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The PEP lab team is an interdisciplinary group of researchers and students who work together towards understanding positive emotional processes and their relevance for understanding adaptive and maladaptive relevant psychological-health outcomes.
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Lab Director

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - People

June Gruber, PhD

June Gruber is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado and Director of the Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Laboratory. She received her Ph.D. and B.A. from UC Berkeley, where she was an NIMH Predoctoral Fellow in Affective Science, and was previously an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Yale University before moving to CU Boulder. Dr. Gruber is a licensed clinical psychologist and has published over 100 articles and chapters, and has edited 2 books including: Positive Emotion: Integrating the Light Sides and Dark Sides and the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Positive Emotion and Psychopathology. Her work has been recognized by several early-career awards including the Association for Psychological Science's Rising Star Award and Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions, NARSAD Young Investigator Award, and Yale University's Arthur Greer Memorial Prize for Outstanding Junior Faculty. Dr. Gruber teaches courses on emotion, happiness, and abnormal psychology and has directed the Experts in Emotion Interview Series, created an online course in Human Emotion available freely through YouTube and iTunes U, and given a TEDx talk on the “dark side” of happiness. She enjoys writing columns in Slate and Scientific American, and has a new mentoring column for young scientists in Science Careers. Dr. Gruber is an Associate Editor and the former Interim Editor-in-Chief for Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Lab Coordinator

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleCynthia Villanueva, B.A.

Cindy received her B.A. in Psychology and Minor in Linguistics from UC Berkeley. Broadly speaking, she is interested in emotion regulation and the etiology and treatment of mental illness. More specifically, Cindy is interested in how individual differences in affective language and emotion differentiation (or the degree to which people experience similar emotions as discrete) may contribute to the understanding of positive emotion disturbance in mood disorders. She is also intrigued by the potential interplay between emotional intelligence, access to mental health services, and stigmatization of psychopathology, especially amongst minority and rural populations. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, and combine her love of writing to elucidate the experiences of those living with mental illness. In her free time, she likes to read, draw, practice taekwondo, and attend local concerts.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleStevi Ibonie, B.A.

Stevi Ibonie is a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara, where she obtained a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in counseling, clinical, and school psychology. In the past years, she has worked with Professor Sheri Johnson, at UC Berkeley, studying mood-disorders. From this experience, she started to become interested in how social relationships may influence the trajectories of individuals with psychopathologies. Specifically, Stevi is interested in mood and behavioral disorders, and how positive social relationships with peers may improve the prognosis of individuals experiencing mental health difficulties. She is also very interested in personality disorders, and hopes to study them in the future. She plans to go on to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, with a focus on the influence of social factors on psychopathologies. Stevi enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities, such as gardening, stand up paddle-boarding, hiking, and camping. 

Thesis Students

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleElizabeth Hoelscher

Lizzie is a senior studying psychology and sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder majoring and pursuing an honors thesis examining emotion regulation in emerging adults at risk for mood disorders. She is specifically interested in adult and child psychopathology in cases of abuse, resulting trauma, and appropriate clinical treatments. She is interested in how sociological factors correlate to the emergence of psychopathology and the ability to access effective treatment. She became involved with the PEP lab to expand her knowledge of clinical research and to gain a better understanding of mood disorders, their etiology, and their day to day impacts. After finishing her undergraduate degree, Lizzie wants to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology. Outside of the lab, Lizzie is a captain for Colorado Crew and president for the International Honor Society in Psychology. She enjoys reading, volunteer work, and hiking.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleMontana Ploe

Montana Ploe is a psychology major at the University of Colorado Boulder pursuing an Honors Thesis. Her particular interests include the study of psychopathy. She is specifically focusing on reward dysregulation and how this might affect social support among young adults with psychopathic tendencies. She hopes to continue research after graduating from CU in the Spring of 2020 with an emphasis on dismantling the negative stigma perpetrated by popular media that is imposed on individuals with psychopathy. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to work on an honors thesis as well as for her time as a research assistant here at the PEP lab. In her free time she enjoys reading, the performing arts, and volunteering as a crisis line advocate for Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence in Boulder.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleRachel Karasik

