Newsletter Section


Fellow's National Award Studies the Turbulent Years of Adolescence

Photo: Connor McCabe
Photo: Connor McCabe

The Psychology Department is home to many bright and talented graduate students.  We revel in their professional success!  One recent success came in the form of an NRSA received by Connor McCabe (Child Clinical with Kevin King). The background of this research award was covered in a previous article.  Learn more about Connor, his research, and hobbies below!

Let's start with the basics, where are you from and where did you complete undergrad/master's?

I grew up in the Northern California Bay Area and got my undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of California, San Diego. 

How did you wind up at UW/why did you apply here? What do you think about living in Seattle?

I applied to UW because I wanted to conduct research in the area of adolescent self-regulation, and Kevin’s (Assoc. Prof. Kevin King) interests were an outstanding match with where I wanted to go in my career. I also really valued the balance and integration between research and clinical training of the UW program. And, it was a top program located in Seattle to boot, so I had to apply!

Seattle has been a consistently wonderful place to live. The people are down-to-earth, the eateries and breweries are great, and there is no shortage of things to do. The culture here is awesome. I simply wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

What is your research interest and how did you get into it (what inspires/motivates you)?

Broadly, I study adolescent self-regulation and associated psychopathology, with particular interest in sexual minority mental health. Adolescence is fascinating because it’s a time of rapid change – arguably more so than any other period. Teens are required to navigate their independence, their sexuality, their identity, their peer groups, their heightened and variable emotions, and so many other demands – yet are the most developmentally sensitized to their environment and are still developing in their self-regulatory capacities to navigate these transitions gracefully. It’s the storm of this period that solidifies who we are from that period onward: weathering it well or weathering it poorly can have implications that could last a lifetime. I’m interested in sexual minority development because few groups experience these trials more harshly than non-heterosexual or non-cisgender teens. I’m inspired by the resiliency of this population, and I’d like to understand individual differences in risk among LGBT youth for developing psychopathology.

How did you learn about your funding opportunity and tell us about the application/waiting process?

The NRSA is pretty ubiquitous in graduate school and I can’t quite remember when I first heard about it, but what I remember thinking when I first decided to apply was “there is no way I can pull this off.” So, if you have that thought, notice it and let it pass because it’s unhelpful (and totally untrue). The waiting process can be very frustrating/anxiety-provoking, but the things to keep in mind are: 1. you are not alone; and, 2. ultimately, the process of writing it is worthwhile in itself, even if things don’t go your way in the end, so throw yourself in and engage in the process rather than the outcome.

How did you feel when you learned that your application was accepted and that you will receive funding?

Disbelief, followed by elation. It felt incredible to have a funding agency validate your thinking and your research idea, and to effectively communicate “we’re experts, and yes, you know what you’re talking about – or at least you will by the time we stop throwing money at you.”

What is the name of your project and the funding source?

“Developmental Pathways of Substance Use among Sexual Minority Women.” Funding was provided by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Do you have any advice/tips/suggestions for others who may apply to this opportunity? About graduate study in general?

I have many, but perhaps the most important thing I’d recommend is to find the synthesis between what you love and what would be feasible to fund. Practically, getting funded is important because you cannot pursue what you care about without it, but it’s equally (if not more) critical to keep in mind that this is also the topic that represents you; it reflects the career you hope to grow in to. Doing anything less than that is not in your (or the funding agency’s) best interest, and it would be grueling to spend years on a project that you are not intrinsically excited about. The same can be said of graduate school in general I think. Remember that building a research career is part of building how you want to spend part of the rest of your life, so make it count, and make sure it’s bringing you closer to what you want to do and who you want to be.

What do you hope to accomplish with the funding and/or while in the UW Psychology graduate program?

My research goal for my grant is to help our understanding of LGBT substance use via psychological mechanisms from a developmental psychopathology framework. We cannot hope to reduce disparities without knowing what to target, and what characterizes individual differences in risk in an at-risk – yet largely resilient – population. In terms of career growth, I want to learn more about the etiology of substance abuse, LGBT identity development, neurobiological aspects of adolescent development, and emotion regulation; I think there is much to be gained in synthesizing these literatures, and I want to use this project to do it. Moreover, I want to become expert in advanced longitudinal methods, as I think good researchers and good instructors in quantitative psychology are very much needed in the field right now.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I like to home brew, work out, play video games, and play table tennis. I also really enjoy going out dancing when I need to let out some stress. I’m also really into the Seattle brewery scene; the nanobreweries here are my favorite places to hang out.

