Department of Psychology
250 Davie Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3270
Undergraduate Research Assistants
Recent Lab Graduates
Former Research Staff
Kristin hails from East Windsor, NJ. She simply couldn’t leave the
lovely garden state and consequently attended The College of New Jersey
(TCNJ), where she studied psychology. After graduating in 2007, she
worked as a research assistant at the University of Pennsylvania’s
Schizophrenia Research Center with Dr. Christian Kohler and Raquel Gur,
coordinating various projects involving emotion perception/expression
and negative symptoms. Her current research interests include, but are
not limited to: the development of paranoia across the course of
illness, measurement of social cognitive domains, and general early
illness detection/investigation of predictive factors of disease onset.
The bulk of her free time is spent running, watching Netflix, finding
new music and dining locales in the triangle, and thinking about
adopting even more dogs.
Ben was raised just north of Indianapolis, Indiana in a small town called Westfield. He attended UNC as an undergrad, majoring in philosophy and psychology. While attending UNC, Ben started work in the Penn Lab, helping to spearhead the creation and use of a measure of emotional knowledge in first-person narratives, used as one of many outcome measures for participants in SCIT. Ben has also worked as a research assistant at the Roudebush VA Hospital in Indianapolis with Dr. Paul Lysaker, researching metacognition in schizophrenia through the use of a semi-structured life story interview. Broadly, Ben's research interests fall within the category of psychosocial treatments for schizophrenia, but more specifically include social cognition in schizophrenia, first-episode psychosis intervention, metacognition, and the use of first-person narrative as a research tool. Outside of Davie Hall, Ben enjoys finding and listening to live jazz, reading fiction, and avidly following a number of sports teams, most notably and proudly Carolina basketball.
Emily Gagen, BA
Emily grew up in upstate New York, just south of Albany in Columbia County. She attendedConnecticut College in New London, CT, majoring in psychology and minoring in US History. After graduating in 2007, and against her better judgment and love of the Northeast, she moved to Chicago and began work at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. As it turns out, the Midwest isn't so bad, and she stayed there for 5 years. She first worked in the department of preventivemedicine, on a study regarding phone-delivered CBT for depression. She later transferred to the department of psychiatry, and coordinated several clinical trials of pharmacological treatment for schizophrenia. Her research interests include psychosocial treatment for schizophrenia and empathy deficits and their impact on social cognition. When not in Davie Hall, she enjoys dance, live music, working out, baking, and spending time her boyfriend Mike and their cat, Lily.
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Tonya Elliot, MS
Tonya is a study coordinator who assists with the coordination and testing of the oxytocin treatment on social cognitive and functional deficits in schizophrenia research study. She is also a research coordinator at the Schizophrenia Treatment and Evaluation Program (STEP) Research Clinic at the North Carolina Psychiatric Research Center (NCPRC) in Raleigh. At the NCPRC, she coordinates the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health Consultation Outcomes Project (COPE) as well as helps to manage the STEP database. She received both her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her master’s degree in lifespan developmental psychology at North Carolina State University where her research focus was on aging and memory. Prior to graduate school, she worked in multiple research settings in the triangle area with groups of psychometricians, child clinical psychologists and social workers
Colin Iwanski, BA
Colin was born to humble beginnings in Stokesdale, North Carolina. He attended TheUniversity ofNorth Carolina at Chapel Hill where he worked as an undergraduate assistant in the Penn Lab. In2011, Colin graduated with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in cognitive science. After globetrotting for several months and investigating the impact of culture on mental health in India, he eventually returned to Chapel Hill, where he is currently the Study Coordinator for the SCAF study. Colin is particularly fascinated by alternativetreatments and recovery for individuals with SMI, specifically schizophrenia. Outside of the boundaries of Davie Hall, Colin listens to an absurd amount of music, occasionally singing a tune or two with his band Star Studies.
Kelsey Ludwig, BS
Kelsey Ludwig is originally from the midwest, but has officially adopted North Carolina as her home. She graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May of 2012 with a B.S. in Psychology, a B.A. in Spanish and a minor in Medical Anthropology. She worked in the Penn Lab as an undergraduate assistant for three years and is currently the Study Coordinator for ESCAEP. Between graduation and employment, Kelsey enjoyed 4 months in South America interviewing Latina women about parenting, breastfeeding and childbirthing practices. She is fascinated by the origins and treatment of mental illness, particularly schizophrenia. In general, she loves people, traveling, cooking, languages and any/all things related to other cultures.
