Genes, Environment, and Youth Development (Su)

Genes, Environment, and Youth Development (Su)
Keywords: gene-environment interplay, substance use, family relationships, adolescence, young adulthood, ethnic/racial minority, health disparities
Lab Area
Developmental Psychology
Lab Director
Jinni Su, Ph.D
Actively Recruiting Undergraduate Researchers

Integrating developmental psychopathology and statistical/molecular genetics, we seek to understand how genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of alcohol use disorders and related behavioral and emotional health outcomes in diverse populations.

We are interested in:

1) understanding how family processes and sociocultural factors may buffer or exacerbate genetic risk for the development of risky substance use patterns across development, particularly during adolescence and young adulthood,

2) disentangling the genetic and psychosocial pathways underlying the intergenerational transmission of risk and resilience related to substance use disorders and related outcomes, and

3) examining potential differences in pathways of risk and resilience across racial/ethnic groups.

Our goal is to understand how genetic and psychosocial factors predict substance misuse to better inform effective, personalized prevention and intervention for individuals who are at risk.

Research Projects:

The Pathways to College Health Study is a longitudinal study that involves collecting online surveys (questionnaire and daily diary) and DNA data from European American and Latino college students at ASU. The goal for this study is to examine how family and cultural processes (and other relevant environmental factors) in conjunction with genetic factors contribute to alcohol use and related behavioral and emotional outcomes throughout college years. This study was launched in Fall 2020 and data collection is ongoing.

In addition, our lab has access to data from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) and the Spit for Science Study (S4S) through active collaborations with COGA and S4S investigators. 

We also conduct secondary data analysis of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, with data access granted by the NIMH Data Archives. 

Dr. Su is accepting new Ph.D. students in the Developmental and Clinical Psychology programs for the 2022-2023 academic year. Please inquire directly with Dr. Su at

Genes, Environment, and Youth Development

Lab Director and Principal Investigator: Jinni Su, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Dr. Su is a member of the developmental psychology faculty. Her research focuses on how genetic and environmental influences contribute to the development of substance use and related behavioral and emotional health outcomes. Integrating developmental psychology and statistical/molecular genetics, Dr. Su utilizes a multidisciplinary perspective to understand the interplay between genetic predispositions and psychosocial factors in influencing substance use and related outcomes across diverse populations, with a focus on racial/ethnic minority adolescents and young adults. She applies innovative genetically informed designs to examine the genetic and psychosocial pathways underlying the intergenerational transmission of substance use disorders and related outcomes. Dr. Su also examines potential differences in pathways of risk and resilience across racial/ethnic groups, with the goal to understand mechanisms underlying racial/ethnic disparities in substance use disorders and related health outcomes and inform effective, personalized prevention and intervention efforts. Her research involves self-report data from surveys and interviews and genomic data collected from saliva or blood samples. Dr. Su received her bachelor’s degree in Economics from Beijing Normal University, China. She completed her master’s and doctoral degrees in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Su continued as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University under the mentorship of Dr. Danielle Dick.

Contact Dr. Su | Read her CV  

Graduate Students

Angel D. Trevino

Angel is a second-year Ph.D. student in Developmental Psychology. He is interested in studying the pathways through which individual differences, genes, and environmental factors lead to the development of psychopathology in youth. He is particularly interested in how cultural processes interplay with genetic influences on youth outcomes. Outside of the lab, Angel enjoys spending time with his family and dogs. 

Belal Jamil

Belal is a first-year graduate student in the Developmental Psych PhD program. His research interests are in understanding how genetic and environmental factors influence the development of psychopathology (e.g., substance use, internalizing behaviors) in young adulthood, particularly for ethnic minority populations. He hopes to analyze these factors through intergenerational studies and a variety of genetic, behavioral, and cultural measures. In his free time, Belal likes to paint, play video games, and cook.

Lab Coordinator 

Ian McNamara

Ian graduated from ASU in May of 2021 with a B.S. in psychology and intends to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. In addition to the Gene, Environment, and Youth Development lab, Ian currently works in the Behavioral Alcohol Research for Clinical Advancement lab and is enrolled in the Addiction and Substance Use Related Disorders graduate certificate program. His research thus far has addressed pathways of risk from externalizing behaviors to alcohol use outcomes with a focus on psychosocial factors and athlete populations. Outside of the lab, Ian enjoys reading fantasy, watching sports, and finding new hiking trails.

Undergraduate Research Assistants:

Valeria Perez 

 Valeria is a junior double majoring in biological sciences and global health and will be graduating in May 2023. She is interested in researching genetic predispositions in minority and underrepresented groups, specifically in the Latine community. Following graduation, she plans to attend medical school to pursue a MD/MPH. During her free time, Valeria loves to salsa dance, read, workout, and go on adventures with her friends.