The last book and/or movie you saw and enjoyed?

Good question! I’m a huge superhero fanboy, and I recently re-watched Captain America: Winter Solider. I also recently re-watched the original Star Wars trilogy, which really never gets old.

What you plan to do once you complete your PhD?

I plan on pursuing a faculty position where I can continue doing research in adolescent development and continue fostering, applying, and teaching quantitative methods. Within that, I would love to teach a graduate regression or HLM course in the future as well, as I’ve had a lot of fun as a TA in grad stats so far!

Supplemental Reading:



Behavioral Scientist Receives Support for AIDS Research

Photo: Bryan Kutner
Photo: Bryan Kutner

Bryan Kutner is a fourth year clinical student working with Jane Simoni. He applied for and received a training grant supported by UW's Center for AIDS Research (CFAR).

Let's start with the basics, where are you from and where did you complete undergrad/master's?

I’m from the Lone Star State (aka secession capital of the U.S.): Texas. I completed a BA in Sociology at Yale University and an MPH in Epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health 

How did you wind up at UW/why did you apply here? What do you think about living in Seattle?

As I went through the MPH program, I started to work within an implementation study on motivational interviewing for community based drug treatment counselors. That just whet my appetite to learn more about evidence based clinical practices. I realized I'd get two birds with one stone in clinical psychology: advanced training in research methods plus clinical training in the implementation of evidence based practices. I searched for programs where I was living, in New York, but when I visited UW the deal was sealed. It was just the right fit!

How did you learn about your funding opportunity and tell us about the application/waiting process?

I saw an announcement on the listserv from the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) at UW. I wasn’t going to apply because I’d been told they rarely if ever had awarded a behavioral scientist. But my advisor, Jane Simoni, is always encouraging so I applied anyway.

How did you feel when you learned that your application was accepted and that you will receive funding?

I was on the train to SEA-TAC when my phone buzzed with a message from a labmate congratulating me. I was so relieved. I also thought, “Now I can just get cracking on my research!" 

Do you have any advice/tips/suggestions for others who may apply to this opportunity? About graduate study in general?

I’d applied for an F31/NRSA and my proposal was not discussed. I had some excellent feedback from the reviewers and was about to start working on a resubmission. Then this other grant came through. If anything, don’t stop taking feedback and improving your proposal. And give your peers lots of encouragement too. If I hadn’t had cheerleaders in my lab, cohort and the Department, I might have been discouraged by one grant's outcome. Instead, I was invigorated, took it as a sign to improve, and then got rewarded for it.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I love growing houseplants, cooking, electoral politics, and antiracism. I also like mindfulness meditation retreats. And long walks on the beach. (Not that last part — gag!) 

The last book and/or movie you saw and enjoyed?

The Professor and the Madman, Simon Winchester. It’s describes the making of the Oxford English Dictionary, much of which we owe to the solitary work of an American Civil War veteran who’d been institutionalized with schizophrenia.

What you plan to do once you complete your PhD?

Celebrate. And then continue to work on dissemination and implementation science in public health and psychology.

Supplemental Reading:



Hello to Our New Graduate Students!

In September, 2015, 22 new graduate students joined the Psychology Ph.D. Program. This is one of the largest cohorts in recent history!  The group includes five pairs of students who were admitted to work in the same labs. Our new students arrived from as far away as China and India and from as near as right here in Seattle.

Many in this group earned their previous degrees from schools on the east coast (Boston University, Duke, NYU, Wesleyan, Yale). A handful completed studies in California (Stanford, UC Berkeley), while several others previously attended schools in the middle of the US (Ohio University, Purdue, UT Austin). A few students who are joining us have previous affiliations with UW, as students or research staff.

