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Featured Student: Elizabeth Long

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Elizabeth Long is a student in the Psychiatric, Behavioral, and Statistical Genetics (PBSG) PhD program. Her interest in psychiatric genetics began as an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh. While she has always been interested in psychology and individual differences, she became fascinated by the study of underlying biological influences on behavior when she took a class, “Drugs and Behavior.” Upon graduation, she obtained a full-time position as a research specialist working for a research program that examined relationships among adolescent brain development, executive functioning, and substance use disorders. After several years, she knew she needed to further her education to pursue her research interests at a higher level. She was torn between research-intensive PhD programs and clinical-focused programs, and therefore decided to pursue a master’s degree in clinical and counseling psychology. There, she learned that her true passion was research, and after graduation, she began her doctoral training in the PBSG program.

Elizabeth’s current research interests primarily involve adolescent alcohol use and alcohol use disorders. She is also interested in child and adolescent psychopathology, and how environmental influences, such as parenting, peer groups, and resiliency, affect risk. The aim of her dissertation is two-fold. The first aim focuses on exploring the underlying nature of latent genetic and environmental factors to determine how they influence changes in adolescent alcohol use over time. The second aim is to determine the moderating role of parental monitoring and peer group deviance on the impact of polygenic risk for alcohol use at multiple time points. Finally, given her clinical background, she helped to create the Translational Partnership for Mental Health (TPMH) with Jessica Bourdon. The TPMH is a student-led organization that aims to form collaborations with the goal of discussing ways to bridge the gaps between research, policy, and practice.

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca, Roman philosopher

When she is not working, Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her fiancé and her dog. She also enjoys hiking, the beach, and watching the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Article by Elizabeth Long.

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