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 grant-writing, small dogs, statistical tattoos, trading stock market derivatives, elegant hybrid trial designs, and the Cleveland Cavaliers (yes- even post-Lebron).
Brad Trager, Ph.D.
Brad (he/him) 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 and flipping houses.
Senior Research Associate & CampusGandr Project Manager
Reed (he/him) is a graduate from Loyola Marymount University with a B.A. in Psychology. He is responsible for managing the lab’s multi-site NIH-funded R01 study that is testing a gamified social norms-based alcohol intervention for first-year students. Aside from this project, he enjoys writing papers, programming complicated Qualtrics surveys, and facilitating an alcohol re-education course with LMU students. Reed plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and study the impact of cognitive risk and resilience factors (e.g., emotion regulation, threat sensitivity) on maladaptive outcomes such as anxiety, depression, and risky drinking among clinical and at-risk populations. Originally from Kailua, Hawaii, Reed loves to be in the outdoors, garden, brew kombucha, collect records, and go to concerts.
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Alexander (he/him) is a Junior Psychology major in his second 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.
Aidan Foucher (he/him) is a Sophomore pursuing a double major in Psychology and Philosophy. Aidan's prior work at Austin Clinical Trial Partners embedded in him an appreciation of behavioral and cognitive research. Born and raised in Austin, Texas he loves spending his free time outdoors hiking with friends, surfing, or reading a book.
Isabella (she/her) is a Sophomore Psychology major from Berkeley, CA. After undergrad, she hopes to obtain a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a focus on helping communities of color. In her free time, Isabella enjoys playing basketball and creating music.
Allie (she/her) is a Freshman Psychology major from San Francisco, CA. As an undergrad, she hopes to continue her studies in Psychology, while possibly adding on a Health and Society minor. In her free time, Allie enjoys working out and spending time in the sun.
from the HeadsUP Team
Do the effects of parent-based alcohol interventions depend on college residence? A short communication
Addictive Behaviors (2022)
A gamified personalized normative feedback app to reduce drinking among sexual minority women: Randomized controlled trial and feasibility study
Journal of Medical Internet Research (2022)
Integrating social media inspired features into a personalized normative feedback intervention combats social media-based alcohol influence
Drug and Alcohol Dependence (2021)
The prospective effects of parents’ and friends’ approval of drinking on simultaneous alcohol and marijuana use during college
Substance Use and Misuse (2021)
An examination of the prospective associations between objectively assessed exposure to alcohol-related Instagram content, alcohol-specific cognitions, and first-year college drinking
Addictive Behaviors (2021)
Evaluating non-response bias in a parent-based college alcohol intervention
Substance Use and Misuse (2022)
“Follow my Finsta”: Drinking trajectories in relation to auxiliary Instagram accounts
Journal of American College Health (2021)
Prospective relationships between objectively assessed social media use, drinking norms, and alcohol consumption among first-year students
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (2021)
Normative substance use antecedents among sexual minorities: A scoping review and synthesis
Psychology of Sexual Orientation &
Gender Diversity (2020)
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