Research

In the Department of Psychology, we're committed to the communities we serve. Our research labs are spaces for innovative work that tackles real-world issues such as the underlying processes that affect anxiety in children and adolescents, how early life experiences shape physical and mental health throughout life, and the causes and consequences of trauma, violence and abuse. Undergraduates, graduate students and faculty come together in our state-of-the-art facilities to pose challenging questions and discover cutting-edge solutions that reach beyond the bounds of conventional psychological science. With twenty active research labs, you'll conduct hands-on research that makes a difference.

Initiative

Automaticity, Affect, Control & Thought (AACT) Lab

About

Kateri McRae, PhD, director

Our lab uses behavioral and brain-based methods to answer questions about how we feel, how we think (thought), and how feelings and thoughts can change each other. AACT stands for automaticity, affect, control and thought. Our lab members conduct research on these affective, or emotional, and cognitive processes among individuals of many diverse backgrounds. Some of these processes are relatively automatic and occur without effort, but others are more deliberate or controlled. Our main focus has been the way that different types of cognitive processes influence emotional responding, such as individuals’ emotional responses when distracted, reinterpreting emotional events or providing a verbal label for their emotional experience.

Initiative

Behavioral Research for Anxiety InterVention Efficiency (BRAVE) Lab

About

Michelle Rozenman, PhD, director

Our research lab aims to improve treatments for children and adolescents with anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and related problems. We study processes that underlie these conditions, including how youth think, feel and act. Then, our goal is to adapt or develop treatments to modify these processes. We study anxiety mechanisms, including cognitive bias, distress tolerance, associative learning, psychophysiological reactivity during acute stress, and avoidance and approach behavior, in both cross-sectional investigations and clinical trials. We are committed to improving the evidence-base for anxiety assessment and intervention with methods that have potential for translation into practical, clinical community settings outside the laboratory. Our ultimate goal is to help kids and teens feel brave so that they can do the things they want and have to do.

Initiative

Biology, Environments & Mood Studies (BEAMS) Lab

About

Erika Manczak, PhD, director

Amid discussions of nature versus nurture, we're broadly interested in how these forces work together — how experiences in our environments can change biological processes and how biological risk can modify the effects of experiences. Our lab examines how these features of social relationships interact with biological processes to predict mental and physical health in families. We are particularly interested in how important relationships affect immune processes in ways that increase risk for depression during adolescence; however, we also examine risk across other developmental periods (e.g., prenatal, young childhood, adulthood) and consider additional biological pathways (e.g., epigenetic modifications, somatic fitness, metabolomic profiles) that may confer or buffer risk. The BEAMS Lab believes the best science is built from diverse perspectives, backgrounds and experiences. We are committed to fostering an inclusive environment in our lab, our classrooms and our community.

Initiative

Center for Marital and Family Studies

About

Howard Markman, PhD, and Scott Stanley, co-directors

Phone: 303-871-3062

The Center for Marital and Family Studies builds knowledge of risk and protective factors that contribute to martial distress and divorce, studies the effectiveness of marriage and relationship education for couples, examines couple dynamics and cohabitation, and continually develops intervention programs to enhance the quality of martial and family relationships. We use large, randomized effectiveness relationship educations trials and national, longitudinal research samples to strengthen our understanding of how to best improve the quality of relationships. Some of our current studies include the Army Marital Project, the Relationship Development Study, and the Fatherhood, Relationship, and Marriage and Education Project.

Initiative

Child Health & Development (CHAD) Lab

About

Sarah Watamura, PhD, director

Phone: 303-871-7774

In this lab, we study the many factors that affect children's health and development — from observing children in care centers to assessing and measuring health and stress levels in our lab. We work to understand how risk and protective factors become embedded in the body, and develop and test interventions to support resilience. We are interested in factors that influence cortisol patterns and reactivity in early childhood including factors within the child and those in their caregiving environments. We are also interested in what individual differences in cortisol patterns and reactivity during early childhood might have for later development. We are deeply committed to science in the service of public good, in line with the mission of the University of Denver, and to helping translate scientific findings to inform policy and practice decisions for and with families.

