Research in General Health Psychology

The General Health Psychology (GHP) Program emphasizes both basic and applied research examining the biological, psychological, behavioral, social, cultural, and environmental correlates of health and illness. Below are descriptions of the research labs run by GHP faculty.


Dr. Jeanette Bennett

Broadly, the underlying concept driving my research is that bidirectional neuroendocrine-immune communication occurs constantly to increase survival and maintain balance or homeostasis.  This communication can be influenced by psychological (e.g., stress, depression), biological (e.g., sex, drug use, age), and psychosocial (e.g., socioeconomic status, social support) factors which ultimately affect overall health.  Specifically, I study the effects of stress (psychological and pharmacological) on neuroendocrine and immune systems across the lifespan in healthy and clinical populations.

Dr. Amy Canevello

Information coming soon.

Dr. Maren Coffman

Dr. Maren Coffman earned a PhD in nursing from the University of Connecticut and has been an assistant professor at the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte since 2005. Dr. Coffman has extensive experience working in the Latino community and is fluent in Spanish. She is passionate about international education and has developed and led numerous study abroad programs to destinations in Latin America. Dr. Coffman has experience teaching courses on health disparities and research methods.

Dr. Coffman’s research interests include access to health care, health literacy, and diabetes self-management in Latino immigrants. She has been awarded several grants including a UNCC Faculty Research Grant and the American Nurses Foundation Presidential Scholar award. In 2009, she was one of 15 nurse educators from around the country to receive the three-year $350,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar award. With the funding from this grant, she conducted a randomized clinical trial designed to teach diabetes self-management skills to Latina women using a health literacy educational framework. Dr. Coffman is also a co-principal investigator on a 5-year National Institutes of Health funded study to examine social determinants of health in the Latino community in Charlotte.


Dr. Mark Faust

Information coming soon.

Dr. Jane Gaultney

Dr. Gaultney is an Associate Professor of Psychology, a Cognitive Science Academy affiliate, and a member of the General Track Health Psychology Ph.D. Program.  She received a B.A. in Elementary Education from Palm Beach Atlantic College, an M.A. in Experimental Psychology and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology with a focus on cognitive development from Florida Atlantic University.  She regularly serves as a reviewer for professional journals and conferences, and previously served on the editorial board for Wake Up America, a publication for school psychologists.  She holds memberships in the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Society, Cognitive Development Society, Sleep Research Society, and the Society for Research in Child Development.  She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Sleep, Cognition, Research Methods, Child Development, and Cognitive Development.  She has supervised numerous graduate and undergraduate thesis research projects, and works with several undergraduates on independent research projects.

Sleep, Behavior and Cognition

Current research examines the role of sleep and sleep disorders on cognitive function and behavior in both children and adults.  Current projects include sleep and ADHD, sleep and memory strategies in children, prevalence of risk for sleep disorders in college freshmen, sleep and extinction therapy for phobias, sleep and academic motivation, and sleep and risk-taking behavior in adolescents.

Dr. Paula Goolkasian

Paula Goolkasian is a Professor of Psychology and Director of Cognitive Science at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.  She is a member of the Health Psychology PhD program and participates on research teams with the medical staff from the Salisbury W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center and Pain & Orthopedic Neurology in Charlotte.  She received her PhD degree in Experimental Psychology from Iowa State University in 1974.  Her research interests are in the area of perception and attention with over 80 research articles and presentations at professional conferences. Her research in pain perception has been supported by grants from pharmaceutical companies, NIH, NIMH; and she has been the principal investigator for 6 NSF grants.   She has a long history of involving graduate and undergraduate students in her research activities. The Perception Lab, which she supervises, has housed 7 dissertation and masters theses and over 50 independent research projects conducted by undergraduate students. She was active in The Society for Computers in Psychology (President 1994, Secretary/Treasurer 1988-91, Steering Committee 1986-99, 2000-2003) a scientific society that promotes the instructional and research applications of computers.  She is a fellow of the American Psychology Association, and the Association for Psychological Sciences.  Currently, she is an executive editor of The Journal of General Psychology, and on the editorial board of The American Journal of Psychology and PsycCRITIQUES.

