Our personnel includes our Program Director, Training Coordinator, Program Coordinator, Program Assistant, and our Faculty Research Mentors. Please use the tabs below to learn more about each.
Richard Allen, Ph.D.
Dr. Allen’s contributions to the MARC U*STAR program draw on his experiences as a researcher, teacher, and mentor, and on the administrative service work he has performed for the Department of Psychology at UCD over the past 12 years. His research program focuses on animal models of addiction. He has active, grant-funded research collaborations with faculty members in the UCD Anschutz Medical Campus (AMC) Department of Pharmacology, focusing on drug addiction from the level of genes and proteins through behavior. Since 2001, he has served as the faculty mentor for more than 25 undergraduate students who have completed independent study projects or other research experiences in his laboratory.
Of the 10 students who completed honors theses under Dr. Allen’s direction, nearly all have attended graduate school toward careers in biomedical and behavioral sciences (including many working toward or having completed PhDs in psychology, pharmacology and the neurosciences). Their work with Dr. Allen has yielded authorship on published journal articles, presentations at national conferences, and mentored grant awards. Dr. Allen has served also as the primary advisor for students enrolled in the BS Psychology degree program and as the faculty sponsor for students who pursue internships through the University’s experiential education program, Denver CLAS. In 2007, Dr. Allen received both the UC Denver Outstanding Teaching Award in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and the UC Denver Faculty Award for Outstanding Student Mentoring. In 2011, Dr. Allen completed the UC Denver Excellence in Leadership Program. Furthermore, he recently received the 2011 Excellence in Service Award from the University of Colorado.
Jeremiah Ramos, M.S
Jeremiah Ramos serves as the Training Coordinator for the MARC U-STAR program. Jeremiah is the primary instructor for MARC 4680 – Behavioral Science Research Seminar, PSYC 2390 – Statics and Research Methods, and on occasion PSYC 7710 – Multivariate Statistics. Jeremiah earned his B.S. in Chemistry and Psychology from The University of Texas at El Paso followed by a M.S in Neuroscience from The University of Texas at Dallas studying the role of glutamatergic and GABAergic signaling models of schizophrenia.
After earning his master’s degree, Jeremiah worked professionally in a research lab studying high fat diet-induced changes in sensitivity of the brain reward pathway, the same pathway targeted by drugs of abuse. Jeremiah is currently a Program Manager in the CU Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office where he works to identify barriers in student success in STEM courses. Jeremiah is also an Instructor in CU Denver Department of Psychology. Jeremiah is committed to the training and mentoring of students from all backgrounds and has a track record of working with students to acquire the tools they need to advance their education. Jeremiah’s students have achieved admission to graduate programs such as The University of Michigan, The University of Indiana, Texas A&M University, and The University of Texas. Jeremiah is eager to share his experiences in navigating the progression from undergraduate student to biomedical and behavioral sciences graduate student.
Dr. Albeck’s research uses electroencephalography (EEG) and DNA analysis to investigate the relationship between emotional responsiveness and altruistic behavior. More information coming soon!
Dr. Beth Allen’s laboratory investigates a range of issues related to couple functioning, including processes related to relationship health and dysfunction, relationship interventions, extradyadic involvements, military marriages, and the bidirectional influences of relationship factors and health. Her current work is primarily focused on an online study of military couples, exploring relationship and psychological health post deployment.
Dr. Richard Allen’s research uses an animal (rat) model of drug-taking behavior called the drug self-administration procedure, which can be used to reveal escalations of cocaine intake over time. This model provides a valuable preclinical tool for assessing the neurobiological changes that take place during this transition. Research in his laboratory seeks to describe the pharmacological, neurobiological, and behavioral mechanisms that contribute to the drug addiction.
Dr. Bland’s research interests include the neurobiology of stress and addiction as well as animal models of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Her current studies focus on investigations of gender differences and the effects of social cues and social history on the rewarding and neurochemical effects of drugs of abuse. Techniques include conditioned place preference, in vivo microdialysis with HPLC, and immunohistochemistry.
Dr. Angèle Fauchier studies family violence, parenting, and the intersection between them. She has conducted research on child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence, and child-to-parent violence. Her parenting research has particularly focused on discipline and corporal punishment. She directs the International Parenting Study, which examines parenting and family violence around the world (currently including 23 countries). She also has expertise in meta-analysis and implementation science.
