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WINTER 2014 3

New Faculty Member Sara Lowmaster

Brings Assessment Experience to Department

Whether it’s through a Rorschach test,

PersonalityAssessmentInventory,ordeveloping

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

interventions.”

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.”

—Sara Lowmaster