People

Kristen Jacobson, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Research and Scholarly Interests: Anthrozoology, Behavioral Genetics, Bioecological Models of Development, Human-Pet Bonding, Individual Differences in Biology, Brain, and Behavior, Socioemotional Development in Children and Adolescents, Stress & Trauma Exposure
  • Websites: Research Network Profile
  • Contact: kjacobso@bsd.uchicago.edu

My research interests are in how environmental, social, genetic, and biological factors interact to influence individual differences in socioemotional and behavioral development in children and adolescents. My work is greatly influenced by the Bioecological Model developed by Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner, whom I was privileged to work with after college. This model has guided my research examining influences on youth socioemotional and problem behaviors at multiple levels of analysis, including neighborhood, school, peer, family, and individual psychosocial, biological, and genetic factors.



I have experience examining biological and genetic factors underpinning youth affective processing, socio-emotional behaviors, and antisocial behavior. Through a combination of collaborative and independent studies I have begun to identify the underlying pathways through which social and environmental experiences “get under the skin” to affect behavior, which in turn can help us to better understand the nature of socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in health and health-related behaviors. As a behavioral scientist, I aim to bridge the gap between biological and social sciences. My research program is unique in that it is highly interdisciplinary, spanning fields of developmental psychology and psychiatry, behavioral genetics, sociology, anthrozoology, neuroscience, and endocrinology.



A behavioral geneticist by training, my work has recently moved away from genetics to focus on the impact of environmental and social factors on brain, biology, and behavior. I am currently conducting two research studies. A pilot study examines the impact of exposure to community violence on the neural underpinnings of emotional and cognitive processes using fMRI in a sample of 9-11 year old children. I am also conducting an experimental study of the effects of petting a therapy dog on prosocial behavior and cortisol response to stress in a large community sample of youth aged 8-12.



I am deeply committed to research education and mentorship. I have supervised several postdoctoral trainees, masters students, and undergraduate students. In our department, I teach basic statistical literacy and lead methodological journal clubs for adult psychiatry residents and child psychiatry fellows. I also direct the research program for residents and fellows, and co-lead the scholarship program for our clinical faculty.

Virginia Commonwealth University
Postdoctoral Scholar - Virginia Institute for Psychiatric & Behavioral Genetics
2000

Pennsylvania State University
Ph.D. - Human Development & Family Studies
1999

Pennsylvania State University
M.S. - Human Development & Family Studies
1994

Cornell University
A.B. - Psychology & English
1990

Posttraumatic stress symptom persistence across 24 years: association with brain structures.
Franz CE, Hatton SN, Hauger RL, Kredlow MA, Dale AM, Eyler L, McEvoy LK, Fennema-Notestine C, Hagler D, Jacobson KC, McKenzie RE, Panizzon MS, Gustavson DE, Xian H, Toomey R, Beck A, Stevens S, Tu X, Lyons MJ, Kremen WS. Posttraumatic stress symptom persistence across 24 years: association with brain structures. Brain Imaging Behav. 2020 Aug; 14(4):1208-1220.
PMID: 30830577

Association of baseline semantic fluency and progression to mild cognitive impairment in middle-aged men.
Gustavson DE, Elman JA, Panizzon MS, Franz CE, Zuber J, Sanderson-Cimino M, Reynolds CA, Jacobson KC, Xian H, Jak AJ, Toomey R, Lyons MJ, Kremen WS. Association of baseline semantic fluency and progression to mild cognitive impairment in middle-aged men. Neurology. 2020 Aug 25; 95(8):e973-e983.
PMID: 32606222

Genetic Underpinnings of Increased BMI and Its Association With Late Midlife Cognitive Abilities.
Xian H, Boutwell B, Reynolds CA, Lew D, Logue M, Gustavson DE, Kavish N, Panizzon MS, Tu X, Toomey R, Puckett OK, Elman JA, Jacobson KC, Lyons MJ, Kremen WS, Franz CE. Genetic Underpinnings of Increased BMI and Its Association With Late Midlife Cognitive Abilities. Gerontol Geriatr Med. 2020 Jan-Dec; 6:2333721420925267.
PMID: 32537479

