People

Director

Denis McCarthy, Ph.D.

I am a clinical psychologist working primarily in the area of addiction. My research focuses on a broad range of factors that can influence how people make decisions about use of alcohol and other substances, or about engaging in risk taking behavior while intoxicated, such as drunk driving. Ongoing projects include laboratory and EMA methods testing the effect of alcohol on decision making. I also have an interest in racial differences in addiction risk processes.

Given the pressing issues with addiction in our society, and the expertise in addiction research and outreach at Mizzou and the other University of Missouri campuses, I recently lead an initiative to start an addiction center at the University of Missouri, the Missouri Center for Addiction Research and Engagement (MO-CARE).  The goal of MO-CARE is to increase collaborative work across the University to increase research and training opportunities in addiction.  

In addition, I am dedicated to the training of future addiction scientists at every level. I am the PI of a T32 Pre and Post-doctoral training grant from NIAAA, as well as an R25 Summer Research Training Program (with Ian Gizer; MU-ARTSS), also from NIAAA, for undergraduates interested in addiction research.

I joined the faculty at MU in 2002 and was promoted to full professor in 2014. My wife (Lisa Flores) is a counseling psychologist and professor in MU's Department of Education, School and Counseling Psychology. We have two children, Denis and Tori.

Graduate Students 


Olivia Warner, MA

I am a fifth year graduate student working in the Alcohol Cognitions Lab. I completed my undergraduate studies at Arizona State University in 2015 with majors in Psychology and Family and Human Development and a minor in Women and Gender Studies. My research interests include examination of the impacts of traditional gender role norms, race, ethnicity, and culture on drinking behavior, as well as assessment of in-the-moment drinking motives and affect via ecological momentary assessment (EMA). My dissertation research involves the first EMA study of the influence of Latinx-specific gender norms on the drinking behavior of minoritized populations. To fund my dissertation, I recently received a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Fellowship - Diversity (F31) from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) that is co-sponsored by Drs. McCarthy and Flores. 

I am originally from Mesa, AZ, and enjoy baking, gardening, and taking advantage of living in a state with all four seasons.

Anna Maralit, BA

I am a fourth year graduate student working in the Alcohol Cognitions Lab. I graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2016 with a double major in psychology and Spanish. I then worked as a program coordinator for the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study at the Medical University of South Carolina. My research interests include studying the interplay of multi-method impulsivity and other socio-cognitive variables that contribute to risky alcohol use and related consequences

I am originally from Kansas City, Missouri. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, spending time with my pets, and aerial arts. 

Charlie Darmour, MPS

I am a second-year graduate student working in the Alcohol Cognitions Lab. I graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2017 with a master's degree in Clinical Psychological Science. I then worked as a Research Coordinator in the Suicide CPR Initiative within the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. My research interests involve planned and unplanned drinking behavior, negative consequences of drinking, alcohol's relationship to suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and problematic drinking among military members and Veterans. 

I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. In my free time, I enjoy weight training, watching films, and spending quality time with my wife. 

Maria Costanza Benvenuti, MA

I am a first-year graduate student in the Alcohol Cognitions Lab. I graduated from Boston University in 2018 with a master's degree in Psychology. I then spent the past 3 years working as a Research Coordinator and Lab Manager in Dr. Robert Leeman's EDGE Lab at the University of Florida. My research interests include using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to examine the context of alcohol use, environmental factors that relate to alcohol use, and drinking interventions in young adults. 

I am originally from Arezzo, Italy, and I have been living in the United States for 8 years. I enjoy traveling, going to the movies, playing video games, and going on adventures with my husband and our dog. 

Research Staff

Jake Sauer, BS

I am the project coordinator for the Alcohol Cognitions Lab. I graduated from the University of Missouri in spring 2021 with a BS in Psychology. I am also the project coordinator in Dr. Tim Trull's Personality and Emotion Lab, and a research assistant in Dr. Nelson Cowan's Working Memory Lab. I plan to apply to graduate school for Clinical Psychology this fall.

I am an avid rock climber, and enjoy playing the guitar and ukulele.


