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Prospective Graduate Students

I’ve put together several things about the lab to help prospective applicants judge whether our lab might be a good fit for them for their graduate training. I love mentoring graduate students, but a 5-7 year commitment is a long time! I want you to be sure that the work we’re doing and how our lab is run will fit with your goals, so that you can be happy for those 5-7 years you’re investing in your training. I put this page together so that if I am unable to respond to your inquiries about applying (professors commonly receive dozens and dozens of these emails, please do not take it as a negative sign if I am simply unable to respond to yours!), you can have a clear sense of the lab’s goals, future directions, and what I’m looking for in an applicant. For general information about Berkeley’s PhD programs in psychology, please visit:

To answer the most common question first – I am recruiting one or two students this cycle (for them to be starting in Fall 2024). Secondly, my interests are fairly broad, but they are all tied into the topics described in the “About the Lab” section of the website. I truly do wish I could have enough time to study all of the complexities of psychological science, but time is unfortunately not infinite, so me saying “yes” to one research idea is necessarily me saying “no” to others. So I have to prioritize my time to focus on the topics that I am most passionate about, which are focused on mechanisms of addiction and externalizing. As such, your research interests should fit with one or more of the following:

Disinhibition (or more broadly, inhibitory control, cognitive control, executive function, impulsivity, etc.).
Reward Processing (or more broadly, reward sensitivity/reactivity, value-based processing or decision making, etc.).
Electroencephalography (EEG)/Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) or human neuroimaging methods (if you’re interested in MRI, I would likely want to co-mentor you with any one of my several wonderful colleagues doing cutting-edge work in the MRI world!). I am particularly interested during this cycle in bringing in a student who is passionate about EEG/ERP work.
Ambulatory assessment (e.g., ecological momentary assessment, mobile EEG or other physiological measures).
Black mental health – specifically as it relates to EEG, addiction, and externalizing. My expertise and interests cannot be infinite, so if your primary interest is in other forms of psychopathology as it relates to the Black experience, I may not be the appropriate mentor for you.
Structural models of psychopathology (e.g., the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology [HiTOP]) – specifically as it relates to addiction and externalizing.


In terms of being a competitive applicant, seeing a clear articulation of how your research interests relate to the lab’s goals will be absolutely key. Equally as important to me is being able to see your curiosity and passion for your research come through in your personal statements; a PhD is a huge time investment, and what carries you through it is a true love for what you’re doing. I don’t use simple GRE or GPA cutoffs (Berkeley currently does not use the GRE in our psychology graduate admissions anyway), or number of posters or papers and the like for screening. I do, however, believe it is quite important for you to have gotten enough research experience to know enough about yourself to make an informed choice about graduate school. I don’t have a specific number in mind that I use as a cutoff, but I am wary of less than a year of research experience being sufficient to be able to make a well thought out decision about what you want to study during graduate school and the commitment that entails. I want my graduate students to be happy during their time in my lab, and hating the work you do will inevitably get in the way of that. Lastly, you do not need to be a stats or computer super-genius to apply to my lab. However, if numbers, statistics, and things like coding/programming give you anxiety and this is not something you want to change, you will realistically be unhappy in my lab. It’s not about ability, it’s just about fit – we do quite a lot of coding, mostly in R, and use a lot of advanced quantitative models in our work. These will pop up everywhere during your time in the lab, and I don’t want that to be a negative for your graduate school experience! If that doesn’t fit with your goals and interests, that’s completely okay, and our lab might not be the optimal fit for you.