The University of Texas at Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

BlackBerry

PEOPLE

Marion K. Underwood

Marion K. Underwood

Email: [email protected]
Download Marion Underwood’s Curriculum Vitae

As of August 1, 2018, Marion Underwood is now at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana, where she serves as the Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences. She retains an Adjunct Professor appointment in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas and works closely with the UT Dallas team to continue to lead the BlackBerry Project.

Underwood’s research focuses on how children develop peer relationships. Her work investigates the developmental origins of socially aggressive behavior and the associated outcomes for victims as well as aggressors. Her longitudinal study of children’s relationships and social development follows the same group of students from third grade through high school. As the students in her study grew up, it became clear that electronic communication had become an enormous part of their social lives. Underwood adapted her study to capture this important aspect of the students’ social development. In the eighth grade, these students were given BlackBerry phones, enabling the research team to analyze electronic communication and learn more about evolving relationships among young people.

The overall aim of this research program is to clarify developmental precursors of adolescent psychopathology for both girls and boys, with the long-term goal of developing prevention efforts not only for social and physical aggression, but also for internalizing problems, personality disorders and eating disorders. In 2001, Underwood was awarded the Chancellor’s Council Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award. She has authored many journal articles and two books: Social Aggression Among Girls and Social Development: Relationships in Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence (with Lisa Rosen).

Underwood was awarded fellow status by the Association for Psychological Science, an honor given to prominent psychologists who have made sustained, outstanding contributions to the science of psychology in such areas as research, teaching, service and application. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wellesley College. She earned master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from Duke University. Underwood joined UT Dallas’ School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences in 1998.


UT Dallas Team


Robert A. Ackerman

Robert A. Ackerman

Email: [email protected]
Dr. Ackerman’s profile on the BBS site
Download Robert Ackerman’s Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Ackerman’s research program investigates how the quality of interpersonal relationships (e.g., roommate relationships, romantic relationships) is impacted by the characteristics of the individuals that comprise them. He received his PhD in social and personality psychology from Michigan State University in 2011, and he began his appointment as an assistant professor at The University of Texas at Dallas in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences in August of 2011. Because Dr. Ackerman’s substantive interests involve processes that occur within relationships and therefore often involve non-independent data, he is particularly interested in analytic models for both cross-sectional (e.g., Ackerman, Kashy, & Corretti, 2015) and longitudinal dyadic data (e.g., Ackerman, Donnellan, Kashy, & Conger, 2012).

Justin Vollet

Justin Vollet

Download Justin Vollet’s Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Justin Vollet is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the School of Brain and Behavioral Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas. He received his PhD (2017) in applied psychology at Portland State University with a major focus on developmental psychology and a minor focus on developmental research methods.

Broadly, Dr. Vollet’s research interests are focused on understanding how healthy child and adolescent development are supported or undermined by the joint contributions of the constellation of social partners with whom youngsters surround themselves—most notably peers, teachers, and parents. Specifically, his work has focused on understanding how these social partners jointly influence the development of youngsters’ enjoyment of and engagement with the process of learning. Guided by an ecological systems perspective, from which frequent interaction with others is seen as the “engine of development”, his research has focused on understanding how peer group influences on the development of students’ academic engagement (which can be positive or negative) can be either amplified or buffered depending upon qualities of the interactions that young students experience with non-peer social partners.

Beyond their influence on academic development, Dr. Vollet is also interested in the role that peers play, jointly with parents and teachers, supporting adolescents’ well-being and healthy identity development. In addition, he is interested in understanding the extent to which peers’ influence on adolescent development may be boosted by emerging communications technologies (e.g., text messaging, and social networking websites), which offer youth digital platforms that extend opportunities for youth-to-peer interaction. Because such technologies offer teenagers less restricted access to engage with their peers, it is possible that peers’ influence on multiple facets of youths’ development may be amplified in this new and emerging digital context.

Doctoral RAs


Kaitlyn Burnell

Kaitlyn Burnell

Kaitlyn is a psychological sciences doctoral student who joined the lab during the Fall 2016 semester. She received her BA in psychology from Western Connecticut State University in December 2015. Broadly stated, Kaitlyn is interested in investigating parent and peer influences on behavior during adolescence and emerging adulthood. Specifically, she is interested in understanding the role that social media and digital communication plays on developmental and social processes. Kaitlyn’s past research has examined desensitization from violent media, predictors of social media and cell phone dependency, and psychosocial components of midlife development.

