Thomas Oltmanns is the Edgar James Swift Professor of Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2007, he initiated the SPAN Study, which includes a representative, community-based sample of persons who were initially between the ages of 55 and 64—those approaching the challenges of later life. The multidisciplinary team of investigators now includes people with expertise in epidemiology, aging, health psychology, biological psychology, personality assessment, psychopathology, and quantitative methods (with emphasis on psychometric issues and the analysis of change in personality traits).
Ryan Bogdan’s research examines how genetic variation and environmental experience contribute to individual differences in brain function, behavior, and psychopathology. He is particularly interested in understanding how differences emerge in reward and threat processing, as well as stress responsiveness, and the role of these factors in the development of depression and anxiety.
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Dr. Hill’s research focuses on understanding the individual differences and early life experiences that influence trajectories of healthy aging and development. His work primarily examines whether having a sense of purpose or direction in life promotes better health, in part because purposeful individuals may experience less daily stress and take better care of themselves. Additionally, Dr. Hill’s work investigates the health consequences associated with trait conscientiousness and forgiveness.
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Professor Jackson studies the development and assessment of personality. Jackson’s current research focuses on identifying the antecedents – such as genetic and environmental factors – that are responsible for changes in personality, with a particular focus on educational experiences. His work also examines the ways in which different assessment methods can influence how personality development is estimated.
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Darrell Hudson’s research focuses on racial/ethnic health disparities and the role of social determinants of health, particularly how socioeconomic position and social context affect health and health disparities. He is currently investigating why data show that African Americans — despite bearing a disproportionate burden of physical health disparities and greater exposure to stress — have lower rates of depression compared to white Americans.
Jennifer Tackett is Professor of Psychology and Director of Clinical Training at Northwestern University. Her lab focuses on understanding externalizing psychopathology in childhood and adolescence, including physical and relational aggression, delinquency, personality disorder, and addiction. She and her students adopt multiple levels of analysis approach, incorporating genetic and hormonal biomarkers of externalizing problems. They also examine the impact of environmental factors such as parenting, friendships, life stress, and SES on externalizing problems and potential gender and racial/ethnic disparities.
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Dr. Cottler was instrumental in getting SPAN off to a great start by guiding the careful epidemiological methods that were employed to recruit our original sample. She is now Dean’s Professor of Epidemiology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine, at the University of Florida. Before moving to UF to become Founding Chair of the Department of Epidemiology, Dr. Cottler was at Washington University for 30 years, where she earned her PhD and developed a robust research program in addiction and community engagement science.