Laboratory Alumni

Postdoctoral Fellows

Kean Hsu, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor

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. To read more, see Kean’s website:

Kari Nations, Ph.D.Kari

Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Nations completed her B.A. at the University of California at San Diego, and received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology/neuropsychology from UT. Her predoctoral research evaluated treatment interventions for patients with persistent physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms related to mild traumatic brain injury. Since graduating in 2002, Dr. Nations has worked as an industry project director and senior scientist, designing and overseeing clinical research programs aimed at evaluating new drug treatments for mood disorders and other psychiatric indications. She returned to UT to work with Dr. Beevers in the MDL, where she investigated cognitive bias and other markers for depression. She then transitioned back to industry where she was Senior Vice President, CNS Clinical Development and Head, Clinical Surveillance and Training at Syneos Health Clinical Solutions. She recently retired from that position and currently consults with Syneos Health.

Igor Marchetti, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Igor received his B.A and M.A in clinical psychology from the University of Florence (Italy), and he completed his Ph.D  in experimental psychopathology at the Ghent University (Belgium) in 2014. His predoctoral research focused on the depressogenic role of mindwandering and daydreaming from a neurocognitive perspective. Since 2014, he is a postdoctoral research fellow at Ghent University with a project on the interplay between spontaneous thought and multiple cognitive risk factors for depression. In 2016, he spent 12 months at the Mood Disorders Lab as visiting postdoc, under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Beevers, to research into the underlying structure of cognitive vulnerability for depression. Igor’s primary research interests focus on psychological vulnerability to depression (i.e., cognitive risk factors and cognitive biases), systems theory (i.e., dynamic systems and graph theory), statistical models, and philosophy (i.e., phenomenology and philosophy of depression). Igor is currently an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Trieste, Italy.

Graduate Students

Michael Mullarkey, Ph.D.


Michael completed a BA/MA in Clinical Psychology at American University. He did intensive, in-home clinical work with youth and their parents in Maryland and Virginia before moving to North Carolina to do restorative justice work. He also worked in a lab at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Medical School, where he analyzed data from self-compassion and mindfulness interventions for youth.

Michael’s research at UT-Austin primarily involves taking a symptom-level approach to depression. His research focuses on identifying which symptoms might be most central to depression, evaluating which symptoms are most related to other important outcomes in people’s lives, and developing brief, accessible interventions to target particular symptoms. To investigate these questions, he often uses advanced analytic techniques such as network analysis and machine learning. His current projects are primarily focused on translating symptom-level findings into online, scalable, and targeted interventions for individual depression symptoms. Michael recently completed his clinical internship at Stony Brook University and is currently Director of Data Science at the Lab for Scalable Mental Health. To read more, see Michael’s website:

Derek Pisner, Ph.D.


Derek joined the Mood Disorders Lab and Schnyer Cognitive Neuroscience Lab in 2016. He studied Philosophy and Mathematics at the University of Virginia in 2011, and subsequently completed a post-baccalaureate degree in Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He has extensive experience analyzing diffusion MRI (dMRI) and functional MRI (fMRI) data, along with a particular expertise in the study of brain networks.

Currently, part of Derek’s research includes developing new methods and software for integrating neuroscience, data science, and clinical research. From a basic science perspective, he is also studying the neural mechanisms of rumination and negative attention bias in depression. In the long-term, Derek further hopes to explore how multidimensional phenotypes based on person-specific data (e.g. dynamic behavioral, demographic, genetic, and neural topographic) might be translated into actionable diagnostic and treatment information for clinicians.

Rahel Pearson, Ph.D.RahelSmall


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, Ph.D.Justin Dainer-Best


Justin is an assistant professor of psychology at Bard College. He received his Ph.D. from UT-Austin in 2018, and his undergraduate degree from Haverford College, with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English. His clinical internship was at the University of Vermont. Justin is interested in the cognitive bases of attention and negative affect and in emotional resilience and regulation. He is also interested in exploring new ways to use the internet and mobile technology to carry out psychological science. His dissertation investigates biases in self-referent processing. You can find more information about Justin here. Justin is currently an Assistant Professor at Bard College.

