Featured Faculty: Katie Bountress, Ph.D.

Katie Bountress, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at VCU. Her interests in molecular and behavioral genetics are expanding daily, as her primary discipline is psychology. She recalls learning in a class while a Ph.D. student at Arizona State University that there is not a lot known about the underlying risk factors for peer deviance and substance use. Thus, she taught herself this literature while writing her (successful) F31 grant and comprehensive exams. Dr. Bountress is excited to be here at VIPBG to gain additional training in psychiatric genetics as part of her K01 award. Specifically, she is now studying the genetic and environmental influences of trauma-related outcomes (i.e., post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and substance misuse) and how those processes change across development.

Now for the lightning round of questions!

Where is your favorite place to work?

Variety is key. I work from home one day a week and sometimes go to a coffee shop on that day or part of another afternoon. I’m an early morning person so sometimes it is best for me to just get in the office first thing and start working.

What is your favorite 90’s jam?

“California” by Tupac because all of my friends are from California and Arizona, so it’s nostalgic for me.

What advice would you give to someone from outside of the field of behavioral genetics who wants to learn more about it (like you)?

Becoming fluent in something that is a second academic love/passion after spending years in your original field is hard. You need to decide if that’s an interest that you really want to develop. If it is, then be at an institution like VIPBG or Boulder, where you can work with experts in the field day in and day out. Develop those skills. It’s difficult to become an expert, or even a proficient consumer, piecemealing it together.

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”

Mark Twain

Outside of work, Dr. Bountress likes to travel, cook, exercise, and spend time with her two dogs. She is currently training for her first 10k and often exercises with her dogs by taking them down to the River. Ever the avid animal lover, she recounts when she “went to donate food to an adoption center and left with a dog.


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