Initiative

Developmental Neuropsychology Lab

About

Laura Santerre-Lemmon, PhD, director

Phone 303-871-4403

The Developmental Neuropsychology Lab studies atypical development, its causes, effects on brain development and psychological functions, and what it can tell us about normal development. Answering these questions about a disorder will provide an integrated scientific explanation for that disorder. Achieving such explanations will have profound consequences for both basic developmental science and clinical practice. The lab includes the Developmental Neuropsychology Clinic, which provides learning disability and neuropsychological evaluations for children, teens, and young adults.

Initiative

Doom Lab

About

Jena Doom, PhD, director

Phone: 303-871-7768

In our lab, we are working to learn more about children, adolescents and families. We want to learn how they grow over time, how their experiences shape who they are and how biology (e.g., genes, brain, the body's response to stress) influences how they develop. We believe that high-quality science should be the basis for interventions and should inform policy. We are committed to conducting high-quality research and translating those findings to help children, adolescents and families. The goal of our research on social buffering is to find out which relationship figures can serve as a buffer from stress at different ages so that we can use this information to improve public health.

Initiative

Emotion & Coping Lab

About

Daniel N. McIntosh, PhD, director

We study social influences on emotion, ranging from basic processes such as facial mimicry of emotion to cultural influences such as religion's role in coping and adjustment.

Initiative

Family & Child Neuroscience (FCN) Lab

About

Pilyoung Kim, PhD, director

In the Family and Child Neuroscience Lab, we study how early experience in family influences the development of a child's brain that involves in emotion regulation. We also investigate how exposure to stress influences parental brain and emotional bond to their children, how everyday stress impacts mental and emotional demands related to pregnancy and parenting in mothers, and understanding how stress impacts a newborn's body and brain development. Mothers' and fathers' brains change during the early postpartum period and their childhood and current stress can impact the neural adaptation to parenthood. As the infant's brain develops rapidly, maternal stress and parenting can impact brain development and have long-term influence. Our research aims to provide scientific information for optimal ways to support infant brain development and provide scientific information for optimal ways to support new parents' adjustment to parenthood.

Initiative

Fox Lab

About

Kathryn Fox, PhD, director

Suicide is a leading cause of death globally, and non-fatal self-harming behaviors are leading causes of injury and suffering. The Fox Lab is broadly focused on understanding the causes of suicide and self-harming behaviors (broadly defined) so that we can better predict and prevent these outcomes. Toward these aims, we often focus our research on adolescents and people who identify as LGBTQ+ given their disproportionate experience of these outcomes. We are also interested in increasing access to quality mental health care, including via the creation of brief and easily disseminated treatments, and via identifying and reducing treatment biases and barriers that disproportionately impact BIPoC. 

Initiative

Learning Exceptionalities and Related Neuropsychology (L.E.a.R.N.) Lab

About

Lauren McGrath, PhD, director

We study [L]earning [E]xceptionalities [a]nd [R]elated [N]europsychology (L.E.a.R.N.) and focus on understanding the cognitive, genetic and environmental contributions to learning disabilities and related developmental disorders. We take a cross-disciplinary approach to our research questions, integrating perspectives and methods from neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, child clinical psychology, behavior genetics and special education.  The goal of our work is to develop a deeper understanding of learning that spans multiple levels of analysis (genetics, environment, brain, cognition, behavior) in order to improve early identification and intervention for children. We are conducting studies to investigate the brain, cognitive and developmental factors that contribute to risk and resilience in children with comorbidities.  Our current work is focusing on the comorbidity of dyslexia with ADHD and anxiety.  

Initiative

Motivation, Affect & Cognition Lab

About

Kimberly S Chiew, PhD, director

Our lab investigates the psychological and neural mechanisms by which motivation and affect influence human cognition and behavior, with a specific focus on cognitive control and episodic memory processes. Through a combination of methods, including behavioral paradigms, psychophysiological measures, functional neuroimaging (fMRI) and video analysis of behavior, we investigate these relationships in both laboratory and naturalistic settings. We seek to characterize the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms by which these influences take effect on cognition, focusing on cognitive control and episodic memory. In our studies, we have investigated cognitive control and memory processes separately as well as in interaction with one another, taking the view that these processes interact and work in concert to support adaptive human behavior.