2012-2013 News

Dr. Heather Jones Receives VCU Research Grant

Heather Jones thumbnailDr. Heather Jones, faculty in the Clinical Psychology Program and co-director of the Center for ADHD, has recently been awarded an Endowment Fund grant of $47,000 from the VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research. The grant will fund a research project designed to investigate whether motivational interviewing for low-income African American caregivers of newly-diagnosed children with ADHD increases their subsequent help-seeking behaviors relative to their child's ADHD. VCU collaborators on the project include Dr. Sean McKenna (Pediatrics) and Dr. Joshua Langberg (Psychology).

Megan Sutter Wins APS Research Award

sutter-thumbMegan Sutter, a first year graduate student in the Health Psychology Program was recently awarded the RISE Research Award from the Association for Psychological Science (APS). The purpose of the award is to cultivate and acknowledge outstanding scholarly research conducted by student members of APS in psychological fields related to socially and economically underrepresented populations. The winning project titled “The Influence of Family Dynamics: Mental Health of Colombian Dementia Caregivers” explores the associations between caregiver mental health and familial characteristics, such as empathy and family communication in a sample dementia caregivers from Cali, Colombia.

Dr. Elizabeth Cotter Receives American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship

cotter-thumbDr. Elizabeth Cotter, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Counseling Psychology Program, recently was awarded the American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship Award ($150,000). Dr. Cotter's research interests lie in the development of culturally-sensitive health promotion programming. Her project will examine the effectiveness of translating an established pediatric obesity intervention (NOURISH+, PI: Mazzeo) into a community setting. Specifically, her research involves a partnership with a community health center situated within a public housing development. This investigation has the potential to reduce obesity rates in an underserved population, thereby reducing the risk of future cancer incidence and other health concerns.

Daniel Snipes Receives NSF Fellowship

snipes-thumbDaniel Snipes, a second-year Health Psychology doctoral student, recently was awarded the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship. This fellowship comes with 3 years of full tuition support, with a generous $30,000 per year stipend. Daniel's research interests lie in understanding how stigma, substance use, and sexual behavior influence each other. He also has a particular interest in HPV infection and prevention among high risk populations. He plans on using his time as an NSF fellow to examine the structure of LGBT prejudice.


Dr. Shawn Utsey Receives Fulbright Scholarship

utsey-thumb> View the VCU News story
> View the Richmond Times Dispatch story

Dr. Shawn Utsey, of the Counseling Psychology Program, recently was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. As a counseling psychologist whose research has focused on the psychological sequelae of the stress and trauma associated with racism and discrimination in African Americans, he realized that South Africa provides a unique opportunity to study the long-term effects of racial oppression on individuals and families, and how trauma associated with this oppression is transmitted across generations. For his Fulbright Scholarship, he will collaborate with faculty, staff, and students at the Sinomlando Center for Oral History and Memory Work (Sinomlando Center) at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) in Pietermaritzburg to conduct oral histories with survivors (and their families) of apartheid-era ethnoviolence.

Dorothy Fillmore Wins Community Service Award

filmore-thumbCatalyst Award recipients are honored for their work in the community to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Founded in 1991 in Richmond, Virginia, ROSMY's mission is to ensure equal opportunities for success for Virginia's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth through access to support, education, and advocacy. ROSMY continues to be the only organization in the area that directly addresses the unique needs and the healthy social development of LGBTQ youth ages 14-20.

> View the Richmond Times-Dispatch article about her award

Students Win Department Awards and Scholarships

student_awards2The Department's Annual Award and Scholarship Reception is Monday, March 18 from 4-5:30 at 806 W. Franklin Street, 1st floor.  Please find the list of this year's award and scholarship recipients below.


  • Outstanding Psychology Junior Award: Rose S. Bono
  • Outstanding Psychology Senior Award: Brenna I. Posner
  • Undergraduate Psychology Black History in the Making: Jakira T. Brooks & Lindsay M. Mitchiner
  • Graduate Psychology Black History in the Making: Jasmine A. Abrams
  • Outstanding Child Clinical Track Graduate Student Award: Kathryn E. Maher
  • Outstanding Behavioral Medicine Track Graduate Student Award: Vivian M. Rodriguez
  • Outstanding Counseling Graduate Student Award: Janet A. Lydecker
  • Counseling Psychology Leader/Community Engagement Doctoral Student Award: Claire C. Russell
  • Outstanding Developmental Graduate Student Award: Katherine A. Taylor & Nikola R. Zaharakis
  • Outstanding Social Graduate Student Award: Anthony E. Coy
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award: Chelsea A. Reid


