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Faculty

Image of David Creswell

J. DAVID CRESWELL, PH.D.

Principal Investigator

William S. Dietrich II Professor in Psychology

Areas of Specialization: Health Psychology, Psychoneuroimmunology, Social Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, and Clinical Psychology

Interests: Self-regulation, stress and coping, mind-body relationships, behavioral interventions, meditation, research methods, the science of consciousness, and performance enhancement

David’s research focuses broadly on understanding what makes people resilient under stress. Specifically, he conducts community intervention studies, laboratory studies of stress and coping, and neuroimaging studies to understand how various stress management strategies alter coping and stress resilience. For example, he is currently working on studies that test how mindfulness meditation training impacts the brain, peripheral stress physiological responses, and stress-related disease outcomes in at-risk community samples (click here for a mini-review paper of this work). Much of this recent work on mindfulness meditation training focuses on the important role of learning acceptance and equanimity skills for stress reduction and health. David also explores how the use of simple strategies (self-affirmation, rewarding activities, cognitive reappraisal) can buffer stress and improve problem-solving under pressure. 

David has made some recent research forays into other areas, such as developing new experience sampling research on mental health and resilience among college students, describing the role of unconscious processes in learning and decision making, developing new theory and research on behavioral priming, and helping build a new field of health neuroscience. 


David’s work has been published in general science, health psychology, social psychology, neuroscience, and medical journals. He was recognized in 2011 as a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science, and in 2014 received the American Psychological Association Early Career Award, and in 2017 he received the Herbert Weiner Early Career Award from the American Psychosomatic Society for his scientific contributions.

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JANINE M. DUTCHER, PH.D.

Lab Director
Assistant Research Professor

Areas of Specialization: Social and Health Neurosciecne, Social Psychology, Behavioral Intervention, Psycho-oncology

Interests: Janine’s research seeks to understand the neurobiological mechanisms of stress reduction interventions. She uses multiple methods, including functional and structural neuroimaging, psychoneuroimmunology, and ecological momentary assessment to explore how these processes have effects on physical health and well-being. She also conducts translational work that investigates the role these stress reduction interventions play in improving mental and physical health among clinical and at-risk groups, including patients with cancer, young adults at risk of depression, and lonely individuals.

Janine’s work has been published in neuroscience, social psychology, health psychology and psychoneuroimmunology journals. She has received grant funding from the National Cancer Institute (R01) and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (L30 and K01). Janine has received the Young Investigator Colloquium Award and MacLean Scholar Award from the American Psychosomatic Society. Janine completed her PhD at UCLA in Social Psychology in 2016, and her BS in Psychology at Carnegie Mellon in 2010.

Janine is additionally the Co-Director of the CMU-Pitt BRIDGE Center, a state-of-the-art research-dedicated neuroimaging facility. 

 

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KIRK WARREN BROWN, PH.D.

Quantitative Psychologist

Special Faculty Researcher

Interests: Kirk Warren Brown is a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University and is affiliate faculty in Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. His research centers on the importance of awareness of internal states and behavior to healthy human functioning, with a particular interest in the nature of mindfulness and the value of mindfulness training to enhance emotion regulation, behavior regulation, and well-being.

 

He has authored numerous scholarly articles on these topics and published the Handbook of Mindfulness: Theory, Research, and Practice (2015) and the Oxford Handbook of Hypo-egoic Phenomena (2016). His work has been featured in a range of national and international media outlets. Dr. Brown is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the Society for Social and Personality Psychology, and the American Psychological Association. He also teaches the evidence-based Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program.

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Post-Docs & Graduate Students

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Emily Lindsay
Post-Doc

Carnegie Mellon University '17
PhD in Social & Health Psychology 

Hometown: Ligonier, PA

Research Interests: My research focuses on psychological and biological pathways linking mind and body. How do our thoughts and feelings impact our physical health? Can we effectively train our patterns of thinking in ways that improve health and well-being? My dissertation work tested psychological pathways explaining how mindfulness meditation lowers stress and enhances positive emotions, with an emphasis on the role of experiential acceptance in driving these changes. As a postdoctoral fellow at University of Pittsburgh, I'm investigating biological pathways linking mindfulness meditation with physical health outcomes. I continue to collaborate on projects in the Health & Human Performance Lab.

