The Colby Emotion and Mood Lab integrates theories and methods of basic emotion research and clinical psychology to further our understanding of the impact of stress and interpersonal functioning on emotional reactivity and mood disorders. Our research primarily focuses on depression during the transition to young adulthood, while also examining basic emotion processes in healthy individuals. One question of interest to our lab involves the pattern of stress generation exhibited by many individuals with recurrent depression. What personality factors, social skills, or cognitive patterns contribute to the generation of negative life events and chronic stress in previously depressed individuals? How do these factors impact the experience of significant life transitions, such as the transition to college? Our lab utilizes a variety of research methods, including ecological momentary assessment, psychophysiological measurement, interpersonal laboratory tasks, quantitative self-report measures, and genetic models.

Current research projects in the Emotion and Mood Lab include 1) the use of experience sampling methods to identify patterns of interpersonal stress, social problem-solving strategies, and depression in young adults, 2) comparison of strategies to regulate anger, and 3) identification of the factors that contribute to and interfere with social belonging on a college campus.

For a more detailed description of current projects, select this link.

Selected Publications

(click on titles for PDFs)

* denotes Colby College student/alumnus author

Rabasco, A. N.*, & Sheets, E. S. (in press). The effects of face-to-face and online social stress on emotion identification. Modern Psychological Studies.

Sheets, E. S., Bujarski, S., Leventhal, A. M., & Ray, L. A. (2015). Emotion differentiation and intensity during acute tobacco abstinence: A comparison of heavy and light smokers. Addictive Behaviors, 47, 70-73. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.03.024

Sheets, E. S., & Craighead, W. E. (2014). Comparing chronic interpersonal and noninterpersonal stress domains as predictors of depression recurrence in emerging adults. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 63, 36-42. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2014.09.001

Sheets, E. S., & Kraines, M.* (2014). Personality disorder traits as a moderator of poor social problem-solving skills and depressive symptoms. Journal of Individual Differences, 35(2), 103-110. doi: 10.1027/1614-0001/a000132

In the News

What’s On Your Mind? Colby Magazine, Summer 2013.

Erin Sheets

Lab Director, Associate Professor of Psychology

erin3

I received my A.B. in Psychology and Spanish from Duke University in 2001. I then attended graduate school at the University of Colorado at Boulder, completing my M.A. in 2004 and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2008. After completing a predoctoral internship in adult clinical psychology at Brown University, I received specialized training as a postdoctoral fellow in mood disorders and perinatal mental health at Brown University and Butler Hospital. I joined the faculty of Colby College in Fall 2010.

My primary line of research focuses on the interplay of personality and stress on the course of depression, particularly during emerging adulthood (ages 18 – 29). I also have expanded this to a second line of research examining interpersonally-relevant emotion regulation skills in nonclinical samples. I utilize a variety of research methods to examine these topics, including ecological momentary assessment, psychophysiological measurement, interpersonal laboratory tasks, quantitative self-report measures, and genetic models. Overall, my work identifies particular behaviors and skills deficits that may disrupt interpersonal relationships, increase negative affect, and lead to the onset of depression. I aim for this research to inform future, interpersonally-based depression prevention efforts.

 

Research Assistants

 Celine El-Abboud

Celine El-Abboud ’18

I am a senior from Hanover, Massachusetts majoring in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience. I am interested in learning more about social belonging on a college campus. After graduating from Colby I would like to pursue a career in clinical neuropsychology. Also, I am a CCAK mentor and like to hang out with my friends, knit, and ride my bike in my free time.

Robbi Melvin

Robbi Melvin ’18

​I am a senior from Toronto, Ontario majoring in psychology. I am particularly interested in social belonging and depression in young adults. In the future I hope to pursue a career in clinical psychology, as well as work to end stigma around mental illness. I am a member of the crew team at Colby and enjoy playing basketball, hanging out with my roommates and sleeping in my free time.

Mahal Alvarez-Backus

Mahal Alvarez-Backus ’19

I am a junior from Massachusetts. I’m a Psychology major and a Human Development minor. I am interested in treating, diagnosing, and researching effective treatment options for mental health. I would like to pursue a career in clinical developmental psychology. I am a member of the Colby Cross-Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Track teams. I am also a Community Advisor, a member of the food recovery committee, and I volunteer in local classrooms. In my free time I like to read, watch animal documentaries, and hike.

Cari Daniels

Cari Daniels ’19

I am a junior from Newton, Massachusetts. I am a psychology major with a neuroscience concentration and am also Pre-Med. I am interested in learning more about how mental illnesses affect children and young adults. After Colby I plan to go to medical school to pursue a career as a doctor. I am also a CCAK mentor and a member of the Colby Crew team. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends, reading, and playing tennis.

Nathan Huebschmann

Nathan Huebschmann ’19

I am a junior from Lynnfield, Massachusetts majoring in Psychology and also studying on the Pre-Health track at Colby. Within the field of Psychology, I am particularly interested in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses, namely anxiety disorders. I am hoping to go to medical school in the future and pursue a career as a doctor, possibly within the field of psychiatry. I am a member of the men’s rugby team at Colby and enjoy working out, playing the guitar, and hanging out with my friends in my free time.

 SJ Sahagun

SJ Sahagun ’20

I am a sophomore from Santa Clarita, California majoring in Psychology with a Neuroscience concentration. I am interested in the underlying biological causes of mental illnesses, particularly depression and anxiety. I am also hoping to attend medical school after Colby. On campus, I am a CCAK mentor and a member of club volleyball and CER. In my free time, I like to go rock climbing, hiking, and hanging out with my friends.

