I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology (Clinical and CNS Area Groups), core faculty member of the interdepartmental Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NACS) Doctoral Program and the Maryland Neuroimaging Center (MNC), and Director of the Affective and Translational Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Maryland. My work has been continuously supported by the NIH since 2016 and led to ~100 publications (h-index: 52). I am an Associate Editor at the Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science (formerly Journal of Abnormal Psychology); was Co-Editor of The Nature of Emotion (Oxford University Press); served as an Associate Editor at eLife and several other journals; and co-edited 4 special issues focused on the neurobiology of emotion and multidisciplinary science, most recently at Clinical Psychological Science. I am a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science; an active member of the international Affective Neuroimaging Collaboratory, ENIGMA Anxiety, and Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) research consortia; and a standing member of the NIH Adult Lifespan Psychopathology (ALP) study section. I have been invited to teach and lecture at meetings and institutions around the world. Our work has been featured in Discovery Magazine and Newsweek, and I  have provided expert scientific commentary for the BBC and Smithsonian Magazine. Most of my work—both empirical and theoretical—is focused on understanding the nature and biological bases of anxiety-related states, traits, and disorders. When extreme, anxiety contributes to a variety of debilitating, often treatment-resistant mental illnesses, including internalizing disorders, substance misuse, and psychosis. To understand the origins and course of this liability, my group uses a broad spectrum of tools—including multimodal neuroimaging (MRI, PET), psychophysiology, smartphone digital phenotyping, semi-structured clinical and life-stress interviews, and genetic analyses—in pediatric and adult patients, university students, community members, and monkeys, working closely with collaborators in the U.S., Germany, China, and South Korea. More recently established secondary lines of research are focused on psychiatric nosology and graduate student health and wellbeing. In addition to my own research, I regularly serve as an expert consultant and co-investigator on emotion-related neuroimaging and ecological momentary assessment (EMA) studies.

Enjoys sci-tweetingMaui, Sherlock Holmes, wandernPeloton, streaming underground music from the 90s, and spending time outdoors with familyfriends, and his dog, Josie.

CV: CV1.34 MB


  • Ph.D.
    Biological Psychology (Distributed minor in Neuroscience)

The mission of the lab is to have a deep impact on the fields of affective and translational neuroscience. To that end, we do our best to perform innovative studies that can lead to important discoveries, to disseminate our discoveries as widely as possible, and to mentor trainees to become top-notch scientists and scientist-clinicians

Anxiety disorders are a leading source of suffering in children and adults. These disorders first emerge early in life, are extremely common, and often resist treatment. Individuals with an anxious temperament — those who express anxiety too intensely or in inappropriate contexts — are much more likely to develop anxiety and other serious psychiatric disorders, including depression and substance abuse. To understand the basis of this liability, our lab uses a broad spectrum of tools, including multimodal brain imaging (MRI, PET), acute pharmacological manipulations, peripheral physiological measures, eye-tracking, ecological momentary assessment (EMA), and behavioral and clinical assays. Clinically, our work promises to enhance our understanding of how emotional traits and states modulate risk, facilitate the discovery of novel intermediate phenotypes and biomarkers, and set the stage for developing improved interventions. From a basic psychological science perspective, our research begins to address fundamental questions about the nature of temperament and the interplay of emotion and cognition.


Research Methods
Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)
Research Interests
Neural Circuits
Fear and Anxiety
Temperament and Personality; Individual Differences
Pediatric Anxiety Disorders
Mood and Anxiety Disorders
Neuropsychiatric Disorders
Alex Shackman
1147D Biology-Psychology Building
Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
shackman [at] umd.edu