Program for Anxiety, Cognition, and Treatment (PACT) Lab

Lab Members & Research Interests

Current Graduate Students

Miranda Beltzer
I am primarily interested in how perceptions of control, certainty, and agency may contribute to emotional reactions and maladaptive behaviors in anxiety disorders. I am also interested in how attention biases may maintain anxiety disorders. I hope to use innovative methods to study these processes and to develop novel interventions targeting specific cognitive mechanisms.
karl Karl Fua
My research interests are in investigating the mechanisms that underpin cognitive biases in anxious individuals. To this end, I am interested in examining individuals' transient behavioral responses to stimuli that unfolds continuously over time, and processes that could affect and control the properties of the response waveform. I am also interested in the interactions between reflective and reactive levels of cognitive processing, and how these interactions influence the behavior of anxious individuals.
Jeff Glenn
My research interests revolve around the question of why it is that otherwise rational individuals sometimes behave in ways that lead to serious clinical outcomes.  Specifically, I am interested in the role of cognitive processes -- both automatic and strategic -- in anxiety, depression, and suicide.  I also am interested in better understanding the causal relations between cognitive processing and emotion regulation.  Outside of research, I love to eat.

Erin Maresh
Self-focused thought allows us to reflect on our past, predict our future, and create a sense of having a stable, cohesive identity. At the same time, experiencing excessive self-focused thought corresponds with decreased well-being and is a common characteristic across many psychopathologies, including social anxiety disorder. My research investigates the contexts and conditions in which self-focused thought is maladaptive and seeks to identify the neural mechanisms behind these processes using EEG and fMRI, with a focus on exploring the mediating role of the default mode network. I am additionally interested in exploring the opposite end of the self-focus spectrum -- situations characterized by an absence of self-focus, such as states of flow and experiences of awe.

Nauder Namaky
I am interested in the cognitive and neural profile underlying the onset and maintenance of symptoms related to mood and anxiety disorders, specifically the cognitive and neural profiles involved in dysphoria, intrusive thoughts and rumination, and sleep disturbances. I am also interested in exploring ways to take existing treatment modalities and make them more culturally relevant for under-treated demographic groups.

Sam Portnow

Alexandra Werntz
Broadly, my research interests include understanding how individuals think about their mental and physical health symptoms at both the implicit and explicit levels. I am interested in how implicit and explicit cognitions related to mental/physical health symptoms and diagnoses predict openness to treatment and treatment outcomes. My specific research projects focus on understanding how consumers of mental health interventions think about evidence-based care and what motivates individuals to receive treatment.


Lab Staff

Phil Chow
Postdoctoral Research Staff
Broadly speaking, my research examines the role of emotion and personality in mood and anxiety disorders, as well as how these variables change over time. The majority of my work thus far has examined the perceived utility of emotion (i.e., the degree to which emotions are perceived to be useful in attaining goals). In addition to conducting original studies, I am interested in secondary data analysis and technology-based methods (e.g., using mobile phones for ecological momentary assessment).


Project Coordinators

Diheng Zhang
My research interests are mainly about the etiology and development of mood disorders, what role cognitive deficits play in those disorders, and finding corresponding neural biomarkers of risk factors and treatment indexes. I am also fascinated about technologies that could be applied in mental health research or clinical practices.

Statistics Consultant

Joey Meyer
My primary research interests include dynamic systems and time series analysis, as well as quantitatively analyzing communication and social cognition, including empathy, psycholinguistics, and perception.  I also love teaching and learning new statistical methods, and enjoy computer programming in my spare time.

Lab Alumni

Former Graduate Students
Jessica Beadel Cruz
My primary interests involve understanding how information processing biases contribute to the onset and maintenance of anxiety, with the ultimate goal of developing and strengthening interventions for treating anxiety. I have recently completed a project using psychophysiology to investigate the active processes underlying cognitive bias modification (CBM).  Currently, I am developing a CBM paradigm to enhance resilience to panic for people high in anxiety sensitivity, and will measure resilience using a CO2 breathing challenge.  Separately, I am also interested in developmental differences in anxiety, and am working on several studies examining age-related differences in the experience of intrusive thoughts.

Elise Clerkin
I am interested in the role that cognition, emotion, mindfulness, and acceptance play in the maintenance and treatment of anxiety and OC spectrum problems. Please see my website for more information.
Currently an Assistant Professor at Miami University. 
Meghan Cody
My research interests are in memory for negative events in anxiety and adjustment disorders, repetitive negative thinking, and coping with medical illness and other trauma.  In particular, my research has focused on memory biases, global/local processing, and post-event processing in social anxiety disorder. 

