Newsletter Editions

Published: 01/15/2016
Winter 2016


Fellow's National Award Studies the Turbulent Years of Adolescence

Photo: Connor McCabe
Photo: Connor McCabe

Discussion at literary conference 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.The background of this research award was covered in a previous article. Learn more about Connor, his research, and hobbies. Read More

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).


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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

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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.