For Prospective Graduate Students

Fall 2023 update… I do not plan to accept a new student for fall 2024.


Thank you for your interest in our Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program and my lab!  I do not plan to accept a new graduate student for the 2023-24 admissions cycle. Nevertheless, this page contains important information if you are considering applying to our graduate program (to work with a different faculty member), or if you are thinking of applying in a future year.

Our lab studies the nature and treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and other anxiety-related problems, and you can read more about our work on the various pages of this website.


Here are some questions about the graduate admissions process that I’ve been asked most frequently over the years. I’d love to hear from you, but before you email me please read this information carefully as it might answer some of your questions before you reach out to me or submit your application:

1. Can I list your name as my graduate mentor?

When applying to our Ph.D. program, prospective students apply to work with a specific faculty member(s) who becomes their advisor/research mentor. There is a spot on the application where you can list one or more mentors of interest. That’s where you should list my name (if I am accepting a student this particular year) if you are interested in working in my lab and would like for me to review your application.

2. What are you looking for in a prospective student? How do you make admissions decisions?

Qualifications of applicants.

Strong applicants to my lab:

  1. are enthusiastic about one or more research and clinical areas that we study our lab,
  2. have completed a BA/BS degree in psychology (i.e., graduated with a major in psychology) with a strong academic record.
  3. are well-versed in current conceptual models of OCD/anxiety disorders,
  4. have research experience in OCD/anxiety/related fields, ideally through a full-time post-bac research assistant/study coordinator position, and
  5. are excellent team players who are also emotionally mature, creative, flexible, good critical thinkers, and don’t take themselves too seriously.


It is extremely rare to be admitted to our PhD program, and especially to my lab, directly out of college (even if you are doing an honors thesis or working in a lab as an undergraduate volunteer). For example, more than 95% of my graduate students have a few years of post-bac research experience after graduating college and before they apply to our program. To learn more about post-bac research positions, please check out this webinar produced by two of my former students.

***To put it more clearly, if you are currently a senior in college (or if you do not currently have the relevant research experience) I advise you to get 2 years of experience working as a post-bac research assistant or study coordinator in a lab that studies anxiety/OCD before applying to work with me.  This will make you a much more competitive applicant.***

Please also note that our program emphasizes clinical psychological science. This means that your research experience will be given more weight than previous clinical experience when reviewing applications.​


The review process.

Our admissions committee considers an applicant’s match and experience in the faculty member’s area of research as highly important when evaluating applications. Our holistic review process includes reviewing personal statements, letters of recommendation, CVs, transcripts, and other submitted materials (we do not consider GRE scores at this time).

After conducting a holistic review of all applications, I will contact selected applicants to begin the first-round “unofficial” interview process. These unofficial phone/Zoom interviews with a longer list of candidates will provide the opportunity for applicants to meet with me and one or more of my lab members/graduate students. A smaller number of applicants will later be invited for official interview visits at UNC (online or in-person, to be determined), where they will have the opportunity to meet with various faculty and students in our program.

Although I will be the primary person reviewing applications that list me as a potential mentor, the ultimate decision about whom to invite for official interview visits (and final admissions decisions) is made collectively by our program faculty.

3. “Can we meet by phone/Zoom before I submit my application?” “Can you review my materials in advance and let me know if I’m a strong candidate?”

​Our program waits until after applications are due to review applicants’ materials. After conducting a holistic review of all applications, I will contact selected applicants to begin the initial interview process (see above).

I won’t be scheduling phone/Zoom calls with applicants before the interview stage. Although I love speaking with prospective students, it wouldn’t be possible for me to meet with all applicants to the lab or to review all applicants’ materials in advance. This decision maximizes equity and transparency, while also allowing me to focus on mentoring my current students.

My current doctoral students have also decided not to speak by phone/Zoom with prospective applicants who contact them before the formal review process. Because they will be involved in the admissions process, having conversations in advance with some applicants could create inequities. However, if you are invited for an official interview, you will have lots of time to meet with my graduate students and discuss your questions about the lab, my mentoring style, UNC, and the Chapel Hill area!

4. Where do you see your research going over the next few years?

Our lab has multiple ongoing research projects and we’re always developing new projects and collaborations, which keeps things exciting! Check out our Current Projects page to learn more about our current work and our recent publications to see the kinds of journal articles I and my students are publishing. We try to keep these very updated.

Over the next few years, I anticipate continuing to focus on the psychopathology and treatment of anxiety and OCD. As a new student, you would be getting involved in this ongoing work, but also you would be encouraged to begin your own line of research.

5. Can you tell me about your mentorship style?

Mentoring students and trainees is one of the greatest privileges and joys of my career! I strive to foster an inclusive, warm, and collaborative research lab… and I think we’re very successful!

I meet with my graduate students every week, both individually and as a group. Using a developmental mentorship model, I provide more scaffolding at the beginning of our mentoring relationship, with increasing independence over time.

I aim to help trainees identify what they are most interested in (which usually evolves over time) and what the dream career path would look like for them (whether that’s in academia or not), rather than imposing my own interests. I encourage students to chart their own path, with collaborations with other students and faculty outside of the lab.

I have a healthy work/life balance and I encourage students to do the same (while in graduate school and beyond). Accordingly, I am very respectful of your time and will not bother you on your own time. I aim to model self-care, humility, and a healthy dose of skepticism and laughter about the field of psychology and about academia itself.