Clinical Research Labs

Dr. Cattaneo's Lab

Dr. Lauren Cattaneo's Lab for Social Justice Research focuses on the relevance of psychology for addressing pressing social issues. Current projects center in two areas. First, Dr. Cattaneo and her students study the ways that survivors of intimate partner violence interact with the systems that are designed to help them, with a particular focus on the justice system and the key construct of empowerment. Second, the lab integrates teaching and research to explore methods of increasing civic engagement through higher education. With a grant from the Spencer Foundation, the lab is studying the influence of service learning on students' civic attitudes and behaviors over time.

Dr. Chaplin’s Lab

Dr. Chaplin’s Adolescent Emotion Lab is conducting three NIH-funded studies related to adolescent emotion regulation and the development and prevention of psychopathology and substance use. First, Dr. Chaplin and her students are conducting a longitudinal study of parent-adolescent interactions, adolescent emotional and physiological reactivity, and the development of substance use and risk behaviors in adolescents. Second, her lab is conducting an fMRI study of adolescents’ emotion and reward-related brain activation as predictors of adolescent substance use (in collaboration with Dr. Jim Thompson of GMU). Third, Dr. Chaplin’s lab is conducting a study to develop and pilot test a mindfulness intervention for parents of adolescents to reduce parent stress, improve parent-child relationships, and prevent youth risk behaviors (in collaboration with Dr. Sarah Fischer of GMU).

Dr. Esposito-Smythers' Lab

Dr. Esposito-Smythers’ Adolescent Mental Health Promotion Lab focuses on the advancement of healthy adolescent cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral development. The primary emphasis is on the development and testing of family-based cognitive-behavioral prevention and treatment programs for adolescent mental health problems and high-risk behaviors, with a particular focus on adolescent suicidal behavior and substance abuse. Also studied are the mechanisms through which adolescents develop suicidal behavior and substance abuse, as well as factors that protect against these outcomes.

Dr. Fischer's Lab

The Impulse Lab at George Mason University conducts research studies on binge eating, purging, and alcohol abuse. We examine how personality traits influence these behaviors through deficits in emotion regulation, impulse control, and reward seeking. We are currently conducting studies on: 1) the influence of personality traits on bulimic symptoms, substance abuse, and self-injury; 2) gender differences in the influence of personality traits on disordered eating and substance abuse over time; and 3) how the brain's reward system processing of appetitive food cues influences craving under various mood conditions.

Dr. Short's Research Lab

Dr. Jerome Short and his graduate student advisees focus on the prevention of psychological problems and promotion of physical and mental health for adolescents and adults. Current research includes examining longitudinal predictors and processes of wellbeing including optimism, gratitude, grit, relaxation, social support, and meaningful behaviors for college students and other adults. Related research focuses on examining longitudinal predictors and processes of physical health and longevity among older adults. Knowledge of these health processes is used to develop and evaluate psychological fitness programs for people of various ages.

Human Emotions Research Lab

Dr. June Tangney and Dr. Jeff Stuewig work at the interface of clinical psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology and criminology.  Our lives are consumed with two longitudinal studies of jail inmates, focusing on moral emotions and cognitions associated with crime, substance abuse, HIV risk behavior, and rehabilitation, and the dynamic interplay of these factors over the life course.  In addition, we develop and evaluate novel interventions for 'general population' jail inmates drawing on restorative justice, mindfulness, and motivational interviewing principles.  Our goal is to contribute to basic and translational research on human emotions, and to positively influence both practices and policies in the criminal justice system.

Dr. Sanchez's Lab

In the ACCESS Lab, our work centers around reducing inequities in access to and engagement in quality mental healthcare for minoritized youth and families. We approach our work from a health equity perspective that seeks to address the effects of structural marginalization (i.e., racism, classism, sexism, transphobia, etc.) on families from minoritized identities. Currently, our work focuses on examining and addressing structural and systemic barriers to engagement and quality care delivery, implementation of mental health supports in community settings, and increasing the cultural responsiveness of mental health services and systems. We are committed to community-engaged research and practice that centers the needs and values of frontline providers, youth, and their families.