Perception Lab

The Perception lab is a 3-room suite designed for research in perception, attention and human performance.  Projects included processing of visually presented clock times, retinal location and its effect on target and distractor processing, attention to target and distractor processing across the functional visual field, size scaling and its effect on letter detection, picture-word differences in a sentence verification task, presentation format and its effect on working memory, age difference and format effects in working memory and priming effects with ambiguous figures.  
A number of projects with chronic pain patients have also been conducted in the lab.  In addition to working with patients suffering from fybromyalgia and pain associated with the upper spine, we developed and validated the Neck Pain and Disability Scale and have run studies evaluating the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy and Botox injections.
For more information please visit

Dr. Susan Johnson

Susan Johnson is a Professor of Psychology and a Cognitive Science Academy affiliate at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.  She is a member of the Health Psychology PhD program.  Dr. Johnson received a B.A in English from the Bowdoin College in 1982, an M.A. in Experimental Psychology from New York University in 1986 and a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience from Rutgers University in 1991. She has 47 research articles and 45 presentations at professional conferences. She is a consulting editor for The Journal of General Psychology. In 2008, Dr. Johnson published Medically Unexplained Illness: Gender and Biopsychosocial Implications (American Psychological Association). Dr Johnson’s research interests include: the effects of mood and fatigue on neuropsychological functioning in healthy and fatiguing illness populations; psychosocial factors in fatiguing illness; use and efficacy of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); and brief interventions such as mindfulness meditation to improve mood and cognitive performance. Dr. Johnson runs the Mind and Health Lab which actively trains undergraduate and graduate students in cognitive and neuropsychological testing and emotional regulation studies.

Dr. Sara Levens

Research Interests:
  • Emotion
  • Executive control & working memory
  • Neural & genetic mechanisms underlying emotion processing and cognition
  • Adaptive and maladaptive behaviors and decisions
  • fMRI, DTI, behavioral genetics, lesion research & behavioral methodologies
My research examines emotion, executive control and decision making. In particular, I am tracking the emotion-cognition process-from underlying emotion processing and executive function interactions in working memory to downstream emotional decisions and behaviors. I utilize a range of methodologies including: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), behavioral genetics, lesion research, clinical populations, and standard behavioral research. I use the aforementioned methodologies with multiple samples of participants to gain a comprehensive understanding of the cognitive and biological mechanisms that underlie emotion processing, cognition and decision-making.
In one series of studies I administered working memory tasks with emotional stimuli to a range of participants including currently depressed individuals, recovered depressed individuals, individuals at risk for depression, never disordered controls from the community, college undergraduates and individuals with brain damage. This dataset has yielded an array of results that suggest that individual differences in executive control of emotional information may promote both protective and maladaptive biases that may subsequently underlie the ability to effectively regulate affect. 


Dr. Charlie L. Reeve

Dr. Reeve is an Associate Professor of Health Psychology, a Cognitive Science Academy affiliate, and Coordinator of the General Health Psychology program. He received a B.A in Psychology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 1997, and an M.A. (1998) and Ph.D. (2001) in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Bowling Green State University where he specialized in psychometrics and intelligence. He regularly teaches courses at both the graduate and undergraduate level in quantitative analyses, research methodology, test development and psychometrics. To date, he has authored over 50 publications and given more than 40 conference presentations on his research concerning the assessment and consequences of individual differences in intellectual capacities. Dr. Reeve has also provided consulting services for several organizations including the Canadian Department of National Defence, Educational Testing Services, Human Resources Research Organization, United States Army, ADP Selection and Screening Services, and The Procter & Gamble Company. Dr. Reeve regularly serves as a reviewer for several major journals and academic conferences, is currently on the editorial board for Journal of Management.

Cognitive Epidemiology

Dr. Reeve’s current research stems from a cognitive epidemiological framework which seeks to better elucidate the influence of intellectual capacities on individual and group differences in health-related beliefs, decision making, and behaviors, and health outcomes. Cognitive epidemiology emphasizes the incorporation of individual difference factors (particularly intellectual and personality) into the study of health to better disentangle the effects of intelligence and socioeconomic factors on health related outcomes. Most of his health-related research is conducted in conjunction with the multidisciplinary research group he runs with Drs. Amy Peterman, Virginia Gil-Rivas, and Jennifer Webb. For more information, please visit the Lab website ( .