Michael W. O'Hara, Ph.D.

Dr. O’Hara is Professor of Psychology and Starch Faculty Fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Iowa. Dr. O’Hara is the founder and the co-director of the Iowa Depression and Clinical Research Center with Dr. Scott Stuart. He is also the Director of Clinical Training for the department’s APA and PCSAS accredited clinical psychology program.

Dr. O’Hara received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Pittsburgh in 1980 under the mentorship of Lynn Rehm. He has spent his entire academic career beginning in 1980 at the University of Iowa. Over the years his research has addressed the validity of psychological models of depression in postpartum women, epidemiology of depression during pregnancy and the postpartum period, and environmental, psychological, social, and hormonal causes of postpartum depression, and treatment interventions for women with postpartum depression and depression during pregnancy. He has over 150 peer-reviewed articles, chapters and books  His most recent book with C. Steven Richards is Oxford Handbook of Depression and Comorbidity. Dr. O’Hara has served as the President of the Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health (1996-1998) and was awarded the Marcé Medal in 2002. He also has served as President of the Society for Research in Psychopathology (1998-1999). 

Scott Stuart, M.D. 

Dr. Stuart is a psychiatrist and a Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Iowa (USA). He also co-directs the Iowa Depression and Clinical Research Center with Dr. Michael O’Hara.

Dr. Stuart has been active in clinical work, education and research in the areas of Interpersonal Psychotherapy and perinatal psychiatry during the last two decades. Dr. Stuart completed his medical training at the University of Kansas, followed by internship at the University of Pittsburgh. He has received several teaching awards, including the John Clancy Teacher of the Year Award (Department of Psychiatry of the University of Iowa). He is the President and co-founder of the International Society of Interpersonal Psychotherapists and Director of the Interpersonal Psychotherapy Institute. He has also authored a number of articles on IPT, and is the co-author of Interpersonal Psychotherapy: A Clinician’s Guide.


Adjunct Faculty Fellow

Lisa Segre, Ph.D. 

Lisa Segre, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Iowa and an IDCRC faculty fellow.  Dr. Segre completed her graduate work at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, specializing in Community-Clinical Psychology under the mentorship of Drs. Edward Seidman and Julian Rappaport.  As the recipient of a NIMH Mentored Patient Oriented Research Career Development Award (K-23), with Dr. Michael O’Hara serving as her primary research mentor, Dr. Segre blended her training as a community psychologist with a new focus in the area perinatal mental health.  Dr. Segre’s current program of research thus focuses on the dissemination and evaluation of 1) maternal depression screening programs and (1) Listening Visits, a depression treatment developed for delivery by point-of-care health and social service providers.


Graduate Students

J. Austin Williamson

Austin was born in Des Moines, IA and was a Psychology major at Vanderbilt University. He and his wife Kelsey are new parents to their son Theo. Austin enjoys running and reading as well as good beer and barbecuing.

Austin is broadly interested in social support and depression and particularly in measurement issues related to understanding the interplay between those two constructs. He is interested both in the design of instruments that can more precisely capture important facets of depression and the social world and in emerging methods of data analysis that can lend new insights to the rich body of literature on that topic.

Austin has conducted diagnostic psychopathology interviews for the Flood study and Play study and Extensive life adversity interviews for the Flood study. Also with the Flood study, Austin has administered assessments of mothers' cognitive abilities and assessments of the cognitive and motor functioning of their children.


Jennifer E. McCabe

Jennifer is a doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology, studying at the University of Iowa under the direction of Dr. Michael O’Hara. As a graduate research assistant for the IDCRC, Jennifer has conducted diagnostic interviews for the Play Study and performed child assessments for the Iowa Flood Study.  

Jennifer completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology and History at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. After receiving her B.A., Jennifer worked at the University of Utah as a research coordinator on a project that examined stress and adaptation of adolescents with Type 1 diabetes. She began her graduate studies at the University of Iowa in 2008 and is currently working on her dissertation study.

Broadly speaking, Jennifer’s research pertains to the effects of maternal mental health on mother-child interactions and child development. During graduate school, her work has been in the domain of basic research identifying constructs that influence dysfunctional mother-child interactions. Her dissertation study examines the extent to which a pregnant woman’s ability to tolerate aversive emotions influences her ability to respond sensitively during future interactions with her infant. 



Rebecca Grekin

Rebecca is a doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Iowa under the supervision of Dr. Michael O’Hara.  She began her graduate studies in 2010 and is beginning her dissertation research.