The group is already receiving recognition for their outstanding potential. Several students received recruitment awards from our Department, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School, and even the National Science Foundation.  Our thanks goes to the Graduate School who helped us recruit this great group by providing Top Scholar and GO-MAP Diversity Awards.

Incoming students attended a weeklong orientation before the official start of Fall quarter. Orientation is organized by an advanced graduate student who has been selected as the Department’s Lead TA. This year's Lead TA is Nicole Stettler (Child Clinical with Lynn Fainsilber Katz).


Supplemental Reading:


A Fall Welcome from the Diversity Steering Committee

The Diversity Steering Committee (DSC) has new leadership for the 2015-2016 academic year. Starting this past summer, Arianne (Ari) Eason and Sarah Edmunds, fourth year graduate students in the social/developmental and child clinical areas, respectively, became the new DSC co-chairs. Our previous fearless and capable co-chairs, Joyce Yang and Teri Kirby, have taken their next steps in academia.  Joyce is currently working on her dissertation in Shanghai, China, and is applying for a clinical internship. Teri has graduated with her Ph.D. and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Exeter. Congratulations to Joyce and Teri!

This autumn quarter, we welcomed some new graduate student members! The DSC recruited new members by presenting at New Student Orientation, describing last year’s efforts and encouraging new ideas. New members this year include: first year students, Adriana GermanoDannielle WhileyDaniel Kort, and Eric Gomez; second year student, Frances Aunon; third year student, Linda Zou, and sixth year student, Nicole Stettler.

We had our first DSC meeting of the year! We are very excited to share our plans for scenario and discussion-based training sessions designed to increase awareness of diversity among both students and faculty, and to create inclusive environments both within and outside of the department! More details will be announced soon. The DSC also spent time considering how to make the criteria for obtaining the Department’s Diversity Specialization both clear and transparent for prospective applicants. A subcommittee was selected to make these revisions and revamp the website, which will also help the general public better understand what it means to earn the diversity specialization!

The DSC looks forward to supporting graduate students in exploring diversity science in their coursework, research, teaching, and other domains of engagement within and outside the UW.  Please contact us at

Supplemental Reading:


Graduate Accomplishments

Spring 2015

Sarah Edmunds’ (Child Clinical with Wendy Stone) poster was mentioned in an SFARI article about autism for "baby sibs.”

Karen Chang (Social Psychology and Personality with Yuichi Shoda) received an International Research and Study Fellowship, funded by the Chester Fritz and Boeing International endowments. During Autumn 2015, Karen is studying abroad in China! We asked her for a brief perspective on this experience thus far: "I am currently in Shanghai, China for the quarter, courtesy of the Fritz/Boeing International Research Fellowship, working with a lab in East China Normal University. I am here to extend my research on bicultural conflict among Asian Americans. Specifically, I look at the challenges of navigating between competing cultural values (e.g., family duty vs. autonomy). Data collection in Shanghai allows me to make a critical "monocultural Asian" comparison for my Asian American and European American samples in the U.S. I am also exploring concepts of race in China, and how they differ from our concepts of race in the U.S." Karen is also an active member of our Diversity Steering Committee.

Our 44th Annual Psychology Research Festival took place on Wednesday May 27, 2015 at the Waterfront Activities Center near Husky Stadium. Seventeen students presented their research to a packed venue. The weather was lovely for our afternoon awards ceremony which recognized the accomplishments of teaching, service, and excellence.

The 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate Students was awarded to Adrian Andelin (Behavioral Neuroscience with Jaime Olavarria). Adrian has TA'd for the Psychology Department continuously until he recently was awarded a position on the Vision Training Grant! Two service awards were given from the Department and its graduate students. Karen Pang (Child Clinical with Elizabeth McCauley (Seattle Children's Hospital) and Lynn Fainsilber Katz) and Laura Brady (Social Psychology & Personality with Yuichi Shoda) were honored for their contributions to the Department and its students. 

