Her research interests lie broadly in the dissemination and implementation of mental health treatment for children and adolescents. She is also interested in cultural and linguistic adaptations of assessments to minority populations in real-world clinic settings. Recently, Rodriguez was able to collaborate with Rosalie Corona, Ph.D., of the clinical psychology program whose work focuses on health promotion and risk reduction among ethnic minority populations. In working with Latina college students, Rodriguez notes, “I understand the difficulties that this population is facing from a policy perspective and also through my personal experience… I was that kid who didn’t have enough money for the bus fare.”

Born to a working-class Mexican family, Rodriguez is the first to receive a college education, let alone pursue a graduate degree. Her work is driven in part by a desire to empower her family and culture while forging her own identity. When asked about career aspirations, she responds, “I want to keep going… go as far as I can.” Rodriguez is molding herself for a research position in academia where she would ideally like to serve at the public policy level of mental health treatment dissemination and implementation. In her spare time, she enjoys running long distances around Richmond’s Byrd Park and Brown’s Island. She also spends time drawing, particularly individuals with pronounced facial expressions. Rodriguez jokes that this interest probably stems from all the time she has spent coding videotapes in the Southam-Gerow lab.

Submitted by Annie Rabinovitz, doctoral student in the clinical psychology program

The Global Bridges Project is a community engaged research project directed by Maghboeba Mosavel, Ph.D., of VCU’s Department of Social and Behavioral Health, School of Medicine. This summer, Mosavel led a small team of six students to the University of KwaZulu-Natal—a VCU international partner university —in Durban, South Africa, to conduct community engaged research in the Kenneth Gardens public housing community in Durban. Jasmine Abrams and Morgan Maxwell were two of those students. A third student, Carrie Miller, is a second year master of public health student who has previously worked for the Department of Psychology as project coordinator for Clarissa Holmes, Ph.D. Abrams

Abrams and Maxwell chronicled their work in Durban on this blog: http://building-global-bridges.blogspot.com/. It’s a great read!

Maxwell


Undergraduate Student Spotli ght Linda A. Mensah-Etsi, Class of ‘15 Linda A. Mensah-Etsi (see front cover), a junior psychology major, is a recent recipient of the Melvin V. Lubman Scholarship in Psychology. The Melvin V. Lubman Scholarship was established by Mrs. Golde Lubman Feldman to honor her husband’s dedication and service as a professor in the Department of Psychology. MensahEtsi reports that the scholarship will help her greatly with her tuition and fees. When asked why she chose psychology as a major, Mensah-Etsi said that she is curious about many things, and psychology was the one subject that kept her interest piqued at all times. She said, “I like how I can always be surprised by all the different topics covered under psychology alone.” Surely, her constant interest is in part due to her two “all-time favorite” classes— Statistical Applications in the Psychology Field with Linda Zyzniewski, Ph.D., and Abnormal Psychology with adjunct professor, Jessica Brown. Mensah-Etsi picked these as her favorites because she likes the mathematical focus of statistics and admitted to having an “obsession” with mental illnesses.

Development. She says she chose this opportunity because “not only is it in the field in which I am currently interested, the internship will give me the opportunity to learn a valuable coding skill that I might eventually need to use.” A former volunteer elementary school teacher's aide, she has a clear interest in working with children and teens and would like to pursue another volunteer opportunity with the organization Stop Child Abuse Now here in Richmond.

has been very close to a hobby for her lately. When she’s not in Richmond, Mensah-Etsi lives in Alexandria with her family. We asked her why she chose to settle in Richmond and attend VCU, and she jokingly said it is because her two favorite colors are black and yellow! “On a serious note,” she stated, “I just really fell in love with the city when I visited, so there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to attend VCU. I grew up in a city, so this felt close to home.”

With time on her side, Mensah-Etsi certainly has plenty of opportunities to change her career path. She hopes she can get a job with her degree or perhaps continue on to graduate school, and even sees a career in research as a possibility. Ultimately, though, she is interested in counseling young children or teens who have experienced trauma. Her goal is to help kids “understand that at least one person is on their side even if it seems that A native of Togo in West Africa, Mensahthey have to deal with it on their own.” Etsi moved to the U.S. in 2007, shortly before she turned 13. She says it wasn’t a One of the many interesting aspects of this junior is that she is only 18 years old. hard transition for her as she already She was a mere 16 years of age when she spoke French and Ewe (an ethnic lanContinuing her love for the subject, Men- first enrolled at VCU and proves daily that guage), so English was quite easy to learn sah-Etsi has decided to further her skills by age has nothing to do with capacity for by comparison. She indeed misses the applying for several internships throughsuccess. A very hard worker, when asked spicy foods of Togo, but also says that out the department. After narrowing about her free time, Mensah-Etsi says she while other people in Richmond may be down her choices for internships this fall annoyed by the street sounds, lights and has been very preoccupied with schoolfrom three options, she is excited to have work, as well as with working two jobs. crooked sidewalks, it makes her feel right begun her new internship at VCU’s Clark However, she says working out at the gym at home. Hill Institute for Positive Youth Submitted by Megan Sutter, doctoral student in the health psychology program

Congratulations to David Rockman, class of 2013, for receiving the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship. Rockman will receive $5,000 to study in one country from four weeks to one academic year. Named after retired Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman from New York, the program’s goal is to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go.


