Program for Anxiety, Cognition, and Treatment (PACT) Lab

Lab Members & Research Interests

Current Graduate Students

Miranda Beltzer
Broadly, I am interested in how people respond to uncertain, volatile environments, and how these responses relate to anxiety. More specifically, my research focuses on how aberrant reinforcement learning processes contribute to maladaptive behaviors, cognitive biases, and emotional reactions in anxiety disorders, with a particular interest in social anxiety disorder. I hope to use this research to develop novel interventions targeting specific cognitive mechanisms to alleviate the burden of mental illness. I also take a large-scale, population approach to study mental illness stigma, with the goal of advancing our understanding of factors that contribute to this stigma and consequences of this stigma for people experiencing mental illness. 

Katie Daniel
My research interests center on the question of how automatic cognitive processes contribute to otherwise rational people behaving in ways that can lead to serious clinical outcomes. Specifically, I am interested in how people choose between particular emotion regulation strategies in order to fit their current situational demands, especially in response to previous failures in emotion regulation attempts. I am excited to use mobile technology to better understand these dynamic patterns of flexible emotion regulation in anxious and depressed individuals. 

Jeremy Eberle
I am interested in basic and translational research on cognition, emotion, emotion regulation, and transdiagnostic mechanisms of disorder and change. I seek to translate findings from basic science and to harness precise, multimethod experimental designs, such as cognitive bias modification paradigms, in order to elucidate both the processes that underlie emotional disorders and the implicit or explicit techniques for targeting those processes. A major goal of this work is to advance the development and dissemination of optimized, streamlined, and personalized interventions for the many who need them.
karl Karl Fua
My research involves understanding the dynamics of biased cognitive and emotional responses in psychological disorders, and the role these biases play in the context of distressed romantic relationships. I'm also interested in the ways empirically-supported treatments that target these biases can be disseminated via the use of novel technologies to address barriers to treatment-seeking (e.g., accessibility).

Currently on internship
Nauder Namaky
I am interested in the cognitive and neural profile underlying the onset and maintenance of symptoms related to mood and anxiety disorders, specifically the cognitive and neural profiles involved in dysphoria, intrusive thoughts and rumination, and sleep disturbances. I am also interested in exploring ways to take existing treatment modalities and make them more culturally relevant for under-treated demographic groups.

Alexandra (Allie) Silverman
I am interested in two related lines of research: first, investigating cognitive processes that may contribute to the etiology and maintenance of emotional disorders; and second, using this information to inform the development of easily disseminated treatment interventions. Ultimately, I hope to reduce the treatment gap by leveraging technology to increase treatment utilization and access to mental health care.

Alexandra Werntz
Broadly, my research interests include understanding how individuals think about their mental and physical health symptoms at both the implicit and explicit levels. I am interested in how implicit and explicit cognitions related to mental/physical health symptoms and diagnoses predict openness to treatment and treatment outcomes. My specific research projects focus on understanding how consumers of mental health interventions think about evidence-based care and what motivates individuals to receive treatment.


Project Coordinators

Henry Behan

Claudia Calicho-Mamani

Statistics Consultants

Joey Meyer
My primary research interests include dynamic systems and time series analysis, as well as quantitatively analyzing communication and social cognition, including empathy, psycholinguistics, and perception.  I also love teaching and learning new statistical methods, and enjoy computer programming in my spare time.

Gus Sjobeck
My research interests are all related to dynamic systems in psychology. More specifically, I am interested in quantifying symmetry in dyadic time series and flexibility in responses for Ecological Momentary Assessment data, discovering new ways to model nonlinear systems in Structural Equation Modeling, and implementing information theoretic approaches in new psychologically-relevant ways.

Local & International Collaborators

Dan Funk
Dan runs a very small software development consulting company called Sartography, which allows him to be exceedingly choosy about his projects.  By far his favorite is MindTrails which he continues to develop in partnership with Bethany's lab.  Dan is the current president of the Staunton Makerspace, which he co-founded in 2015.  The Makerspace provides community access to 3D printers, laser cutters, and other cool toys.  Dan is the proud father of his 12 year old son Jonah.  When they aren't building robots at the Makerspace, then can be found camping, star gazing, or riding their bikes on some of Virginia's excellent rails-to-trails bike paths.

