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The Back-Flanagan Lab, affiliated with the Addiction Sciences Division of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina and the Charleston (Ralph H. Johnson) VA Medical Center, is co-directed by Julie Flanagan, PhD, and Sudie Back, PhD.


Trainee Lab Members

Jasara Hogan, PhD
Alex Melkonian, PhD
Andrea Massa, MS
Jessica L. Brower, MA
Charli Kirby, BA
Kristen Mummert, BS

We asked each of the Back-Flanagan Lab’s ABCT members:

  1. What is your area of research interest?
  2. How has ABCT been helpful to you?
  3. If a student were thinking about joining ABCT, what activities would you recommend they get involved in? 


Jasara Hogan, PhD

  1. I am interested in understanding the associations between romantic relationship functioning and alcohol misuse, particularly among emerging adults.
  2. Every collaboration and mentor I have had so far in my career has been a result of my involvement with the ABCT Couples Special Interest Group (SIG).
  3. I would recommend joining the ABCT SIG that most closely matches your interests and investing in developing relationships within that SIG, particularly with people in your same career stage.

Alex Melkonian, PhD

  1. My research focuses on identifying how individual differences, social contextual factors, and the physiological effects of intoxication interact to modify risk for interpersonal consequences associated with substance use. Specific research areas of interest include alcohol-related sexual assault, substance-using couples, and concurrent substance use and PTSD.
  2. I always enjoy the annual ABCT convention for networking opportunities and staying on top of cutting-edge research through presentations.
  3. Attending the ABCT convention, presenting research at ABCT, and joining relevant ABCT SIGs.

 Andrea Massa, MS

  1. My research focuses on examining cognitive and affective processes underlying trauma- and substance-related interpersonal aggression, with an emphasis on intimate partner aggression. I look forward to applying this work to interventions development for these co-occurring conditions during postdoctoral training.
  2. I have enjoyed networking with other researchers in my area at the annual ABCT convention. This was particularly useful when I was applying for graduate school and internship programs. I look forward to continuing to build collaborations with other ABCT members throughout my career.
  3. I would recommend presenting a poster at the annual convention, as this format provides a nice opportunity to speak one-on-one with others who are interested in your research area. I would also recommend attending the student-oriented events, such as the internship and postdoc panels and meet-and-greets.

 Jessica L. Brower, MA

  1. I am interested in the development and dissemination of interventions for children who have experienced trauma.
  2. I have enjoyed attending and presenting at the ABCT conventions. Attending these conventions has allowed me to network with researchers at various stages of their careers, stay up to date on the most recent research, and has helped me develop my presentation skills. Additionally, I have found ABCT to be helpful in expanding my research interests through exposure to areas of research that I might not have otherwise sought out on my own.
  3. I would highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to present at ABCT conventions as well as joining ABCT SIGs. There are many SIGs that can help you network and develop your own research interests.

Charli Kirby, BA

  1. I am interested in studying interpersonal, partner, and family violence.
  2. ABCT has provided a space for collaboration, networking, and continuing education. It has allowed me to see how individuals at every career stage/role work within and contribute to the advancement of the field.
  3. I recommend getting involved in as many activities as possible! Presenting at and attending the annual ABCT convention provides the opportunity to share your findings, network with researchers with similar research interests, and learn about the newest directions in clinical psychology. SIG membership can help you find other researchers, especially those at a similar career stage, who share your research interests.                         

Kristen Mummert, BS

  1. My primary research interest is harm reduction in a community setting, specifically regarding substance use.
  2. ABCT has allowed me to present posters at the ABCT convention and discover different opportunities within the vast field of psychology.
  3. I really enjoy being a member of various ABCT SIGs (especially the Addiction SIG, Forensic Issues and Externalizing Behaviors SIG, and Sexual & Gender Minority SIG) and attending the annual ABCT convention. It is a great way to meet other professionals and learn about important topics.


Sudie Back, PhD & Julianne Flanagan, PhD

Both Drs. Back and Flanagan are affiliated with the Addiction Sciences Division of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina and are also Staff Psychologists at the Charleston (Ralph H. Johnson) VA Medical Center.

Dr. Back’s research is focused on co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUD). In particular, her work investigates trauma-focused, cognitive behavioral psychotherapy (Concurrent Treatment of PTSD and Substance Use Disorders Using Prolonged Exposure; COPE) and pharmacological treatments for Veterans and civilians with PTSD and addiction.

Dr. Flanagan’s program of research focuses on (1) examining the behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms linking substance use (alcohol in particular) and posttraumatic stress disorder with intimate partner violence (IPV) and (2) developing novel behavioral, pharmacological, and combined treatments for mental health and substance use disorders among individuals and couples.

Drs. Back and Flanagan work in an academic medical setting and focus on behavioral and pharmacologic treatment development for alcohol and drug use disorders and PTSD. They conduct this work among civilians and Veterans, and among individuals and couples. In addition to Drs. Back and Flanagan, the team includes three junior faculty members funded by NIH career development awards (Drs. Amber Jarnecke, Delisa Brown, and Tanya Saraiya), two NIH- and VA-sponsored postdoctoral fellows (Drs. Jasara Hogan and Alex Melkonian), three interns who will become postdoctoral fellows in August (Alex Rothbaum, Meagan Brem, and Andrea Massa), and numerous bachelor’s and master’s-level staff.

How often and why do you attend the ABCT convention?

One or both of us attend nearly every year. We both value the opportunity to network with trainees and collaborators, gather with friends and colleagues socially, and reinvigorate our professional creativity. ABCT also presents a unique opportunity for Dr. Flanagan and her couples and partner violence-focused trainees to stay current on dyadic research and treatment advancements through the Couples Research and Treatment SIG.

How do you stay current with developments in the field?

We are both active in the submission of federal grant proposals, peer and programmatic review of grants through NIH, VA, and Department of Defense (DoD), and peer review journal articles. The creative and innovative contributions of our trainees and their respective expertise in various areas also continuously keeps us informed.

How has ABCT helped you/your lab professionally?

ABCT is a professional home for many members of our lab. It’s often the first meeting at which our post-bac staff present at national conventions, and it provides important opportunities for our team members to network and develop new collaborations, regardless of career stage. ABCT also provides us with a unique “multi-generational” networking experience, since our trainees, mentors, and mentors’ mentors are often attending the same annual meeting.

Does your lab have any traditions?

Our team places a high value on recognizing one another’s achievements. Although COVID-19 paused our traditions this past year, we typically have a holiday party and celebrate new grant awards and trainee/staff comings and goings with a lab happy hour. We also acknowledge every team member’s birthday!

What advice would you give trainees pursuing a career in mental health?

One of the great things about our field is that there are a lot of different ways to work effectively in it and make positive impacts, so keep choosing the pathways that excite you the most.

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