• Denis McCarthy, Ph.D.
  • 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. Ongoing projects include laboratory and EMA methods testing the effect of alcohol on decision making. I also have an interest in racial differences in addiction risk processes.

    Given the pressing issues with addiction in our society, and the expertise in addiction research and outreach at Mizzou and the other University of Missouri campuses, I recently lead an initiative to start an addiction center at the University of Missouri, the Missouri Center for Addiction Research and Engagement (MO-CARE).  The goal of MO-CARE is to increase collaborative work across the University to increase research and training opportunities in addiction.

    In addition, I am dedicated to 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

  • Kayleigh McCarty, MA
  • Kayleigh McCarty, MA
  • I am a seventh 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.  My dissertation integrates decision making, psychophysiology, and addiction science to better understand the role of decision making and reward processing in alcohol misuse. My dissertation research is funded by a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA fellowship (F31) from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

    I am originally from Florida, and I am most happy near the ocean or in a city (preferably both). I enjoy drinking coffee, being active, and watching movies.

  • Laura Hatz, MA
  • Laura Hatz, MA
  • I am a sixth 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 worked as a research assistant at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute's Addiction Recovery Research Center before joining the McCarthy lab in 2014. My current research focuses on identifying risk factors for alcohol-related behaviors (e.g., sexual risk taking, driving after drinking), and using mathematical modeling techniques to characterize acute alcohol effects on risky decision making. For my dissertation, I am studying the effects of alcohol intoxication on characteristics of sexual decision making and the application of cognitive process models to common laboratory tasks of impulsivity. My dissertation research is funded by a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA fellowship (F31) from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

    I am originally from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, hot yoga, hiking, and spoiling my cats.

  • Olivia Warner, BA
  • Olivia Warner, BA
  • I am a second year graduate student working in the Alcohol Cognitions Lab. I completed my undergraduate studies at Arizona State University in 2015 with majors in psychology and family and human development and a minor in women and gender studies. I then volunteered in a social addictions impulse lab while working full time, most recently as a police dispatcher. My research interests involve men’s adherence to masculine gender norms, drinking motives, alcohol consumption, and alcohol-related problems.

    I enjoy baking, listening to true crime podcasts, and hanging out with my dog.

Research Staff

  • Rachel Wesley
  • Rachel Wesley, BA
  • I am the project coordinator for the Alcohol Cognitions Lab. I graduated from the University of Missouri in 2019 with a BA in psychology, a BA in sociology, and a minor in criminal justice. I also work as a research assistant in the Family Assessment Lab and the Positive Youth Development Lab at the University of Missouri. I plan to apply to graduate school for clinical psychology.

    I enjoy watching cooking shows, exercising, and traveling to new places.


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  • Nick Brown, Ph.D.
  • Sanghyuk Park
  • Sanghyuk Park, MA
  • Mason Price
  • Mason Price, MA

Lab Alumni

  • Christiana Prestigiacomo
  • Christiana Prestigiacomo, BA
  • I was the project coordinator for the Alcohol Cognitions Lab from 2017-2019. I am currently a first year graduate student in the Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology at IUPUI, working with Melissa Cyders. I graduated from the University of Missouri in 2017 with a BA in psychology and a minor in Italian studies. I worked as a research assistant in this lab as an undergraduate starting in 2015 and became the project coordinator at the end of 2017.

    I enjoy traveling, all things sci-fi and taking too many pictures of my cat.

  • David Morris
  • David Morris, PhD
  • 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.

  • Michael Amlung
  • 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.

  • Hayley (Treloar) Padovano
  • 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.