Nicola Hohensee

Julie Ji
My research focuses on identifying cognitive distortions that contribute to emotional, motivational, and behavioural dysregulation in mood and anxiety disorders. Specifically, I am investigating biases in memory and anticipation of past and future rewarding experiences, and how the impact of such biases on judgment and motivation may be amplified by imagery-based mental representation. 

Currently a Forrest Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Psychological Science, University of Western Australia

Lab Alumni

Former Graduate Students
Jessica Beadel
My primary interests involve understanding how information processing biases contribute to the onset and maintenance of anxiety, with the ultimate goal of developing and strengthening interventions for treating anxiety. I have recently completed a project using psychophysiology to investigate the active processes underlying cognitive bias modification (CBM).  Currently, I am developing a CBM paradigm to enhance resilience to panic for people high in anxiety sensitivity, and will measure resilience using a CO2 breathing challenge.  Separately, I am also interested in developmental differences in anxiety, and am working on several studies examining age-related differences in the experience of intrusive thoughts.

Elise Clerkin
I am interested in the role that cognition, emotion, mindfulness, and acceptance play in the maintenance and treatment of anxiety and OC spectrum problems. Please see my website for more information.
Currently an Assistant Professor at Miami University

Meghan Cody
My research interests are in cognitive-behavioral processes in anxiety, trauma, and adjustment to stress.  Currently I am at Mercer University, where I lead the Transdiagnostic Interventions & Mechanisms of Emotion (TIME) lab, which has a special focus on memory for life events and on coping with medical illness.  Our lab mission is to contribute to scientific knowledge in the areas of cognition, emotion, and clinical assessment and intervention; educate students and the public about the science of clinical psychology; and serve the mental health needs of the community.  My research in the PACT lab was on memory biases, global/local processing, and post-event processing in social anxiety disorder. 

Currently an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medical Psychology at the Mercer University College of Health Professions
Christina Emeh
My research interests involve examining the way children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) perceive their social and behavioral abilities. Currently, I am working on a project that compares implicit and explicit self-views in children with ADHD to determine whether those self-views differentially predict psychopathology. Additionally, I am interested in the way parents shape the behaviors and self-perceptions of children at-risk for developing psychopathology.

Currently a psychologist at the Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center
Jeff Glenn
My research interests revolve around the question of why it is that otherwise rational individuals sometimes behave in ways that lead to serious clinical outcomes.  Specifically, I am interested in the role of cognitive processes -- both automatic and strategic -- in anxiety, depression, and suicide.  I also am interested in better understanding the causal relations between cognitive processing and emotion regulation.  Outside of research, I love to eat.
Eugenia Gorlin
I am interested in the way that controlled, strategic cognitive processes interact with relatively uncontrolled, automatic processes in maintaining anxiety and mood disorders, as well as in the context of healthy emotion regulation. My long-term goal is to develop and test new intervention techniques that effectively harness our understanding of these interacting processes. Toward this end, I am currently conducting my dissertation research on the use of goal-affirmation strategies to overcome the negative effects of uncontrolled, intrusive rumination.
Jennifer Green
I am interested in the cognitive and emotional correlates of healthy and disordered aging. Specifically, I study how the different ways we think about ourselves — our cognitive functioning, healthiness, and subjective age — relate to our expression of negative affect. In my dissertation, I examine the relationship between age and anxiety and how gender interacts with each across the adult lifespan, as well as its implications for healthy aging. My clinical interests in neuropsychology have also contributed to my research interests, as I am exploring emotional and cognitive predictors of quality of life in Parkinson’s disease.

Currently a postdoctoral fellow in neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology at the Birmingham VA Medical Center

Tynessa Gordon
Cross-cultural research highlights the influence of ethnicity and culture in emotional processes. Specifically, previous studies suggest important differences in the experience of anxiety across groups. I am interested in investigating how ethnicity and culture influence the triggers, symptoms, and development of anxiety pathology for diverse populations. In addition, I have recently become involved in designing a project that will examine age differences in the appraisals of somatic sensations of anxiety.