Spotlight on International Research and Learning Paul Perrin, Ph.D. This summer, Paul Perrin, Ph.D., led six VCU psychology doctoral students on a month-long expedition to the University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain, to participate in a research training program on racial/ethnic disparities in health. The trip was due in large part to Perrin’s ongoing collaboration with Juan Carlos Arango-Lasprilla, Ph.D., a research professor in the University of Deusto’s Department of Psychology and former faculty member in VCU’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Perrin and Arango-Lasprilla spent the past year planning and coordinating this unique opportunity for students who worked with them on various research projects, meeting and collaborating with researchers from all over the world. Among the group of 20 international researchers contributing to and participating in this training program were psychology doctoral students Gillian Leibach and Stephen Trapp of the counseling program, Sarah Doyle of the developmental program, Shaina Gulin of the clinical program and Alejandra Morlett Paredes and Megan Sutter of the health program. The students worked with a team of international researchers spanning ten different countries. The purpose of the training program was to teach students to conduct health disparities research in an international context and build collaborative teams at various universities and rehabilitation facilities. The specific focus was the psychosocial functioning of individuals from understudied global regions with neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury, dementia, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis. Unpaid family caregivers often provide the majority of the informal care to individuals with these conditions, yet have very few resources in order to meet their family and caregiving

needs. Therefore, a major goal of these projects was to study the factors related to mental and physical health of caregivers and to create culturally sensitive health care recommendations for these regions. The team is accumulating evidence for interventions that will improve the quality of informal care for individuals with neurological conditions in regions such as Latin America, where much of this research is being conducted.

The group was able to take part in many cultural experiences and enjoyed exploring the city of Bilbao and the surrounding countryside and Each of the VCU doctoral students had the beaches. The researchers and students spent most of their time in the country’s opportunity to take the lead on projects studying the potential protective and risk Basque region, where they were able to visit the iconic Guggenheim Museum of factors associated with caregiver mental and physical health in either older adults modern and contemporary art, innumerable pintxo restaurants (a specialty of this with dementia or in children with spinal region similar to tapas) and a celebration of Bilbao’s 713th anniversary.

“A major goal of these projects was to study the factors related to mental and physical health of caregivers and to create culturally sensitive health care recommendations for these regions.”

The group also traveled to many places around the country, including Bermeo and San Sebastián, which are located on the Northern coast of Spain near the border of France. In Bermeo, they made a trek to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a hermitage that is accessed by hiking down a narrow trail, crossing a stone bridge and walking up approximately 230 steps. The group felt the hike was definitely worth the effort, though, and—as a legend instructs—got to the peak, rang a bell three times and made three wishes. Together, many of the researchers and students also took a day trip to San Sebastián, a coastal town that rests on the Bay of Biscay, famous for its renowned Basque food and, of course, its shoreline. They also got the chance to venture to southern France and Barcelona.

cord injuries and disorders. They were also able to propose potential future projects with existing data or completely new data collections based in various understudied global regions, such as in Neiva, Colombia; Auckland, New Zealand; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Mexico City, Mexico, among many others. Perrin and the team of international researchers offered a number of seminars on advanced research methods and statistics, such as factor analysis, structural equation modeling, qualitative research methods, metaanalysis, neuroimaging and scientific man- Submitted by Megan Sutter, doctoral student in the health psychology program uscript preparation.


“I had a wonderful experience in Bilbao. When I started graduate school, I certainly did not expect I would get to travel abroad to do research. It was a really unique opportunity getting to meet and work with well-known researchers from around the world. Bilbao is beautiful, and I did quite a bit of exploring in and around the city learning the area's rich cultural customs and history. It is a good feeling to know that our research has the potential to help improve the quality of life of patients with neurological conditions and their caregivers.” Shaina Gulin, clinical psychology doctoral student

Back row [L to R]: Javier Peña (Spain), Hinemoa Elder (New Zealand), Nada Andelic (Norway), Alfonso Caracuel (Spain), Hugo Senra (Portugal), Stephen Trapp (USA), Ivan Panyavin (Spain), Anne Norup (Denmark), Charles Hallmark (USA), Alejandra Morlett (USA), Alexander Moreno (Canada), Rocío Del Pino Sáez (Spain), Clara Isabel González Berdugo (Spain), Maria Cristina Quijano (Colombia), Yaneth Rodriguez (Mexico) Front row [L to R]: Juan Carlos Arango-Lasprilla (Spain), Carlos de los Reyes (Colombia), Megan Sutter (USA), Sarah Doyle (USA), Gillian Leibach (USA), Shaina Gulin (USA), Naroa Ibarretxe (Spain), Paul Perrin (USA)


