I am a 6th year clinical psychology doctoral student in Dr. Todd Kashdan's research lab. I am the project manager for one of Todd's grant-funded studies currently in the data collection phase. My research focuses on emotional disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety) and well-being. However, I have a broad range of interests and have also done research on help-seeking, bullying, threat assessment, and criminal thinking. I specialize in various quantitative methods for analyzing psychological data (e.g., multiple imputation, latent profile analysis) and enjoy learning about new statistical techniques. In my free time, you can find me working out at the gym or playing halo with my roommates.
Depression and suicidality were among my earliest research interests in psychology. Since then, I've gravitated toward the opposing end of human functioning as I seek to understand how people achieve fulfillment and perform optimally when faced with sub-optimal situations and emotional barriers (e.g., anxiety). Next, I plan to investigate how distress tolerance, self-compassion, and other constructs from the clinical and positive psychology literatures promote emotional well-being and optimal performance in the domains of sport, business, and beyond.
I study how people experience and manage their emotions in everyday life. My research agenda has three primary aims: (1) improve the measurement of daily emotion regulation efforts, (2) elucidate the underpinnings that guide the choice and effectiveness of emotion regulation strategies, and (3) identify emotion regulation patterns that lead to development and maintenance of anxiety disorders.
I'm a second-year graduate student in Dr. Todd B. Kashdan's Well-Being Lab. Prior to attending George Mason University, I earned a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology at Appalachian State University, where I studied brief interventions that targeted anxiety vulnerabilities such as anxiety sensitivity, discomfort intolerance, and distress tolerance. Additionally, I have a background in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which has refined my research interests. Presently, I am interested in sources of risk and resilience in anxiety including experiential avoidance, psychological flexibility, meaning in life, and purpose in life. I aim to understand the nuances of these relationships and how they unfold over time with the ultimate goal of identifying targets for anxiety prevention and intervention.
I am a first year, Clinical Psychology, doctoral student. My current research interests focus on the intra-individual fluctuations in Well-Being over time and how this relates to personality constructs (e.g. resiliency, distress tolerance) and underlying biological mechanisms (e.g. circadian rhythms, sleep cycles). My other interests of study include substance use, personality disorders and anxiety disorders. Within academia, I specialize in quantitative research methods and enjoy learning new statistical methods and techniques. In my free time, my hobbies include photography, yoga, and hiking.
Ameena Ashraf is currently an undergraduate student at George Mason University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience. She joined the Well-Being Lab in February 2017 and is a co-project coordinator for one of the studies being run in the lab. Ameena has previously worked with dancers and their performance anxiety under certain stressors. She eventually would like to pursue a doctorate degree. Outside of the lab, her interests include watching too much TV, traveling, and art.
I first learned about the lab after taking Todd's Science of Well-Being class Fall 2015. After taking his class I immediately became fascinated by the complexities of well-being and knew I would love to work for the lab to help develop my skills as a researcher. Initially I was interested in child psychology and combining my passion for art with art therapy. Lately, however, I have expanded my interests into psychopathology, criminal justice, social justice, and creativity within the field of psychology. After another year or so in the lab I hope to apply to a Clinical Psychology grad program. My current end goal is to obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology to become a therapist, and to help remove mental health stigma.
Is a senior at George Mason University majoring in Psychology, with a concentration in Clinical Psychology. I am interested in the evolutionary psychology of anxiety and depression as well as the research being done in mood science and positive psychology in regards to the impact they have in psychopathology, namely MDD. I am currently working at a D.B.T clinic for adolescents whom have a dual diagnosis as well as working as a Registered Behavioral Technician, implementing ABA therapy to children with ASD. I aspire to continue research, primarily in the field of depression and anxiety, to help inform therapy, as well as work closely with affected adults. In my spare time, I have co-founded an outreach/mentor program at my former High-School that has recently experienced a number of students who have taken their own lives. The program aims to set up a mentor program with several alums that are still in the community in order promote open dialogue and resilience within the community, students, and parents. I also have an affinity involving anything in the outdoors and love traveling.
Krista comes to Psychology by way of Theater, Theology and Education. Her educational background includes an M.F.A in Theater Directing from the University of California in Irvine and courses in Psychology at Northern Virginia Community College. Professional work includes acting, directing and teaching Theater in Boston, Los Angeles and Washington D.C., as well as internationally in South Korea, Haiti and Kenya. Currently, she teaches Theater and Film at a local high school and performs with District Community Playback, a company that integrates Theater, therapy and social justice. She volunteers as a healing minister with the International Healing Center in Fairfax, VA and at All Nations D.C. Psychology research interests include attachment, neuroscience, psychodrama and cross-cultural psychology. She is thrilled to be working at the lab.
I was a research assistant in the Behavioral Health and Technology Lab and the Program for Anxiety, Cognition, & Treatment (PACT) Lab at the University of Virginia (UVA). I graduated from UVA in May of 2017 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Psychology and Cognitive Science, with a concentration in Cognitive Psychology. I am working on a poster and a manuscript for a study that I helped run at the PACT lab, involving analyses of affective self-reports obtained through ecological momentary assessment (EMA) related to measures of social anxiety and depression. I have found that my interests in EMA and well-being have overlapped well with studies at the George Mason University Well-Being Lab. Another one of my current interests is animal-assisted therapy—I am volunteering with therapeutic horseback riding and hope to become more involved in the implementation of this wonderful service. After gathering more research and clinical experience, my goal is to go to graduate school to become a therapist.