  • Deborah Braffman Schroeder Award to Outstanding Clinical Student: Hannah G. Lund
  • Elizabeth Fries Memorial Scholarship: Claire C. Russell
  • John P. Hill Award for Adolescent Research: Claire C. Russell & Katherine A. Taylor
  • Outstanding Master's Candidate Award (Gunst): Daniel J. Snipes
  • Melvin V. Lubman Scholarship in Psychology: Linda Afi Mensah-Etsi
  • John Corazzini Award for Therapeutic Group Work: Jacqueline D. Woods

Drs. Jeff Green and Tim Hulsey Receive Research Grant

green-thumbDr. Jeffrey Green, of the Social Psychology Program, and Dr. Timothy Hulsey, of the Clinical Psychology Program (and Dean of the Honors College), have received an $80,000 research grant from the John Templeton Foundation with recent Social Program alumnus Dr. Daryl Van Tongeren, now a faculty member at Hope College. 

The project is titled “Making and Defending Meaning: Understanding and Reducing Tension between Scientific and Religious Meaning Systems.” The project will examine how the human motivation for meaning may impair objective evaluation of information and elicit defensiveness and biased thinking in the face of competing ‌worldviews. However, meaning affirmations may increase more open and objective evaluation of information and thus facilitate communication between science and religion.

Dr. Leticia Flores Describes Clinical Work with Vets

flores-thumb> View the full VCU On Topic Story

Excerpt: "Flores is director of the VCU Center for Psychological Services and Development, a training facility for advanced counseling and clinical psychology doctoral students. The center partners with the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic at the College of William & Mary to assist veterans in receiving disability benefits...While William & Mary provides the legal expertise, the CPSD provides the medical diagnostics. The majority of cases are patients suffering from PTSD, although there also are cases of traumatic brain injury and moral injury."

Jordan Quaglia Receives Research Grant

quagliaJordan Quaglia, a PhD student in the Social Psychology Program who works in the Social Affective Neuroscience Lab directed by Dr. Kirk Warren Brown, received a $15,000 Varela Award from Mind and Life Institute to compare the influence of two stress-reduction and well-being interventions on social cognition and behavior. To date, very few studies on mindfulness meditation have explored whether and how mindfulness training improves social interactions and relationships. The funded study will compare an 8-week mindfulness intervention with another well-being intervention to investigate effects of mindfulness on neural, behavioral, and real-world markers of social cognition and functioning.

Robert Goodman Receives Research Grant

goodman-thumbRobert Goodman, a PhD student in the Social Psychology Program, received a $15,000 Francisco J. Varela Research Award for Contemplative Science from the Mind and Life Institute to fund his research on mindfulness and memory function. The project, entitled "The Effect of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction on Episodic and Prospective Memory Function in Aging Adults", will be conducted at the VCU Social and Affective Neuroscience Lab with Dr. Kirk Warren Brown, and in collaboration with Dr. Bhikkhu Analayo from the University of Hamburg. The project will examine the effect of an 8-week mindfulness training intervention on behavioral, neurological, and ecological momentary assessment measures of episodic and prospective memory functioning among seniors at risk for mild cognitive impairment.

Dr. Robin Everhart Selected for APA Division 43 Service Positions

everhart-thumbDr. Robin Everhart of the Health Psychology Program was selected as Program Chair of Division 43 (Society of Family Psychology) for the 2014 APA Convention. She will also serve as Chair of the Division 43 Hospitality Suite for the 2013 APA Convention. The Society’s mission is to expand both the study and practice of Family Psychology through education, research, and clinical practice. If you will be at APA this summer, please stop by the Division 43 Hospitality Suite!  


Dr. Michael Southam-Gerow's Book is Published

Dr. Michael Southam-Gerow's new book is out! Read the press release about "Emotion Regulation in Children and Adolescents: A Practitioner's Guide."

Dr. Micah McCreary Receives VCU Quest Innovation Award

mccreary-thumbCongratulations to Dr. Micah McCreary, of our Counseling Psychology Program, who recently received a VCU Quest Innovation award for his proposal, “The BEST (Brothers, Energized, Spirited, Talented) Project.” The BEST project is a program developed to provide training and mentoring for young African American men at risk for school drop out. The BEST Project proposes to build (1) their math, science and technological abilities and skills; (2) their persistence, problem solving and conflict management, self-regulation and motivation skills; and (3) their cultural, spiritual and moral character. The major concern to be addressed is whether various components of a comprehensive program with psychological, mental, educational and spiritual-religious components will have a positive effect on at-risk young men.

