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Genes, Environment, and Youth Development (Su)

Keywords: gene-environment interplay, substance use, family relationships, adolescence, young adulthood, ethnic/racial minority, health disparities

Lab Research Area:

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:

Currently, we are preparing for the launch of the Pathway to College Health Study, a longitudinal study that involves collecting online survey (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 outcomes throughout college years. 
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, wtih data access granted by the NIMH Data Archives. 

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

Jinni SuDr. 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 first-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 his spare time, Angel enjoys hanging out with his bird and two dogs. Angel received his bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Lab Coordinator 

Ian McNamara

Ian is a senior majoring in psychology and will be graduating in May 2021. He is particularly interested in the etiology of alcohol use behaviors in athletes and the application of this knowledge in the development of interventions. Ian intends to pursue a PhD in Clinical psychology following his graduation. Outside of the lab, Ian is often found watching sports or reading high fantasy and philosophy.

Undergraduate Research Assistants:

Mariam Ewais 

Mariam is a sophomore double majoring in biological sciences and psychology, planning to graduate in May 2023. She is very interested in behavioral genetics, particularly genetic components that may influence addictions. Mariam hopes to go to medical school and later, be a physician. In her free time, Mariam enjoys reading books, particularly fiction, and spending time with her family.

Claudia Grochalska 

Claudia is a senior double majoring in psychology and neuroscience and will be graduating in May 2021. She is interested in researching the neurobiology of alcohol dependence, especially how changes in reward systems facilitate the transition from alcohol use to abuse. After her graduation, Claudia plans to pursue a PhD in psychology with an emphasis on behavioral neuroscience and comparative psychology. In her spare time, Claudia enjoys hiking, swimming, and baking

 Monica Lam


Monica is a junior majoring in biological sciences and will graduate in May 2022. She is interested in researching the genetic aspects of substance abuse as well as neurodegenerative diseases. She is interested in the health field and is currently doing a pre-medical path. Monica aspires to become a doctor and wishes to impact people's lives by helping them make healthy choices.

Riley McKenna

 Riley is a junior majoring in Biological Sciences with a focus on Biomedical Sciences and minoring in Psychology. She will be graduating in May of 2022. She is particularly interested in the genetic factors of alcohol use and how a person's environment can exacerbate or dull these factors. Riley intends on attending PA school following her graduation. Outside the lab, Riley is often found hanging out with friends or nose deep in a good book. 

Karen Northrop

Karen is a junior studying Business Data Analytics and Psychology. She is particularly interested in the interplay of genetic and environmental factors in the development and treatment of eating disorders. Karen is uncertain where she'll be post-graduation, but wherever she is, she plans to prioritize mental health advocacy. In her free time, she can be found making playlists or scrapbooking. 

Christopher Hernandez Salinas 


Christopher is a junior double majoring in Biology and Society and Global Health and will be graduating in May 2022. He is broadly interested in lessening the healthcare inequities in all aspects of global health, especially through early intervention. Christopher intents to attend medical school as well as get a masters in public health, hoping to eventually be a practicing physician as well as work in healthcare policy. During his free time, Christopher enjoys spending time with family or friends and watching Netflix. 

Mahasin Shigdy

Mahasin is a senior majoring in psychology and will be graduating in December 2020. She is interested in researching the racial and gender differences and influences on substance abuse, and how social, cultural and political landscapes may influence the behaviors of adolescents from minority groups. Outside of the lab, Mahasin can be found playing the guitar or rewatching The Expanse for the fifth time.

Derek Soto

Derek is a senior majoring in psychology and will be graduating in December of 2020. He is interested in researching how marginalized groups are subject to adverse circumstances and if exposure to such environments increases the likelihood of substance use/abuse. After graduation, Derek intends on pursuing a graduate degree in psychology. During his free time you can find Derek painting, reading, or listening to music.

Nicole Taylor

Nicole is a senior majoring in psychology and will be graduating in December 2020. She is especially interested in alcohol-related outcomes among adolescents and college students. Nicole hopes to pursue a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy after graduation. Outside of the lab, Nicole is interested in filmmaking and plays the ukulele. 

Maitreya Thomas

Maitreya is a Junior-level psychology major with a self-guided focus on adolescent psychopathology. Her primary research interest is the development of anxiety and related disorders among foster care alumni and Native American adolescents. Following graduation, she intends to pursue a Clinical Psychology graduate program with the goal of ultimately working with youth in rural or Tribal communities. In her free time she enjoys writing poetry, cooking, and volunteering with her local youth theatre program. 

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 geyouthdevelopment@asu.edu.

**Note. We are currently recruiting RAs who is fluent in Spanish for the Fall 2020 semester.  If you are interested, email Dr. Su directly at jinnisu1@asu.edu.

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 jinnisu1@asu.edu.

Contact Dr. Jinni Su

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*.


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

Su, J., Kuo, S. I., Derlan, C., Hagiwara, N., Guy, M., & Dick, D. M. (2019). Racial discrimination and alcohol problems among African American young adults: Examining the moderating effects of parent and peer racial socialization. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.

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 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.