Current Lab Members

Laboratory Director

Christopher Beevers, Ph.D.Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 12.46.20 PM

Professor, The University of Texas at Austin
Curriculum Vita: [PDF]
Publications: Google Scholar

Christopher Beevers, Ph.D., director of the Mood Disorders Laboratory, received his doctorate in adult clinical psychology from the University of Miami in 2002. He completed his internship and post-doctoral training at Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island and joined the psychology department at the University of Texas in January 2005. He has received the President’s New Researcher Award from the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy and was a Beck Scholar at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research. He is a member of several editoral boards for leading journals in his research area, including the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Behavior Therapy, and Cognitive Therapy and Research. Dr. Beevers’ primary research interest focuses on the cognitive etiology and treatment of major unipolar depression. He is particularly interested in the interplay between biology (e.g., genetic variants), cognitive risk factors for depression, and reactivity to transient mood states. Finally, he is interested in developing interventions/approaches (e.g., attention training) that modify factors thought to maintain depression.



Jason Shumake, Ph.D.

Biostatistician / Research Assistant Professor

Jason Shumake received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Texas in 2004, with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a supporting portfolio in statistics and computational modeling, and he completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology in Magdeburg, Germany, in 2007. Dr. Shumake’s primary research interest is building models from longitudinal data sets to classify and predict behavior and responses to interventions. He is excited by the advancement of personalized medicine through data science, which he believes is critical for translating prediction research into individualized treatment recommendations. He is particularly interested in using statistical and machine learning algorithms to search for novel combinations of genetic, neural, and behavioral features that predict treatment response. His current projects involve mining anatomical and functional brain imaging data, eye tracking data, and psychometric data from depressed individuals to predict longitudinal mood changes that occur both naturalistically and in response to antidepressant medication and cognitive therapy.


Kean Hsu, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Kean completed a B.A. in psychology at Yale University before receiving his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Southern California in 2014. He completed postdoctoral research fellowships at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Los Angeles before landing at his current postdoctoral position at the Mood Disorders Laboratory in Summer of 2017. His research investigates how attention and cognitive control processes impact the etiology and exacerbate symptom severity of depression and anxiety. He is also interested in examining mechanisms underlying psychotherapeutic interventions, as well as increasing awareness of issues surrounding mental health and stigma in communities that are typically under-served or under-utilize mental health services.


Kimberly Ray, Ph.D.

Research Scientist

Kimberly Ray, PhD is a Research Scientist working under the direction of David Schnyer, PhD and Christopher Beevers, PhD. She earned a bachelors degree in physics from Texas Lutheran University, and a PhD in Radiological Sciences with an emphasis on human neuroimaging from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.  She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California in Davis under the direction of Dr. Cameron Carter. Her research interests involve using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other imaging modalities to elucidate the functional and structural architecture of the human brain and examine how brain networks flexibly reorganize to efficiently carryout a given goal-directed task.


Graduate Students

Rahel Pearson, M.S.RahelSmall

6th Year Doctoral Student

Rahel completed her B.S. and M.S. in psychology at the University of Amsterdam. The research for her master’s thesis was conducted at Stanford University, exploring the relationship among 5-HTTLPR, stress, and decision making. After graduating she worked at UCSF where she helped investigate risk factors for the development of psychosis.

Currently, Rahel works in the Mood Disorder Laboratory with Chris Beevers. She is interested in understanding how biological factors, environments and their interaction contribute to the development of mood disorders. Rahel examines how specific environmental stressors or “candidate environments” influence depression and related constructs. Her research also includes new genetic methods, such as genome-wide complex trait analysis and cumulative genetic scores.


Justin Dainer-Best, PhDJustin Dainer-Best

On internship at The University of Vermont

Justin received his undergraduate degree from Haverford College, with bachelors degrees in both Psychology and English Literature. He joined the MDL in 2012. Justin is interested in the cognitive bases of attention and negative affect, attentional control of memory and emotion, and emotional resilience and regulation. He is also interested in psychophysiological methods of understanding depression and cognitive biases (EEG, ERP), and in exploring new ways to use the internet and mobile technology to carry out psychological science. His dissertation investigates biases in self-referent processing. He is currently on internship at The University of Vermont.


Derek Pisner, B.A.DerekPisner

2nd Year Doctoral Student

Derek received a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Virginia in 2011, and subsequently completed a post-baccalaureate program in Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He has also worked as a crisis counselor at the San Francisco Suicide Prevention and assisted with research at several clinical neuroscience labs. More recently, he has taken an interest in neuroimaging and specifically building pipelines for analyzing structural and functional neural connectivity data collected from diverse clinical populations.

Derek joined the MDL in 2016. He is interested in methods of integrating neuroscience, data science, and clinical practice. Along these lines, he is beginning to explore how machine learning techniques might be used to translate person-specific data (e.g. dynamic behavioral, demographic, genetic, and neural topographic) into actionable diagnostic and treatment information for clinicians. Additionally, he is interested in the emerging field of “neurocognitive therapeutics”; in particular, he intends to study how “closed-loop” brain-computer interfacing might be used to enhance existing Attention Bias Modification (ABM) paradigms for the treatment of negative attention bias in Major Depression.


Research Staff

Shellie Stewart, B.A.

Project Coordinator

Shellie graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2015 with a B.A. (Honors) in Psychology and a minor in Communications. Her research interests include the cognitive mechanisms underlying anxiety and mood disorders, the effects of these disorders on daily life and functioning, as well as investigating effective treatments. Shellie hopes to attend graduate school to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology and continue her work in research.



Jocelyn Labrada, B.A.

Project Coordinator

Jocelyn graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology. Her research interests include clinical and neuropsychology. She is particularly interested in the etiology, treatment, and neuropsychological aspects of anxiety and mood disorders. Jocelyn plans to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.




Kayla D. Caffey, M.A.

Project Coordinator

Kayla completed her B.S. in Psychology at Hannibal-LaGrange University, where she was also a member of the volleyball team. Shortly after, she obtained her M.A. in Clinical Psychology at Azusa Pacific University. With intention to influence preventative measures as well advance efficacious treatments, her research interests primarily focus on utilizing functional neuroimaging to better understand the implications of neurobiology on the etiology of mood and psychotic disorders. Kayla plans to pursue her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in neuroimaging, and continue her career in research.



Mallory Dobias, B.S.

Research Associate Clinician

Mallory received a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in December 2016. Her primary research interests include evaluating and improving the treatment of internalizing disorders in youth, via: identifying treatment mediators, developing brief, scalable interventions, and implementing these interventions within accessible community settings. Mallory plans to attend graduate school to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.




Semeon Risom, B.S.

Software Developer

Semeon completed his B.S. at Oregon State University, where he studied Psychology and Economics. His research interests are focused primarly on decision making and learning, by utilizing functional neuroimaging, EEG, and eyetracking research methods. Semeon is currently a graduate student at the iSchool at the University of Texas at Austin, focusing on human-computer interaction and machine learning.