Kaitlyn is currently engaged in three lines of research. First, she is interested in understanding how social comparison processes manifest on online platforms, and what moderators and mediators may exist that exacerbate or mitigate the potential negative effects of engaging in online social comparison. Second, she is interested in the various ways social networking site users present the self online, and the predictors, correlates, and outcomes of engaging in different types of online self-presentation. Third, she is interested in understanding the psychosocial correlates of fear of missing out (FoMO). Kaitlyn is also interested in studying other behaviors in the context of social media and digital communication, including sexting, cyberbullying and victimization, and general effects of use.


Purdue Team


Madeleine George

Madeleine George

Download Madeleine George’s Curriculum Vitae

Madeleine George is a post-doctoral research fellow at Purdue University. She received her PhD in developmental psychology from Duke University in 2017. After receiving a BS from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2009, she taught English at Cofradia Bilingual School (primary school) in Honduras and at Lycee Bourdelle (high school) in France, followed by a year of graduate training at the University of California, Irvine.

Broadly, Madeleine’s research focuses on how adolescents’ and young adults’ daily usage of mobile technologies may influence their development and wellbeing. She is interested in understanding whether the quantity or the nature of adolescents’ daily parental and peer virtual communications may predict mental health problems and/or promote relationships and feelings of social support. She is also interested leveraging mobile technologies for research with young people using multiple types of methodologies, including self-report (cross-sectional and daily surveys), objective (wearable devices), and observational (content analysis of text messages) assessments.

Doctoral RAs


Allycen Kurup

Allycen Kurup

Allycen is a clinical psychology doctoral student at Purdue University. She joined the lab at UT Dallas during the Summer 2017 semester, and made the move with Dr. Underwood to Purdue in Summer 2018. She received her BS in psychology from the University of Washington, in Seattle, Washington. During her undergraduate career, she studied children’s implicit and explicit attitudes of race and gender, and spent some time in her post-baccalaureate years working in a community-based study of early detection and intervention for autism. Allycen’s current research interests focus on the way in which gender and sexuality operate within social contexts, particularly in peer relationships and the use or experience of social aggression. In the future, Allycen hopes to work with LGBTQ+ youth to investigate the effect of social support, or conversely peer victimization, on minority gender and sexuality orientations.


Purdue Undergraduate RAs


Emily Davis

Emily Davis

Emily Davis is a junior majoring in health sciences and minoring in biology and psychology. She joined the BlackBerry Project in January 2019. Emily plans to attend medical school and pursue a career as a surgeon. Her research interests include how neurological disorders and diseases manifest in the brain, and ways to innovate treatment and prevention.

Taylor Sites

Taylor Sites

Taylor Sites is a senior majoring in brain and behavioral sciences, who joined the Blackberry project in January of 2019. After graduating, Taylor plans to pursue a master’s degree in counseling psychology. She currently is a psychiatric technician at River Bend Hospital and volunteers at Mental Health America as a crisis specialist. Through her work, she has developed a specific interest in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders.


UT Dallas Undergraduate RAs


Sarah Bostic

Sarah Bostic

Sarah Bostic is a sophomore majoring in psychology and minoring in public health. She joined the Blackberry project in Spring 2018. After her graduation from UT Dallas, she plans on continuing her education by pursuing a PhD program in clinical psychology. She is interested in psychological disorders and counseling for young adults, as well as social motivation, self-compassion, and mindfulness.

Stephanie Cao

Stephanie Cao

Stephanie Cao is a sophomore neuroscience major. She joined the Blackberry Project team in Spring 2018. After graduation, Stephanie plans on continuing her education in medical school, with aspirations of becoming a neurologist. She is especially interested in behavioral neurological disorders and how they may be shaped by environmental factors.

Kayle Caouette

Kayla Caouette

Kayla Caouette is a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in organizational behavior and human resource management. She joined the Blackberry Project in Summer 2019. After her graduation from UT Dallas, she plans on continuing her education by pursuing a master’s degree in counseling. She is interested in counseling for young adults, specifically the LGBTQ+ community.