Aslihan is an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology (B.S.) and minoring in Neuroscience. She is a part of the Honors Psychology Program, and is currently working towards developing her own research thesis. Her research interests include social neuroscience, studying the neural mechanisms of cognitive bias, and clinical disorders.
Bella graduated from Mason with a BA double major in Biology and Psychology. Her eventual goal is to attend medical school, with the intent of becoming a surgeon. Bella loves Psychology and enjoys working with people, making her a natural fit for the Well-Being Lab. During her time at George Mason, Bella rode for the GMU Equestrian Club and Show Team
MarLa Lauber has been a member of the Well-Being Lab since the Spring of 2015. She graduated from GMU in the Spring of 2017 with Bachelor’s degrees in English and Psychology. She currently works as the Project Coordinator for the GMU 360 Personality Project, and she hopes to eventually get a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Her research interests include, but are not limited to: creativity, gender, sex, sexuality, and interpersonal relationships.
I am a recent graduate of the University of Washington who has worked almost two years looking at variety of research surrounding anxiety. I have published on a genetic predisposition to Generalized Anxiety Disorder and found the work of Dr. Todd Kashdan and his research on Social Anxiety to be a direction I wanted to pursue. I will be applying for a PhD program in Clinical Psychology. I know the experiences in the Well-Being Lab will allow me to enhance my skillset and deepen my love of research.
Irene is majoring in Psychology with a concentration in Health Psychology. After starting in a Nursing program, Irene found that her true passion was not only rehabilitating patients, but also caring for their mental and emotional well-being. While studying under Dr. Todd Kashdan, she solidified her interests to the study of personality theory and emotional regulation.
James "Tony" Smith
Tony Smith is an Air Force Veteran and experienced management consultant. He returned to university to obtain an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree in Organizational Psychology and Diversity Studies. Tony's longer term academic goals are to pursue graduate studies in Industrial and Organizational Psychology with an emphasis on Diversity & Inclusion and Well-Being. He is interested in research and career opportunities focused on measuring the impacts of Diversity & Inclusion and Well-Being initiatives on organizational mission performance, which led him to Dr. Kashdan's research lab. When not studying or working in the lab, Tony enjoys cycling, traveling and spending quality time with his partner, family, and friends.
Bill is a Navy veteran who has owned his own IT company, and raised his two sons as the primary stay-at-home parent. Bill was the project lead on a content management system, and ran several FPS game servers and their attendant forums and communities. When faced with the decision of moving back into the corporate workforce, Bill realized that turning his hobby into his career had been a huge mistake, and he would just love to shift gears to a position that would be more helpful to society and his own sanity. Psychology would do nicely. Bill received his BS (and first college degree) at 44 in Psychology with a Health Psychology concentration. Joining the Well-Being Lab at George Mason was a no-brainer, and Bill continues to learn substantial amounts about his field and the Psychology industry in general. His eventual goal is to attend graduate school in a program that would help him apply what he has learned to individuals having difficulties due to Anxiety – specifically PTSD, and the relationships that suffer because of these disorders.
I graduated from Iowa State University in 2016 and joined the Well-Being Lab shortly after. I am interested in studying how individual characteristics increase people's risk of experiencing symptoms of anxiety and presenting maladaptive personality traits. Specifically, I want to research personal beliefs, personality traits, emotion regulation skills, and related characteristics that make individuals more likely to experience increased symptoms of distress and diminished well-being. I will begin my graduate studies in the Fall of 2017 at the College of William & Mary, where I will pursue an MA in Experimental Psychology.
Cayla joined Dr. Kashdan's lab in the Spring of 2015 with the hopes of learning more about research in Clinical Psychology. Almost immediately, Cayla fell in love with the fast-paced, energetic lab culture and provocative research topics like sex, well-being, and meaning in life. Now, over two years later, Cayla is attending Villanova University for her Masters in Experimental Psychology and is planning on researching romantic relationships, breakups, and their impact on how a person views themselves. Although Cayla began her journey in Psychology wanting to become a Clinical therapist, she is now planning on eventually getting her PhD in Social Psychology.
John received his B.S. with honors in Psychology from George Mason University. He is interested in the ways in which emotion and emotional disorders affect information processing, with a particular interest in memory. John will be pursuing a PhD in Cognitive Psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where he will conduct research under the direction of Dr. Neil Mulligan. In his spare time, John enjoys playing guitar and reading.
Dr. Todd Kashdan, Director
Dr. Todd Kashdan has published over 175 articles in peer-reviewed journals and is the author of The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self - Not Just Your “Good” Self - Drives Success and Fulfillment (Hudson Street Press) and Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life (HarperCollins), along with edited volumes such as Designing Positive Psychology (Oxford University Press) and Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Positive Psychology (New Harbinger). His books have been translated into over 15 languages. His research has advanced our understanding of why people suffer, with an emphasis on social anxiety and other emotional disturbances, and what is the nature of well-being, with an emphasis on the critical role of curiosity, meaning, and purpose in life, and psychological flexibility to living a well-lived life. Besides research, he is heavily invested in educating the public about science with a TEDx talk on psychological flexibility, and keynotes and workshops to organizations as diverse as the United States Department of Defense, the World Bank, Hormel, General Mills, Gensler, the Gap, and Standard Chartered Bank. He is also a scientific advisor for Time, Inc., National Geographic, and Merck. His research has been featured in hundreds of media outlets, including multiple articles in the Harvard Business Review, New York Times, and Washington Post. His work has been recognized with the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology, and Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year at George Mason University. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and Association for Contextual and Behavioral Science. He's a twin with twin 10-year old daughters, with plans to rapidly populate the world with great conversationalists.