Postdoctoral Fellows

Alison Haney, PhD

I am a third year postdoctoral research fellow. At Mizzou, I work with Drs. Tim Trull and Denis McCarthy, and I have been funded on the NIAAA T32 institutional training grant since 2020. I completed my BA in Psychology at Grand Valley State University in 2009. I received my PhD in Clinical Psychology from Purdue University in 2020, along with my Graduate Certificate in Psychological Statistics. My research examines how dynamic, health-relevant processes are measured in daily life in order to identify targets for mobile health interventions. I use quantitative methods and ambulatory technology to 1) increase the precision with which we can measure affect and substance use outside of the laboratory, 2) examine how affective and other consequences of substance use vary within and across contexts and sociocultural groups, and 3) leverage this information to develop scalable, mobile interventions aimed at supporting healthy decision-making around substance use and related behaviors (e.g., alcohol-impaired driving).

I enjoy going to concerts, hanging out with my cat, and playing music. 

Lab Alumni

Laura Hatz, PhD

Laura Hatz received her PhD in Clinical Psychology and quantitative minor in Psychological Statistics and Methods from the University of Missouri in 2022. She completed an internship in Clinical Psychology at UC - San Diego, where she is now a postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Hatz's research focuses on identifying risk factors for alcohol-related behaviors (e.g., sexual risk taking, driving after drinking), and using mathematical modeling techniques to characterize acute alcohol effects on risky decision making. Her dissertation research examined the effects of alcohol intoxication on characteristics of sexual decision making and the application of cognitive process models to common laboratory tasks of impulsivity and was funded by a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA fellowship (F31) from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Courtney Motschman, PhD

I am a second year postdoctoral research fellow funded on the NIAAA T32 institutional training grant. I received my BS in psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2008, and PhD in clinical psychology from the University at Buffalo, SUNY in 2019. My research focuses on cognitive and affective processes involved in the development, maintenance, and consequences of alcohol use disorder (AUD) and addiction. In particular, I am interested in discerning how the disinhibiting and intoxicating effects of alcohol lead to risk-taking behaviors, excessive drinking, and risk for AUD. My program of research uses a combination of laboratory methods (e.g., alcohol administration) and assessment in individuals’ natural drinking environments (e.g., ecological momentary assessment) to understand dynamic processes that occur when individuals are drinking, for example, how alcohol affects people’s subjective perceptions, emotions, motivations to drink, and judgments of risky behaviors, and subsequently leads to alcohol-related harms.

Kayleigh McCarty, PhD

Kayleigh McCarty received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Missouri in 2021. She completed an internship in Clinical Psychology at Brown University, where she is now a postdoctoral fellow. Dr. McCarty's research interests include applying mathematical models of decision making to substance-related risk taking behaviors and identifying variables associated with alcohol-related negative consequences and risk taking behaviors in college students. Her dissertation integrated decision making, psychophysiology, and addiction science to better understand the role of decision making and reward processing in alcohol misuse and was funded by a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA fellowship (F31) from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Andrea Wycoff, PhD

Andrea Wycoff received her PhD in Clinical Psychology and quantitative minor in Psychological Statistics and Methods from the University of Missouri in 2022 under the primary mentorship of Dr. Trull. She completed an internship in Clinical Psychology at Brown University, where she is now a postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Wycoff's research focuses on using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to study substance use and related processes as they unfold in individuals’ daily lives. Her dissertation research integrated EMA and laboratory alcohol administration as complementary methods to characterize the proximal predictors and consequences of simultaneous alcohol and cannabis use and was funded by a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Fellowship (F31) from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and was co-sponsored by Dr. McCarthy. 

David Morris, PhD

David Morris received his PhD in Clinical Psychology and quantitative minor in Psychological Statistics and Methods from the University of Missouri in 2016. He completed an internship and post-doc at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAAHS).  Dr. Morris’s research interests have focused on 1) the interplay of personality and cognitive processes on addictive behaviors and 2) the acute effects of alcohol on risky decision making (e.g., driving after drinking, aggression). His clinical interests are in the areas of substance use and posttraumatic stress disorder. He is currently a clinical psychologist at the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University in St. Louis. 