Fun Fact: One day I hope to be an excellent tango dancer!

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Asal Yunusova
Graduate Student

University of California Irvine ‘18
Carnegie Mellon University ‘26 PhD in Social, Personality & Health Psychology

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Research Interests: Broadly I am interested in mind-body interventions and protective biopsychosocial factors that aid in positive health outcomes in populations coping with chronic health conditions. More specifically, I am interested in the mind-gut connection and investigating interventions (i.e., mindfulness meditation) and factors (i.e., emotional validation) that can improve well-being in patients with gastrointestinal disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Fun Fact: I love going to immersive art museums, concerts, hammocking, and painting. When I'm back home in California, you can find me watching a sunset at the beach with some In-N-Out Something that's next on my bucket list is seeing the northern lights!

Staff

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Sarah Wu
Director of Research Operations

Carnegie Mellon University, B.S. in Biological Sciences and Psychology, 2021

 

Hometown: Newton, MA

Research Interests: Broadly, I am interested in the role integrated health care plays in improving health outcomes. I seek to understand how stress interventions can reduce disease symptoms. Further, I am interested in how socio-cultural factors impact attitudes towards healthcare and the adoption of positive health behaviors.

Fun Fact: In 2022, I hiked 2200 miles from Georgia to Maine!

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Bethany Nicole Sanov
Project Manager

Carnegie Mellon University, B.S. in Psychology with a clinical concentration and minor in Gender Studies, 2022

Hometown: Austin, TX

Research Interests: Broadly, I am interested in studying research questions among underserved communities, such as racial and ethnic minorities or gender and sexual minorities, in order to expand our understanding of health outcomes beyond populations traditionally used in research (e.g., White, upper/middle class, cis-gendered, educated participants). Particularly, I am interested in understanding the unique factors that contribute to health outcomes among certain social groups (e.g., minority stress, internal stigmatization, community social support), and the contexts in which certain strategies and interventions work best for specific communities. 

Fun Fact: I have a poor sense of smell, so I can eat really spicy food!

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Jordan Albert
Project Manager

University of Pittsburgh, B.S. in Information Systems, 2015

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Research Interests:  My interest in understanding human resilience is in exploring the multifaceted interplay of beliefs (i.e., mindsets) and contextual factors that alter objective reality; with a secondary interest in adopting interventions that assist in elevating and revealing the existing origin(s) of beliefs. My research interest extends across the domains of health, stress, and social structures.

Fun Fact: I enjoy listening to podcasts, hiking with my dog, frequenting museums, as well as time spent with family and within the community. I disposed of my TV about two years ago and thoroughly enjoy that decision.

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Clarice Meffert
Star Recruitment Lead

Carnegie Mellon University, M.S. in Sustainable Design, 2023

Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA

Research Interests:  environmental impact on psychological and physiological health, including stress, and exploring potential mitigation strategies through design

Fun Fact: I finished my bachelor's degree in psychology, with a human factors focus, before transitioning to a design major.

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Solana Morningstar
Administrative Assistant & Communications Director

Carnegie Mellon University, B.S. in Neuroscience, 2021

University of Groningen/Ghent University/University of Eastern Finland, M.S. & M.A. in Clinical Linguistics, 2023

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Research Interests:  neurodegenerative diseases, aphasias, and biological impacts of stress

Fun Fact: Over the 2 years I was working on my master's degree, I travelled to over 20 countries.

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Rory Dutcher
Nickname: Lab Lab

Ruffgers University, Ph.D. in Environmental Studies, June 2020

Research Interests: My one great passion is reducing people's stress through social interaction. I have donated my body via pets and stomach rubs, always for the good of science, countless times. While I focus mainly on relationships and connections, I can also be found researching Pavlovian conditioning, positive reinforcement in the form of blueberries, and the benefits that stem from a good nap in the sun.

Fun Fact: I am regularly dubbed the "most walked dog" in the neighborhood.

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Kayla Levine
Project Manager

Carnegie Mellon University, B.A. in Psychology, 2024

 

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Research Interests: Social and Clinical Psychology as well as Neuropsychology

Fun Fact: My favorite book series is Game of Thrones.

Research Assistants

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