Faculty Director

Shannon Sauer-Zavala, Ph.D.

Dr. Sauer-Zavala is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Kentucky (UK) and is the founding Director of Clinical Services at the UK Center for Emotional Health. Dr. Sauer-Zavala received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from UK in 2011; she completed her predoctoral internship at Duke University Medical Center and her postdoctoral fellowship at Boston University. She then spent seven years on the faculty in BU’s Department of Psychological and Brain Science before returning home to UK in 2019. Her research is focused on exploring emotion-focused mechanisms that maintain psychological symptoms (particularly high-risk symptoms such as suicidal thoughts and behaviors) and using this information to develop more targeted, easily-disseminated intervention strategies. Her research has been supported by NIMH, NIAAA, Templeton Foundation, the Center for Implementation and Improvement Sciences, and the Canadian Institute of Health Research. Dr. Sauer-Zavala has co-authored over 75 peer-reviewed articles, numerous book chapters, and three books. In particular, she is a co-developer of the Unified Protocol and the founding director of the Unified Protocol Institute; she remains involved in consultation and training for this intervention. Email Dr. Sauer-Zavala at

Post-Doctoral Scholar

Matt Southward, Ph.D.

Matt is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the TIPS Lab. He received his PhD in 2019 from The Ohio State University working with Dr. Jennifer S. Cheavens, and he completed his pre-doctoral internship at Duke University Medical Center. He is interested in using open science practices with translational behavioral research to better understand, optimize, and personalize the processes of change in therapy, specifically among those with mood and personality disorders. To this end, he has investigated facets of emotion regulation flexibility, the quality of participants’ emotion regulation skills, and the role of acceptance- and change-based skills on within- and between-person changes in DBT. His research has been supported by funding from the NIH and Ohio State. Matt currently serves as the Social Media Coordinator for the Society of Clinical Psychology (APA Division 12). Email Matt at, follow him on Twitter @Matt_Southward_, and see a full list of his research at Google Scholar and on OSF.

Doctoral Students

Stephen Semcho, M.A.

Stephen is a second-year doctoral student in the TIPS Lab. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received his Master of Arts in Clinical Health Psychology from Appalachian State University in 2014. Prior to attending UK, Stephen worked as a licensed clinician in Asheville, NC, and contributed to research in substance use, mindfulness, and emotion regulation. Stephen is interested in the identification, classification, and assessment of transdiagnostic factors of psychopathology, as well as the advancement of personalized transdiagnostic cognitive-behavorial interventions. Email Stephen at                                                                       

Nicole Stumpp, B.S.

Nicole is a first-year doctoral student in the TIPS program beginning in Fall 2020. She graduated from Centre College in May 2018 with a B.S. in Psychology. As an undergraduate, she conducted research on implicit racial bias. After graduation, Nicole served as a Mental Health Technician at The Ridge Behavioral Health System working with adolescents in the psychiatric and chemical dependency units. Nicole is broadly interested in self-injurious behaviors, borderline personality disorder, and outcomes of inpatient treatment. Email Nicole at

Matina Fruhbauerova, B.S.

Martina is a first-year doctoral student of Clinical Psychology at UK. She received her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Washington in June 2016. As an Honor’s Psychology student and a McNair scholar, she conducted her original research at the UW Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress with Dr. Lori Zoellner. Then, she spent 4.5 years working first as a research assistant and later as a lead research coordinator at the Center for Suicide Prevention and Recovery (CSPaR) directed by Dr. Kate Comtois. Though Martina’s research interests remain broad, she’s passionate about cultivating new ways to understand, prevent, and treat self-harming and suicidal behaviors; the etiology and the mechanisms in the maintenance of severe psychopathology, specifically in borderline personality disorder; and developing methods to predict who will benefit from various evidence-based treatments, and the mechanisms of these treatments. Email Martina at

Julianne Wilner Tirpak, M.A.

Julianne is a sixth-year doctoral student currently completing her clinical internship at Brown University/Alpert Medical School. Her research interests include investigating mechanisms that maintain symptoms in emotional disorders, and the development, implementation, and evaluation of transdiagnostic, cognitive-behavioral treatments targeting these mechanisms. She is specifically interested in understanding similarities amongst anxiety, depression, and borderline personality disorder, including suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Currently, Julianne is working on a mechanistic evaluation of different theories of borderline personality disorder within the context of interpersonal conflict to help inform what drives symptoms. Email Julianne at

Caitlyn Hood, M.S. 