Alejandro (Alex) Carillo

Alejandro (Alex) Carillo

Alex Carillo is a first-year psychological sciences master’s student who joined the lab in Summer 2019. His research background is primarily in conflict in romantic relationships and recovery from conflict. However, he is interested in how social media use affects adolescents’ mental health, peer relationships, and self-esteem. Alex eventually hopes to be admitted to a doctoral program in clinical psychology, to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a therapist.

Christy Chang

Christy Chang

Christy Chang is a sophomore majoring in biology and minoring in psychology. She joined the Blackberry Project in Summer 2019. After graduation, she hopes to go to dental school and pursue a career in dentistry or orthodontics. In the future, Christy would like to work with patients at her very own dental practice.

Natashaa Dalal

Natashaa Dalal

Natashaa Dalal is a senior majoring in psychology as well as child learning & development. She has worked with the BlackBerry Project since Spring of 2017. After graduation, Natashaa would like to get her PhD and pursue a career in the field of clinical psychology, with a particular focus on using CBT to treat those suffering from PTSD and other anxiety disorders.

Sesha Dasari

Sesha Dasari

Sesha Dasari is a senior finance and economics major who joined the Blackberry project in January of 2019. Sesha is interested in exploring the ways that communication can infiltrate individuals daily lives in unexpected ways furthering her passion for scientific inquiries. Sesha aims to begin her career in the consulting field and eventually transition to operate her own non-profit venture, where she hopes that the knowledge and skills she gains while working in the lab will be invaluable.

Nitya Devireddy

Nitya Devireddy

Nitya Devireddy is a senior majoring in neuroscience and fast-tracking into the applied cognition and neuroscience master’s program with a focus in human-computer interaction. After completing her master’s degree, she plans on attending medical school. Nitya is interested in the intersection between computer science and medicine and wants to be at the forefront of creating technological advancements to better patient care interaction.

Cassandra Fritsche

Cassandra Fritsche

Cassandra Fritsche is a junior majoring in psychology who joined the Blackberry Project in Summer 2019. After graduation, she plans on pursuing a master’s in clinical psychology, with the intention of eventually working in therapy or mental health counseling. She is interested in psychological disorders and how interpersonal and societal factors can influence mental health and hopes that her work in this project will develop experience with these interests.

Chelsea Gross

Chelsea Gross

Chelsea Gross is a junior majoring in speech-language pathology. She joined the Blackberry Project in Summer 2019. After graduating from UT Dallas, she will be entering graduate school to obtain her master’s degree in speech and communication sciences. She is interested in therapy specifically for children with identified disabilities, and psychological studies as well.

Jeffrey Hankin

Jeffrey Hankin

Jeffrey Hankin is a senior majoring in neuroscience. He joined the lab in Summer 2019. After graduation, he plans to complete a master’s degree in applied cognition and neuroscience. He would like to eventually attend medical school, with the goal of specializing in neurology or psychiatry.

Areefa Hingora

Areefa Hingora

Areefa Hingora is a senior majoring in psychology. She joined the Blackberry Project during the Summer 2019 semester. After graduating, Areefa plans on attending graduate school to obtain either a master’s degree in genetic counseling or social work.

Sahana Kodali

Sahana Kodali

Sahana Kodali is a sophomore majoring in neuroscience and minoring in exercise sciences. She joined the Blackberry Project during Spring 2019. After graduation, she plans on continuing her education by pursuing a degree in medicine. She is especially interested in specializing in nutrition and lifestyle and the effects that they have on various aspects of the human body.

Elle Lee

Elle Lee

Elle Lee is a sophomore psychology major, who joined the Blackberry Project in Spring 2019. After graduation, Elle plans on pursuing a master’s in social work, focusing specifically on the diagnosis and treatment of abnormal disorders for children and adolescents.

Audra Miller

Audra Miller

Audra Miller is a sophomore double majoring in cognitive science and psychology. She joined the Blackberry Project team during the Spring 2019 semester. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in human factors psychology as a project development consultant.

Merin Prince

Merin Prince

Merin Prince is an incoming senior neuroscience major, who joined the Blackberry Project in Summer 2019. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in medicine as a DO physician specializing in Neurosurgery. She is interested in studying the physical manifestation of symptoms due to mental discomfort and how social interactions can alleviate such symptoms.