Psychometric properties of the Community Violence-Prevention Activation Measure (CV-PAM): Evaluating provider activation toward community violence prevention.
Dinizulu SM, Suarez LM, Simpson D, Abdul-Adil J, Jacobson KC. Psychometric properties of the Community Violence-Prevention Activation Measure (CV-PAM): Evaluating provider activation toward community violence prevention. J Community Psychol. 2020 Mar; 48(2):545-561.
PMID: 31693221

Body mass trajectories and cortical thickness in middle-aged men: a 42-year longitudinal study starting in young adulthood.
Franz CE, Xian H, Lew D, Hatton SN, Puckett O, Whitsel N, Beck A, Dale AM, Fang B, Fennema-Notestine C, Hauger RL, Jacobson KC, Lyons MJ, Reynolds CA, Kremen WS. Body mass trajectories and cortical thickness in middle-aged men: a 42-year longitudinal study starting in young adulthood. Neurobiol Aging. 2019 07; 79:11-21.
PMID: 31026618

Posttraumatic stress symptom persistence across 24 years: association with brain structures.
Franz CE, Hatton SN, Hauger RL, Kredlow MA, Dale AM, Eyler L, McEvoy LK, Fennema-Notestine C, Hagler D, Jacobson KC, McKenzie RE, Panizzon MS, Gustavson DE, Xian H, Toomey R, Beck A, Stevens S, Tu X, Lyons MJ, Kremen WS. Posttraumatic stress symptom persistence across 24 years: association with brain structures. Brain Imaging Behav. 2019 Mar 04.
PMID: 30830577

Associations Between Pet Ownership and Attitudes Toward Pets With Youth Socioemotional Outcomes.
Jacobson KC, Chang L. Associations Between Pet Ownership and Attitudes Toward Pets With Youth Socioemotional Outcomes. Front Psychol. 2018; 9:2304.
PMID: 30534102

Genetic and Environmental Associations Among Executive Functions, Trait Anxiety, and Depression Symptoms in Middle Age.
Gustavson DE, Franz CE, Panizzon MS, Reynolds CA, Xian H, Jacobson KC, Toomey R, Lyons MJ, Kremen WS. Genetic and Environmental Associations Among Executive Functions, Trait Anxiety, and Depression Symptoms in Middle Age. Clin Psychol Sci. 2019 Jan; 7(1):127-142.
PMID: 30923645

Genetic and Environmental Influences on Verbal Fluency in Middle Age: A Longitudinal Twin Study.
Gustavson DE, Panizzon MS, Elman JA, Franz CE, Beck A, Reynolds CA, Jacobson KC, Xian H, Toomey R, Lyons MJ, Kremen WS. Genetic and Environmental Influences on Verbal Fluency in Middle Age: A Longitudinal Twin Study. Behav Genet. 2018 09; 48(5):361-373.
PMID: 29922985

Underdiagnosis of mild cognitive impairment: A consequence of ignoring practice effects.
Elman JA, Jak AJ, Panizzon MS, Tu XM, Chen T, Reynolds CA, Gustavson DE, Franz CE, Hatton SN, Jacobson KC, Toomey R, McKenzie R, Xian H, Lyons MJ, Kremen WS. Underdiagnosis of mild cognitive impairment: A consequence of ignoring practice effects. Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2018; 10:372-381.
PMID: 30003138

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President
International Society for Anthrozoology
2019 - pres

Resident/Fellow Instructor of the Year
Psychiatry, University of Chicago
2017 - 2019

NIH Director's New Innovator Award
NIH
2007 - 2012

Student Loan Repayment Program
NIH
2003 - 2006

BIRCWH Fellow
NIH K12 Award
2001 - 2003

cum laude in psychology
Cornell University
1990

Cornell Tradition Fellow
Cornell University
1986 - 1990