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The PEP lab team is an interdisciplinary group of researchers and students who work together towards understanding positive emotional processes and their relevance for understanding adaptive and maladaptive relevant psychological-health outcomes.
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Lab Director

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - People

June Gruber, PhD

June Gruber is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado and Director of the Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Laboratory. She received her Ph.D. and B.A. from UC Berkeley, where she was an NIMH Predoctoral Fellow in Affective Science, and was previously an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Yale University before moving to CU Boulder. Dr. Gruber is a licensed clinical psychologist and has published over 100 articles and chapters, and has edited 2 books including: Positive Emotion: Integrating the Light Sides and Dark Sides and the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Positive Emotion and Psychopathology. Her work has been recognized by several early-career awards including the Association for Psychological Science's Rising Star Award and Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions, NARSAD Young Investigator Award, and Yale University's Arthur Greer Memorial Prize for Outstanding Junior Faculty. Dr. Gruber teaches courses on emotion, happiness, and abnormal psychology and has directed the Experts in Emotion Interview Series, created an online course in Human Emotion available freely through YouTube and iTunes U, and given a TEDx talk on the “dark side” of happiness. She enjoys writing columns in Slate and Scientific American, and has a new mentoring column for young scientists in Science Careers. Dr. Gruber is an Associate Editor and the former Interim Editor-in-Chief for Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Lab Coordinator

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleStevi Ibonie, B.A.

Stevi Ibonie is a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara, where she obtained a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in counseling, clinical, and school psychology. In the past years, she has worked with Professor Sheri Johnson, at UC Berkeley, studying mood-disorders. From this experience, she started to become interested in how social relationships may influence the trajectories of individuals with psychopathologies. Specifically, Stevi is interested in mood and behavioral disorders, and how positive social relationships with peers may improve the prognosis of individuals experiencing mental health difficulties. She is also very interested in personality disorders, and hopes to study them in the future. She plans to go on to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, with a focus on the influence of social factors on psychopathologies. Stevi enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities, such as gardening, stand up paddle-boarding, hiking, and camping. 

Grad Students

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleCynthia Villanueva, B.A.

Cindy received her B.A. in Psychology and Minor in Linguistics from UC Berkeley and is a primary grad student in the PEP lab. Broadly speaking, she is interested in emotion regulation and the etiology and treatment of mental illness. More specifically, Cindy is interested in how individual differences in affective language and emotion differentiation (or the degree to which people experience similar emotions as discrete) may contribute to the understanding of positive emotion disturbance in mood disorders. She is also intrigued by the potential interplay between emotional intelligence, access to mental health services, and stigmatization of psychopathology, especially amongst minority and rural populations. In her free time, she likes to read, draw, practice taekwondo, and attend local concerts.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleAli Raza

Ali is a 2nd year Ph.D. student in Computer Science at CU Boulder working with Prof. Tamara Sumner and Prof. Bill Penuel and affiliated PEP lab member. His research interest includes STEM education, HCI, Information Visualization, Visual thinking, and Accessibility. He is currently investigating how visual analytics can help middle school teachers in ways that promote equity in their classroom from teaching and curriculum standards. In collaboration with the Pep lab, he is interested in learning more about emotions and quantifying methods from the field and getting trained as a cognitive scientist.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleElizabeth Lemon

Elizabeth is a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program at CU Boulder, in the CREST Lab, where she is pursuing her research interests in mood and anxiety disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period. As a PEP Lab affiliate member she is investigating pregnancy and birth as transformative life experiences. Elizabeth received her BA in Psychology from Humboldt State University, California in 2007 and her MA in Psychology from Boston University in 2008. Before joining the CREST Lab, Elizabeth worked for six years in the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women's Mental Health as the Program Manager.

