Information for Prospective Graduate Students

I do plan to review applications this fall/winter to admit a student in the fall of 2020

Information About My Research

As noted on my bio page, my primary research interests are in suicidal thinking and behavior (STB). In particular, I am interested in the way that people attend to and process suicide-relevant information and how this may be relevant to the identification and prediction of STB. I am also interested in screening for suicide risk and how we may improve the process. I continue to do some work examining factors that contribute to major depressive disorder (MDD) with a focus on attention to emotional information. In my research, I utilize eye tracking (I have a Tobii in the lab) as well as tasks involving reaction time, affect misattribution, behavioral economics, etc. We also collect data through ecological momentary assessment (EMA). The lab has equipment to collect EEG and other psychophysiological data (e.g., heart rate variability, galvanic skin response) just waiting for a graduate student excited to use it.

What I Look For In Prospective Graduate Students

The primary quality I look for in a graduate student is interest in, and enthusiasm for, research. I also look for a good match between an applicant's research interests and my research interests. Graduate school can be a trying experience. If you are not interested in your research it will make graduate school that much more difficult. My own experiences as a graduate student (in two different graduate programs), and as a faculty member, have convinced me that the match between a student's interest and the advisor/mentor's interests contributes substantially to a student's happiness and productivity in graduate school. My advice to applicants (regardless of whether they are applying to work with me or not) is to develop an understanding of your own interests and to apply to work with professors whose research is a good match for your interests.

Gaining research experience as a research assistant or a lab coordinator after obtaining your undergraduate degree can often be an excellent way to help refine your research interests. It also shows dedication, interest, and enthusiasm for research. While I certainly consider applications from applicants who have yet to obtain their undergraduate degree, post-baccalaureate research experience can only make you a more competitive candidate.

I do pay attention to GRE scores, though I don't have a "magic number" or a specific cutoff. When considering whether to interview or admit students, I weight the personal statement and letters of recommendation most heavily.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I email you to ask about your research or if you are taking a student?

Yes! But, please read the information on this page and the rest of the lab website first. If you have questions that are not addressed by this information, I am happy to hear from you and answer questions about my research.

  • Can I send you an email just to let you know that I will be applying? When should I send such an email?

Yes! It is helpful to me if you attach a CV to these emails so that I can easily see the kinds of experiences you have had. Anytime in the fall is fine to send me an email letting me know that you are applying.

  • Can you tell me if I would be a competitive applicant? Can you give me specific feedback on my personal statement, CV, or other application materials?

I would rather not. It is difficult to know whether you will be competitive without reviewing your entire application. As I noted above, I weight the personal statement and letters of recommendation most heavily and I will not look at those materials until your application is complete. Also, the competitiveness of the applicant pool fluctuates somewhat from year to year. In general, I would say that you might as well apply since you have little to lose in submitting your application.

And, unfortunately, I do not have the time to give individual feedback to applicants or prospective applicants on how to improve their application materials. I suggest that you get feedback from the individuals writing your letters of recommendation as well as graduate students or academic advisers, if possible.

  • Can I talk on the phone/Skype with you about my interests, the direction of the lab, etc.?

After applications are submitted, I schedule brief phone interviews with the top 6-8 applicants for my lab. If you are in this group, then we can talk at that time.

  • How can I make sure that you will see my application?

Check my name on the application when indicating the faculty members with whom you are interested in working. It also helps if you mention in your personal statement specifically why you are interested in working with me.

  • Is it true that you are a fantastic mentor and that working in your lab is awesome?

Yes.