Peter Clasen, Ph.D.Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.57.00 PM


After graduating from UT and completing a post-doc at Stanford, Peter become a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington, where he collaborated on projects with the Behavioral Science Technology (BeST) Center, Targeted Treatment Development Program (T2DP), and Stress Development Lab. His work leveraged mobile technology to advance efforts to prevent and treat mental health disorders through more personalized assessment and targeted intervention. Peter then transitioned to industry, where he is currently a User Experience Researcher at Facebook whose work at Facebook primarily focuses on mental health.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.59.26 PMSeth Disner, Ph.D.

Publications: Google Scholar

Seth G. Disner received his BA in Psychology from Duke University. Following undergrad, he worked as Lab Manager and Assistant Research Scientist in the Division of Brain Stimulation and Therapeutic Modulation at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, NY, where he helped investigate novel treatments for depression, schizophrenia, and autism amongst other conditions using novel forms of brain stimulation technology. Seth’s research interests include investigating cognitive and neurobiological substrates of mood disorders and identifying biomarkers that might facilitate treatment response. To date, this has included identifying genetic and functional correlates of biased cognition in depression, as well as research and clinical applications of neuromodulation (such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and low-level light therapy). He completed his clinical internship at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and remained there as a postdoctoral research fellow. His is now a staff scientist at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Hospital and the University of Minnesota. His current research involves using genome-wide association analyses to identify polygenic predictors of cognitive and mood symptoms associated with serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, as well as PTSD and traumatic brain injury. He currently lives in Minneapolis with his delightful wife, rambunctious son, and neurotic dog.

Tony Wells, Ph.D.Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 3.00.09 PM


Tony received his B.A. in psychology in 2001 from the University of Texas in Austin and his M.A. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. He joined the Mood Disorders Lab at UT in June 2005 and received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011. Tony’s research interests include the etiology and maintenance of depression with a current focus on genetic and cognitive risk factors. He is also interested in using research on maintaining factors to develop novel treatment approaches for depression (e.g., attention training). Tony completed his predoctoral clinical internship and postdoctoral research fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Tony is currently and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Oklahoma State University and is currently the director of the Behavior, Affect, & Thinking Lab at OSU.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 3.01.12 PMAlissa Ellis, Ph.D.


Alissa recently completed a dual fellowship (T32) from UCLA’s Semel Institute in Child and Adolescent Mood Disorders and Clinical Neuropsychology. Alissa is now on faculty in the Department of Psychiatry, Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA. She was recently awarded a 4-year grant (K-23) from NIMH entitled, “The effect of EEG biomarkers of approach motivation and reward sensitivity on mood symptom stability.” In addition to research, Alissa is an attending psychologist in the Child and Adolescent Mood Disorders Program and is the Director and creator of UCLA’s SMART Program, an intervention for youth with executive dysfunction. She also has a private practice in Los Angeles. In her spare time, Alissa competes in Ironman triathlons.

Jenna Baddeley, Ph.D.Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 3.03.33 PM


Jenna is a staff psychologist in the Ralph H Johnson VA Medical Center, located in Charleston, South Carolina. Jenna received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2002 and an M.A. from Connecticut College in 2006. She joined the Mood Disorders Lab in fall 2006. Her research focuses on the social consequences of psychological pain (including depression, bereavement, and other stressful life events) and disclosure.

Staff and Research Assistants

In addition to graduate students, the Mood Disoders Lab is home to research staff and undergraduate research assistants. These individuals are essential to the upkeep and advancement of the lab. They are integral in participant recruitment and scheduling, as well as in data collection–the foundation of research. They perform a variety of tasks, ranging from collecting psychophysiology data to conducting diagnostic interviews for research purposes. Below is a list of previous undergraduates and staff members and a glimpse at where they are now.

Rochelle (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 is currently an incoming clinical psychology graduate student at Florida State University.

Kayla D. Longoria, 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 is currently a student at The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing Doctoral program.

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 is currently an incoming clinical psychology graduate student at Stony Brook University.

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 of anxiety and mood disorders, as well as investigating effective treatments. Jocelyn plans to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Semeon Risom, M.S.

Data Scientist

Semeon completed his B.S. at Oregon State University, where he studied Psychology and Economics. His research interests are focused primarily 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.