Dr. Greenwood’s research focuses on the neurobiological mechanisms by which physical activity status impacts behavior, focusing primarily on behaviors relating to depression, fear and anxiety. Current projects include: identification of the neural circuitry involved in the rewarding and reinforcing properties of exercise; delineating the role of dopamine in the antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of exercise; and identification of the signals by which the experience of exercise is communicated to the brain to result in exercise-induced changes in brain and behavior. The laboratory also investigates factors and mechanisms that can reduce the relapse of conditioned fear following extinction, such as MDMA (ecstasy), acute exercise, and dopamine.
Dr. Grigsby’s work is on human cognitive neuroscience/neuropsychology, with an emphasis on understanding executive cognitive functioning (the capacity for behavioral and attentional self-regulation). Among other things, he studies neuropsychological and neuroradiological phenotypes associated with different mutations of the fragile X gene (FMR1), the effects of breast cancer chemotherapy on mood and cognition, and the mediation of various health outcomes among older people by cognitive status.
Dr. Kaplan’s research focus is on learning and cognitive development in infants of depressed mothers, with special emphasis on the role of infant-directed speech (IDS) in promoting (or in the case of depressed mothers, not promoting) infant learning. In addition, we are planning research looking at event-related potentials in response to IDS, and Kevin Everhart has a strong interest in collecting data on genotyping parents and infants for oxytocin receptor type. Other work involves factor analyses of maternal self-report measures of depression and how the identified factors predict infant outcome.
Dr. Kilbourn’s research interests fall under the umbrella of psychosocial oncology, cancer survivorship and palliative care. Her research focuses on 1) conducting clinical research that examines relevant psychosocial, behavioral and biological outcomes and, 2) designing psychosocial and lifestyle interventions aimed at improving quality of life in cancer survivors and their caregivers. She also has a strong interest in health disparities Her research is multidisciplinary and her research colleagues come from diverse disciplines such as cancer epidemiology, medical oncology, nursing, psychiatry, internal medicine, pediatric oncology, biological psychology and biostatistics.
Dr. Masters’ research is primarily concerned with psychological and behavioral factors as they impact cardiovascular health and disease. Specifically, he has focused on the role of spirituality on cardiovascular processes and he is interested in how meaning and purpose may influence health behavior change. He retains interest in exercise as a health behavior and is currently involved in developing research in collaboration with the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.
Dr. Oleson’s research generally focuses on the role of subsecond dopamine release in motivated behavior within the context of drug addiction. The laboratory also studies the use of cannabinoids to treat diseases that alter the mesolimbic dopamine system. They measure real-time dopamine release during behavior using a technique called fast-scan cyclic voltammetry and control dopamine neural activity using a technique called optogenetics.
Dr. Ranby’s research interests involve understanding the many ways that close relationship partners affect each other’s health behaviors. She has experience studying exercise and smoking in particular. Students working in her lab year this year would have the opportunity to be involved studying new couples and how partners influence daily health-related habits.
Dr. Resendiz’s research focuses on the interface of organic chemistry, nucleic acid chemistry, photochemistry and biophysics. All the projects revolve around, arguably, the most important biopolymer in nature “RNA”. The focus of other projects consist on the incorporation of photoreactive probes into oligonucleotides of RNA as a way to control its structure and function. Students working on these projects will gain experience in organic and bioorganic chemistry techniques, mainly the synthesis of various modified monomers of RNA for their incorporation into strands of this biopolymer.
Dr. Watson’s research program focuses on the behavioral and brain correlates of individual differences in working memory capacity, broadly defined as the domain-free, frontally-mediated ability to be cognitively flexible and to maintain task goals in the face of potentially distracting information. In attempting to answer core research questions on working memory capacity, sometimes referred to as attentional control, he has placed great value on collaborative research and on obtaining converging evidence across various cognitive, neuropsychological, and functional neuroimaging methods. Most recently, Dr. Watson’s research has taken an applied cognitive neuroscience approach, expanding his investigation of individual differences in attentional control beyond traditional cognitive lab tasks or settings to also include complementary, more naturalistic contexts.
Sunny Pence, MA
Sunny is the Program Assistant for the Maximizing Access to Research Careers, Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC U-STAR) Program. She also serves as a graduate assistant in the Infant Research Lab and is a doctoral student in the Clinical Health Psychology program at UCDenver. She has a strong interest in health disparities as well as promoting diversity, improving the experience for underrepresented minorities, and building cultural competency in the academic setting.