About Us

KIM FROMME, PH.D.

SAHARA LAB DIRECTOR

Email: fromme@psy.utexas.edu
Office: SEA 3.242B
Vitae: PDF

Dr. Kim Fromme
Kim Fromme, Ph.D., is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and is also the Director of the Studies on Alcohol, Health, and Risky Activities (SAHARA). She received her Ph.D. from The University of Washington, and is a Fellow and former President of the Society of Addiction Psychologists (Division 50) of the American Psychological Association.

Her program of research focuses on the etiology and prevention of alcohol abuse and risk-taking behaviors among adolescents and young adults. With support from a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Dr. Fromme recently completed a longitudinal study of the alcohol use and other behavioral risks (e.g., drug use, risky sex, aggression) of a cohort of first time college students, beginning with their senior year in high school and following them for the next 6 years. This research examined individual, environmental, and social factors that influence the developmental trajectories of alcohol use and other behavioral risks among students as they progress through college and beyond. Yielding over 30 publications thus far, this research has provided new insights into the development of alcohol use patterns and behavioral risks during emerging adulthood, as well as the event-level association between alcohol intoxication, subjective responses to alcohol, and participation in other forms of behavioral risks.

Dr. Fromme and Dr. Paige Harden recently received a new 5-year NIAAA grant to study the “Genetic mechanisms of change in trajectories of drinking and other deviant behaviors.” In the Genes and New Experiences Study, we are examining the effects of genomic variation on alcohol use and other risk behaviors and traits. To accomplish this, we are collecting saliva samples for DNA testing from participants in our previous “UT Experience!” longitudinal study of first time college students. We are then directly assaying the DNA samples for approximately 265,000 genetic markers in a process called “genotyping,” After successfully genotyping samples, we then use a variety of statistical genetic methods to ‘impute’ an additional ~6,500,000 genetic markers. We will then be using this myriad of genetic data to calculate individual-specific estimates of genetic liability for a given trait or behavior, which will be used to predict individual differences in a range of important behavioral and psychological outcomes. See www.utgenes.org for more information on this ongoing project.

Findings from the longitudinal and alcohol challenge studies will be used to develop and evaluate new approaches to the prevention of alcohol abuse and involvement in other potentially hazardous behaviors.

 

VALERIA TRETYAK, M.Sc., M.RES.

GRADUATE STUDENT

Email: valeria.tretyak@utexas.edu
Office: SEA 2.302B

Valeria joined the Studies on Alcohol, Health, and Risky Behaviors (SAHARA) Lab in the fall of 2017. Under the joint mentorships of Dr. Kim Fromme (Ph.D.) and Dr. Elizabeth Lippard (Ph.D.), Valeria aims to investigate alcohol use in typically developing young adults, and young adults diagnosed with bipolar disorder. To this effect, Valeria is currently examining the relationship between alcohol outcome expectancies, subjective response during intoxication, and young adults’ motives for drinking. She hopes to utilize analytical models examining alcohol use in typically developing young adults to better understand the high co-occurrence rates between alcohol use disorder and bipolar disorder in the clinical population. Valeria is passionate about translational research, evidence-based interventions, and public health. 

Prior to relocating to the United States, Valeria spent seven years in the United Kingdom where she completed a B.Sc. in Psychology, an M.Sc. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and an M.Res. in Brain Science at City University of London, and University College London (UCL) respectively. Throughout her graduate studies, Valeria worked as a research assistant at the UCL Preterm Development Project under the mentorship of Dr. Michelle De Haan (Ph.D.). During this time, she completed her Master’s level honors thesis investigating frontal lobe development following extreme preterm birth and its impact on executive function in infants, as a precursor of Autism. Upon completing her Master’s degree at UCL, Valeria worked as a patient coordinator at the Wellcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging at UCL under the mentorship of Professor Cathy Price (Ph.D.), where she investigated the neural basis of language difficulties in stroke patients suffering from aphasia.

Prior to joining the clinical psychology program at the University of Texas at Austin, Valeria worked at the Emory University Brain Health Center in Atlanta, as a research assistant and clinic coordinator for the Child and Adolescent Mood Program (CAMP) under the mentorship of Dr. Edward Craighead (Ph.D.), and the Emory Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Services (EAST) under the mentorship of Dr. Justine Welsh (M.D.). During this time, Valeria participated in research projects investigating the efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Behavioral Activation (BA) in the treatment of adolescent depression, and in the integration of the Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA) alongside pharmacologic intervention in the treatment of severe opioid addiction in young adults.

 

AVERY CAMPOS, B.A.

GRADUATE STUDENT

Email: avery.campos@utexas.edu
Office: SEA 2.302B

Avery Campos graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Psychology and minors in Statistics and Music. During this time, he worked with Paula Millin, Ph.D., as a research assistant and gained experience with advanced statistical and data analytic techniques under the mentorship of Brad Hartlaub, Ph.D. Additionally, he spent some time at the University of Missouri-Colombia where he worked with Doug Steinley, Ph.D., and Ken Sher, Ph.D. on an epidemiological study of alcohol use disorder among distinct groups of sexual minorities. Shortly thereafter, he joined the SAHARA lab as a doctoral student in the fall of 2018.

Avery’s work focuses on interactive effects between cultural, social, psychological, and biological factors on substance use related outcomes. Through this holistic approach, he hopes to accurately advance knowledge on substance use outcomes, thereby improving interventions efforts. Towards these aims, Avery is currently involved in integrating longitudinal analyses of individual polygenic risk, alcohol perceptions, and alcohol related behaviors. He is confident that the steady advancement of research will ultimately translate to brighter futures in the lives of those impacted by substance use.

 

COLLABORATORS

ELIZABETH LIPPARD, PH.D.

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR, MAIN LAB

Lab Website: https://sites.utexas.edu/mood-addiction-lab/
Office: Health Discovery Building (HDB), Dell Medical School, The University of Texas at Austin
Vitae: PDF

Assistant professor of the Department of Psychiatry at Dell Medical School

Beth graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina State University with a B.S. in microbiology, a B.A. in chemistry, and minor in genetics in 2003. She obtained her Ph.D. in neurobiology in 2012 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining the Dell Medical School team, she completed two postdoctoral fellowships in psychiatry and radiology and biomedical imaging at Yale University.

Her research interests focus on the intersection of behavioral and developmental neuroscience. She studies brain-behavior relationships across development, in clinical and typically developing populations, and how genes and environmental stress influence these processes. Specifically, a focus of her research has been on understanding neural systems related to risk, onset and early disease progression in affective and alcohol use disorders. She has a unique skill set, having cross-trained in basic science models, wet lab methodologies and human clinical research. Her lab uses a combination of methods including multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), genetic techniques and behavioral phenotyping. She takes a developmental approach, using longitudinal translational neuroscience paradigms, in both human and rodent models, to identify genes, neural circuitry, environmental and behavioral predictors of problem behaviors and mechanisms by which predictors translate into adult phenotypes (e.g. suicide and addiction) within and across psychiatric disorders.

She has won numerous awards, including an NIDA Early Career Investigator Award, and she has been recognized for undergraduate mentoring, including two undergraduate research mentorship awards.