WINTER 2014 3
New Faculty Member Sara Lowmaster
Brings Assessment Experience to Department
Whether it’s through a Rorschach test,
new assessment paradigms, assistant professor
Sara Lowmaster, Ph.D., focuses on an integral
aspect of psychological research and practice.
“My main research interest is psychological
assessment, or how we classify and think about
disorders,” Lowmaster said. “I’m primarily
focused on new ways to classify disorders and
those processes that lead someone to develop or
even not develop mental health concerns.”
Lowmaster came to USD this fall from
a postdoctoral fellowship at the Boston
University School of Medicine and VA Boston
Healthcare System, where she worked on a
clinical trial for patients with post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD). She earned her
doctorate in clinical psychology from Texas
A&M University and a master’s degree in experimental psychology
from Villanova University.
Assessment and classification of psychological disorders has
a multi-dimensional aspect, Lowmaster said. “One thing that
stands out is the high co-morbidity between disorders.” More
often than would be expected, two or more disorders are present
simultaneously. This suggests there may be common elements at the
emotional or behavioral level and possibly the biological level.
“We’re starting to understand the importance of individual
differences as well as common dimensions of psychopathology,”
Lowmaster said. “I look at identifying the emotional and social-
cognitive domains and how they present
differently across disorders. It’s important to
understand how differences in these areas
may lead to impairments in everyday activities
such as relationships so we can create better
Her teaching responsibilities consist of
graduate courses in psychological assessment,
including personality and cognitive assessments
as well as basic neuropsychological testing. In
2015, Lowmaster looks forward to teaching
undergraduate courses and supervising
clinical psychology graduate students in the
department’s Clinical Services Center, which
provides services to the USD community and
members of the public.
Lowmaster plans to create opportunities
for her graduate students to integrate their
research interests with clinical work. “I hope to get the students more
diverse experiences working with outside agencies on issues related
to their research,” she said. In her own experience as a graduate
student, Lowmaster helped evaluate the future performance of law
enforcement officer candidates based on their pre-employment
assessment. She is also committed to mentoring undergraduate
students who are interested in receiving research experience.
Collaborationwith colleagues is a researchpriority for Lowmaster
and she welcomes alumni of the Department of Psychology at USD
to contact her if they would like to work together professionally.
Assistant Professor Sara Lowmaster, Ph.D.,
demonstrates a psychological assessment test
with a department staff member.
“I look at identifying the emotional and social-cognitive
domains and how they present differently across disorders.
It’s important to understand how differences in these areas may
lead to impairments in everyday activities such as relationships
so we can create better interventions.”