Research Assistants

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleElizabeth Hoelscher

Lizzie is a senior studying psychology and sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder majoring and pursuing an honors thesis examining emotion regulation in emerging adults at risk for mood disorders. She is specifically interested in adult and child psychopathology in cases of abuse, resulting trauma, and appropriate clinical treatments. She is interested in how sociological factors correlate to the emergence of psychopathology and the ability to access effective treatment. She became involved with the PEP lab to expand her knowledge of clinical research and to gain a better understanding of mood disorders, their etiology, and their day to day impacts. After finishing her undergraduate degree, Lizzie wants to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology. Outside of the lab, Lizzie is a captain for Colorado Crew and president for the International Honor Society in Psychology. She enjoys reading, volunteer work, and hiking.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleMontana Ploe

Montana Ploe is a psychology major at the University of Colorado Boulder pursuing an Honors Thesis. Her particular interests include the study of psychopathy. She is specifically focusing on reward dysregulation and how this might affect social support among young adults with psychopathic tendencies. She hopes to continue research after graduating from CU in the Spring of 2020 with an emphasis on dismantling the negative stigma perpetrated by popular media that is imposed on individuals with psychopathy. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to work on an honors thesis as well as for her time as a research assistant here at the PEP lab. In her free time she enjoys reading, the performing arts, and volunteering as a crisis line advocate for Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence in Boulder.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleRachel Karasik

Rachel Karasik is finishing her senior year pursuing an senior thesis and working towards her B.A. as a Psychology major with a minor in Classics at the University of Colorado at Boulder Class of 2020. Rachel has participated in the PEP lab as a research assistant since the summer of 2017. Rachel is very excited to participate and continue her work in the PEP lab as a research assistant throughout the rest of her undergraduate experience. Rachel is currently working on her thesis focusing on the associations of depressive symptoms and social media usage in first-year college students. Her interests lie in studying the mental health of adolescents and families and hopes to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleHeather Brown

Heather is a Psychology and Neuroscience major at CU Boulder who aspires to get her PhD in one or both of these areas of study. She is specifically interested in early warning signs and predispositions for psychiatric disorders, and implementing cognitive and behavioral therapies as a primary approach to treatment. Also, she aims to reform early education to include DBT life skills such as mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness in order to improve quality of life and societal functioning. In her free time she enjoys doing homework and working because there is no such thing as free time.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleEllie Johnson

Ellie Johnson is a junior at CU Boulder majoring in psychology and neuroscience and part of the Norlin Scholars Program with specific interests in the etiology, therapeutic treatment, and pharmacology associated with severe psychopathologies. After finishing her undergraduate degree, she is split between pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology or attending medical school. Ellie joined the PEP Lab in order to expand her knowledge and experience in the realm of research, mood disorders, and etiology. In her off time, she enjoys rock climbing, snowboarding, and writing.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleReid Boyce

Reid Boyce is currently a junior majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology at CU Boulder. He is interested in studying neuroimaging and the effects of brain abnormalities as a result of emotional dysregulation and mood disorders. He hopes to gain insight into research methodology and clinical experience through the PEP lab, as well as deepen his understanding of positive emotions and psychopathology. After graduating he plans to enroll in medical school and pursue a career as a neurosurgeon. He also enjoys volunteering, swimming, spending time on the lake with his family, and riding dirt bikes.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleGabrielle Kizeev

Gabrielle (Gabi) Kizeev is a junior at CU Boulder majoring in neuroscience and psychology. She is interested in exploring her broad interests in emotions and mental health at the PEP lab and is eager to expand her knowledge of research techniques in a clinical setting. After graduating, Gabi plans to go to graduate school to get a master’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with the ultimate goal of receiving a Ph.D. in neuroscience. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends, exploring different cultures through travel, playing video games, and relaxing with a good book, TV show, or movie.

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Lab - PeopleAnsel & Silvan Gruber-Saucedo

Ansel and Silvan are Boulder natives and the youngest members of the PEP lab. They are deemed high on sociability and approach related positive affectivity, and current projects include enhancing emodiversity and optimizing emotion regulation skillsets. They have been known to offer advice about mixed emotions and engage in art as a medium of emotion expression in the lab.


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Wil Cunningham – University of Toronto
Sona Dimidjian – University of Colorado Boulder
James Gross – Stanford University
Allison Harvey – UC Berkeley
Sheri Johnson – UC Berkeley
Dacher Keltner – UC Berkeley
Hedy Kober – Yale University
Iris Mauss – UC Berkeley
Douglas Mennin – CUNY Hunter College
Pranjal Mehta – University of Oregon
Greg Murray – Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Greg Siegle – University of Pittsburgh Medical School
Maya Tamir – The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Jeanne Tsai – Stanford University
David Watson – University of Notre Dame
Lauren Weinstock – Brown University
Eric Youngstrom – UNC Chapel Hill
Jamil Zaki – Stanford University