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Research Team & Collaborators

Principal Investigator

Cindy Berg

Cynthia Berg, PHD

As a life-span developmental health psychologist, I examine how adolescents and adults across the life span manage chronic illnesses (e.g., type 1 and type 2 diabetes, cancer) in the context of their family and friend relationships. In our recent developmental model of parent-child coordination (Berg et al., 2017), we explore how a foundation of high-quality parental involvement may facilitate young adults’ self-regulation and use of other relationships (romantic partners, friends, physicians) to facilitate chronic illness management. This model provides an important theoretical bridge between the adolescent and adult development research. My research examines how parents and spouses may facilitate or derail diabetes management during adolescence, emerging adulthood, and adults across the adult lifespan. The focus of much of my research has been on how individuals may benefit from working collaboratively with close relationships (most especially their parents, spouse, or romantic partner) to facilitate the completion of adherence tasks, especially individuals with lower cognitive and EF abilities. We have modeled these family self- and social-regulation processes utilizing dyadic and dynamical system models to capture family processes as they emerge across time (Butner, Berg et al., 2017).

Current Graduate Students

Mary Jane Simms

MaryJane Campbell

Broadly speaking, I am interested in exploring the role of the family in adapting to and managing pediatric chronic illness. My research seeks to understand the interplay between family processes and illness management during key developmental stages. In particular, my recent work has focused on parent characteristics as contributors to child health outcomes, such as the role of parental self-control in minimizing the well-documented negative associations between T1D-specific family conflict and adolescent health outcomes (Campbell et al., 2019). Recently, I was awarded an NSF GRFP to further investigate the unique and complex triadic interactions among parents and adolescents during an observed conflict task. Future work will continue to explore both individual and group level characteristics of the family that contribute to successful management of pediatric chronic illness.

Ascher Munion

Ascher Kai Munion

Ascher is a current Ph.D. candidate at the University of Utah. They focus on interdisciplinary work, bridging cognitive neuroscience, social psychology, health, and quantitative methods work.Their methodological contributions include missing data methods, dynamical systems models and integrative data analysis.They prioritize working with interdisciplinary and collaborative research teams and integrative methods.


Current Collaborators

Deborah Wiebe

Deborah J. Wiebe, PHD, MPH

University of California – Merced 

My research interests fall within the domains of health and pediatric psychology.  Broadly speaking, I am interested in understanding how people cope adaptively with acute and chronic health threats.  My research draws on Leventhal’s self regulatory framework, which posits that health threats activate a common-sense understanding of health problems, which then guides ongoing efforts to manage the threat.  Within this framework, health threats are activated at both an abstract rational level (e.g., I have high cholesterol which may increase my risk of heart disease) and a concrete emotional level (e.g., feeling fear and distress upon remembering my father’s heart attack).  A general goal of my research is to understand not only how people cope to manage the health threat per se (e.g., change diet and exercise habits to lower cholesterol), but also how negative emotions are generated by health threats, how emotions influence health threat representations and coping behaviors, and how emotions are regulated to promote illness management and well-being.

Vicki Helgeson

Vicki Helgeson, PHD 

Carnegie Mellon University

My research interests focus on how people adjust to chronic illness, including heart disease, cancer, and currently type 1 and type 2 diabetes and the implications of gender-related traits (agency, communion, unmitigated agency, unmitigated communion) for relationships and health.

Jon Butner

Jonathan Butner, PHD 

University of Utah

My current focus has been on developing tools for studying dynamical systems theory. Systems theory originated in mathematics and physics where much of the methodology and statistics are built around being able to measure a widget thousands of times. This is just not true in psychology, thus the tools do not simply translate over. This is further complicated by my interest in Soft Assembly: the idea that we flexibly can build a functional mechanism to solve psychological problems.

Yana Suchy

Yana Suchy, PHD 

University of Utah

My clinical interests focus on neuropsychological assessment of adults who have suffered various types of brain insult. I have worked both with patients who are in the acute phases of recovery, such as patients who have just suffered a stroke or a traumatic brain injury, as well as with patients who suffer from chronic or slowly progressing conditions, such as various types of dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, or old injuries. Although I do not specialize in pediatric neuropsychology, prospective graduate students should note that several pediatric neuropsychologists with excellent resources both on and off campus are available for supervision of work with children.

Michelle Litchman

Michelle L Litchman, PHD, FNP-BC, FAANP 

University of Utah

My research examines the intersection of diabetes, peer health (online and offline), aging, and technology (including social media, mobile apps, continuous glucose monitoring, and medical hacking) as it relates to diabetes management and health outcomes

Nancy Allen

Nancy Allen, PHD, ANP-BC

University of Utah

I completed a post-doc at Yale to enable me to study self and family self-management of chronic diseases in vulnerable populations. My program of research is focused on diabetes as a chronic disease and interventions using technology and lifestyle changes. My research encompasses two vulnerable populations: Hispanic population with Type 2 diabetes and individuals with diabetes and dementia.


Jessica Mansfield

Jessica Mansfield

I coordinate the various projects in the Lifespan-Development and Adaptation Lab. I earned my M.S. degree in experimental psychology from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA where I studied how informal caregivers managed daily stress of caring for someone with dementia.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Chloe Mitchell

Former Graduate Students

Batya Elbaum, Ph.D., Professor and Acting Chair, Department of Teaching and Learning, Department of Psychology, University of Miami

Tracy Masiello, Ph.D., Divorce and Superior Court Mediator, Parenting Coordinator, Charlott, North Carolina. 

Sean Meegan, Ph.D., Senior Researcher at Intermountain Healthcare

Barbara Ross, Ph.D., Rehabilitation Psychologist/Neuropsychologist, Wausau Hospital, Wausau, WI

JoNell Strough, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, West Virginia University

Frances Deviney, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, Kids Count Director Center for Public Policy Priorities, Austin TX

Debra Palmer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Georgia Southwestern State University

Ryan Beveridge, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Director Center for Training Evaluation, and Community Collaboration, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware

Kelly Ko, Ph.D., Principal Investigator at West Health, San Diego, CA

Amy Hughes Lansing, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno.

Caitlin Kelly, Ph.D., Senior Research Officer, Department of Psychology, University of Essex.

Sara Turner, Ph.D., Postdoctoral fellow, Endocrinology, Primary Children’s Hospital.

Last Updated: 1/4/22