My research primarily addresses the interactions among psychological, cognitive, immunological, and physical health in older adults. For example, how does personality affect risk for Alzheimer’s disease? How do psychosocial resources affect immunosenescence? Does infection with latent viruses compromise older adults’ self-regulation and executive cognitive function? How does socioemotional selectivity affect the well-being of people with ALS and their partners?
I am particularly interested in understanding how aspects of self-regulation, including personality, behavior, and executive cognitive function, affect well-being and health. Two large studies funded by the National Institute on Aging have examined these questions. One, with Leslie Crofford, MD, examined the health consequences of motivation and goal pursuit in older women in a longitudinal "burst" design. (See papers to date from the completed study.) The other is a longitudinal study of the effects of self-regulation and especially self-regulatory capacity on immunological and brain health (and vice versa) in older adults. (See papers to date from the ongoing study.)
My students and I are actively pursuing a line of research on cognitive self-regulation as it is manifested in repetitive thought (e.g., worry, rumination, cognitive processing, and related concepts). This research focuses on understanding the structure of repetitive thought, the best ways to measure repetitive thought, its neuropsychological correlates, and its psychological and physiological consequences. (See example papers here and here.)
I am an MPH biostatistician with particular interest in longitudinal data analysis and multilevel modeling. I am also interested in the measurement properties of biomarkers such as diurnal cortisol. (See example papers here and here. See information about biostatistical consulting.)