Isobel Conroy

Isobel is a senior with a major in Psychology and a minor in Spanish, and is graduating in December 2021. She is interested in the etiology of addiction, and how it relates to both substance use and eating disorders. After graduation, she plans to continue her involvement in research and get clinical experience working in behavioral health settings, and later plans to pursue a Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. When she's not in class or in the lab, Isobel enjoys listening to music, hiking, and going to the dog park. 

Christopher Hernandez

Christopher is a senior triple majoring in Biology and Society, Global Health, and Transborder Studies. He will be graduating in May 2022 and is hoping to attend medical school next year as well as possibly get a masters in public health. His research interests include social and health inequities, and he hopes to play a role in reducing barriers that marginalized communities face in achieving good health. Christopher hopes to achieve his goals through his future interactions with patients as well as through working with a nonprofit, in health policy, and/or in leading interventions. During his free time, Christopher enjoys spending time with family or friends, working out, and binging shows on streaming platforms. 

Marilyn Ghazoul

Marilyn is a sophomore majoring in psychology and minoring in fashion on the pre-medicine track, and she will be graduating in May of 2024. She is interested in child development research, more specifically the influence to cause children to develop addictions. She hopes in the future to attend medical school and become a physician. In her free time she enjoys working out and hanging out with family and friends.

Dylan Wang

Dylan is a Junior majoring in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Business and will graduate in May 2023. He is interested in researching the socio-cultural and genetic/environmental aspects of substance use. He plans to attend medical school as well as an MBA in the future, with hopes to be both a physician and a businessman. During his free time, Dylan enjoys playing tennis, working out, and spending time with friends. 

Mariam Ewais

Mariam is a junior double majoring in Biological Sciences and Global Health, planning to graduate in May 2023. Her research interests include the development of substance use disorders in underrepresented populations, particularly in refugee communities, and how both their genetics and surrounding environment play roles in developing these conditions. Following graduation, she hopes to attend medical school. She likes to spend her free time reading books and spending time with her friends. 

Elizabeth Cheng

Elizabeth is a junior majoring in Biological Sciences (Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior) with a minor in psychology and will graduate in May 2023. She is interested in researching the genetic and environmental factors that influence addictions and how this also affects the brain. Following graduation, she plans to attend PA school to pursue her MPAS. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her dogs, baking, and hiking.

Lab Alumni 

Riley McKenna,  Biological Sciences and Psychology (2020 summer- 2020 Fall)

Karen Northrop, Business Data Analytics and Psychology (2020 Spring - 2020 Fall)

Mahasin Shigdy,  Psychology (2019 Fall - 2020 Fall; Graduated in December 2020)

Derek Soto,  Psychology (2019 Fall - 2020 Fall; Graduated in December 2020) 

Nicole Taylor, Psychology (2020 Spring - 2020 Fall; Graduated in December 2020); Honor's thesis titled "Depressive Symptoms and Drinking to Cope in Relation to Alcohol Use Outcomes Among European American and African American College Students".

Join the Lab!

We are actively recruiting motivated and responsible undergraduate research assistants (RA) to join our lab! Students from underrepresented backgrounds (e.g., racial/ethnic minority, first-generation college students) are strongly encouraged to apply through the ENERGIZE Research Initiative. If you are interested in becoming an RA (for credit or volunteer) in the Genes, Environment, and Youth Development Lab, please fill out this application form and/or contact us at**Note. All undergraduate RA positions have been filled for Spring 2021.

Dr. Su is accepting new Ph.D. students in the Developmental and Clinical Psychology programs for the 2021-2022 academic year. Please inquire directly with Dr. Su at

Select publications

Below are a sample of recent publications from Dr. Su’s research and lab. A more complete listing may be found in Dr. Su’s curriculum vitae.  Student co-authors appear with an asterisk*.

Su, J., Kuo, S. I., Aliev, F., Chan, G., Edenberg, H. J., Kamarajan, C., McCutcheon, V. V., Meyers, J. L., Schuckit, M., Tischfield, J., & Dick, D. M. (in press). The association between polygenic risk, sensation seeking, social support and alcohol use in adulthood. Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Su, J., Seaton, E. K., Williams, C. D., The Spit for Science Working Group, & Dick, D. M. (in press). Racial discrimination, depressive symptoms, ethnic-racial identity and alcohol use among Black American college students. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

Su, J., Kuo, S. I., Derlan, C. L., Hagiwara, N., Guy, M. C., & Dick, D. M. (2020). Racial discrimination and alcohol problems among African American young adults: Examining the moderating effects of racial socialization by parents and friends. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology26(2), 260–270.