Joshua Magee
My research applies modern health technologies to assess, understand, and treat the unwanted thoughts, images, and urges that are central to many mental and behavioral health problems.  I am currently focused on translating models of unwanted thinking from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder to two new areas: 1) nicotine cravings that commonly occur during smoking cessation; and 2) unwanted thinking during older adulthood.  Please see for more information.

Currently Assistant Professor at Miami University, Department of Psychology

Erin Maresh
Self-focused thought allows us to reflect on our past, predict our future, and create a sense of having a stable, cohesive identity. At the same time, experiencing excessive self-focused thought corresponds with decreased well-being and is a common characteristic across many psychopathologies, including social anxiety disorder. My research investigates the contexts and conditions in which self-focused thought is maladaptive and seeks to identify the neural mechanisms behind these processes using EEG and fMRI, with a focus on exploring the mediating role of the default mode network. I am additionally interested in exploring the opposite end of the self-focus spectrum -- situations characterized by an absence of self-focus, such as states of flow and experiences of awe.

Sam Portnow

Meg Reuland
I conduct interventions for child and adolescent psychopathology that address the contexts in which development occurs. In one line of research, I studied the relationship between classroom processes and children's adjustment outcomes, in particular the classroom processes that support children with externalizing problems. Another line of my research addressed the family context. Specifically, I piloted an intervention for early adolescents with social anxiety that addressed both parents’ and children's cognitive biases thought to influence the development, maintenance, and treatment of children's anxiety difficulties.

Currently a Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern

Jena Saporito
My interests lie in the role of stigma in affecting individuals’ attitudes toward and likelihood of seeking mental health treatment.  While at UVA, I was involved in two primary studies.  The first, “Thoughts about Mental Health”, investigated the association between stigma attitudes toward mental health/mental health treatment and individuals’ attitudes about and willingness to seek mental health treatment with specific mental health professionals.  The second study, “Health Education”, extended the results of the first study, to consider the impact of an educational intervention for high school students.  This intervention was aimed at reducing stigma toward mental health/mental health treatment and increasing behavioral intentions to seek mental health treatment.

Currently the Director of Integrated Behavioral Health at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health

Shannan Smith-Janik
Interests: Anxiety and mood disorders, trauma, education and training in psychology, professional issues, supervision

Currently the Assistant Director, Training at the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services at Penn State University

Shari Steinman
My research involves investigating the mechanisms underlying anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and using this knowledge to improve treatment options and outcomes for individuals with anxiety and related disorders. I am particularly interested in examining and manipulating cognitive and perceptual biases and exploring how these biases relate to the onset, maintenance, and treatment of anxiety disorders. Please see for more information.

Currently an Assistant Professor at West Virginia University
Former Staff

Phil Chow
Former Postdoctoral Research Staff
My research focuses on how mobile technology can be used to monitor and intervene in different health populations. 

Currently an Assistant Professor in the Center for Behavioral Health and Technology in the UVA School of Medicine


Alex Daros

Former Postdoctoral Research Staff

Ann Lambert
Former Postdoctoral Researcher
In the PACT lab, I investigated cognitive aging processes as they relate to thought suppression success. 

Currently an adjunct instructor at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah

Fred Smyth
Former Research Assistant Professor for the PACT Lab
My work in the PACT lab involved web-based study design, especially for implicit cognition measures, and advanced data analyses.  My research has focused on implicit cognition that promotes—or interferes with—students' academic engagement, persistence and success.
Currently the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the University of Virginia’s Department of Psychology

Sarah Thomas

Former statistics consultant for the PACT Lab

Diheng Zhang
Former project coordinator for the PACT Lab
My research interests are mainly about the etiology and development of mood disorders, what role cognitive deficits play in those disorders, and finding corresponding neural biomarkers of risk factors and treatment indexes. I am also fascinated about technologies that could be applied in mental health research or clinical practices.

Currently a graduate student at University of Arizona

updated 10/2018