Rachel Karasik is finishing her sophomore year working towards her undergraduate degree as a Psychology major with a minor in Classics at the University of Colorado at Boulder Class of 2020. Rachel is very excited to participate in the PEP lab as a research assistant throughout the rest of her undergraduate experience. Her interests lie in studying the mental health of adolescents and hopes to become a high school psychologist. She enjoys singing, acting and playing with her Chihuahua, Rocky.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleHeather Brown

Heather is a Psychology and Neuroscience major at CU Boulder who aspires to get her PhD in one or both of these areas of study. She is specifically interested in early warning signs and predispositions for psychiatric disorders, and implementing cognitive and behavioral therapies as a primary approach to treatment. Also, she aims to reform early education to include DBT life skills such as mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness in order to improve quality of life and societal functioning. In her free time she enjoys doing homework and working because there is no such thing as free time.

Research Assistants

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleEllie Johnson

Ellie Johnson is a junior at CU Boulder majoring in psychology and neuroscience with specific interests in the etiology, therapeutic treatment, and pharmacology associated with severe psychopathologies. After finishing her undergraduate degree, she is split between pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology or attending medical school. Ellie joined the PEP Lab in order to expand her knowledge and experience in the realm of research, mood disorders, and etiology. In her off time, she enjoys rock climbing, snowboarding, and writing.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleJennie Jaggers

Jennie Jaggers graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.A. in Psychology in 2017. She is interested in researching the correlation between Bipolar mixed mood states and negative emotion alleviation through alcohol/substance abuse behaviors. She is also interested in studying positive urgency in Bipolar I individuals. Her duties at the PEP Lab include behavioral analysis and reporting, participant diagnostic screening, and experiment testing. Before joining the PEP Lab research team in early 2016, Jennie was an undergraduate research assistant at the University of Edinburgh while studying abroad in Scotland. She is a member of the International Honor Society in Psychology, and has experience as a Mental Health Technician. In her free time, Jennie enjoys painting, skiing, design, and watching satirical comedies. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeoplePrianca Thirumalai>

Prianca Thirumalai is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she acquired her B.A. in Psychology and Evolutionary Biology/Ecology. She has always been captivated by the intricacies of psychology and the plethora of threads from which human experience can be weaved. She believes that both the parallels and variances between humans and other life forms are deserving of significant consideration. Prianca's intrigued by fungi's capability to uniquely affect brain processes via their sometimes psychoactive qualities. She hopes to eventually conduct research with the intention of discovering psychologically beneficial applications of psychoactive compounds that can be derived from the realm of fungi. In her free time, she enjoys artistic pursuits of all varieties, including drawing, graphic design, painting, sculpting, writing, and vegan cooking.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleAnnaliese Scheer>

Annaliese received her B.A. in Psychology and English Literature with a minor in French at CU Boulder. She is particularly interested in mood disorders and anxiety in adolescents, Autism Spectrum Disorder and ABA therapy, as well as how mental illness exists over the lifespan. Mostly, she is passionate to ameliorate the lives of those with mental illness by becoming a professional psychologist and working to implement appropriate interventions. She joined the PEP lab in order to become more experienced in research, mood disorders, and etiology. In her free time, she enjoys eating brunch, watching films, reading, and speaking French. She hopes to eventually pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology and become a licensed therapist.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleReid Boyce

Reid Boyce is currently a junior majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology at CU Boulder. He is interested in studying neuroimaging and the effects of brain abnormalities as a result of emotional dysregulation and mood disorders. He hopes to gain insight into research methodology and clinical experience through the PEP lab, as well as deepen his understanding of positive emotions and psychopathology. After graduating he plans to enroll in medical school and pursue a career as a neurosurgeon. He also enjoys volunteering, swimming, spending time on the lake with his family, and riding dirt bikes.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleAlexa Cotler

Alexa is a junior studying cognitive science at the University of Pennsylvania, minoring in English and computer science. Having attended CU Boulder as a freshman, she is happy to be back in beautiful Colorado for the summer exploring her broad interest in psychology and well-being in relation to mood disorders. Without a clear career path in mind, Alexa hopes that participating in the PEP Lab will provide her with the experience she needs to discover new interests. Aside from learning, Alexa loves watching movies, hiking, and eating out with friends.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleAnsel & Silvan Gruber-Saucedo

Ansel and Silvan are Boulder natives and the youngest members of the PEP lab. They are deemed high on sociability and approach related positive affectivity, and current projects include enhancing emodiversity and optimizing emotion regulation skillsets. They have been known to offer advice about mixed emotions and engage in art as a medium of emotion expression in the lab.