Eilis Gillespie, M.Sc.Eilis


Eilis completed her B.A in Psychology at University College Dublin and MSc. in Atypical Child Development at Queens University Belfast, where she spent time researching social approach behaviors in individuals with Williams Syndrome. After graduating she spent a year working for the Clinical Psychology Department of the Irish Health Service Executive as an Assistant Psychologist. From Donegal, Ireland, Eilis joined the IMHR in December 2014 as part of a J1 internship program. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the beautiful city of Austin and its surrounding towns

Melina AcostaMelina

Research Assistant

Melina served as a summer research assistant in the Mood Disorders Lab as a part of the UT SURE program. She worked on a project titled “Determining Neural Signatures Associated with the Processing of Emotional Stimuli”. She also planned a study titled “Cognitive Biases and Distress Tolerance in Depression”. Melina is currently completing her bachelor’s degree at UT San Antonio and plans to attend graduate school.

Emily Wade, B.A.Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 3.04.36 PM

Research Associate

Emily earned a B.A. degree in 2001 from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Since then, she has managed longitudinal studies in clinical psychology, developmental psychology, and social work, with particular focus on depression and eating disorder prevention trials for adolescents and assessment of low-income and minority populations. Emily joined the Mood Disorders Lab in May, 2009 and had managed data collection at UT-Austin for a multisite effectiveness trial to test whether an eating disorder prevention program with strong empirical support from efficacy trials produces effects under ecologically valid conditions among 432 high-risk female college students. This project was funded by the National Institue of Mental Health (R01MH086582: Project PIs, Stice, Butryn; Beevers is PI on subcontract to UT). She completed her M.Ed. degree in Counselor Education at UT Austin, and is currently working as a Project Manager in the Center for Teaching and Learning at UT Austin.

Michael Vanderlind, B.S.


Michael received his B.S. in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin in 2011. He worked in the MDL for three years as an undergraduate research assistant and one year as a full-time project manager. With Dr. Beevers, Michael conduced research examining the utility of attention bias training to improve emotion regulation among depressed individuals. Currently, he is a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program at Yale University, working under the supervision of Dr. Jutta Joormann. His current work utilizes multiple methodologies (e.g., eye tracking, event-related potentials, behavioral tasks) to better understand the phenomenology of positive affect dysregulation and the role it plays in the etiology and maintenance of affective disorders.

Cristina Benavides

Laboratory Manager

Cristina Benavides worked with the Mood Disorders Laboratory as a laboratory manager and helped coordinate and develop the Central Texas Emotions Project. She is currently a graduate student in the school of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin.

Kathryn Fischer

Research Assistant

Kathryn Fischer was a part of the mood disorders laboratory as an honors student, and she completed a study titled “Low distress tolerance as a risk factor for depression.” She has recently graduated from Columbia University with a degree in social work.

Ashley Greene

Research Assistant

Ashley Greene worked with the Mood Disorders Laboratory as an honors student and completed an honors project entitled “Cognitive Vulnerabilities to Depression: The Effects of Personality and Mood on Information Processing”. She is currently a paid research assistant at the Center for OCD and Related Disorders at Columbia University Medical Center.

Jennifer Kellough

Research Assistant

Jennifer Kellough worked with the Mood Disorders Laboratory on a study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy entitled “Time course of selective attention in clincally depressed young adults: An eye tracking study”. She is currently a graduate student at the University of South California’s Clinical Ph.D. program.

Ryan Reid

Research Assistant

Ryan Reid worked with the Mood Disorders Laboratory on a study entitled “Heart rate variability predicts cognitive reactivitiy to a sad mood provocation”.

Desirae Boldt

Research Assistant

Desirae Boldt worked on an honors project entitled “Eye-Tracking and pupillometric response to emotional facial expressions in depressed, depression vulnerable, and non-depressed adults” as an honors project with the Mood Disorders Laboratory. Currently, she is a graduate student at the University of Maine in the clinical psychology program.

Sarah Frankel

Research Assistant

Sarah Frankel worked on an attention training project with the mood disorders laboratory as research assistant. Currently she is a doctoral graduate student at Vanderbilt University in the Clinical Psychology program.