Psychology PPFP Mentors

Dr. Colleen Ganley & Dr. Chris Schatschneider


Title of Research: Examining Teachers’ Math Anxiety, Math Instruction, and Student Math-Related Outcomes

Description of Research Area: We are conducting a large-scale study in which we examine how teachers’ anxiety about math relates to their instructional practices and their students’ math anxiety and performance. This is a collaborative project with both Colleen Ganley and Chris Schatschneider (Psychology) and with Rob Schoen (Learning Systems Institute). In this project, we are following approximately 4,000 K-3 students in multiple Florida districts over the course of two years. We are examining a number of student cognitive and affective outcomes so that we can explore their development and examine how that development is related to teacher math anxiety and other teacher characteristics (e.g., math knowledge for teaching, math learning beliefs). These additional student measures include math attitudes, math vocabulary, spatial skills, spatial anxiety, number line estimation, test anxiety, general anxiety, and growth mindset. We are also still considering additional variables to include, a process in which a postdoctoral researcher could be involved. In addition, a postdoctoral researcher would be involved in conducting classroom observations of math teaching, assisting with data management, conducting data analysis (using multilevel structural equation modeling), and disseminating research findings at conferences and in journal publications.

Special Research & Career Skills: Training would involve further development of research design and statistical skills, experience and training in conducting school-based research, and experience with writing both journal articles and grants..

Website Links: IES Grant

Colleen Ganley - Math Thinking & Learning LabDepartment Profile 

Chris Schatschneider - Department ProfileSchatschneider Lab  

Dr. Greg Hajcak


Title of Research: Neural biomarkers of risk for psychopathology

Description of Research Area: Our work focuses on the intersection between neuroscience and psychopathology – how the brain can be used to study individual differences. The major thrust of my current research program is on prediction and modification: To what degree can neuroscience and psychophysiology predict changes in symptoms over time? Can neural measures of risk be modified? Does modifying these measures matter? We're currently working on a range of projects--and many focus on neural measures of reward, as reflected in event-related brain potentials and functional magnetic resonance imaging. We are interested in how pubertal development and hormones impact reward sensitivity, especially in relation to individual differences in depression and depressive symptoms. We are also examining reward-related neural activity in relation to postpartum depression, alcohol consumption, and eating disorders. Some of our projects examine whether neural activity can be altered by computer-based cognitive training, and we are examining similar questions related to brain stimulation.

Special Research & Career Skills: I’ve been effective in guiding trainees to write their own research and training grants (i.e., I’ve been the primary or co-mentor for more than 10 NIMH grants at the pre- and post-doctoral level), and I would help the new postdoc work toward writing their own training (F32) or career (K) award grants.

Website Link: Hajcak Lab

Dr. Sara Hart


Title of Research: Twin project on reading and math development

Description of Research Area: The overall goal of the proposed research is to uncover salient factors, including genetic and environmental influences, which contribute to the co-development of reading and math performance, at a critical developmental point (elementary school). We are currently recruiting for the first nationally-representative US twin sample, the National Project on Achievement in Twins (NatPAT). The NatPAT sample will comprise 7,668 pairs of twins located across the US, and will be uniquely situated to address the overall goal of the proposed research through four specific aims (SA). First, we will utilize a large national database of reading and math performance from schools across the country to ascertain the NatPAT twin sample. Using a cohort-sequential design starting in kindergarten, we will examine reading and math performance across elementary school in order to model genetic and environmental influences on reading and math (co-)development (Specific Aim 1). Second, we will model the genetic and environmental influences on the co-occurrence of reading and math difficulties, while also testing for sex differences (Specific Aim 2). Third, we will capitalize on publically available data to characterize the environmental contexts related to the (co-)development of reading and math performance (Specific Aim 3). Finally, we will capture important attitudinal individual differences dimensions and examine how they are associated with the (co-)development of reading and math performance (Specific Aim 4). The postdoctoral scholar will have a chance to write papers from this database, as well as papers using data from other related twin projects focused on reading and math development in school-aged twins. The postdoctoral scholar will have freedom to decide on the papers they want to write. There will also be opportunities for grant writing.

