Pennebaker is the Regents Centennial Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He
has a long history of studying how people, groups, and entire societies approach, think about, and cope with
personal and large-scale upheavals. In addition to studying major shared events such as 9/11 and The Texas A&M
bonfire tragedy, he has the ways people deal with deeply personal experiences. In 1986, he and his students
discovered that writing about an upsetting event for as little as 15 minutes a day for three consecutive days
could improve people’s physical and mental health. Since then, over a thousand scientific studies on expressive
writing have been published by labs around the world. Expressive writing is considered a reliable tool for
helping people deal with both major and minor events in people’s lives. A former chair of the Department of
Psychology at the University of Texas, he is the recipient of multiple research and teaching awards. His
research is funded, in part, by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health,
the Templeton Foundation, and other agencies.
Kate Blackburn is a post-doc research fellow in social psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. She explores the perceptual and behavioral processes of language used in people’s stories and social interactions online. Twitter: @kategblackburn
Ashwini Ashokkumar is a senior graduate student in social psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. She studies how people interact in social groups and communities and how such interactions are disrupted by threatening events and upheavals. Twitter: @Ashuashok
Laura Vergani is a PhD student in clinical psychology at SEMM - European School of Molecular Medicine, curriculum FOLSATEC - Foundations of the Life Sciences, Bioethics and Cognitive Sciences, at the University of Milan. She is specializing in oncology, doctor-patient relationships, and health psychology.
Sarah Seraj is a PhD student in social psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research looks at how people handle deeply emotional upheavals such as breakups, divorce and infidelity. Twitter: @SerajSarah