Winter 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to the start of the Spring 2022 semester! With the University COVID-19 vaccination requirement and extensive coronavirus testing, students have returned to campus and classes are being held in-person. We are all grateful for the step forward towards normalcy.

PBS faculty, staff, and students have been busy! In this newsletter we spotlight current research and celebrate some of our recent awards and accomplishments. We are also happy to announce our graduate students have a new lounge and their offices have new furniture.  Pictures of the transformation can be seen below.

Please take a moment to send us your news. Alumni, read about fellow UMass graduates in our Spotlight on Alumni series and contribute your story to offer valuable career advice to current students. Also, stop by our Alumni pages to tell us about your latest accomplishments or to share your favorite UMass memory. Current students, check out our Instagram @umass.pbs and tell us how it feels to be back together again at #umassPBS. We'll see you at graduation!

The Advisors, Faculty, and Staff of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a treatment that may prove beneficial to individuals that are not seeing results with CBT. It can be helpful for changes in life that prove to be trying such as handling grief or loss, transitioning to a new role like parent or caregiver, or managing pain. ACT shares some common themes with CBT but relies on a unique idea that there are some things that we can't change, and for those situations, it’s possible to change our attitude towards these struggles.
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UMass Amherst study may lead to more personalized clinical training

New research at the University of Massachusetts Amherst shows that different psychotherapists use common treatment processes to varying benefits for patients.

The findings, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, ultimately may lead to more personalized clinical practices and trainings for therapists to help maximize their therapeutic impact and improve patient outcomes.
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Mackenzie Smith '22 combines psychology and political science in her research, which she presented at her field’s most prestigious conference.

Mackenzie Smith, 2021 UMass Amherst Rising Researcher, has long been fascinated by how people make decisions and so she chose to major in both psychology and political science at UMass Amherst. “The two fields go hand-in-hand,” she says. “Politics is all about people and how they interact and why—it’s very psychological. I think everyone in politics would benefit from psychology courses.”
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Find out how these bright alumni found their calling

Kevin McGrathKevin McGrath '13
Product Designer at 2U

Christine BrydgesChristine Brydges '11, MS
UX Researcher at Noom

Read more spotlights

This spring semester, graduate students received a much needed upgrade to their office furniture and student lounge. Old furniture from Tobin Hall's inception in the 1970s was replaced with brand-new functional and ergonomic pieces. We want to to thank our staff members for their hard work in making this happen! See full article and gallery

Research Highlights

Award Highlights

In the Media

New Faces

Postdoctoral Fellow

Summer earned her Ph.D. in Psychological Science from Montana State University in December 2021. She is broadly interested in how emotions influence cognitive processes, and her dissertation examined the influence of anxiety and retrieval demands on the recall and recognition memory of younger and older adults. Summer is joining Dr. Isbell as a postdoctoral fellow in the Affect and Social Cognition Lab. Summer is excited to be in Massachusetts and looks forward to exploring hiking trails with her two dogs.

Upcoming Events

Rudd Adoption Research Program Lecture: Dr. Abbie Goldberg

Adoptive Families and Schools: 
What Can Parents and Teachers do to Strengthen Family-School Partnerships and Promote Inclusion

What do teachers know about adoption? How do they obtain and use that knowledge? How do they apply it in their classrooms?

These questions and more are explored by Dr. Goldberg, who, with Dr. Hal Grotevant, surveyed over 200 K-12 teachers across the United States during her term as Rudd Family Visiting Professor at UMass Amherst. Dr. Goldberg will discuss how the study’s findings can ultimately help parents and teachers work together more effectively to address the needs of adopted children in school. The live virtual presentation will be followed by Q&A. Register below!

Free and Open to the Public
Thursday, February, 24, 2022 |1:00 pm EST| Virtual via Zoom

Register Here

Abbie GoldbergDr. Abbie E. Goldberg is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she also currently serves as the Director of Women’s & Gender Studies, and is the current holder of the Jan and Larry Landry Endowed Chair (2020-2023). She received a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Goldberg is an internationally recognized scholar, speaker, and consultant, who is regularly interviewed by media outlets including the New York Times, The Atlantic, the Boston Globe, and New York Magazine. Her research examines diverse families, including LGBTQ-parent families and adoptive-parent families, as well as the experiences of marginalized groups such as trans youth.