UCLA Grad Slam 2018: Jenna is a semi-finalist!

Grad Slam is a campus-wide competition that showcases the research of graduate students across several disciplines. In a short, clear, and engaging way students present on their research to those inside and outside the academic community.

Here’s what Jenna had to say about her experience thus far: “As we know from psychology research, public speaking can pretty reliably start up our stress response. I decided to compete in Grad Slam to build my confidence and skills in public speaking. I also really wanted to challenge myself to communicate my research to people outside of my field of study. This is really crucial skill-building for any psychologist who wants their research to have a broader impact! The experience has been equal parts challenging and rewarding, and one of the most rewarding parts has been connecting with other graduate students who study all sorts of amazing things all over UCLA’s campus.”

We’re so proud of Jenna and hope she will move forward in the competition as a finalist!

DiSH Grad Student Jenna receives APA Dissertation Award!

Congratulations to one of our graduate students, Jenna Cummings, for receiving a 2017 American Psychological Association Dissertation Research Award! This award provides funding for doctoral students who have excellent dissertations that will contribute to psychological research. We’re so proud of Jenna and are excited to see her results!

Sam’s PROPS Celebration!

One of our wonderful DiSH Research Assistants, Sam Xiong, just completed UCLA’s Psychology Research Opportunities Program (PROPS)! PROPS helps prepare students to begin careers in research and involves weekly seminars covering graduate school, careers in academia, and research opportunities in various fields of psychology. As a part of the PROPS program, Sam got the chance to work with DiSH Graduate Student Anthony Rodriguez (who recently became DR. Anthony Rodriguez!), as well as to work with DiSH Graduate Student Laura Finch and Lab Manager Erin Standen.

Find out what Sam has to say about his PROPS experience:

“PROPS was such a phenomenal program! It taught me how to ask the right questions, meet the right people, become resourceful, and push myself out of my comfort zone. Coming from a first generation family and not having any real exposure to anyone who could provide me guidance about the process of getting into graduate school, I was not really sure how I was going to get into graduate school or if I would even like it. PROPS provided me with graduate/faculty panels, professional workshops, and class assignments to further develop my understanding of how to get into graduate school, if graduate school was for me, and the objective pros/cons of graduate school. Additionally, I was really amazed by how much the people who were in charge of the program really cared about my own personal growth and development throughout the program. PROPS has been one of my biggest professional/personal influences here at UCLA in regards to helping me better understand the limitless possibilities out there for me and that there are a lot of people out there willing to help, if you just ask.”

Here’s a photo of Dr. T. and Sam at his PROPS Ceremony:



Congratulations to DiSH Lab Manager Erin Standen for being awarded a NSF Graduate Fellowship!

Erin Standen, who has been the exceptional manager of the DiSH Lab for the past 2 years, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship! This fellowship is extremely competitive and prestigious, awarded to outstanding graduate students across the country who are pursuing research-based degrees in various disciplines.

Erin officially accepted an offer to attend The University of Minnesota for a doctoral program in Social Psychology, where she will be joining The Mann Lab headed by Dr. Traci Mann (who was also Dr. T’s graduate advisor!). We are so proud of Erin and all of her accomplishments thus far, and this fellowship adds to her already steep career trajectory.

Thank you for being such an amazing lab manager Erin, and though we’ll miss you we can’t wait to hear about all your future success!!

It’s official – Dr. T has earned tenure at UCLA!!

We are SO excited to announce that Dr. Tomiyama, DiSH Lab Director, has officially earned tenure and will be promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor this July! This is one of the biggest milestones of a career in academia, and it comes as a result of Dr. T’s incredibly hard work, innovative line of research, fantastic teaching record, and promising future directions in the field of health psychology.

Dr. T, we are so proud of you and all your accomplishments, and we are so lucky to work with and be mentored by you!

DiSH Lab at SPSP 2017!

This past weekend, the DiSH lab attended the 18th Annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Convention in San Antonio, TX. We also attended the Social, Personality and Health (SPH) Preconference, and we were one of the best-represented labs in attendance – our undergraduate research assistants, graduate students, lab manager, post-doc, and DiSH alums all came out to enjoy a weekend full of social psychological research and networking!

At the SPH Preconference, we learned about neural mechanisms linking social threat and inflammation, emotion and health-related decision making, potential unintended consequences of genetic testing, and much more!

DiSH Grad Student Laura Finch and Lab Manager Erin Standen also presented posters at the SPH preconference!


Laura Finch presenting her poster at the SPH Preconference.

Laura Finch presenting her poster at the SPH Preconference.

Erin Standen presenting her poster at the SPH Preconference.

Erin Standen presenting her poster at the SPH Preconference.

Also on Thursday, DiSH Graduate student Jenna Cummings presented a poster as a part of the SPSP Graduate Student Poster Competition, and was named a Runner-up for the Award! We are so proud, especially because there were over two hundred posters in the competition! Congratulations, Jenna!

Jenna Cummings presenting her poster at SPSP for the Graduate Student Poster Competition.