Patterson, R. E., Kuchenbaecker, K., Chen, C., Popejoy, A., Walters, R., Periyasamy, S., Lam, M., Iyegbe, C., Strawbridge, R., Brick, L., Carey, C., Martin, A., Meyers, J. L., Su, J., Bigdeli, T. B., Chen, J., Edwards, A. C., Kalungi, A., Koen, N., Majara, L., Schwarz, E., Smoller, J., Sullivan, P., Vassos, E., Mowry, B., Prieto, M., Cuellar-Barboza, A., Edenberg, H., Huang, H., & Duncan, L. E. (2019). Genome-wide association studies in ancestrally diverse populations: Opportunities, methods, pitfalls, and recommendations. Cell. 179, 589-603. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.08.051

Ksinan, A., Su, J., Aliev, F., Spit for Science Workgroup, & Dick, D. M. (2019). Unpacking genetic risk pathways for college student alcohol consumption: The mediating role of impulsivity. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Silventoinen, K., Su, J., Pulkkinen, L., Barr, P., Rose, R. J., Dick, D. M., & Kaprio, J. (2019). Genetics of perceived family interactions from 12 to 17 years of age: A longitudinal twin study. Behavior Genetics, 49, 366-375.

#Cho, S. B., #Su, J., Kuo, S. I., Bucholz, K. K., Chan, G., Edenberg, H. J., … & Dick, D.M. (2019). Positive and negative reinforcement are differentially associated with alcohol consumption as a function of alcohol dependence. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 33, 58-68.  #co-first authors

Su, J., Kuo, S. I., Myers, J. M., Guy, M. & Dick, D. M. (2018). Examining interactions between genetic risk for alcohol problems, peer deviance, and interpersonal traumatic events on trajectory of alcohol use disorder symptoms among African American college students. Development and Psychopathology, 30, 1749-1761.

Su, J., Kuo, S. I., Aliev, F., Guy, M. C., Derlan, C. L., Edenberg, H. J., … & Dick, D. M. (2018). Influence of parental alcohol dependence symptoms and parenting on adolescent risky drinking and conduct problems: A family systems perspective. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 42, 1783-1794.

Su, J., Kuo, S. I., Bucholz, K. K., Edenberg, H. J., Kramer, J. R., Schuckit, M., & Dick, D. M. (2018). Understanding mechanisms of genetic risk for adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems: The mediating role of parenting and personality. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 21, 310-321.

Su, J., Supple, A. J., Leerkes, E. M., & Kuo, S. I. (2018). Latent trajectories of alcohol use from early adolescence to young adulthood: Interaction effects between 5-HTTLPR and parenting quality and gender differences. Development and Psychopathology, 31, 457-469.

Su, J., Hancock, L., McGann, A., Alshagra, M.*, Ericson, R.*, Niazi, Z.*, Dick, D. M., & Adkins, A. (2018). Evaluating the effect of a campus-wide social norms marketing intervention on alcohol use perceptions, consumption, and blackouts. Journal of    American College Health, 66, 219-224.

Su, J., Supple, A. J., & Kuo, S. I. (2018). The role of individual and contextual factors in differentiating substance use profiles among adolescents. Substance Use and Misuse, 53, 734-743.

Su, J., & Supple, A. J. (2016). School substance use norms and racial composition moderate parental and peer influences on adolescent substance use. American Journal of Community Psychology, 57, 280-290.

 Su, J., & Supple, A. J. (2014). Parental, peer, school, and neighborhood influences on adolescent substance use: Direct and indirect effects and ethnic variations. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse. 13, 227-246. 

  • Dr. Jinni Su's new study published in Journal of Abnormal Psychology is featured in the U.S. News and World Report and ASU News. (September, 2021). 

  • Dr. Jinni Su's new study published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors is featured in ASU News (September, 2021). 

  • Congratulations to lab members, Mahasin Shigdy, Derek Soto, and Nicole Taylor, who graduated from ASU Psychology in December 2020!!! Many congratulations and best wishes for your bright future!

  • We are so excited to welcome Angel Trevino, the very first graduate student in the GEYD Lab, to the ASU Developmental Psychology PhD program!!! (August, 2020).
  • Dr. Su was invited to speak at the 3rd Annual Arizona Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference, Tempe, AZ (via zoom; April 18, 2020). Her presentation was titled " Genetic and Environmental Influences on Substane Use Disorders".
  • Dr. Jinni Su received seed grant from the Institute for Social Science Research (11/13/2019). Her grant proposal is titled "A Cultural Genomics Approach to Understand Gene-Environment Interactions and Alcohol Misuse among African American College Students".
  • Dr. Jinni Su is featured on ASU Now about her research, addressing the importance of increasing representation of minority populations in genetic research.