Featured Alumni

Danielle Dean, Ph.D ’15, is a graduate of the Quantitative Psychology program. She now works at Microsoft. As a Principal Data Scientist Lead in the Artificial Intelligence and Research Organization, Danielle leads an international team of data scientists and engineers in building predictive analytics and machine learning solutions. She shares, “It’s a really fun role because I both get to build custom analytics solutions with customers and then work to make sure those products are improved over time. As we move forward, we can continue to solve bigger and even greater problems.” Read more about why she decided to pursue her Ph.D. in Quantitative Psychology at UNC.

Olivenne Skinner, Ph.D ’14, is a graduate of the Developmental Psychology program. She now works at Penn State University as a postdoctoral fellow. Olivenne works on a National Science Foundation-funded project that is focused on African Americans’ daily classroom experiences during their first year of high school. Through this project, she hopes to expand our understanding of youth’s daily experiences – and how these experiences are related to classroom engagement and academic success. Olivenne says, “My training at UNC provided me with the essential skills that I use in my research.” Read more about her work at Penn State and her next steps in academia.

Featured Research


Dr. Jean-Louis Gariepy: Stress Response Relates to Individual Differences in Socio-Emotional Adaptation
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is one of the principal systems that mediates the physical response to challenge by increasing cortisol in the blood system. HPA axis activity is linked to stress and adverse care-giving environments. In a recent study, Dr. Gariepy examined how more distal forms of adversity are associated with individual differences in HPA axis activity. His research has shown that the rate at which this neuroendocrine activity is suppressed before 36 months of age is reduced in proportions that match the extent of exposure to adversity in early childhood.

Dr. Kenneth Bollen: Developing More Robust and Reliable Methods for Structural Equation Modeling
According to a report on replicability in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences, it is far more difficult to replicate prior research than it should be. Dr. Bollen is working to develop more robust and reliable methods for research, including a general longitudinal model that encompasses a diverse set of longitudinal models as special cases. This work is intended to provide a robust modeling framework so that researchers can turn to simpler models when permissible and more comprehensive models are needed.

Dr. Keith Payne: Economic Inequality Increases Risk Taking
Poverty has a way of perpetuating itself. The reasons are many, but one is that people facing poverty sometimes make self-defeating decisions. These cycles of poverty leading to bad decisions, which in turn deepen poverty, have sometimes been used to blame the poor for their own plight. But Dr. Payne’s research suggests that such risky decisions are a side-effect of a generally adaptive way that people respond to inequality in their environments.

Undergraduate Research: Exploring the Neurological Effects of Rhythmic Entrainment
Trevor McPherson, a UNC senior with a minor in Neuroscience, is studying gamelan music in Bali, Indonesia as a Carolina Scholar. Musical neuroscience studies are conducted by western-trained musicians and typically examine the effects of western music on the brain. Collaborating with Dr. Flavio Frohlic and Dr. Dorita Berger, Trevor conducts research that explore the neurological effects of rhythmic entrainment. In Bali, Trevor is studying gamelan music and how its repetitive and homogeneous structure is linked to trance and entrainment.