Rebecca completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan in Sociology in 2007.  She later worked as a research assistant on a study that evaluated interventions for women and children exposed to severe intimate partner violence.

Rebecca’s research interests include the consequences of exposure to trauma on women’s mental and overall health.  More specifically she is interested in posttraumatic stress disorder in the postpartum period.  Clinically, Rebecca is interested in treating women experiencing significant life transitions such as motherhood, divorce, losses, and traumas. 


Michelle Miller

Michelle completed her undergraduate education at Purdue University and completed an Honors Thesis examining daily stress, emotional reactivity, and the internalizing and externalizing spectrums. After graduating from Purdue, Michelle worked for two years at the University of Illinois-Chicago in the Women’s Mental Health Program as a Project Coordinator of Research and Clinical Programs investigating perinatal depression. She is now entering her third year at the University of Iowa studying perinatal anxiety, depression, and trauma. 

Michelle is finishing up recruitment for a project investigating the onset and predictors of postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder. It is a longitudinal study where women are recruited from the maternity unit of UIHC and multiple predictors of perinatal anxiety are investigated during the first three months postpartum including social support, trauma, pregnancy risk behaviors, infant responsiveness, and past and current psychopathology. 


Emily Kroska

Emily Kroska is a third-year Clinical Psychology graduate student. She is currently working on several Acceptance and Commitment Therapy interventions. The first is a one-day (six-hour) intervention for at-risk adolescents at a local alternative high school. This study will examine the feasibility and effectiveness of a brief ACT intervention with this population. In addition, in the summer of 2014, she will be conducting a randomized controlled trial with adolescents who are participating in Upward Bound, a program focused on providing high school students with the skills and resources to attend college. The RCT will compare six hours of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to a  protocol focused exclusively on values identification and clarification. 

Current research assistants manage data collection across both of the aforementioned longitudinal studies as well as observing and coding the intervention sessions for fidelity. Research assistants will gain significant experience with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and will interact with the sample populations. 


Kristen G. Merkitch

Kristen G. Merkitch is a second-year graduate student in Clinical Psychology, studying at the University of Iowa under the direction of Michael W. O’Hara, Ph.D. As a graduate research assistant for the IDCRC, Kristen assists with an online MomMoodBooster intervention for veteran women suffering from postpartum depression.  

Kristen completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. During undergraduate, she conducted research in a Social Psychology lab under the direction of Patricia Devine, Ph.D. Kristen also worked as a teaching fellow for Introduction to Psychology and Child Psychology courses. After receiving her B.A., Kristen conducted research in Philadelphia at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania. At Temple, Kristen researched depression and bipolar disorder under the direction of Lauren B. Alloy, Ph.D. At Penn, she conducted positive psychology research under the direction of Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.

Broadly speaking, Kristen's research pertains to the development of depression in adolescent mothers and fathers, and generally utilizes secondary data analysis to answer these questions.


Graham Nelson

Graham graduated from Carleton College in 2011 with a degree in psychology. His senior thesis project examined the relationship between personality and stress-related growth following romantic relationship breakups. After graduating from Carleton, Graham spent two years as a research assistant at the University of Minnesota working on a project assessing the efficacy of a parenting intervention for families who had experienced military deployment. Graham also worked at a pediatric clinic as a psychometrist, conducting neuropsychological assessments with children ages 4-18.

As a research assistant in the ICDRC, Graham conducts child assessments as a part of the Iowa Flood Study. His research interests involve the connections between depression, interpersonal relationships (e.g. parent-child, romantic couples), and personality. Presently, Graham is conducting a research project about the relationships between a broad spectrum of internalizing symptoms, personality traits (e.g. attachment, five-factor model), and maladaptive ways in which individuals seek reassurance or negative feedback from others.


Jen Bayer

Jen studied psychology at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. After a few years in the computer industry, Jen returned to academia and got a Masters in nutrition and clinical health psychology from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. Knowing that she wanted her career to center largely on conducting research, teaching, and training therapists, Jen came to the University of Iowa to get a PhD in clinical health psychology.

Jen is interested in how mental health, lifestyle factors, and physical health are connected. She is also interested in how to optimize health behavior change and maintenance. Jen studies how yoga can influence the stress response and inflammatory processes at a biochemical level and work on a smoking cessation phone intervention for rural veterans.


