Aidan Wright, Ph.D., joins U-M as inaugural Eisenberg Family Depression Center faculty recruit


Julie Perez

Nationally renowned psychopathology researcher Aidan Wright, Ph.D. will join the University of Michigan as a professor of psychology and the first faculty recruit at the Eisenberg Family Depression Center (EFDC). 

“Dr. Wright is one of the most respected and impactful researchers in psychology today. His research is transforming how the field views and categorizes mental health disorders,” said Nestor Lopez-Duran, Ph.D., interim chair of the Department of Psychology and professor of psychology. “He is an accomplished researcher, teacher, mentor, and clinician. We are thrilled to have him join the team."

Wright comes to U-M from the University of Pittsburgh where he currently serves as a professor of psychology and director of the Personality Processes and Outcomes Laboratory. He holds degrees from Villanova University and The Pennsylvania State University. He also completed two postdoctoral trainings at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Wright has dedicated his career to understanding psychopathology–the scientific study of mental illness. His research uses cutting-edge methods combined with advanced quantitative techniques to better understand the complex field and deliver precise, comprehensive care to those struggling with psychiatric disorders. 

“Dr. Wright is among the most innovative and impactful researchers in the field of psychopathology, ” said Srijan Sen, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Eisenberg Family Depression Center. “He is an exemplar of the modern interdisciplinary researcher who can work effectively at the intersection in a manner that can lead to breakthroughs in the way we understand depression and mental health. We are excited to add a researcher of his caliber to our growing number of innovative researchers who are shaping the future of mental health treatment.”

Since 2009, Wright has authored more than 250 manuscripts and his work has been cited more than 18,000 times throughout his career. He has been recognized by the American Psychological Association, the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology, and others. Wright is the incoming editor-in-chief of the Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science. In addition, he serves on the editorial board of 10 peer-reviewed journals. 

“When I think about the seminal researchers of our time, I think about Dr. Aidan Wright.,” said Sarah Sperry, Ph.D., associate director of the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program and director of the Emotion and Temporal Dynamics (EmoTe) Lab. “His work should serve as a road map and example to all of us on how to ask important questions, use integrative methodology and capture psychopathology as it unfolds in real time.”
The search was conducted by an interdisciplinary committee of faculty representing nine units across the university with a diverse array of interests, skills and knowledge, including Ethan Kross, Ph.D., director of the Emotion & Self-Control Laboratory.

“Dr. Wright has been doing cutting-edge work at the vanguard of clinical psychological science since the time he earned his Ph.D.,” said Kross. “He has an unparalleled publication record and is pioneering new ways of studying psychopathology that are of enormous interest not only to researchers in clinical psychology, but scientists in the social, behavioral and data sciences more generally. He is warm and intensely collaborative—qualities the selection committee care deeply about in addition to scholarly rigor.” 

When asked about his decision to come to the University of Michigan, Wright cited the expansive network a research institution like U-M offers. “To really move the needle in improving our understanding, prevention and treatment of psychopathology, we need to ambitiously change our approaches to the problems. But to make ambitious new directions effective and fruitful, we need multidisciplinary teams of scholars focused on and pulling together toward the same goal,” said Wright. “I could tell that the EFDC had ambitious and visionary leadership that made it a center of gravity that can attract teams of scholars with diverse expertise and catalyze the exact types of research the field needs.”

“Science is ultimately a social endeavor,” he continued. “And in my experience the best work comes out of good collaboration. I’m looking forward to joining the exceptional group of scholars that already make U-M one of the world’s premier research institutions and to continue existing collaborations and forge new ones.”

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