Featured Alumni

Shawn Jones, Ph.D ’16, is a graduate of the Clinical Psychology Program and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Racial Empowerment Collaborative at the University of Pennsylvania. In this role, he investigates the dynamics that underlie how Black families navigate the racial socialization of their children, particularly in families that represent a diverse structural spectrum. For students applying to Ph.D. programs, Shawn says: “Consider applying to graduate school your first research project. For good measure, make sure that it is mixed methods: get the numbers and the narratives!” Read more about why he decided to pursue his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Carolina.

Daniel Peterson, Ph.D ’11, is a graduate of the Cognitive Psychology program. He now works at Skidmore College as an Assistant Professor of Psychology. During his time at Carolina, he realized he loved research and teaching, and decided to pursue a career where he could do both. Daniel teaches a wide variety of psychology courses and one of his lines of research examines the relationship between confidence and accuracy in eyewitness memory. He says, “When a witness tells you, ‘I’m positive that’s the guy,’ how much weight should we place in that level of confidence?” Read more about his work and his advice for students currently pursuing a doctoral degree.

Featured Research


Dr. Kathryn Reissner: The Experience-Dependent Plasticity of Neuron-Astrocyte Interactions
Cocaine abuse exerts changes in astrocytes within the brain’s reward circuitry and these changes may contribute to the cellular mechanisms which drive relapse to drug use following abstinence. Dr. Reissner’s research demonstrates that astrocytes are smaller and colocalize less with neurons following withdrawal from cocaine self-administration within the nucleus accumbens core. Utilizing high-resolution microscopy to determine drug-induced adaptions in astrocytes can help identify pharmacological treatments to assist against drug relapse.

Dr. David Penn: Integrating Coping Awareness Therapy for Young People with Psychosis
Intervening early, within the first five years, in the course of schizophrenia has the potential to change the trajectory of this mental illness. Dr. David Penn founded one of the first coordinated specialty care clinics, devoted to treating young people with psychosis, called OASIS (Outreach and Support Intervention Services). Despite these efforts, some young people remain vulunerable to future relapse. Dr. Penn’s work, utilizing positive psychology, has piloted interventions to improve clients’ sense of well-being and ability to manage stress.

Dr. Jennifer Arnold: Using Language Appropriately in Context
People know how to use language appropriately in context, for example selecting an ambiguous pronoun like she only when the context supports it. How do speakers do this? How do listeners use the context to interpret ambiguous expressions? Dr. Arnold studies the cognitive mechanisms behind choosing appropriate words and pronunciations, interpreting these expressions in context. Recent findings suggest that adults and children who read frequently are more influenced by the linguistic context, even when listening to spoken language.