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  • Denis McCarthy, Ph.D.
  • I am a clinical psychologist working primarily in the area of addiction. My research focuses on a broad range of factors that can influence how people make decisions about use of alcohol and other substances, or about engaging in risk taking behavior while intoxicated, such as drunk driving. Many of my recent projects are laboratory examinations of alcohol's effects on impulsivity and decision making. I also have an interest in racial differences in addiction risk processes.

    In addition, I am dedicated the training of future addiction scientists at every level. I am co-director (with Ken Sher) of a T32 Pre and Post-doctoral training grant from NIAAA, as well as an R25 Summer Research Training Program (MU-ARTSS), also from NIAAA, for undergraduates interested in addiction research.

    I joined the faculty at MU in 2002 and was promoted to full professor in 2014. My wife (Lisa Flores) is a counseling psychologist and professor in MU's Department of Education, School and Counseling Psychology. We have two children, Denis and Tori (pictured).

Graduate Student

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  • Kayleigh McCarty, MA
  • I am a fourth year graduate student working with Dr. McCarthy in the Alcohol Cognitions Lab. I received a BS in biology with a minor in psychology from the University of South Florida in 2012. I then worked as a project coordinator at the University of Maryland before beginning my studies in clinical psychology at the University of Missouri in 2013. My research interests include applying mathematical models of decision making to substance-related risk taking behaviors and identifying variables associated with alcohol-related negative consequences and risk taking behaviors in college students.

    I am originally from Florida, and I am most happy near the ocean or in a city (preferably both). I enjoy cooking, baking, drinking coffee, and growing my own vegetables.

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  • Laura Hatz, BS
  • I am a third year graduate student in the Alcohol Cognitions Lab. I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011 with a BS in psychology and a minor in neuroscience. I then worked for three years as a research assistant at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute's Addiction Recovery Research Center before joining the McCarthy lab as a clinical psychology student in 2014. My current research interests include identifying factors associated with risk-taking behaviors and consequences of alcohol use in young adults. In particular, I am interested in the application of mathematical models of decision making to alcohol-related sexual risk-taking in college students.

    I am originally from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, hot yoga, spending time outside on Columbia's beautiful trails, and obsessing over my two cats, Benny and Lola.

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  • Kali Falnes, BS


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  • Nick Brown, MA
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  • Sanghyuk Park, BS
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  • Mason Price, MA

Lab Alumni

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  • David Morris, MA
  • David Morris received his PhD in Clinical Psychology and quantitative minor in Psychological Statistics and Methods from the University of Missouri in 2016. He recently completed an internship in Clinical Psychology at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAAHS), where he is now a postdoctoral fellow.  Dr. Morris’s research interests have focused on 1) the interplay of personality and cognitive processes on addictive behaviors and 2) the acute effects of alcohol on risky decision making (e.g., driving after drinking, aggression). His clinical interests are in the areas of substance use and posttraumatic stress disorder, and his career goal is to obtain a clinical research position in a VA medical center. 

    David is a die-hard fan of the best college team in the state of Kentucky, the University of Louisville. In his spare time, he enjoys being outdoors with his wife, Tricia, especially hiking and trail running. He has a cat that has no tail and a dog that snores so loud she has her own room to sleep.

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  • Michael Amlung, PhD
  • Michael Amlung was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab from 2013-2015 and was supported by the university’s NIAAA T32 Alcohol Training Grant. After finishing his postdoc at Mizzou, he accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. At McMaster, Dr. Amlung is affiliated with the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research, and he directs his own research lab named the Cognitive Neuroscience of Addictions Laboratory (CNALab). Dr. Amlung’s research is focused on understanding the psychological and neurobiological processes that contribute to decision making and motivation to use drugs and alcohol in individuals with substance use disorders. Visit his lab website to learn more about his group’s current research.

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  • Maria Niculete, PhD
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  • Hayley (Treloar) Padovano, PhD
  • Hayley Padovano received her PhD in Clinical Psychology and quantitative minor in Psychological Statistics and Methods from the University of Missouri in 2014. There, she received a predoctoral NRSA fellowship to develop skills in ecological momentary assessment (EMA) and multilevel modeling, which she applied to explore the affective context of drinking in the natural environment. She completed her predoctoral residency at Brown, where she began research at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS). At CAAS, Dr. Padovano expanded her research focus to explore developmental aspects of alcohol misuse and to test mechanisms of pharmacologic treatments in adolescents. Most recently, Dr. Padovano received funding to pursue independent research devoted to understanding how alcohol addiction develops during adolescence. Her research pairs psychophysiological measures in the human laboratory with longitudinal EMA in adolescents’ daily lives to test theoretical models of the progression of alcohol addiction.

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  • Sarah Pedersen, PhD