Principal Investigator

Catharine E. Fairbairn, Principal Investigator

cfairbai Dr. Fairbairn earned her Ph.D. in clinical and health psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015. She began working with individuals with alcohol problems in 2004 in New York City, and has since been consistently working to build the understanding of addictions through her research and applied work at major research institutions across the country and around the world. She is currently an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research takes a multi-method approach to exploring the role of basic social and affective processes in alcohol use.

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Graduate Students

Talia Ariss, Graduate Student

Talia Ariss (1)Talia received her B.A. in psychology from the American University of Beirut and an MA in Psychology in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research interests focus on investigating the interplay between one’s emotions, cognition, and social interactions as they relate to substance misuse. Specifically, she is interested in looking at the factors that increase one’s likelihood of developing of a substance use disorder. Outside the lab, Talia enjoys drawing and reading about nineteenth century European art.

Dani Kang, Graduate Student


Dani received her B.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017. She joined the lab since Fall 2015. Dani is broadly interested in identifying socio-contextual factors that might contribute to understanding how alcohol and substance use might become a problem for some people. Specifically, she is mainly interested in employing electroencephalogram methods to the lab’s alcohol administration paradigm to investigate the effects of alcohol on individuals in social contexts. In her spare time, Dani enjoys traveling, swimming, as well as baking desserts!

Walter James Venerable, III, Graduate Student

1Walter received his B.S. in Psychology from Arizona State University. His research interests are focused on alcohol’s role in human sexual interactions. Specifically, alcohol’s role in the perception of sexual cues or romantic interest that may lead to the initiation of sexual behaviors. Walter is interested in using this research to make informed improvements to sexual assault awareness and prevention efforts. Outside of lab Walter enjoys hiking through nature, watching educational documentaries, and participating in massive multiplayer online video game communities.


Brynne Velia, Post-baccalaureate Research Coordinator

20170802_171831Brynne graduated with her B.S. in Psychology from Stony Brook University in May of 2017. She is interested in how substance abuse manifests itself differently across populations and how behaviors associated with substance abuse are perceived differently depending on the social context. Specifically, she hopes to better understand how predispositions and environmental factors, like belonging to social groups that are more likely to abuse substances (e.g., the LGBTQ community), interplay to lead to the differential development of substance abuse. She is interested in how a better understanding of the role of these factors in the development of substance abuse could inform treatment courses that could be catered to the individual and eliminate stigmas, allowing substance abuse to be conceptualized as a mental illness by the community at large. Outside of the lab she enjoys hiking, singing/playing ukulele, and line dancing.

Jack Fredricks, Post-baccalaureate Project Manager

jack jackJack received his B.A. in psychology from Rutgers University – Newark in 2017. His previous research at Rutgers concerned how feedback expectancy influences ability to learn in young children. His current research interests include effective treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the interplay between substance use disorders and PTSD. Outside of the lab, Jack enjoys traveling, hiking, and playing video games.


Undergraduate Research Assistants