On Friday and Saturday, DiSH Research Assistants Gracie Nguyen and Melissa Walman each presented a poster at the main SPSP Convention!

Gracie Nguyen and Laura Finch presenting a poster at the SPSP Convention.

Melissa Walman presenting research at the SPSP Convention.

Overall, it was a great weekend in San Antonio, full of fascinating research, delicious food, and lots of DiSH Lab bonding! We can’t wait to head to Atlanta, GA for next year’s SPSP Convention!

From left to right: Gracie Nguyen, Erin Standen, Dr. Mary Himmelstein, Jenna Cummings, Laura Finch, and Bernice Cheung at SPSP 2017.


Congratulations to Dr. Britt Ahlstrom, who just successfully defended her dissertation!

This afternoon, Britt Ahlstrom, incredible DiSH graduate student, officially became Dr. Britt Ahlstrom! She successfully defended her dissertation to her committee members (Dr. T, Dr. Ted Robles, Dr. Martie Haselton, and Dr. Traci Mann), and has earned her Ph.D!



This is a huge milestone in Dr. Ahlstrom’s career, and we are all incredibly proud to call her one of our own!

Congratulations again, Dr. Ahlstrom!



Dr. T won APA’s Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology by an Early Career Professional Award!

This past weekend, Dr. T traveled to Denver, CO to accept the Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology by an Early Career Professional Award from the American Psychological Association!

The award recognizes an individual whose contributions to the fields of science and psychology have been innovative, courageous, and distinctive, and whose contributions have supported efforts to find new solutions to social issues, to make the practice and science of psychology more accessible to broad populations, and/or to integrate science and psychology in a way that advances social justice and human welfare. Dr. T also gave an invited address at the APA Convention, after being presented her award by UCLA Health Psychology’s very own Professor Annette Stanton.

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Dr. T and her award at the 2016 APA Annual Convention.

Big congratulations to Dr. T – we are so proud and grateful to conduct research with you!

Janet Speakinng

Dr. T giving her invited address at the 2016 APA Annual Convention.

Congratulations to Angela, who just won the 2016 Health Psychology Research Paper Award!

One of our incredible DiSH grad students, Angela Incollingo Rodriguez, just won the 2016 Health Psychology Research Paper Award for her systematic review “Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation and cortisol activity in obesity: A systematic review! In the paper, Angela delves into the link between cortisol and obesity, finding that while certain trends seem to emerge, the literature is inconsistent overall. Moreover, this systematic review came out of an incredible effort from Angela, and we’re so proud of her for familiarizing herself with an entire body of work on the HPA axis and adipocyte cortisol metabolism – and for doing it so well!

Congratulations to you, Angela – you are so deserving of this award!

Here, see a figure summarizing adipocyte cortisol metabolism in the context of HPA Axis activity from the paper:

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DiSH RAs representing at UCLA’s Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference!

This past Friday, UCLA hosted its 25th annual Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference, and three of our DiSH Lab Research Assistants – Cristina, Brandon, and Kevin – presented posters!

Check out what they had to say about their experience here:

Cristina González
Poster Title: Are Food Addiction and Alcohol Abuse Two Branches of Pathology from the Same Vulnerable Tree?

“This year was my first time participating at PURC. It was nice to what other students are interested in and the work that they are involved with. The environment was really supportive and overall a great first experience presenting a poster!”

Here's Cristina presenting her poster!

Here’s Cristina presenting her poster!

Brandon Chao & Kevin Dong 
Poster Title: The Effects of Healthy and Unhealthy Comfort Eating on Self-Efficacy


“I had a lot of fun at PURC, what more can I say? 🙂 With our study “The Effects of Comfort Eating on Self-Efficacy,” Kevin Dong and I had the opportunity to share our findings (with the help of our amazing graduate student Laura Finch) to others and discuss its implications. It was really cool to come across fellow researchers who were studying the same questions as we were and just talk about our studies. This collaborative element was certainly one of my favorite parts of the entire event; we were so into discussing our conclusions that we didn’t notice our one-hour slot was already almost over. By its end, PURC really made me realize and appreciate all of the work that others put into their own projects and the exciting prospect that comes with sharing whatever we may find with like-minded individuals. For those interested in participating in another event like this, I would highly recommend it!”

Brandon presenting his poster.

Brandon presenting his poster.


“I really enjoyed my time at PURC. It was great being in an environment where everyone was excited about research. I shared our findings with many undergraduates and graduate students from different fields of psychology as well as with members from another food lab that came up from UCSD! The process of preparing for PURC was eye-opening as it brought what we do in the lab everyday into perspective. I highly recommend presenting at these conferences as it really makes you think and analyze the research on a much deeper level. Shoutout to Laura for helping us and guiding us along the way!”

Kevin presenting his poster.

 Kevin presenting his poster.
We’re so proud of you all for participating in PURC – the applicant pool was competitive this year, and you all represented us so well!


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Kevin explaining his poster to an interested group of PURC attendees!