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|Undergraduate Research Assistants
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Katy was born and raised outside of Vancouver, Canada. Katy earned a
B.A. from McGill University in Psychology before moving to New York
City to pursue a M.A. in Counselling Psychology from Columbia
University. After completing her Masters she worked for two years as a
Research Coordinator at the New York State Psychiatric Institute,
working on several projects including a study of treatment refractory
schizophrenia and a study of hypochondriasis. Her current interests
involve working with people suffering from medication resistent
psychotic illnesses, chronically ill inpatient populations and the
therapeutic factors that may influence treatment outcome in group CBT.
Outside of school she spends a great deal of time collecting records
and vintage metal band shirts.
In 2012, Katy successfully completed her dissertation on an Internet Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program for individuals experiencing auidtory hallucinations. Katy left UNC to return to her native land, where she will be a Psychological Resident at Vancouver Coastal Health, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Tim Perry, MA
A UNC alumnus, Tim spent several years working in the autism and
developmental disabilities fields before returning for graduate school
in the fall of 2005. He is currently involved in a pilot
study which seeks to adapt the manualized Social Cognition and
Interaction Training (SCIT) for use with adults and adolescents with
high-functioning autism. This intervention was originally
developed by Dr. Penn and Dave Roberts for use with individuals with
schizophrenia. Tim hopes to extend this intervention by
examining the relationship between social impairment and psychological
distress in individuals with autism and whether improvements in social
functioning result in lower rates of reported distress. He is
working on this project under the guidance of Dr. Penn and Dr. Gary
Mesibov at Division TEACCH. In his spare time Tim may be
found checking out the local music scene (at record stores or
concerts), playing guitar, exercising or watching college athletics and
rooting for his UNC Tarheels.
Clare Marks Gibson, Ph.D.
Clare Marks Gibson, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow, VA Connecticut Health Care System & Yale School of Medicine
Dr. Gibson graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill's clinical program in 2012. She completed her predoctoral clinical internship at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Maryland Health Care System/University of Maryland Internship Consortium in the severe mental illness (SMI) track. Dr. Gibson is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the VA Connecticut Health Care System & Yale School of Medicine. Specifically, she is a fellow in the VA's Interprofessional Fellowship Program in Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery (PSR). Dr. Gibson's clinical and research interests are in psychotherapeutic interventions for SMI and self-stigma. Dr. Gibson's professional interest is in self-care for graduate students, interns and psychologists. She has written articles and books chapters on self-care and spoken at national conferences.
Allison Bassett Ratto
Allison was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She completed her BA in Psychology and Education Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, during which time she also worked as a research assistant at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Following her graduation, Allison was accepted as a graduate student in the UNC Clinical Psychology Program. Her current research interests are in the assessment of autism spectrum disorders, specifically in improved methods for assessing social skills treatment effects and in early identification and diagnosis. Allison has collaborated with Dr. David Penn and Dr. Gary Mesibov of Division TEACCH to develop the Contextual Assessment of Social Skills (CASS), a peer-based role play measure of social skills for adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders. The CASS is currently being used in treatment outcome studies at several institutions, including UCLA, Virginia Tech, and Marquette. Allison is also pursuing research with Dr. Mesibov and Dr. Steven Reznick on the screening and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders among Latino infants and children, and she has spoken on this topic for several agencies in North Carolina.
Allison is currently on internship at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Sarah Uzenoff, PhD
Psychology Associate, The Wake-Kendall Group, PLLC, Washington, DC
Dr. Sarah Uzenoff graduated from UNC in 2011 and completed a postdoctoral residency at Saint Elizabeths Hospital (DC Department of Mental Health) in August, 2012. Dr. Uzenoff is currently in practice in Washington, DC with the Wake-Kendall Group, PLLC, where she sees adult psychotherapy patients and is a member of the group's Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) team. Dr. Uzenoff's clinical interests include psychotherapy and psychosocial interventions for severe mental illness, working with young adults recovering from psychotic illnesses, and clinical supervision.