Undergraduates Hanna Owens and Sean Tams Win Travel Awards

tams_owens-thumbUndergraduate psychology majors Hanna Owens and Sean Tams both have been awarded travel awards by the VCU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) to present their research at the 2012 conference of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. Hanna will present her poster entitled "Measuring Parental Readiness to Change in Parents of Children with Attention and Behavior Problems" focused on the correlates of parental readiness to change in a sample of parents presenting to a child mental health clinic. Sean performed secondary data analyses on data from a sample of adolescent psychiatric inpatients with depression; his poster is entitled "Construct Validity of the Inventory of Suicide Orientation in Psychiatric Inpatient Youth." Both Sean and Hanna are under the research mentorship of Dr. Heather Jones, working on ongoing studies of ADHD and associated impairments in children and adults. Both students aspire to attend a graduate program in clinical psychology.

"Life After the Military" Panel Discussion

> View the VCU News story

Excerpt: "What is it like for veterans and their families after military service? What are the reintegration issues, especially for those returning to school? The Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities & Sciences addressed these questions in a panel discussion that included student veterans and military family members in honor of Veterans Day. The panel was part of a larger reception for veterans and their families on Nov. 13 in the University Student Commons."

Dr. Tom Eissenberg Invited Member of Secretary's Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections

eissenberg-thumbCongratulations to Dr. Tom Eissenberg, of the Biopsychology Program, on receiving an official invitation from the Department of Health and Human Services to serve as a new member on the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP) at the direct recommendation of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. His term on the committee will be 2012-2016.

The other new members joining him on this prestigious committee are:

  • Chair Designate: Jeffrey Botkin, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Pediatrics and Medical Ethics, Associate Vice President for Research, University of Utah. 
  • Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology and Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies; Director, Clinical Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory, Virginia Commonwealth University.
  • Owen Garrick, M.D., M.B.A., President and CEO, Bridge Clinical Research, Inc. 
  • Pilar Ossorio, J.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Law and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The list of those who are already serving on the committee may be found HERE.

We are proud to have our colleague serve in this manner and look forward to reading about the committee's work.

Dr. Micah McCreary Interviewed on CBS 6 about Colorado Theater Shooting

mccreary-thumbDr. Micah McCreary, of the Counseling Psychology Program, visited CBS 6 this past summer to talk about the writings Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes sent a professor prior to the mass theater shootings.

View the video.

Dr. Bruce Rybarczyk Elected as Fellow to APA, Div. 22

rybarczyk-thumbDr. Bruce Rybarczyk, Director of the Clinical Psychology Program, was recently elected as Fellow of Division 22 (Rehabilitation Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. Fellow status is an honor bestowed upon APA Members who have shown evidence of unusual and outstanding contributions or performance in the field of psychology. Election to Fellow status requires evidence of unusual and outstanding contributions or performance in the field of psychology. Fellow status requires that a person's work has had a national impact on the field of psychology beyond a local, state, or regional level.


VCU Clark-Hill Institute Conducts Community Research

In 2003, through VCU Clark-Hill Institute’s community outreach efforts, City of Richmond residents became aware of the increased prevalence of youth violence (through increased violence-related ambulance pick-ups) surrounding convenience stores selling inexpensive, single-serve alcoholic beverages (also known as “40s” or “22s”). Alarmed by the data, residents held several community forums and collaborated with the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) unit that controls alcohol licenses to businesses. Eventually, residents were able to convince the ABC to restrict licenses to convenience stores to sell these single-serve alcoholic beverages. This new policy remained for six months but was reversed following legal action initiated by the opposition. The Clark-Hill Institute used this situation as a natural experiment to evaluate the effect of the policy on violence in the community.

Dr. Ev Worthington and Colleagues Awarded Research Grant

worthington-thumbDr. Ev Worthington, of the Counseling Psychology Program, and colleagues from Georgia State University (Drs. Don Davis, Kris Varjas, and Joel Meyers) and University of North Texas (Dr. Joshua Hook) have received a $198,000 research grant from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkley through their Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude initiative. Drs. Davis and Hook are recent alumni (2011, 2010, respectively) of the Counseling Psychology program at VCU. The project, which is entitled “A Model of Bullying Based on Gratitude and its Effects on Social Bonds,” involves a two-year longitudinal study of middle school students in Atlanta, GA. The primary purpose of the project is to examine a model that links gratitude to bullying related outcomes via social connectedness and moral disengagement.

