School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

BlackBerry

PEOPLE

Marion K. Underwood

Marion K. Underwood

Email: [email protected]
Dr. Underwood’s profile on the BBS site
Dr. Underwood’s University chair — Ashbel Smith Professor of Psychological Sciences
Download Marion Underwood’s Curriculum Vitae

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.

Madeleine George

Madeleine George

Download Madeleine George’s Curriculum Vitae

Madeleine George is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Texas, Dallas. 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.

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.

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 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).

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.

Allycen Kurup

Allycen Kurup

Allycen is a Psychological Sciences doctoral student who joined the lab during the Summer 2017 semester. 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 operates within social contexts, particularly in peer relationships and the use or experience of social aggression. In the future, Allycen hopes to work with gender nonconforming and transgender youth to investigate the effect of social support, or conversely peer victimization, on non-binary gender identity development and presentation.

Master’s RAs

Miriam Percival

Miriam Percival

Miriam Percival is a Psychological Sciences master’s student who is interested in studying how social media affects the attitudes and behaviors of users. She joined the lab in Fall 2017. Miriam received her bachelor’s in Psychology from The University of Texas at Dallas in May 2017 where her previous research includes a comparative analysis of PokemonGo and traditional MMORPG player’s personality and game behavior. Miriam is also a member of the UT Dallas chapter of Psi Chi and the student-run newspaper, The Mercury, where she serves as editor-in-chief.

Undergraduate RAs

Natashaa Dalal

Natashaa Dalal

Natashaa Dalal is a sophomore Psychology Major considering a minor in Criminology. She has worked with the BlackBerry Project since Spring 2017. After graduation, Natashaa would like to attend graduate school for a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology followed by her obtaining her PsyD.

Adam Edwards

Adam Edwards

Adam is a Senior, with a major in Psychology, and a minor in Child Learning and Development. He joined the lab during the Spring 2017 semester. After graduating, Adam would like to continue working in the field of research, and then attend graduate school after a few years of experience. He is interested in the field of psychology as well as brain developmental differences in individuals, particularly dealing with autism in children, and what can be done to help them overcome and understand the problems they may struggle with. Adam loves to learn and will pursue a career in research where he can be in a field that is constantly expanding, and be able to help other people who struggle with mental illness and overcome the challenges they face in everyday life.

Aarifa Gowani

Aarifa Gowani

Aarifa is a senior majoring in Child Learning and Development. She has been part of the Blackberry Project since Fall of 2016. In her free time she works at a pharmacy and also works with children with special needs. After graduation, Aarifa would like to attend dental school and work with children. In future, she would also like to pursue a career as a speech pathologist.

Aashka Patel

Aashka Patel

Aashka Patel is a junior Neuroscience major. She has worked with the Blackberry Project since Fall 2017 and previously worked as a research assistant in Dr. Walter Voit’s Advanced Polymer Research Lab. She is particularly interested in social behaviors and online communication among adolescents. She plans on furthering her education by going to graduate school after earning her degree.

Kirav Patel

Kirav Patel

Kirav Patel is a junior Biology major and neuroscience minor. He has been part of the Blackberry Project since August 2017. Kirav works at the Student Success Center as a Peer-Led-Team Learning leader and serves as an officer for multiple organizations on campus. After graduating, Kirav plans on attending medical school with aspirations of becoming a surgeon.

Shana Posey

Shana Posey

Shana is a senior double majoring in Psychology and Child Development. She joined the lab in Fall 2017, and she will be graduating in May 2018. She aspires to further her education by attending graduate school for health or clinical psychology or to become a Physician’s Assistant. Shana volunteered in a health innovation program outside of Cape Town, South Africa, for 5 weeks during summer 2017. She is interested in childhood intervention.

Michael Russo

Michael Russo

Michael Russo is a Senior Psychology major. He has been working on the BlackBerry Project team since the spring of 2017. After graduation in December, he plans to pursue a doctorate degree in industrial/organizational psychology.

Ryan Wieligman

Ryan Wieligman

Ryan joined the lab during the Spring 2017 semester. He is a Psychology major with a diverse range of interests, including teen aggression to certain people due to physical attributes, social cues in autism, and veteran social adjustments when returning home. His goals include receiving a degree in clinical psychology.

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 RAs

Fatima Hanif

Fatima Hanif

Fatima joined the BlackBerry Project in August 2016 and has since graduated with a BS in Neuroscience and Psychology. Her research interests include cross-cultural, moral development, social relationships, social cognition, and resilience throughout human development. Fatima’s research at UTD examined adolescent peer victimization and the reliability of bullying reports. She is currently participating in SMU’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program and later plans to obtain a PhD in psychology.

Samantha Love

Samantha Love

Samantha Love is a sophomore Speech Pathology major considering a minor in Psychology. She has worked with the BlackBerry Project during Summer 2016. After graduation, Samantha would like to attend graduate school for speech pathology and then pursue a career as a speech pathologist in either a clinical or educational environment.

Nishani Modi

Nishani Modi

Nishani Modi is a junior speech-language pathology major and neuroscience minor. She has worked with the BlackBerry Project since Spring 2016. She works at the Center for Children and Families at UTD. After graduating, Nishani plans to pursue a master’s degree in communication disorders and continue to work with adolescents and adults with speech disabilities.

Matison McCool

Matison McCool

Matison McCool is a senior Psychology Major. He has worked with the Blackberry Project team Since Spring 2016 and in Dr. Underwood’s lab Since Fall 2015. He also has his own research project regarding stigmatization levels of substance users on campus. Matison works and volunteers at local treatment centers for those with substance use disorders.

Alexandra Neenan

Alexandra Neenan

Alexandra Neenan is a Junior Neuroscience/Psychology Double Major. Alexandra has been a part of the BlackBerry Project since January 2016. She also serves as an officer in multiple UTD student organizations and works with children and adolescents who have autism. After graduation, she plans to pursue a PhD in Behavioral Psychology and conduct research on early intervention therapies for children with autism.

Samantha Thornton

Samantha Thornton

Samantha Thornton is a Senior Psychology and Child Development double major. She began working with the BlackBerry Project team in Spring 2016, and has worked in the New Student Programs office at UT Dallas as an Orientation Leader since 2013. Samantha plans to pursue a Graduate degree in Student Affairs.

Denzel Wilson

Denzel Wilson

Denzel Wilson graduated from UT Dallas in 2015 with a BS in Psychology. He joined the BlackBerry Project as a coder in Spring 2016, and continued through Summer 2017. Denzel is currently pursuing an MA in Counseling Psychology at Texas Woman’s University.