Affiliated Graduate Students

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleYoni Ashar

Yoni is a doctoral student in clinical psychology interested in the brain, emotions, and contemplative science at CU Boulder. He is currently investigating the placebo response in the treatment of depression, and the effects of Compassion Meditation on behavior and brain function. In collaboration with the PEP lab, he is examining a pilot survey on empathic responses to distress in bipolar disorder. He has a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleMarianne Reddan

Marianne Reddan is a 4th-year graduate student in cognitive psychology at CU Boulder. She completed her undergraduate in Psychology in the laboratory of Elizabeth Phelps at NYU, and then continued to investigate fear in the laboratory of Daniela Schiller at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Marianne is interested in how emotions are represented in the brain and uses machine learning techniques to 'decode' emotion-related neural activation. In collaboration with the PEP lab, Tor Wager and Jamil Zaki she is working on an R01 grant examining emotion and social cognition in bipolar disorder and depression. In her rare free time she toys with arduinos and poetry.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleYael Millgram

Yael is a PhD student in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she works with Maya Tamir. She completed her M.A. in clinical psychology at the Heberew University and ever since she is interested in emotion regulation in psychopathology. Specifically, she is interested in the motivation to experience specific emotions among healthy and clinical populations. In collaboration with the PEP lab she is examining emotional preferences in bipolar disorder. Her research focuses on what people who suffer from psychopathology want to feel, why they want to feel this way and what are the consequences of their motivation for emotion regulation and mental health.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleElizabeth Lemon

Elizabeth is a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program at CU Boulder, in the CREST Lab, where she is pursuing her research interests in mood and anxiety disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period. As a PEP Lab affiliate member she is investigating pregnancy and birth as transformative life experiences. Elizabeth received her BA in Psychology from Humboldt State University, California in 2007 and her MA in Psychology from Boston University in 2008. Before joining the CREST Lab, Elizabeth worked for six years in the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women's Mental Health as the Program Manager.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleAli Raza

Ali is a 2nd year Ph.D. student in Computer Science at CU Boulder working with Prof. Tamara Sumner and Prof. Bill Penuel. His research interest includes STEM education, HCI, Information Visualization, Visual thinking, and Accessibility. He is currently investigating how visual analytics can help middle school teachers in ways that promote equity in their classroom from teaching and curriculum standards. In collaboration with the Pep lab, he is interested in learning more about emotions and quantifying methods from the field and getting trained as a cognitive scientist.


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Lab Alumni

Postdoc Affiliates

University of Colorado Boulder: Keith Welker

External: Jordi Quoidbach (Harvard), Sylvia Morelli (Stanford), Aleksandr Kogan (U Toronto)

Graduate Students and Affiliates

University of Colorado Boulder: Margaret Tobias, Alta du Pont, Natasha Hansen, Michael Flux Caruso, Yoni Ashar (affiliated), Marianne Reddan (affiliated), Hollis Karoly (affiliated), Andrea Baldelli (affiliated), Derek Dean (affiliated)

Yale University: Sunny Dutra, Kirsten Gilbert, Hillary Devlin, Aleena Hay, Amanda Purcell, Hannah Raila, Victoria Webb (affiliated), Jonathan Phillips (affiliated), Yoona Kang (affiliated), Vera Vine (affiliated), Elizabeth Tepe (affiliated).

External: Desmond Ong (Stanford), Brett Ford (UC Berkeley), Monika Lohani (Brandeis), Kasey Stanton (Notre Dame), Laure Dombrecht (University of Ghent), Razia Sahi (Georgia State University)

Thesis Students

University of Colorado Boulder: Alexandra Teague, Stephanie Yu, Gaia Cooper, Joseph Fischer

Yale University: Anny Dow, Elizabeth Reeves, Adam Fields, Franziska Goer, Gregory Barnett, Winfield Call, Barbara Paradis, Sohini Bandy, Cristina Ruiz, Benjamin Billingsley

External: Corinne Sejourne (Brown)

