My research interests are in experimental psychopathology related to fear extinction and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Specifically, I study the processes involved in learning and extinguishing fear, and the different factors than can influence this process in individuals with PTSD. These factors include genetics, sleep, stress hormones, sex differences, and various cognitive and behavioural factors. In addition, I have conducted research on the memory effects of experiencing cigarette cravings in applied settings, and research on the body image-related motivations for sports supplement use.

I currently have a new program of research investigating the effect of assistance/service dogs on quality of life in civilians and military veterans (and ex-veterans), a link to the study can be found here.

Areas of Expertise

  • Experimental psychopathology (fear conditioning, extinction and fear return)
  • Biomarkers of posttraumatic stress disorder (genetics, stress hormones, sex differences, sleep quality, cognition)

Publications

  1. & The BDNF Val66Met polymorphism moderates the relationship between Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and fear extinction learning. Psychoneuroendocrinology 91, 142-148.
  2. & Endogenous salivary α-amylase does not interact with skin conductance response during fear extinction in posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychiatry Research 262, 316-322.
  3. & Neural activity and emotional processing following military deployment: Effects of mild traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder. Brain and Cognition 118, 19-26.
  4. & Negative appraisals and fear extinction are independently related to PTSD symptoms. Journal of Affective Disorders 217, 246-251.
  5. & Endogenous cortisol reactivity moderates the relationship between fear inhibition to safety signals and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. Psychoneuroendocrinology 78, 14-21.

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Teaching

  • PSY310 Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress

    The module provides students with an in-depth understanding of the dynamic effects of trauma exposure. In particular, the module will present the history of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and provide detailed discussions of current debates relating to PTSD, treatment techniques, and advances in empirical investigations into the underlying biological and physiological mechanisms. This module will draw on a number of emerging literature bases, such as the transmission of PTSD risk from Holocaust survivors to 2nd and 3rd generations, moral injury in first responders, and shell shock (combat-related PTSD), and newer iterations of PTSD (complex PTSD). Students will also learn about the biological networks (hormonal and cortical) that are integral in PTSD. Finally, students will gain a broad understanding of the mechanisms of risk versus resilience to developing severe posttraumatic stress reactions.

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
2017 2017 Lecturer University of Tasmania