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  • Washington and Lee University, BS in Biochemistry and BA in Psychology, 2018
  • Virginia Commonwealth University, MS in Developmental Psychology, 2020

Research Interests

Genetic and environmental predictors of alcohol misuse and suicidal behavior

Research Description

Driven by my joint background in biochemistry and developmental psychology, I am interested in uniting molecular genetic data with phenotypic data on individuals’ relationships with their parents, siblings, peers, and romantic partners to investigate how genetic liability and environmental risk factors come together to engender alcohol problems and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. I have experience working with longitudinal, observational studies (e.g., the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health), family-based studies (e.g., the Finnish Twin studies), and data from the Swedish national registries. My work employs a range of statistical methods, including structural equation modeling, polygenic risk scoring, growth curve modeling, and the co-relative model.


Research Society on Alcoholism Graduate Student Small Grant (2021-2022)

Selected Publications

Edwards, A. C., Ohlsson, H., Lannoy, S., Stephenson, M., Crump, C., Sundquist, J., Sundquist, K., & Kendler, K. S. (2021). Shared genetic and environmental etiology between substance use disorders and suicidal behavior. Psychological Medicine. doi:10.1017/S0033291721004256

Stephenson, M., Barr, P., Aliev, F., Ksinan, A., Latvala, A., Vuoksimaa, E., Viken, R., Rose, R. J., Kaprio, J., Dick, D., & Salvatore, J. E. (2021). Predicting alcohol dependence symptoms by young adulthood: A co-twin comparisons study. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 24(4), 204-216. doi:10.1017/thg.2021.36

Stephenson, M.*, Bollepalli, S.*, Cazaly, E.*, Salvatore, J. E., Barr, P., Rose, R. J., Dick, D., Kaprio, J., & Ollikainen, M. (2021). Associations of alcohol consumption with epigenome-wide DNA methylation and epigenetic age acceleration: Individual-level and co-twin comparison analyses. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 45(2), 318-328. doi:10.1111/acer.14528
*shared first author

Stephenson, M. E., Larsson Lönn, S., Salvatore, J. E., Sundquist, J., Kendler, K. S., Sundquist, K., & Edwards, A. C. (2021). Sibling diagnosis with alcohol use disorder is associated with increased risk for suicide attempt. Clinical Psychological Science. doi:10.1177/21677026211025041

Bourdon, J. L., Tillman, R., Francis, M. W., Dick, D. M., Stephenson, M., Kamarajan, C., Edenberg, H. J., Kramer, J., Kuperman, S., Bucholz, K. K., & McCutcheon, V. V. (2020). Characterization of service use for alcohol problems across generations and sex in adults with alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 44(3), 746-757. doi:10.1111/acer.14290

Salvatore, J. E., Barr, P. B., Stephenson, M., Aliev, F., I-Chun Kuo, S., Su, J., Agrawal, A., Almasy, L., Bierut, L., Bucholz, K., Chan, G., Edenberg, H. J., Johnson, E. C., McCutcheon, V. V., Meyers, J. L., Schuckit, M., Tischfield, J., Wetherill, L., & Dick, D. M. (2020). Sibling comparisons elucidate the associations between educational attainment polygenic scores and alcohol, nicotine, and cannabis. Addiction, 115(2), 337-346. doi:10.1111/add.14815

Stephenson, M., Barr, P., Ksinan, A., Aliev, F., Latvala, A., Viken, R., Rose, R., Kaprio, J., Dick, D., & Salvatore, J. E. (2020). Which adolescent factors predict alcohol misuse in young adulthood? A co-twin comparisons study. Addiction, 115(5), 877-887. doi:10.1111/add.14888