Research Assistants

University of Colorado Boulder: Jalen Tompkins, Liza Silverman, Emily Burr, Zachary Anderson, Chloe Plaisance, Hannah Milad, Sofie Mehrota, Ksusha Kondratyuk, Tasha Abbott, Devin Brooks, Lexi Nyeki, Leah Bauder, Lara Wieland, Patton Loop, Laure Dombrecht, Dylan Therwhanger, Mikaela Cail, Nyall James, Katherine Lynch, Tamsen Francis Reed, Sigrid Kite, Duncan Willians, Eva Lahmann, MEsha Mehta, Daniela Rogers, Julian Royce, Erika Iisa, Caroline Rhoads, Robert Tellez, Alex Bergay, Chancee Forestier, Lily Nussbaum, Abigail Horn, Luciana Massaro, Marlene Palomar, Natalie Coleman, Laura River, Aylah Sroloff, Spencer Young, Sophie Arterbrun, Marit Whittle, Hugh Miller, Angelina Alvarez, Ligia Batista, Catherine Boyle, Andrew Campbell, Paige Cantliffe, Inna Chang, Alisha Ciardi, Olivia Eggert, Natalie Eidson, Lynden Fasso, Joseph Fischer, Stephanie Frisinger, Melissa Gray, Roland Johnson, Tara Kengott, Jamie Morgan, Alex Napolitan, Alexa Pages, Skye Rowles, Joseph Truong, Yuwei Xu, Onilia Zorio

Yale University: Anjali Ambani, Sohini, Bandy, Grace Bang, Gregory Barnett, Tamara Beetham, Benjamin Billingsley, Victor Bloch, Evan Bragdon, Madeleine Broder, Cecilia Brown, Margaret Brown, Winfield Call, Caroline Carns, Alexsandr Chandra, Francesca Coxe, Laura Dietman, Marcus Dilallo, Anny Dow, Andrew Duarte, Nicole Ellerbeck, Avtalya Feldman, Joseph Fernandez, Adam Fields, Cody Fisher, Kristina Foster, Carter Funkhouser, Franziska Goer, Reuben Hendler, Benjamin Herron, Andrew Hill, Regina Hitchery, Faisal Syed Hussaini, Zachary Kafoglis, Natalie Lapides, Melissa Lavoie, Haikel Lim, Rowan Lockery, Nora Loughry, Bo Malin-Mayor, Payal Marathe, Ishtiaq Mawla, Christie Musket, Ashley Norris, Tiffany Pang, Barbara Paradis, Emily Pfannenstiel, Vivian Phelan, Tatiana Piskyla, Jenna Poggi, John Purcell, Whitney Quackenbush, Elizabeth Reeves, Amy Rodriguez, Jessica Rosenthal, Cristina Ruiz, Corinne Ruth, Julia Salinger, Jacob Saslow, Faith Schombs, Vina Seelam, Corinne Sejourne, Celinda Smith, Marlene Thompson, Nora Thompson, Daniel Turcza, Manuel Valle, Ellery Wiebe, Vicky Zhang


Lisa Feldman Barrett – Northeastern University
Nicholas Christakis – Yale University
Amy Cuddy – Harvard University
Wil Cunningham – University of Toronto
Sona Dimidjian – University of Colorado Boulder
James Gross – Stanford University
Allison Harvey – UC Berkeley
Sheri Johnson – UC Berkeley
Steven Jones – Lancaster University, United Kingdom
Dacher Keltner – UC Berkeley
Joshua Knobe – Yale University
Hedy Kober – Yale University
Aleksandr Kogan – University of Cambridge
Ethan Kross – University of Michigan
Iris Mauss – UC Berkeley
Douglas Mennin – CUNY Hunter College
Pranjal Mehta – University of Oregon
Vijay Mittal – Northwestern University
Steve Most – University of New South Wales
Greg Murray – Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Michael Norton – Harvard University
Christopher Oveis – UC San Diego
Mary Phillips – University of Pittsburgh Medical School
David Rand – Yale University
Brian Scholl – Yale University
Emma Seppala – Stanford University
Greg Siegle – University of Pittsburgh Medical School
Maya Tamir – The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Jeanne Tsai – Stanford University
David Watson – University of Notre Dame
Lauren Weinstock – Brown University
Eric Youngstrom – UNC Chapel Hill
Jamil Zaki – Stanford University