A number of students were recognized for their selection as recipients of the Hunt Fellowship, ALCOR, and as Psychology Department Scholars. These awards provide summer support (the Hunt also provides support in spring quarter), which includes stipend, tuition waivers, and health insurance. Congratulations are extended to Hunt Fellows, Stephanie Thompson (Child Clinical with Liliana Lengua) and Alissa Jerud (Adult Clinical with Lori Zoellner); ALCOR Fellows, Hollie Granato (Adult Clinical with William George), Teri Kirby (Social Psychology and Personality with Cheryl Kaiser), and Kristin Thimm (Child Clinical with Kevin King); Psychology Department Scholars, Colleen Harker (Child Clinical with Wendy Stone), Blake Pellman (Behavioral Neuroscience with Jeansok Kim), James Rae (Social Psychology and Personality with Kristina Olson), Solace Shen (Developmental with Peter H. Kahn, Jr.) and Emma Wampler (Cognition and Perception with Lee Osterhout).

The awards afternoon concluded the announcement of the 2015 Davida Teller Distinguished Faculty award for mentorship: Kristina R. Olson (Developmental)!

In Spring 2015, five students passed their general exams and advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D.: Bryan Kutner (Adult Clinical with Jane Simoni), Kelsey McCune (Animal Behavior with Renee Ha), Robert Mohr (Animal Behavior with Joseph Sisneros), Yiqin Alicia Shen (Social Psychology and Personality with Yuichi Shoda), and Brianna Yamasaki (Cognition and Perception with Chantel Prat).

Four students completed a thesis-based Master's of Science degree: Charlotte Brill (Adult Clinical with William George), Anne Fast (Developmental with Kristina Olson), Saethra Fritscher (Animal Behavior with Michael Beecher), and Bryan Kutner (Adult Clinical with Jane Simoni).

We had one student graduate with their Ph.D. during Spring 2015 quarter, Jessica Thomas (Cognition and Perception with Ione Fine). She accepted a position with XBox. Congratulations!

To conclude the academic year, the Psychology Department hosted its annual Hooding Ceremony at the Walker Ames room in Kane Hall. Ten recent Ph.Ds. attended with their family and friends to this special event.

Photo: Hooding Ceremony
Photo: Hooding Ceremony

Summer 2015

The Huffington Post wrote a great article about a client's success with recent Ph.D. alumna, Anita Lungu (Adult Clinical with Marsha Linehan) using DBT. Anita earned the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and currently a post-doctoral fellow at UC San Francisco.

Adrian Andelin (Behavioral Neuroscience with Jaime Olavarria) was selected for a predoctoral position supported by the Vision Training Grant.

Sonya Mehta (Cognition and Perception with Thomas Grabowski (Radiology) and Geoff Boynton) received an NRSA to support her research. 

Natalia Garcia (Adult Clinical with Lori Zoellner) passed her general exam and advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. during summer quarter. She was previously featured in an article for her NSF-funded research on fear.

A. Paige Peterson (Adult Clinical with Corey Fagan) completed a Master's Degree with her paper: "Psychometric Evaluation of the Brief Adjustment Scale-6 (BASE-6): A New Measure of General Psychological Adjustment."

Several students graduated with their Ph.D. (a number of them pictured above in the Hooding photo above): Amanda Gilmore (Adult Clinical with William George), Safia Jackson (Adult Clinical with Mary Larimer), Teri Kirby (Social Psychology and Personality with Cheryl Kaiser), Jeremy Luk (Child Clinical with Kevin King), Anita Lungu (Adult Clinical with Marsha Linehan), Danny O'Rourke (Adult Clinical with Ronald Smith), Erin Ward-Ciesielski (Adult Clinical with Marsha Linehan), and Sam Yard (Adult Clinical with Jane Simoni).

Autumn 2015

Three new NRSA fellows! Congratulations to Charlotte Heleniak (Child Clinical with Kate McLaughlin), Connor McCabe (Child Clinical with Kevin King), and, Elizabeth Neilson (Adult Clinical with William George). Charlotte was previously featured in this newsletter when she received a Doris Duke award. Check out the research feature on Connor McCabe in the other section of our newsletter!

Brianna Yamasaki (Cognition and Perception with Chantel Prat) received a 2015 American Psychological Association Dissertation Research Award of $1000 for her research on bilingual language.

Congratulations to all our students for their accomplishments these past several months.