Mathi Siva

Mathi Siva

Mathi Siva is a junior neuroscience major who joined the Blackberry Project in Summer 2019. After graduation, Mathi plans on pursuing medical school and the field of neurology. She is interested in the interaction between our environment and our mental health and physical wellness.

Rashmi Venkatesh

Rashmi Venkatesh

Rashmi Venkatesh is a senior in neuroscience. She joined the Blackberry Project in Summer 2019. After graduation, Rashmi intends to pursue medical school and a career in pediatric neurology. She is especially interested in the effects that neurological diseases have on children.

Era Fabiha Yousuf

Era Fabiha Yousuf

Era Fabiha Yousuf is a senior majoring in psychology with a minor in visual arts. She joined the BlackBerry Project in Summer 2019. She plans to pursue research in the future, particularly in terms of how people form connections with one another in ways that can be applicable to society. After graduation, she plans to attain a graduate degree in clinical psychology with a focus in research.

Faiza Zaman

Faiza Zaman

Faiza Zaman is a sophomore majoring in psychology. She joined the BlackBerry Project in Spring 2018. She has a variety of interests regarding the field of psychology and has plans to open her own psychology business in the future. Once she graduates, she plans to go to either medical school or graduate school. She particularly enjoys working with children and desires to learn and understand how psychological disorders affect people as a whole.


Past Post-Doctoral Research Fellows


Sam Ehrenreich

Samuel E. Ehrenreich

Download Samuel Ehrenreich’s Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Sam Ehrenreich’s research interests focus on how digital forms of communication and social media affect children and adolescents’ behavior and peer relations. The fact that we now have the ability to communicate with our entire peer network at any moment may make peer influence an even more powerful source of socialization than in previous generations.

Sam is interested in how children and adolescents may use these new forms of communication for both positive and negative effects. Digital media allow youth to explore their identity, seek social support, and engage with their friends when they are not able to interact in person.  Despite these benefits, individuals also use digital communication to promote antisocial norms, ruminate about their problems, and harass others. Sam’s research attempts to understand both the positive and negative outcomes of these new communication platforms.

For all of his research interests, Sam prefers to use observational methodologies; directly examining the content of digital communication. Sam has experience capturing and coding communication exchanged on a variety of platforms, including the content of adolescents’ email, text message, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Diana J. Meter

Diana J. Meter

Download Diana Meter’s Curriculum Vitae

Diana is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the School of Brain and Behavioral Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas. Diana received her PhD (2015) in family studies and human development at the University of Arizona where she was funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She received her MS from this program in 2013, and her BA in psychology from the University of North Carolina Asheville in 2008.

Broadly, Diana’s research interests include peer victimization, aggression, friendships, and prosocial behavior in person and in online communication among adolescents. She is particularly interested in the individuals who defend their peers from peer victimization. Her current research investigates the positive and negative consequences of adolescents’ receipt and enactment of defending for both victims and defenders of peer victimization.

Her work aims to investigate the predictors of and the effects of involvement in peer victimization and bullying in different roles and contexts including home and school. Diana serves on the Student and Early Career Council of the Society for Research in Child Development and on the Emerging Scholars Committee of the Society for Research on Adolescence.


Past Master’s RAs


Miriam Percival

Miriam Percival

Miriam Percival was a psychological sciences master’s student who joined the lab in Fall 2017. She is interested in studying how social media affects the attitudes and behaviors of users and her previous research includes a comparative analysis of PokemonGo and traditional MMORPG player’s personality and game behavior. Miriam received her BA in psychology from The University of Texas at Dallas in May 2017 is also a member of the UT Dallas chapter of the international psychology honors organization, Psi Chi.


Past Undergraduate RAs


Iman Abdelgawad

Iman Abdelgawad

Daniel Canales

Daniel Canales

Adam Edwards

Adam Edwards

Aarifa Gowani

Aarifa Gowani

Nisha Gupta

Nisha Gupta

Rehan Khan

Rehan Khan

Aashka Patel

Aashka Patel

Kirav Patel

Kirav Patel

Shana Posey

Shana Posey

Maria Sosa

Maria Sosa

Michael Russo

Michael Russo

Jennifer Torres

Jennifer Torres

Ryan Wieligman

Ryan Wieligman