 Caitlyn is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology and an affiliate member of the TIPS lab; her primary appointment is with Dr. Christal Badour's research program (STARCC). In 2019, Caitlyn received an M.S. in clinical psychology from the University of Kentucky, where she completed an independently-led project that assessed the influence of trauma-related emotions and PTSD symptoms on pain experiences in college women. Caitlyn's research centers around understanding the co-occurrence of PTSD and health risk behaviors in trauma-exposed, vulnerable populations. Her work aims to (1) inform the development of mental health and substance use interventions and to (2) examine the effectiveness of evidence-based interventions implemented in unique contexts. Email Caitlyn at

Michelle Smith, M.A.;

 Michelle is a third-year doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Kentucky and is an affiliate member of the TIPS lab. Her primary appointment is with Dr. Thomas Widiger’s research program. Michelle completed her undergraduate work at the National University of Ireland, Galway, received her Postgraduate Diploma at Cardiff University and completed her Masters’ program in Clinical Psychology at Eastern Illinois University. Michelle’s research interests include dimensional models of personality disorder, assessment of personality disorders, and the relationship between personality and psychopathology. She is also interested in the development, implementation, and evaluation of targeted mental health interventions. Email Michelle at


Research Assistants

Anna Garlock

Anna is a current undergraduate student studying Psychology at the University of Kentucky. Prior to working in the TIPS Lab, Anna worked as a Research Assistant in the Help-seeking And Multicultural Measurement Evaluation Research (HAMMER) Lab where she was involved with research on mental health help-seeking across different populations. After completing her undergraduate degree, Anna plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology with hopes to practice, teach, and continue conducting research. Her research interests include psychotherapy process and outcomes with a specific focus on treatment for couples and individuals with personality disorders and/or histories of trauma.

Alex Urs

Alex is a current undergraduate student studying Psychology and Sociology at the University of Kentucky. He has previous experience in both Social Psychology, working in the Social Hierarchies and Behaviors (SHAB) lab, and Counseling Psychology, working in the Help-Seeking and Multicultural Measurement Evaluation Research (HAMMER) lab. After completing his undergraduate degree, Alex plans on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology after which he intends on being a practicing therapist. His research interests include age-related differences in treatment as well as anxiety disorders.

Sohayla Elhusseini

Sohayla is a current fourth-year Psychology student at the University of Kentucky. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology following graduation, with the goal of engaging in both research and clinical practice. Her primary research interests encompass issues within psychopathology and psychotherapy, such as the long-term impacts of psychological treatments as well as mechanisms and outcomes of mood and personality disorders. Sohayla is also interested in the development and refinement of psychological interventions that have the function of heightening implementation of accessible, affordable, and evidence-based care in clinical practice.

Christian Bugher

Christian is a current second year psychology student at the university of Kentucky. His research interests include forensic psychology as well as PTSD treatment for individuals returning from combat or war torn areas. After graduating he plans on pursing a PhD in clinical Psychology or a law degree with a focus on forensic psychology and the interaction between law and psychology.


Christy Hadley

Christy is a junior undergraduate student at UK pursuing a B.S. in Human Health Sciences and Spanish. After graduating, she hopes to attend medical school and potentially specialize in neurology or cognitive science. She is interested in how different trauma can manifest different mental illnesses and hopes to learn more about how structured treatment programs can be adapted to each patient to better suit their needs.


Kat Wright

Kat is a sophomore undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky pursuing a double major in Psychology and Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies. She has taken part in research at the University of Vermont’s Developmental/Clinical Psychology Program where she partnered with an advanced graduate student to write a paper for publication and submit a poster for presentation at a convention. After graduation, she plans on either attending a graduate program to attain a PhD in clinical psychology or law school to receive a JD.


Sara Shroyer

Sara is a sophomore undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky pursuing a major in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. Her research interests include neuropsychology and finding effective treatments for mental health disorders. After graduation she will be seeking a PhD in clinical psychology.


Leo Miller

Leo is a junior psychology and neuroscience student at the University of Kentucky. Their goal after completing their Bachelor’s degree is to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology with both a focus in research and clinical. Their primary interests involve psychotherapy and neuropathology of mental disorders, especially when working with patients who are diagnosed with schizophrenia, personality, eating, and substance use disorders. Their goal is to provide intervention for psychological disorders using different psychotherapy techniques that their patient receives the most benefit and comfort from. Their goal in research is to help develop different techniques to be used in clinical practice that may be useful for specific populations. Their clinical goal is to make psychotherapy accessible to every population and make it tailored to every patient's goals and wants.

Jorden Coon

Jorden is currently a junior undergraduate student studying Psychology and Criminology at the University of Kentucky. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school, pursuing a Ph.D. or PsyD. in Clinical Psychology. Jorden has previous experience working with children and teens who have mental disorders and continues to gain experience as well. Jorden’s goal is to become a clinical psychologist for young children and teens who experience anxiety, depression, PTSD, bullying, and developmental disorders. Jorden’s goal is to help others become comfortable and confident with themselves and believe in their own abilities. She hopes to open her own practice someday and make it accessible to anyone who seeks out psychotherapy for mental health disorders.