Currently an Assistant Professor at the Mercer University School of Medicine.
Christina Emeh
My research interests involve examining the way children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) perceive their social and behavioral abilities. Currently, I am working on a project that compares implicit and explicit self-views in children with ADHD to determine whether those self-views differentially predict psychopathology. Additionally, I am interested in the way parents shape the behaviors and self-perceptions of children at-risk for developing psychopathology.

Currently a psychologist at the Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center.
Eugenia Gorlin
I am interested in the way that controlled, strategic cognitive processes interact with relatively uncontrolled, automatic processes in maintaining anxiety and mood disorders, as well as in the context of healthy emotion regulation. My long-term goal is to develop and test new intervention techniques that effectively harness our understanding of these interacting processes. Toward this end, I am currently conducting my dissertation research on the use of goal-affirmation strategies to overcome the negative effects of uncontrolled, intrusive rumination.
Jennifer Green
I am interested in the cognitive and emotional correlates of healthy and disordered aging. Specifically, I study how the different ways we think about ourselves — our cognitive functioning, healthiness, and subjective age — relate to our expression of negative affect. In my dissertation, I examine the relationship between age and anxiety and how gender interacts with each across the adult lifespan, as well as its implications for healthy aging. My clinical interests in neuropsychology have also contributed to my research interests, as I am exploring emotional and cognitive predictors of quality of life in Parkinson’s disease.

Currently a postdoctoral fellow in neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology at the Birmingham VA Medical Center.

Tynessa Gordon
Cross-cultural research highlights the influence of ethnicity and culture in emotional processes. Specifically, previous studies suggest important differences in the experience of anxiety across groups. I am interested in investigating how ethnicity and culture influence the triggers, symptoms, and development of anxiety pathology for diverse populations. In addition, I have recently become involved in designing a project that will examine age differences in the appraisals of somatic sensations of anxiety.

Currently on staff at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.

Joshua Magee
My research applies modern health technologies to assess, understand, and treat the unwanted thoughts, images, and urges that are central to many mental and behavioral health problems.  I am currently focused on translating models of unwanted thinking from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder to two new areas: 1) nicotine cravings that commonly occur during smoking cessation; and 2) unwanted thinking during older adulthood.  Please see for more information.

Currently Assistant Professor at Miami University, Department of Psychology.

Meg Reuland
I conduct interventions for child and adolescent psychopathology that address the contexts in which development occurs. In one line of research, I studied the relationship between classroom processes and children's adjustment outcomes, in particular the classroom processes that support children with externalizing problems. Another line of my research addressed the family context. Specifically, I piloted an intervention for early adolescents with social anxiety that addressed both parents’ and children's cognitive biases thought to influence the development, maintenance, and treatment of children's anxiety difficulties.

Currently a Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern.

Jena Saporito
My interests lie in the role of stigma in affecting individuals’ attitudes toward and likelihood of seeking mental health treatment.  While at UVA, I was involved in two primary studies.  The first, “Thoughts about Mental Health”, investigated the association between stigma attitudes toward mental health/mental health treatment and individuals’ attitudes about and willingness to seek mental health treatment with specific mental health professionals.  The second study, “Health Education”, extended the results of the first study, to consider the impact of an educational intervention for high school students.  This intervention was aimed at reducing stigma toward mental health/mental health treatment and increasing behavioral intentions to seek mental health treatment.

Currently the Director of Integrated Behavioral Health at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Shannan Smith-Janik
My primary research interests involve the role of information processing biases in the onset and maintenance of emotional dysregulation in anxious children and adults. Information processing biases refer to distortions in the way people attend to, interpret, and remember information.

Currently on staff at Penn State CAPS.

Shari Steinman
My research involves investigating the mechanisms underlying anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and using this knowledge to improve treatment options and outcomes for individuals with anxiety and related disorders. I am particularly interested in examining and manipulating cognitive and perceptual biases and exploring how these biases relate to the onset, maintenance, and treatment of anxiety disorders. Please see for more information.

Currently an Assistant Professor at West Virginia University.
Former Staff

Ann Lambert
Former Postdoctoral Researcher
My research focuses on how changes in controlled processing inform our understanding of behavior in applied settings.

In the PACT lab, I investigated cognitive aging processes as they relate to thought suppression success. I am currently a Research Program Specialist in the Research and Development Branch of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Fred Smyth
Former Research Assistant Professor for the PACT Lab
My work in the PACT lab involved web-based study design, especially for implicit cognition measures, and advanced data analyses.  My research has focused on implicit cognition that promotes—or interferes with—students' academic engagement, persistence and success.
Currently the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the University of Virginia’s Department of Psychology.

Sarah Thomas
Former statistics consultant for the PACT Lab


updated December 2016