Dr. Rosalie Corona and Colleagues Awarded Research Grant

corona-thumbDrs. Rosalie CoronaWendy KliewerAl Farrell, Anna Yaros, and colleagues from the Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development were awarded a three-year grant from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. The overall goal of the proposed project is to determine if the combination of two evidence-based parenting programs reduces adolescent tobacco use and intentions to use tobacco (and associated problem/risk behaviors) and improves parental monitoring, the parent-child relationship, and parent-child communication about tobacco use. This will be accomplished by collecting survey data from 80 parents and their adolescents who complete the family interventions and 80 control parents and adolescents. This proposal further extends the ongoing collaboration between the VCU Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development and Richmond Public Schools.

Dr. Josh Langberg Interviewed by Time Magazine

langberg-thumbDr. Josh Langberg, of the Clinical Psychology Program, was interviewed by Time Magazine about an ADHD research study that he reviewed in his own recent publication. An excerpt: "The study, which was published in Pediatrics,used data collected on nearly 12,000 Icelandic children born between 1994 and 1996. It examined the kids’ prescription records and their standardized test scores in 4th and 7th grades. . . All the students in the study started medication after their fourth grade test, when they were around age 9. The effects of early treatment were most dramatic for girls, particularly in math. 'This study significantly adds to previous research,' says Joshua Langberg, co-director of the Center for ADHD Research, Education, and Service at Virginia Commonwealth University, who was not associated with this research but recently reviewed the data on this question. He added, 'This is certainly a unique and important finding, but it is important to clarify that children with ADHD on medication still declined,' meaning that medication alone does not solve the problem." 

Read the article.

Dr. Al Farrell Receives Award from Society for Prevention Research


Albert Farrell, Ph.D., of the Clinical Psychology Program, received the Nan Tobler Award for Review of the Prevention Science Literature for contributions to the summarization or articulation of the empirical evidence relevant to prevention science. He received the award together with his colleague David Henry from the University of Illinois and his former student Amie Bettencourt who is currently at Johns Hopkins.

Reference: Farrell, A. D., Henry, D. B, & Bettencourt, A. (2011). Methodological challenges examining subgroup differences: Examples from universal school-based youth violence prevention trials. Prevention Science, Online First, January 27. DOI: 10.1007/s11121-011-0200-2

Paper Co-authored by Hannah Lund Receives Recognition from the American College Health Foundation

lund-thumbA 2010 research paper authored by Hannah Lund, MS, a PhD student in the Clinical Psychology Program, and her undergraduate advisor, J. Roxanne Prichard, PhD, was recently awarded the Stephan D. Weiss, PhD Mental Health Fund for Higher Education Writing Prize. The fund seeks to encourage the development of creative initiatives that will enhance mental health service delivery to students, and this award goes to a pivotal publication in college mental health. The title of the winning paper was "Sleep patterns and predictors of disturbed sleep in a large population of college students."  The project, which was Hannah Lund's undergraduate senior thesis, demonstrated that the insufficient sleep and irregular sleep patterns documented in younger adolescents also are present at alarming levels in the college student population.

View the article abstract.


Lund, H.G., Reider, B.D., Whiting, A.B., & Prichard. J.R. (2010). Sleep patterns and predictors of disturbed sleep in a large population of college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46, 124-132.

Research by Drs. Jeff Green & Jody Davis featured by Science of Relationships blog

davis-thumbgreen-thumbDrs. Jeff Green and Jody Davis (of the Social Psychology Program), and Jeni Burnette (an alum of our Social Psychology Program) examined the third-party forgiveness effect, which is the tendency for individuals who are close friends with a victim of a betrayal (third parties) to be less forgiving of the betrayal compared to the victims themselves (first parties; Green, Burnette, & Davis, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin). Findings from their research recently were featured by Science of Relationships in an article applying relationship science to characters from a popular TV show (True Blood). View the article.

Caroline Lavelock Receives Research Award

lavelock-thumbCaroline Lavelock, a PhD student in the Counseling Psychology Program, won the 2012 SAS First Time National Convention Attendee Award. It includes a waiver of the registration fee and recognition at the 120th Annual APA National Convention in August in Orlando, Florida. This award was created to fund convention expenses and promote graduate students'  development within APA and the Student Affiliates of Division 17 (Counseling Psychology). During the National Convention, Caroline and other recipients will be asked to attend a designated social event with the Student Affiliates of Division 17 and meet members of the Leadership and Awards committee. Caroline is currently collecting data for her thesis on the efficacy of workbook interventions to promote a number of virtues, and hopes to present a religious adaptation of the intervention at the Symposium for Religious and Spiritual Interventions while attending the National Convention.