United States Department of Defense
What does your research focus on?
I conduct population-level longitudinal mental and behavioral health research studies for the United States Air Force. The focus of my research is on identifying early predictors of risk and resilience for outcomes ranging from the development of specific psychological disorders to suicidality. I’m particularly interested in examining the impact of early screening and intervention on the sequelae of traumatic exposure.
What drew you to this line of research and why is it exciting to you?
As a psychology intern at the Miami VA and later as a postdoctoral fellow at the San Diego VA, I observed firsthand the critical importance of early mental health intervention with military service members, and was confronted with the tremendous suffering that occurs when these problems go unaddressed for years or even decades, as is still too often the case. I love working with Veterans, but I was convinced that I could have a greater impact by engaging in operational research with the opportunity to influence military mental health policy with sound scientific practice. One of the most exciting aspects of this research is that the results have direct, practical, and often profound implications for the well-being of many people.
Who were/are your mentors or scientific influences?
I’ve been fortunate to work with so many great scientists over the years, including my graduate school advisor at Duke, Dr. Thomas Lynch, and my post-doctoral supervisor at the San Diego VA, Dr. Sonya Norman. Without question, though, the greatest influence on my research was Dr. Eli Flyer. Dr. Flyer was 88 years old when he recruited me to work with his research team in Monterey, California. He introduced me to the world of military psychology and shared his more than 60 years of experience with me. In the three years that I worked with Dr. Flyer, I learned more about the history of military screening and accession policy than I could have ever imagined. Dr. Flyer helped me to navigate the intricacies of military research, and to understand the cyclical nature of many of the problems that we face.
What’s your future research agenda?
I’m currently the principal investigator on two large Air Force studies. The first study examines clinical decision-making and long-term operational outcomes for trainees who report or display signs of psychological or behavioral problems during basic military training. The second study is an evaluation of the impact on later functioning of a post-deployment resilience program for Airmen who experience highly stressful deployments.
What publication are you most proud of?
My dissertation work has just been accepted for publication. I am enormously proud of this study and delighted that it will be published in Emotion.
Schneider, K.G., Hempel, R., & Lynch, T. R. (in press). That ‘poker face’ just might lose you the game! The impact of expressive suppression and mimicry on sensitivity to facial expressions of emotion. Emotion.