Staff Psychologist, Guam Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse
Dr. Johnson is a clinical psychologist working in the area of rural mental health on the Pacific Island territory of Guam. He works primarily with individuals with severe mental illness and developmental disabilities. He maintains an interest in multicultural psychology, trauma, and group therapy as well as training of students and other mental health care staff.
Abigail Judge, PhD
Private Psychotherapy and Forensic Practice, Cambridge, MA
Dr. Abigail Judge graduated from UNC-CH’s clinical program in 2009. She completed her predoctoral and post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School, including two post-doctoral fellowships in child forensic psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Judge presently maintains a full-time private psychotherapy and forensic practice in Cambridge, MA and she is also on the clinical faculty at Harvard Medical School. In addition, Dr. Judge writes and presents widely about the commercial sexual exploitation of adolescent girls in the United States and the effects of digital technology and social media on psychotherapy with adolescents. Recent writing projects include, for example, an edited book under contract with Oxford University Press about the interface among digital technology, adolescent sexual behavior and the law. More information about Dr. Judge’s practice can be found at www.abigailjudge.com.
Evan Waldheter, PhD
Staff Psychologist, MIT Mental Health and Counseling Service
Evan graduated from the UNC Clinical Ph.D. Program in 2008, and
completed a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical psychology at the
Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School in August, 2009.
Currently, he is a staff psychologist at the MIT Mental Health and Counseling Service,
teaches part-time at Boston College, and supervises psychiatry
residents at the Harvard Med School Longwood Psychiatry Residency
David Roberts, PhD
Staff Psychologist, University of Texas Health Science Center
Dr. Roberts is a clinical psychologist studying psychosocial treatment and social cognition in psychosis. He is interested in using normative models of social judgment and decision-making to understand and enhance abnormal social cognition. For the past eight years, he has focused largely on the development and testing of Social Cognition and Interaction Training (SCIT), an intervention that he developed with David Penn and Dennis Combs. Dr. Roberts also studies paranoia, delusion, and treatment of early psychosis.
Assistant Professor, Southern Methodist University
After finishing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Brain Behavior Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009, Amy joined the psychology faculty of Southern Methodist University where she is Director of the Social Cognition and Schizophrenia Research Lab. Her research program links the fields of clinical psychology and neuroscience in an effort to address fundamental questions regarding the behavioral characteristics and neural basis of social cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia. Her current work utilizes both BOLD and ASL imaging methods to examine amygdala functioning in individuals with schizophrenia, and she is particularly interested in understanding how amygdala function may differ between paranoid and non-paranoid patients. In addition to her work specifically examining schizophrenia, Amy is also involved in several collaborations that aim to shed light on the developmental pathogenesis of social cognitive impairments by comparing social cognitive abilities in individuals with schizophrenia and individuals with autism.
Shannon Couture, PhD
Assistant Professor, University of Southern California
Shannon graduated from UNC-CH in 2007. Since then, she joined the faculty at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom from 2007-2008, then the faculty at the University of Maryland College Park in 2008. While there, she worked with Dr. Jack Blanchard and his lab, investigating cognitions associated with negative symptoms in schizophrenia, and social factors important for individuals with elevated rates of social anhedonia. Recently, Shannon has joined the faculty at the University of Southern California as Assistant Professor of the Practice of Psychology and Director of the Psychology Services Center. She is actively involved in improving clinical training for students earning their doctoral degree in clinical science at USC, teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and supervising therapy and assessment cases.
Dennis Combs, PhD
Associate Professor, University of Texas at Tyler
Dennis Combs is currently an associate professor of
psychology at the University of Texas at Tyler. Prior to
moving back home to Texas, he worked at the University of
Tulsa for 5 years in the Ph.D. Clinical psychology program.
Dennis was a student of Dr. Penn's at LSU. He received the
2009 Early Career Award from the National Register of Health Service
Psychologist. Dennis spends his time researching paranoia,
social cognition, and methods to improve these areas. He has
published over 45 papers since finishing grad school in 2002.