Cara Solness

Cara received her B.Sc. in Genetics and Psychology in Canada. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the Counseling Psychology Program with a broad interest in women's mental health including depression and resilience for marginalized women. Her research interests focus on LGBT populations, specifically process and outcome in therapy. In the lab, Cara assists with research and data collection as well as working with the MomMoodBooster Program as a phone coach for veteran women in the perinatal period. Outside of school, Cara volunteers for a local domestic abuse shelter providing group facilitation and enjoys spending time supporting her kids at their sporting events, riding her horse, kayaking and occasionally getting to play ice hockey.




Madissyn Fredericks

Madissyn received her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and minor in Sociology at the University of Iowa in May 2014. As a research assistant for the IDCRC, Madissyn primarily does work for the Iowa Flood Study scheduling and conducting child assessments, and scoring and entering data. Madissyn also collects data at home visits for Jennifer McCabe’s dissertation study. Her research interests include adult and child mental health, interpersonal relationships, and social support systems during traumatic life experiences. Madissyn is applying this fall to attend graduate school to get her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology or her Doctorate of Psychology (PSY.D). Her long term goal is to become a licensed psychologist and open up her own private practice.


Jay Kayser

Jay received his Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Bachelors of Arts in Social Work from the University of Iowa in May 2014. While at the IDCRC, Jay worked as an RA on the ZIP Study, the IPT Fidelity Study, and The Play Study. After graduating, Jay continued to work on the ZIP Study. He is now in his first year of a Master of Social Work program at Washington University in St. Louis. His research interests include mental health conditions in later life, clinical interventions for delirium, depression, and dementia, and the comorbidity of mental health conditions and serious health problems. After graduating with his MSW, Jay plans on working in a hospital setting for several years before returning to school to pursue a Ph.D. in Social Work. 




Thomas Rigg

Tom is a junior from West Des Moines, Iowa majoring in Psychology and Informatics and minoring in Human Relations. In the lab he is working on the Play Study, helping Rebecca Grekin with her dissertation, and looking to do an honors thesis in Psychology. His research interests include ACT, personality, and positive psychology. In the future Tom is looking to apply to Counseling PhD programs in order to become a licensed counselor and one day own a private counseling practice.


Zachary Gorman

Zach is junior from New Hampton, Iowa majoring in Human Physiology and Psychology. His greatest interest in psychology is in a clinical setting, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder occurring with returning veterans. Zach is currently helping with the Iowa Flood Study by assisting on child assessments and data entry. In the coming years he is planning to attend a medical school and specialize in psychiatry or rural medicine. He hopes to eventually return to a small town in Iowa help those in need.


Jacqueline Watkins

Jacqueline is a fourth year Psychology Major with a Minor in Human Relations. Her interests lie in Clinical Social Work & Policy, and her lab work includes the editing and duplication of a tape library. Jacqueline hopes to achieve an MSW in Social Work. She enjoys traveling and learning about history.


Sarah Berte

Sarah is a senior from a rural North-West Iowa town majoring in psychology, minoring in social work and human relations. She currently works on Jennifer McCabe's dissertation project. Sarah is applying to Master of Social Work schools this fall with interests in mental health, substance abuse, and trauma. In the future, she hopes to become licensed as a clinical social worker.


Jacqueline Bannon

Jacqueline is a senior from Chicago, IL and is pursuing her bachelor's degree in Nursing with a Global Health Studies minor.  She is a scholar funded by the Iowa Biosciences Advantage (IBA) program, and is working with Jennifer McCabe on her dissertation project. Jacqueline's research interests include maternal and child heath, domestic violence, and global health. She plans to apply to Ph.D. programs in Nursing after she receives her BSN in December of 2015. 


Breanna Williams

Breanna is a sophomore from Johnston, Iowa. She is working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a minor in French. Her research interests include depression, trauma and their links. In the lab she is currently helping Michelle Miller on her projects and intends to create an honors thesis in Psychology later on in her studies. In the future she hopes to go on to graduate school and earn her Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Ultimately, she aspires to own a private practice and help those in need.


Elaine Schultz

Elaine is currently a Senior at the University, graduating in the spring of 2015. She is a Psychology major, minoring in Human Relations. Elaine is interested in reserach on personality changes, and is currently part of the Play research study and the postpartum couples' study. Elaine plans on going to graduate school to attain her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, following a clinical neuropsychology track.


Contact the IDCRC Staff:


Telephone 319-335-0307
Fax (319) 335-0991