Kristin Heron, Ph.D., from Penn State University visited the department early in the fall semester. Heron is associate director of the Dynamic Real-time Ecological Ambulatory Methodologies Initiative at Penn State's Survey Research Center. In this position, she uses ecological momentary assessment and ecological momentary intervention in her research focused on a range of clinical health topics including eating behaviors, body image, physical activity promotion and smoking cessation. Ecological momentary assessment broadly refers to the use of assessments (e.g., questionnaires) that capture information about people as they go about their daily lives in their natural environment (e.g., home). Ecological momentary intervention refers to interventions or treatments that are delivered to individuals as they go about their daily lives. Heron spent time training students in Dr. Robin Everhart's research lab on ecological momentary assessment for a pediatric asthma study that will allow families to use smart phones as they report on their child's asthma care in real time.

Kristin Heron, Ph.D.

Shigehiro Oishi, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, presented a talk to the department in September titled “The Psychological Wealth of Nations.” Here is the abstract: Shigehiro Oishi, Ph.D. What is a good society? Philosophers from Plato to Bentham have argued that a good society is a happy society―namely, a society in which most citizens are happy and free from fear. Since the publication of “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith in 1776, most economists have implicitly assumed that a happy society is a materially wealthy society. Thus, gross national product and related indices became the most popular indicators of the well-being of nations from the 1950’s to date. Recently, however, prominent economists as well as political scientists, sociologists and psychologists have shown that a happy society is not only a materially wealthy society, but also a society in which citizens can trust one another, have a sense of freedom and have close social relationships. The inquiry into the psychological wealth of nations, or the subjective well-being of nations, helps answer a fundamental question in philosophy and social sciences for millennia: ‘‘What is a good society?’


Doctor of Philosophy

Anne Fishback

Stephen Page

Benita Belvet

Sherona Gardner

Ryan Pannell

Jessica Brown

Andrew Gibbs

Kevin Papile

Suzzette Chopin

Myra Glorioso

Natalie Parks

Lillian Christon Arnold

Logan Gravitt

Krishna Patel

Ashley Dibble

Lateisha Greene

Justin Payne

Rebecca Hubbard

Katelyn Gruber

James Peacock

David Jennings

Jamila Harris

Quy Phan

Nichole Kelly

Tiquana Hill

Cecilia Presseau

Laurin Mack

James Hovermale

Nathalie Rieder

Priscilla Powell

Savonne Howard

Kylessia Ross

Molly Neff

Marshall Hunter

Faryal Shahid

Laura Slosky

Kelley Hurdle

Katelyn Sisk

Denicia Titchner

Arturo Iglesias

Angel Slach

Stephanie Wolf

Lucas Keckley

Indira Smajlagic

Hira Khalid

Natalie Taylor

Bachelor of Science

Jamison Lancaster

Adrienne Tetreault

Vanessa Agyeman

Dana Larson

Brandon Tolbert

Hasen Alghamdi

Russ Lawrence

Tierraney Truss

Latessa Allums

Michele Mascatello

James Vosti

Michael Amon

Rachel Mason

Brenda Wei

Sonja Ayers

Tiffany Mayo

Patrick Wiley

Sweska Basnet

Natasha McCoy

Alaysia Williams

Kirstie Breland

Alexandra McDougall

Lyndsay Wilshaw

Erica Brown

Brandie Mckenzie

Christopher Wilson

Ashley Callis

Xue Ju Meyer

Jakwame Carey

Scott Misturini

Megan Cavanagh

Lindsay Mitchiner

Grace Charriez

Lea Moisa

Courtney Christian

Brooke Myers

Alicia Cook

Krislee Nelson

Aldijana Cordic

Paul Norton

Jonathan Cox

Sierre Norton

Mary Dean

Kristin Oravetz


Photo by Elijah Christman, fiscal technician in the Department of Psychology

A few spirited Psychology undergraduate and graduate students gather in front of White House with assistant director of academic advising, Katharine

Stoddard, M.Ed., N.C.C., second row from bottom on far right, and director of undergraduate studies, Linda Zyniewski, Ph.D., third row from bottom on far right.

Virginia Commonwealth University College of Humanities and Sciences Department of Psychology 806 W. Franklin St. P.O. Box 842018 Richmond, VA 23284-2018 Phone: 804-828-1193 Fax: 804-828-2237 Web address: www.psychology.vcu.edu/ Newsmagazine comments: Jennifer Elswick, jlelswick@vcu.edu

Virginia Commonwealth University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action university providing access to education and employment without regard to age, race, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, veteran’s status, political affiliation or disability.

VCU Psychology's Fall 2013 Issue of Zeitgeist  

All the latest news and updates from VCU's Department of Psychology.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you