James Martin, PhD
Forensic Psychologist, Gainesville, GA
James had the opportunity to work with Dr. Penn in his labs at IIT and LSU. He interned at the William S. Hall Psychiatric Institute in South Carolina and completed his doctorate from LSU in 2002. This was followed by a one year temporary appointment as an assistant professor at the North Georgia College & State University, after which he settled into private practice in Gainesville, Georgia. Now, his practice predominately involves conducting forensic/court-ordered assessments for various juvenile and superior courts and the Department of Juvenile Justice. When not working he prefers to spend his free time with his 12-year old daughter and digging through the dirt in various locales in search of semi-precious gemstones and minerals. David has had a deep impact on my professional career, and was a great mentor to work with./p>
J. Meg Racenstein, PhD
Clinical Neuropsychologist, Chicago, IL
J. Meg Racenstein, Ph.D., is a licensed Clinical Neuropsychologist in private practice. She has two offices located in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Dr. Racenstein has extensive experience conducting neuropsychological assessments of school age children, adolescents and young adults with known or suspected attentional, psychological, learning or substance-induced disorders, as well as intellectually gifted individuals. Dr. Racenstein focused her research on patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the dual diagnosis of substance abuse. She studied the diagnosis and assessment of psychiatric symptomatology as well as cognitive and psychosocial functioning in these population subsets.
Dr. Racenstein received her B.S. degree in Psychology at the University of Illinois, Champaign, followed by her M.A., in Community Counseling at Loyola University, Chicago. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Institute of Psychology. She completed her internship and post-doctoral fellowship training in Neuropsychology at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago.
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Piper Meyer is the director for the Minnesota Center for Mental Health. Dr. Meyer graduated from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis with a doctorate in Clinical Rehabilitation Psychology. She previously served as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UNC. Currently, she is co-leading the individual therapy component (Individual Resiliency Training) for the Recovery After Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) project. Dr. Meyer is an international trainer and consultant for Illness Management and Recovery (IMR) for the last eight years. She has trained clinicians working in outpatient, inpatient, forensic, residential, and crisis settings. She has specialized in psychiatric rehabilitation with interests in recovery, positive psychology, first episode psychosis, and psychosocial treatment for people with severe mental illness.
Charles Olbert is the former Project Coordinator for the Social Cognition And Functioning Study (SCAF) and has provided research assistance for the SCIT and RAISE projects. In a former life he did astrophysics research. When neither working nor spending time with his wife and dogs, Charles reads a lot of books, plays the bass guitar, and sits and stares at walls (i.e. practices Zen meditation). He received his B.A. in philosophy from UNC Chapel Hill in 2005, focusing on philosophy of mind and the epistemology of self-knowledge. Charles is currently a doctoral student in Fordham University's clinical psychology program, where he is doing qualitative research into recovery in schizophrenia and developing mathematical methods for investigating the coherence of psychiatric diagnostic categories.
Betty Rupp, BS
Betty Rupp is the former Project Coordinator for the Social Cognition And
Functioning Study (SCAF),
Social Cognition and Interaction Training (SCIT) study, and the Social Cognition & Interaction Training study
for adolescents and young adults with High Functioning Autism (SCIT-A). She
obtained her Bachelor's in Psychology from the University of Alabama in
Birmingham and has over 6 years of field experience working with people
with schizophrenia. Betty will be completing the second year of her MPH program at UNC Chapel Hill in Health Behavior. Her main areas of interest are the effects of stigma on HIV prevention, and the effects of gender inequality on reproductive health. She currently works as an RA on a project at UNC which is investigating using social media to increase HPV vaccination uptake among young teens in NC.
Kelly Smedley, RN, MSN, CNS
Ms. Smedley serves as clinical director of outpatient services at the Carr Mill clinic. She is a board certified clinical nurse specialist in adult psychiatry and mental health. Her extensive management and clinical experience includes being nursing supervisor of a child/adolescent inpatient psychiatric unit, charge nurse at the Diagnostic Evaluation Center at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), and a nurse therapist in the early psychosis program at WPIC. At the UNC Department of Psychiatry, she managed and assisted in the development of the Center of Excellence in the Research and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder, as well as served as a crisis clinician, therapist, and coordinator for several research studies. She received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Delaware and her master’s in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh.