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The Anxiety, Cognition, and Emotion (ACE) Lab, located at the Department of Psychology at Miami University
We asked each of the ACE Lab’s ABCT student members:
- What is your area of research interest?
- How has ABCT been helpful to you?
- If a student were thinking about joining ABCT, what activities would you recommend they get involved in?
Marie Parsons, M.A.
- I have a passion for research that contributes to a better understanding of transdiagnostic mechanisms, particularly as they relate to anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive-related disorders. Further, I am interested in the development, evaluation, and implementation of interventions that target these transdiagnostic mechanisms.
- I have been attending ABCT convention for going on seven years. Each year I leave the convention with new ideas and feeling more committed to my research. I am grateful for the opportunity to be exposed to the work of innovative researchers and clinicians.
- I would recommend presenting at ABCT, volunteering during the ABCT convention, joining a SIG, and participating in a webinar. Most of all, I would recommend taking opportunities to step outside of your comfort zone at the convention to connect with others who are doing work that you are interested in (e.g., talk to poster presenters). The less of a passive attendee and the more engaged I am in forming connections with others with the more rewarding I find the convention.
Laurel Sarfan, M.A.
- My primary research interests are (a) identifying transdiagnostic cognitive and emotion regulation risk factors and mechanisms of psychopathology, and (b) testing experimental interventions that target them.
- ABCT has been my professional home for the last five years. First and foremost, ABCT helps me stay up to date on cutting-edge research related to cognitive-behavioral interventions across psychopathology. ABCT has also been instrumental in helping to fund my research and develop new research ideas. Lastly, it has facilitated my professional development, particularly by providing opportunities to meet inspirational researchers in the field, to network for internship and research collaborations, and to take on leadership roles.
- I would definitely recommend presenting at the convention, either via a poster presentation or symposium. I would also recommend joining a SIG and becoming involved in SIG leadership. Lastly, I would recommend signing up for the ABCT List Serve and looking through the interesting discussions and opportunities posted.
Sarah Dreyer-Oren, M.A.
- My primary research interest is the role of positive emotion regulation in psychopathology, particularly anxiety, OC-spectrum, and substance use disorders.
- ABCT has provided a venue in which to present my research, and helps me stay apprised of current research directions and trends in my field. At ABCT conventions, I have reconnected with friends from past academic “homes,” met collaborators I had only previously met over email, and experienced reignited passion for my research. I also find value in reading the ABCT List Serve postings: thinking about what jobs I might pursue once I get my doctorate, learning about interesting clinical questions, and keeping up with news in the field.
- I recommend that they go to and present at the convention, join a SIG, follow the List Serve, and meet researchers whose work they admire.
Akanksha Das, B.S.
- Broadly, I seek to understand how we can leverage flexibility in the mind-body connection to reduce psychopathology, and also increase positive emotions and well-being from an intersectional perspective. To that end, I am interested in using a multi-method approach (e.g. psychophysiology, behavior, and self-report) to understand how individual differences in self-regulation lead to adaptive or maladaptive outcomes under conditions of stress, such as minority stress.
- ABCT has become a professional home over the last few years. I have been able to directly learn from those who are conducting the most up-to-date research in shared areas of interest. I have also come to love the annual convention as a place to reconnect with mentors, colleagues, and peers!
- If possible, presenting a poster at either the main convention or through the SIG Exposition is a great opportunity to share your own work. Given the large size of the convention, joining a SIG can be really helpful in connecting you to people who are more directly aligned with your area of interest! Lastly, take the time to visit posters (and even though it may be anxiety-provoking) connect with people presenting research you are interested in – this can be especially helpful if you aren’t feeling ready to make those types of connections during the larger symposia presentations.
Rachel Geyer, B.A.
- I am interested in improving evidence-based treatments for anxiety disorders, and understanding cognitive processes and mechanisms of change throughout treatment. I am also passionate about conducting and merging research on cognitive, affective, behavioral, and physiological components of anxiety and stress.