Special Research & Career Skills: I provide hands-on mentorship on advanced statistical analysis (including twin modeling), paper writing, grant writing, grant management, and lab management.

Website Link: Hart Lab  Twitter icon.png


Dr. Linda Rinaman

Title of Research: Central Neural Circuits for Interoceptive Control of Stress Responses and Motivated Behavior

Description of Research Area:

The ability of animals to mount adaptive responses to emotional and physiological stress is mediated by central neural pathways that control neuroendocrine secretion, autonomic function, and motivated behavior. The long-term objective of research in the Rinaman lab is to characterize the functional multisynaptic organization of these neural systems, with a focus on circuits that relay visceral sensory (interoceptive) feedback to the brainstem, hypothalamus, and limbic forebrain. Neuroanatomical, physiological, and behavioral techniques are applied to probe these circuits in transgenic and wildtype laboratory rodents, offering unique opportunities to test hypotheses about brain structure-function relationships. Currently funded projects focus on central noradrenergic and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) neural signaling pathways arising from caudal brainstem. Some ongoing studies analyze stimulus-induced expression of the immediate-early protooncogene c-fos (a marker of neural activation) after animals are exposed to various stress- and anxiety-provoking challenges. Analysis of c-fos expression is combined with retrograde labeling of central neural pathways and immunocytochemical or in situ hybridization (RNAscope)-based detection of neurotransmitter chemicals or mRNA to characterize the axonal projections and phenotypes of stimulus-activated neurons. Other projects use adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors and engineered neurotropic alpha herpes viruses for condtional transneuronal tracing of multisynaptic neural circuits. Transgenic cre-driver mice and rats also are used for conditional viral-based manipulation of neural activity using DREADDs and optogenetics. Sophisticated microscopic approaches (including CLARITY-based confocal and lightsheet microscopy) enable high-level visualization and mapping of anatomical circuits.

Special Research & Career Skills: Postdoctoral fellows in the Rinaman lab can expect to gain or develop expertise in all of the technical approaches listed above. Fellows meet at least once a week with Dr. Rinaman to review plans and progress, including review of their individual development plan (IDP). These meetings are used to develop/adjust experiments, review published literature, and discuss data analysis and interpretation. Fellows are encouraged (and financially supported) to present their work at national and international conferences. For training in oral presentation skills, Fellows present their data several times a year and receive feedback at the weekly Rinaman lab meeting and other local venues (e.g., monthly Ingestive Behavior multi-faculty meeting, annual FSU Postdoc Research Conference). Fellows are encouraged to prepare a seminal review paper on their own research area of interest as they are developing their experimental project in the Rinaman lab; training in scientific writing is achieved through mutual editing of research abstracts and manuscripts. Fellows also are expected to apply for individual research funding through fellowships and grant programs, with assistance and training provided by Dr. Rinaman.

Website: Faculty Page

Dr. Norman B. Schmidt

Title of Research: Causes and Prevention of Anxiety and Related Forms of Psychopathology

Description of Research Area:

We have a diverse lab largely focused on identification and amelioration of causal risk factors for psychopathology. The primary forms of psychopathology include anxiety and related conditions such as OC-spectrum conditions as well as addictive behaviors (smoking, cannabis). In addition, a more recent focus has been on suicidal behavior and gun violence. Our laboratory uses a range of techniques that includes EEG, hormonal and genetic analyses. We also utilize biological and behavioral stress paradigms including CO2 challenge, shooting simulation, and virtual reality. In recent years, our interventions have focused on the use of brief, cognitive behavioral and cognitive bias modification paradigms primarily delivered using technology such as web applications. At this point, we have developed close to a dozen different interventions focused on risk constructs such as anxiety sensitivity, intolerance of uncertainty, perceived burdensomeness, and thwarted belongingness.

Special Research & Career Skills: A postdoctoral scholar will have the opportunity to develop a flexible line of work in one or more of our existing areas. Complementary work with us and our many collaborators within and outside the university can be coordinated.

Website: Anxiety & Behavior Health Clinic - Clinic Director

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