Clinical Psychology Concentration

Roberto López Jr.

Roberto López Jr.

Describe your current area of research and/or your academic interests:

I have spent the last ten years attempting to decipher and better understand the interpersonal determinants of self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITBs), particularly among marginalized populations (e.g., LGBTQ+ youth and young adults). In line with my prior work, my dissertation is designed to examine relations between social rejection and factors associated with suicide (e.g., problem-solving abilities, negative affect) among at-risk young adults.

Why did you choose George Mason to pursue your studies?

There were some specifics I looked for when I was applying to doctoral programs in clinical psychology. I wanted to live in an area with significant cultural diversity. I also wanted to work with a mentor whose work focused on the study of suicide risk. Additionally, I wanted my future mentor to value using research to develop interventions for high-risk individuals. Mason fit the bill perfectly, and I was fortunate enough to receive an offer to work with Dr. Christianne Esposito-Smythers, my academic mentor for the past 5+ years.

Are there faculty or staff members who have made a difference thus far during your Mason career? Please give an example of this impact if possible.

Dr. Esposito-Smythers has been such a wonderful advisor! Thanks to her mentorship, I have completed multiple projects on the interpersonal determinants of SITBs in high-risk populations. For instance, in addition to having co-authored 23 poster presentations since starting graduate school, I have published 8 peer-reviewed studies and 1 invited book chapter.

In addition to mentoring me in academic writing, she has also helped me secure grants which have made my dissertation possible. Specifically, I have received approximately $20,000 in funding from national organizations (i.e., American Psychological Foundation, Association for Psychological Science, American Psychological Association) as well as Mason to fund my research endeavors. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor!

How do you hope to use your degree and studies in the future?

My long-term goal is to obtain a tenured faculty position directing a translational program of research focused on understanding the interpersonal determinants of SITBs. My aim is to use my research to better inform suicide prevention efforts among these vulnerable populations. I also hope to be part of a practice that would allow me to provide evidence-based interventions to marginalized populations.

How will the Dean’s Challenge scholarship support your studies?

I recently moved to California to start my final year of training at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, and this meant some large expenses! The financial support that accompanied this award provided me with the resources needed to complete my doctoral studies.