WHAT WE DO
HeadsUP develops innovative, theory-driven, cutting edge solutions to better understand normative antecedents of alcohol and other drug use in high-risk populations & digitally intervene to reduce risks among young adults, college students, and sexual minorities.
HOW WE DO IT
We're passionate about leveraging popular social media features and game mechanics in culturally tailored mHealth interventions in order to increase appeal and efficacy.
We're also applying machine learning to better understand how alcohol use is portrayed and potentially influences college students alcohol-related cognitions (norms, expectancies) on popular social media sites.
Formative research and intervention development in our lab commonly draw upon social norms, self-determination, and self-categorization theories
MEET THE TEAM
Joseph W. LaBrie, PhD
Founder & Co-Director
Joe (he/him) is a professor of psychology and a nationally recognized scholar in the domains of college student development and social norms based-health promotion. Much of his research has focused on increasing the efficacy and scalability of normative feedback student and parent-based alcohol interventions through the development of technologically advanced, interactive intervention formats for individuals and groups. In addition to this work, Dr. LaBrie has published a number of oft-cited papers investigating hot button issues on college campuses including pre-partying/pre-gaming, cannabis use, hook-up culture, social media-related influences on substance use, intervention gamification, and helicopter parenting. A community leader and former Jesuit priest, Joe holds a doctorate in clinical psychology as well as masters degrees in mathematics and theology. He is also the recipient of multiple federal research grants and numerous awards, including the American Psychological Associations Early Career Research Award and two LMU faculty awards, the Rains Award for Research Excellence and the Extramural Funding Award. In his spare time Joe enjoys international travel, entertaining, and walking around his favorite Los Angeles neighborhoods.
Google Scholar Profile
Sarah C. Boyle, PhD
Research Scientist & Co-Director
Sarah (she/her) is an Applied Social Psychologist who studies relationships between social media use, perceptions of peer norms, and health-risk behaviors including alcohol and other drug use among college students and sexual minority adults. With the goal of designing far-reaching and scalable substance use interventions that have real appeal to members of target communities, her work aims to integrate popular social media features and digital game mechanics into culturally tailored, web- and smartphone-based interventions. Currently, Sarah is examining the efficacy of a novel, gamified, social media inspired personalized normative feedback alcohol intervention for lesbian, bisexual, and queer women and digging into nuanced relationships between stigma-related stress, perceptions of drinking norms, and alcohol use in this population. A native of Cleveland, OH, and former basketball player, Sarah is a huge fan of working out, grant-writing, small dogs, statistical tattoos, elegant hybrid trial designs, and the Cleveland Cavaliers (yes- even post-Lebron).
Brad Trager, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Brad (he/him) is a postdoctoral fellow who recently received his Ph.D. in Biobehavioral Health from Penn State. His research interests include the study of alcohol use and related consequences, socio-cognitive influences of health, and risky decision making. An overarching goal of his research is to inform the development of cost-effective, mobile intervention programs aimed at reducing risky alcohol use in adolescent and emerging adult populations. Brad is currently working on two NIH funded intervention projects: (1) a feasibility study for a PNF intervention app for parents of incoming college students; and (2) an effectiveness trial for a gamified PNF for first-year students. Born in Montreal, QC, and raised in Boca Raton, FL, Brad is a research junky who enjoys gaming, playing racquetball, golfing, and watching Netflix.
Eason (he/him) is a graduate of Belmont University with a B.S. in Psychology. While his previous academic and professional work has been broad in scope, he has a primary interest in designing effective treatments and interventions to best help serve the needs of sensitive populations. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in the coming years, through which he hopes to utilize research to develop more effective ways to conduct clinical practice. Originally hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, Eason is an avid musician, video game enthusiast, lover of the LA food scene, and a passionate supporter of his favorite soccer team (Tottenham Hotspur)!
Reed (he/him) is a recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University with a B.A. in Psychology. With previous research experience in both clinical and cognitive psychology he has broad research interests, including the cognitive underpinnings in the development of mental disorders, particularly anxiety disorders and OCD. Reed plans to get his Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and eventually have a career that involves both research and clinical practice. Originally from Kailua, Hawaii, Reed loves to be in the outdoors, garden, and listen to music.
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Griffin (he/him) is a Sophomore Psychology and Economics (B.S.) double major with a minor in The Classics and Archaeology. His goal is to get a Doctorate in Cognitive-Behavioral Psychology and do research of his own. From Roseville, CA, Griffin loves reading, games, being outside, and learning about obscure topics.
Alexander (he/him) is a Sophomore Psychology major in his first year as a Heads UP! research assistant. Following graduation, he hopes to pursue a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Alexander is from Lodi, CA and enjoys playing water polo, visiting Disneyland, and watching anime.
Sebastian Baez is a Junior Psychology major on the Pre-Med track. He aspires to become a neurosurgeon and hopes to attend medical school following graduation. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sebastian enjoys spending time with friends, going to the beach, watching movies, and listening to music.
from the HeadsUP Team
Addictive Behaviors (2021)
Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly (2020)
JMIR Research Protocols (2021)
Normative antecedents to substance use among sexual minorities: A scoping review
Psychology of Sexual Orientation &
Gender Diversity (2020)
Leveraging copresence to increase the effectiveness of gamified personalized normative feedback
Addictive Behaviors (2019)
Heavy episodic drinking is associated with poorer bone health in adolescent and young adult women
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (2018)
How exposure to peers' alcohol-related social media content influences drinking among male and female first-year college students.
Addictive Behaviors (2017)
Increasing chance-based uncertainty reduces heavy drinkers’ cognitive reactance to web-based personalized normative feedback
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (2018)
A parent-based intervention reduces heavy episodic drinking among first-year college students
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors (2016)
In pursuit of a self-sustaining college alcohol intervention: Deploying gamified PNF in the real world
Addictive Behaviors (2018)
Perceptions of LGB peers' use of alcohol and other drugs to cope and sexual minority adults' own coping motivated substance use following the Pulse nightclub shooting
American Journal of College Health (2019)
IN THE NEWS
Media coverage of HeadsUP Research
U.S. News & World Report
The glamorization of alcohol on social media can lead to underage alcohol abuse
‘Safe’ teen drinking? Here’s why parents shouldn’t facilitate it
The Washington Post
The Huffington Post
Here Are All The Drinking Games Being Played On College Campuses
with research inquiries and collaboration opportunities
Department of Psychology
University Hall, Suite 4711
1 LMU Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90045