 

Lab Alumni

 Morganne Kraines

Morganne Kraines,’11

Morganne Kraines is currently attending the Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology at Oklahoma State University. Expanding on interests developed in her work with Dr. Sheets and in her research assistant position at Brown University, Morganne’s research focuses on the interpersonal, cognitive, and genetic risk factors for depression.

 Jess Blais

Jessica Blais,’12

Jessica Blais is currently attending the MS/CAGS program in School Psychology at Northeastern University. Additionally, she is continuing her role as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Center for Human Genetic Research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She assists with a longitudinal study exploring the genetic influences on cognition in youth referred for neuropsychiatric evaluation.

 Stephanie Sienkiewicz

Stephanie (LaRose) Sienkiewicz,’12

Stephanie Sienkiewicz is attending the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program at Boston College. She earned a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Boston College in 2014, and she plans to focus her research on the ways in which gender identity and norms influence interpersonal, relational, and physical health in children and adults.

Kira Novak

Kira Novak,’12

 Shelley Kind

Shelley Kind,’13

Shelley Kind is attending the Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology at Suffolk University. She earned a Master of Science through the program in 2017. Her varied experiences this year include working with homeless veterans at VA Bedford, seeing patients with anxiety disorders through a private practice, and working with patients with HIV, chronic pain, and depressed mood in a research study at Boston Medical Center.

 Mariah Smith-Dutton

Mariah Smith-Dutton,’13

 

Rhiannon Archer

Rhiannon Archer,’14

 

Kelsey Park,’14

Kelsey Park is the Community Partnerships Coordinator at the Restorative Justice Institute of Maine. She coaches restorative justice facilitators in Androscoggin, Penobscot, and Aroostook counties as well as support training and technical assistance for organizations to incorporate restorative practices into their programming.

Monica Li

Monica Li,’15

Anna Rabasco

Ana Rabasco,’15

Ana Rabasco is currently attending the Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology at Fordham University. Her research interests involve the causes of suicidal thoughts and behaviors and how non-suicidal self-injury relates to suicidality.

Jared Scharf

Jared Scharf,’15

Meredith Zakon

Meredith Zakon ’15

Meredith Zakon is attending the Tufts University School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program.

Anna Herling

Anna Herling, ’16

Anna Herling is working as a technician at Maine Eye Center for an ophthalmologist who specializes in glaucoma and cataract surgery. In this position, she collects patient histories, performs patient work ups, and assists with minor ocular procedures. Anna will soon apply for Physician Assistant school, to begin training in Fall 2019.

Misha Strage

Misha Strage ’16

Misha Strage is head research assistant at the National Center for PTSD at the Boston Veterans Affairs Hospital. Misha also has become involved in running programs that support service members and trauma survivors. She ran the Boston Marathon in 2017 to raise money for Stepping Strong, the Marine Corps Marathon for the Semper Fi Fund, and will run the London Marathon in 2018 for Team Combat Stress. She also is a running guide through Achilles International, which helps guide visually impaired and disabled runners.

Mollie Rich

Mollie Rich ’17

2017

Mollie and Mahal present a poster on rumination and social belonging in first-generation and continuing generation college students at the Society for Affective Science conference, April 2017.
Mollie and Mahal present a poster on rumination and social belonging in first-generation and continuing generation college students at the Society for Affective Science conference, April 2017.

2015

Monica and Meredith present a poster on anger regulation at the Society for Affective Science conference, April 2015.
Monica and Meredith present a poster on anger regulation at the Society for Affective Science conference, April 2015.
Anna presents a poster on an online version of the Trier Social Stress Test at the Society for Affective Science conference, April 2015.
Anna presents a poster on an online version of the Trier Social Stress Test at the Society for Affective Science conference, April 2015.

2013

Shelley and Erin present a poster on social problem-solving in depressed and non-depressed emerging adults at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies convention, November 2013.
Shelley and Erin present a poster on social problem-solving in depressed and non-depressed emerging adults at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies convention, November 2013.
Kelsey and Anna at the Waterville Farmers' Market before our end of summer lab dinner.
Kelsey and Anna at the Waterville Farmers’ Market for our end of summer lab dinner.
Anna Rabasco and Kelsey Park present research on barriers to social belonging the Colby Undergraduate Summer Research Retreat.
Anna Rabasco and Kelsey Park present research on barriers to social belonging at the Colby Undergraduate Summer Research Retreat, July 2013.
Kelsey Park, Rhiannon Archer, Mariah Smith, Monica Li, Shelley Kind, and Meredith Zakon at the spring lab dinner, May 2013.
Kelsey Park, Rhiannon Archer, Mariah Smith, Monica Li, Shelley Kind, and Meredith Zakon at our spring lab dinner, May 2013.

Kelsey Park presents social media and emotion processing research at the Colby Undergraduate Research Symposium, April 2013.

Kelsey Park presents social media and emotion processing research at the Colby Undergraduate Research Symposium, April 2013.

2012

Erin and Steph LaRose celebrate her honors research and graduation.
Erin and Steph LaRose celebrate her honors research and graduation, May 2012.
Steph LaRose, Kira Novak, Jess Blais, and Rhiannon Archer - all coding superstars - at our spring lab dinner.
Steph LaRose, Kira Novak, Jess Blais, and Rhiannon Archer – all coding superstars – at our spring lab dinner, May 2012.

2011

Morganne Kraines, the lab's first research assistant, and Erin at her graduation.
Morganne Kraines, the first Emotion and Mood Lab research assistant, and Erin during Morganne’s graduation weekend, May 2011.