Katherine T. Foster

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Katherine T. Foster, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Kincaid 354
Advising: Not accepting new graduate students in 2025-2026.
Interests: Developmental Psychopathology, Clinical Heterogeneity, Precision Medicine, and Global Mental Health


Lab Website: https://sites.google.com/uw.edu/pearl

One of the most complex aspects of human behavior is its heterogeneity: individuals experiencing the same situation, identifying with similar personal or cultural identities, in the same developmental stage, or sharing a diagnosis report different reactions and outcomes. Clinical phenomena in people with the same diagnosis – like major depression or alcohol use disorder – rarely exhibit the same symptoms, impairment, and remission trajectories, even after receipt of gold standard, evidence-based treatment. Inter- and intra- individual heterogeneity of this type makes it difficult to identify widely applicable causes and treatment targets for psychopathology and leads to profound mental health disparities worldwide.

My work applies a person-centered approach to first understand the uniqueness of each individual (i.e., a person-specific, idiographic profile comprised of patterns across multiple variables) to then draw inferences about what is common to many (i.e., a prevalent, nomothetic “cause”). With this work, I have three primary goals: (1) to understand both unique and common origins, trajectories, and outcomes of psychopathology and health risk behavior like alcohol and drug use over the lifespan, (2) to improve translation of clinical science evidence to case-specific applications (i.e., assessment and intervention across diverse individuals) with maximal personalization and precision, and (3) to advance scalable implementation methods that reduce barriers to effective mental health support (e.g., stigma, affordability, accessibility, need for expert adaptation) at the individual level across diverse communities.