- I am very excited to have just joined ABCT for the first time this year! As a new member, I am very much looking forward to attending my first ABCT convention (with hopefully many more to come), where I will have the opportunity to reconnect with former coworkers and lab members, meet others with intersecting interests in the field, and attend a variety of talks and presentations.
Elise M. Clerkin, PhD
Dr. Clerkin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Miami University. Prior to joining the faculty in 2012, Dr. Clerkin received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Virginia. Dr. Clerkin also completed a clinical psychology internship at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center, and a T32 postdoctoral research fellowship at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. Currently, Dr. Clerkin directs the Anxiety, Cognition, and Emotion (ACE) Lab at Miami University.
The ACE Lab is interested in the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral factors that maintain and contribute to symptoms of pathological anxiety and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. We conduct translational research in the sense that we test and apply basic scientific concepts in an effort to refine evidence-based interventions. Our research considers relatively more strategic (e.g., controllable) as well as automatic (e.g., uncontrollable) forms of processing. Recently, ACE students have been evaluating transdiagnostic variables including shame, experiential avoidance, positive emotion regulation, heart rate variability, and distress tolerance.
How long have you been a member of ABCT?
I first joined ABCT in 2004 and fondly remember the convention held in New Orleans that year.
How often and why do you attend the ABCT convention?
I have attended nearly every ABCT convention since 2004. The only exceptions have been when I was either very pregnant (2011) or had a young baby (2016). In total, that’s been 14 conventions! I look forward to the annual convention for many reasons. It is a privilege to learn from world-renowned researchers and scholars whose work I admire. Over the years, the ABCT convention has become a wonderful place to reconnect with friends and mentors from prior walks of life (shout-out to Bethany Teachman and the PACT lab!). Now, I appreciate the space that ABCT provides for my students and I to take stock of our research efforts, as well as the opportunity to enjoy one another’s company in a fun setting. Also, my husband (Joshua Magee) and I informally mark the annual ABCT convention as our “dating anniversary”; thus, ABCT holds a special place in my heart for both personal and professional reasons.
How do you stay current with developments in the field, both research and practice?
I love that this profession encourages and incentivizes lifelong learning, and, consequently, that I hold a job where I am rarely bored. Working with bright, intellectually curious students and colleagues both at Miami and elsewhere helps me stay sharp and current. Thanks to them, I am continually learning and being motivated to pursue new avenues of research and scholarship. In addition, I learn through teaching. For instance, I challenge myself to consistently update my syllabi with new empirical and theoretical articles that address critical trends in the field. Further, I have gained a lot from attending workshops or reading about “new to me” methodological, statistical, pedagogical, or clinical tools. Of course, staying connected to organizations like ABCT also helps me remain current. For instance, I “like” and follow ABCT’s social media presence, and I have benefitted tremendously from ABCT’s ticketed events, most notably, Drs. Susan Orsillo’s and Lizabeth Roemer’s workshop on Acceptance-Based Behavioral Therapies.
Does your lab have any traditions? Does your lab do anything together for fun?
We have a lot of fun together! Along with Joshua Magee’s SCOUT lab, we hold an annual ACE/SCOUT lab dinner at ABCT’s convention. Throughout the year, we look for opportunities to celebrate when one of us accomplishes a milestone or experiences a significant life event. It has been gratifying for me to see the ways that lab traditions are shaped by my current group of students, as well as bittersweet to see how traditions evolve when students move on from the lab. Finally, I am genuinely happy to witness how much my students care about one another; separate from me, they’ve forged traditions together that allow them to bond as part of a cohesive, supportive lab culture.
What advice would you give prospective trainees (in general, or to those applying to your lab specifically)?
Find the teams of people and individuals who you enjoy working with, and who will help foster your growth both as a professional and as a human. In this profession, we are lucky to interact with a lot of very smart people. Yet, are they kind? Are they generous? Do they have a good sense of humor? Will they persist in the face of obstacles? Are they empathetic? Can they integrate new perspectives and information into their existing world views? Ultimately, relationships with colleagues, students, and friends helps us to find fulfillment, engagement, meaning, and joy in the work that we do.