David is a die-hard fan of the best college team in the state of Kentucky, the University of Louisville. In his spare time, he enjoys being outdoors with his wife, Tricia, especially hiking and trail running. He has a cat that has no tail and a dog that snores so loud she has her own room to sleep.

 

Hayley Padovano received her PhD in Clinical Psychology and quantitative minor in Psychological Statistics and Methods from the University of Missouri in 2014. There, she received a predoctoral NRSA fellowship to develop skills in ecological momentary assessment (EMA) and multilevel modeling, which she applied to explore the affective context of drinking in the natural environment. She completed her predoctoral residency at Brown, where she began research at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS). At CAAS, Dr. Padovano expanded her research focus to explore developmental aspects of alcohol misuse and to test mechanisms of pharmacologic treatments in adolescents. Most recently, Dr. Padovano received funding to pursue independent research devoted to understanding how alcohol addiction develops during adolescence. Her research pairs psychophysiological measures in the human laboratory with longitudinal EMA in adolescents’ daily lives to test theoretical models of the progression of alcohol addiction.


 

Sarah Pedersen received her PhD in clinical psychology at Mizzou in 2010. During her graduate work, she received in-depth training in alcohol research as a trainee on the NIAAA T32 and through a predoctoral NRSA fellowship. She completed her clinical internship at Western Psychiatric Hospital and did her post-doctoral work at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) before joining the Pitt faculty in 2012. A primary focus of her research since her time at Mizzou has been on understanding health disparities in risk for alcohol problems and currently she is examining how stress, discrimination, and naturalistic drinking experiences increase risk in Black relative to White young adult drinkers. (Please click her name for more information). Sarah enjoys raving about Columbia, Missouri and spends time plotting ways she can return to the Alcohol Cognitions Lab as an active member.

Michael Amlung was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab from 2013-2015 and was supported by the university’s NIAAA T32 Alcohol Training Grant. After finishing his postdoc at Mizzou, he accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. In 2020, Michael accepted a position as an Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas. Dr. Amlung’s research is focused on understanding the psychological and neurobiological processes that contribute to decision making and motivation to use drugs and alcohol in individuals with substance use disorders. Visit his website to learn more about his group’s current research.

Rachel Wesley, BA

I was the project coordinator for the Alcohol Cognitions Lab from 2019-2021. I graduated from the University of Missouri with a BA in psychology, a BA in sociology, and a minor in criminal justice. I also worked as a research assistant in the Family Assessment Lab and the Positive Youth Development Lab at the University of Missouri. I plan to apply to graduate school for child clinical psychology this fall.

I enjoy watching cooking shows, exercising, and traveling to new places.

Avi Desai, BA

 

I was the assistant project coordinator in the Alcohol Cognitions Lab from 2019-2020. I graduated from the University of Missouri in May of 2019 with a BA in Psychology with minors in Statistics, Philosophy, and Business. I was involved in this lab for 4 years. I am currently attending graduate school at The University of Akron to earn a Master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology this fall.

In my free time I enjoy building scale models, riding my motorcycle, and losing at Words with Friends against Lane.

Lane Burdette

I was the honors capstone student in the Alcohol Cognitions Laboratory from 2019-2020, conducting research to be presented at the meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association. After graduating from MU this spring with a BS in Psychology and BA in International Studies, I began attending Texas A&M to pursue a MA in International Relations to learn more about the applications of psychology and decision theory to foreign affairs.

I enjoy photography, boxing, and beating Avi in Words with Friends. I also spent Fall of 2018 studying abroad in Valparaíso, Chile and welcome opportunities to practice my Spanish.

Christiana Prestigiacomo, BA

I was the project coordinator for the Alcohol Cognitions Lab from 2017-2019. I am currently a first year graduate student in the Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology at IUPUI, working with Melissa Cyders. I graduated from the University of Missouri in 2017 with a BA in psychology and a minor in Italian studies. I worked as a research assistant in this lab as an undergraduate starting in 2015 and became the project coordinator at the end of 2017.

I enjoy traveling, all things sci-fi and taking too many pictures of my cat.