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.

 

EMILY WILHITE, M.A.

GRADUATE STUDENT

Email: ewilhite@utexas.edu
Office: SEA 2.302B
Vitae: PDF

Wilhite_EmilyEmily Wilhite graduated from Penn State in May 2012 with degrees in Psychology and Spanish. During her time at Penn State, with the guidance of Aaron Pincus, Ph.D., she completed an honor thesis, which examined how individuals with higher levels of narcissism react when they perceive others as dominant and cold. She also worked on an 18-month longitudinal study conducted by Nilam Ram, Ph.D., Aaron Pincus, Ph.D., and David Conroy, Ph.D., that used smart phone devices to collect data on daily interactions of participants in three different age cohorts.

As a fifth year graduate student in Dr. Kim Fromme’s lab, Emily is interested in studying alcohol-related sexual regret and risky sexual behavior in emerging adults. For her dissertation, Emily will examine how online dating influences engagement in alcohol-related sexual hookups in a sample of post-college women.

ELISE N. MARINO, B.A.

GRADUATE STUDENT

Email: emarino@utexas.edu
Office: SEA 2.302B
Vitae: PDF

Sep '13 (30)-2Elise N. Marino received her first B.A. in Government with a minor in Sociology in 2008 from The University of Texas at Austin. Subsequently, she received a second B.A. in Psychology with Highest Honors and International Distinction in 2010 from The University of Texas at San Antonio. During her time at The University of Texas at San Antonio, Elise completed an honors thesis examining the associations between childhood trauma, psychiatric symptomatology (somatization, depression, anxiety), and a blunted cortisol awakening response in Mexican Americans.

After receiving her degree in psychology, Elise joined the Division of Drug and Alcohol Addiction in the Department of Psychiatry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. In October of 2011, she became a member of the Opioid, Pain, and Addiction Laboratory directed by Jennifer Sharpe Potter, Ph.D., M.P.H. During her time there, Elise contributed to the development and testing of a mindfulness-based therapy manual to treat opioid use disorders and chronic pain in opioid dependent individuals. In addition, Elise contributed to the development of several published manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals.

Elise joined the SAHARA Lab in August of 2013. She is interested in studying the influence of alcohol outcome expectancies on physiological responses to alcohol, in particular, behavioral impairment (body sway) and stimulation/arousal (heart rate reactivity).  Elise is also interested in examining the correlates of alcohol-induced blackouts.

 

TRAVIS MALLARD, B.S.

GRADUATE STUDENT

Email: travis.mallard@utexas.edu
Office: SEA 2.302F

Mallard_Picture

Travis graduated magna cum laude from George Mason University in 2014, where he received his B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Data Analysis. As an undergraduate, he worked in several research labs studying psychological and environmental factors that contribute to emotional dysregulation and behavioral disinhibition. Following graduation, he worked as a project coordinator for a federally funded randomized clinical trial designed to test an integrative treatment protocol for adolescents involved with the juvenile justice system.

In August of 2015, Travis joined the SAHARA lab as a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology. Broadly, his graduate research focuses on applying novel statistical techniques to study the genomic architecture of addictive behaviors. His current work emphasizes within-person and event-level approaches to identify sets of genes implicated in the development of problematic substance use. By adopting a “deep phenotyping” approach, Travis is optimistic that his research will yield new insight on biological factors that contribute to addiction.

PATRICIA ACOSTA, B.S.

PROJECT COORDINATOR

Email: pacosta@austin.utexas.edu
Office: SEA 3.320C

Patty graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology from New York University in 2013.  After graduating, she worked as a Research Associate for the Department of Population Health in the NYU Langone Medical Center.  She was involved in two projects, including Latinos in Context, a longitudinal project focusing on the family and school contexts of Mexican and Dominican children as they enter school.  She was also a Research Coordinator for ParentCorps, a family-centered, NYC public school-based program to help all young students develop the foundational skills for learning.

Aside from her involvement in early childhood health and education, Patty also worked for a pilot study that examined the differences in sexual effects between alcohol and marijuana. She also helped coordinate a study that looked at the use of novel psychoactive drugs in New York City’s night life and electronic music festival scene.

In November of 2016, Patty joined the SAHARA lab as a Project Coordinator.  Her responsibilities include assisting in recruitment, tracking, and payment of participants.  She also helps collect survey data, saliva samples (for genetic testing), and behavioral data from the alcohol challenge in the simulated bar lab.