Sarah Pedersen, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Psychology
  • Co-Director, Youth and Family Research Program

Sarah Pedersen, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Pedersen is a licensed clinical psychologist with a long-standing interest in providing clinical care to individuals with minoritized identities and examining social and structural drivers of inequities in substance use related problems. She has integrated stress exposure, discrimination, personality characteristics, environmental contexts, and cognitions within this line of research to understand when and why people are at risk for alcohol-related problems. She is currently the principal investigator on three 5-year R01 (JAM StudyMARS Study, PALS) grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Dr. Pedersen is committed to conducting research in populations with minoritized identities to ultimately decrease inequities in alcohol and substance problems. In line with this, Dr. Pedersen is leading the JAM Study. JAM utilizes laboratory and naturalistic assessment techniques to investigate the associations between stress, discrimination, response to alcohol, and alcohol use. She is also examining reactivity to and recovery from stressors in naturalistic settings in relation to cannabis use and cannabis-related problems in the CREATE Study. Dr. Pedersen continues to disseminate findings from the completed ACE Study and is a member of the Research Equity and Community Health collaborative within the Department of Psychiatry.

Dr. Pedersen is also interested in examining processes that may increase risk for negative substance use outcomes in psychiatric populations. In collaboration with Dr. Brant Hasler, Dr. Pedersen is examining how sleep disturbances are related to alcohol response and impulsivity (MARS Study). In collaborations with Brooke Molina, Dr. Pedersen has also examined factors related to substance use for adults with a history of ADHD. She is a co-investigator on the ABLE Study, and she was the principal investigator on a study designed to examine in-the-moment decisions while intoxicated for drinkers with and without a history of ADHD (ACE 2.0 study). Ultimately, through these scientific pursuits, Dr. Pedersen hopes to reduce the disproportionate burden of negative substance use outcomes in clinical populations.

Dr. Pedersen is invested in mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and clinical psychology interns. In this role, she is committed to prioritizing trainee needs to support them identifying and achieving their career goals. In line with this, Dr. Pedersen is excited to serve as a faculty member on the Developmental Alcohol Research Training program (T32)Career & Research Development Seminar for post-docs in the Department of Psychiatry at Pitt, and as a member of the training committee for the WPH clinical psychology internship. She also Chairs the Diversity, Inclusivity, Cultural Humility, and Equity committee within this internship program.

In her free time, Dr. Pedersen enjoys spending time with her wife and kids, cheering on the Pittsburgh Penguins, and writing about herself in third person.

View Dr. Pedersen's Curriculum Vitae (CV) »