Christopher Beam

Assistant Professor of Psychology
Email beamc@usc.edu Office Phone (213) 740-0726

Biography

I am a clinical psychologist with a specialization in life-span development, behavioral genetics, and advanced quantitative methods. Research in my lab encompasses different areas of life-span development. Currently, my research focuses on collecting midlife data on twins age 40 and older in the Louisville Twin Study to investigate genetic and environmental processes that explain how early life psychosocial and cognitive development predict midlife cognitive functioning and markers of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. Another area of research examines how perceived social isolation, that is loneliness, changes in the second half of the lifespan, if at all, and whether and how these changes correlate with dementia risk.

Clincally, my work focuses on geropsychological interventions, primarily group-based interventions for complicated grief in older adults. I also am a faculty member in the Gerontological Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) in the Department of Family Medicine at the USC Keck School of Medicine.

Education

  • Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, University of Virginia, 8/2015
  • M.A. Psychology, New York University, 8/2008
  • B.A. Philosophy & Psychology, Seattle Pacific University, 6/2002
    • Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Southern California, 08/01/2017-12/31/2017
    • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Southern California, 08/01/2015-07/31/2017
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Generally, my work addresses the biological and environmental mechanisms that explain differences in cognitive and psychological development across the lifespan. Development is a life-long process that consists of the accumulation of experiences that shape age-graded gains and losses. The broad question that guides my research is: How do social experiences earlier in the lifespan contribute to age-related development of cognitive functioning, personality change, and the onset of psychopathology?

    Detailed Statement of Research Interests

    Please see https://dornsife.usc.edu/beam-lab/

    Post-doctoral researcher(s): Patrizia Pezzoli, Ph.D.

    Graduate students: Alice Kim, Alaina Gold, Kayla Tureson, Laura Fenton, Morgan Lynch, and Matthew Pilgirm

    Undergraduate students: Alyssa Kam, Eric Penichet, Ryan Moshtael, and Max Koffman

    *I am considering taking a new graduate student for the 2022-2023 academic year.

  • Contracts and Grants Awarded

    • Biological aging, beta-amyloid aggregation, and cognitive development in the Louisville Twin Study (, (NIH/National Institute on Aging), Christopher R. Beam, Deborah W. Davis, $5,235,386, 09/01/2019 – 04/30/2024
    • Biopsychosocial pathways from loneliness to Alzheimer’s disease, (Alzheimer’s Association), Christopher Beam, $175,001, 08/01/2017 – 07/31/2020
    • Genetically Informed Study of Marital Functioning and Depression at Midlife (F31 AG044047-01A1), (National Institute on Aging), Christopher Beam, Robert Emery & Eric Turkheimer (co-mentors), $44,725, 01/01/2014 – 06/30/2014
  • Journal Article

    • Dinescu, D., Turkheimer, E., Beam, C. R., Horn, E. E., Duncan, G., Emery, R. E. (2016). Is marriage a buzzkill? A twin study of marital status and alcohol consumption. Journal of Family Psychology. Vol. 30 (6), pp. 698-707.
    • Beam, C. R., Emery, R. E., Reynolds, C. A., Gatz, M., Turkheimer, E., Pedersen, N. (2016). Widowhood and the Stability of Late Life Depressive Symptomatology in the Swedish Adoption Twin Study of Aging. Behavior Genetics. Vol. 46 (1), pp. 100-113.
    • Beam, C. R., Turkheimer, E., Dickens, W. T., Davis, D. W. (2015). Twin differentiation of cognitive ability through phenotype to environment transmission: The Louisville Twin Study. Behavior Genetics. Vol. 45 (6), pp. 622-634.
    • Beam, C. R., Dinescu, D., Emery, R. E., Turkheimer, E. (2015). A Twin Study on Perceived Stress, Depressive Symptoms, and Marriage. Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
    • Sbarra, D. A., Emery, R. E., Beam, C. R., Ocker, B. L. (2014). Marital dissolution and major depression: A propensity score analysis. Clinical Psychological Science. Vol. 2, pp. 249-257.
    • Beam, C. R., Turkheimer, E. (2013). Phenotype-environment correlations in longitudinal twin models. Development & Psychopathology. Vol. 25, pp. 7-16.
    • Association for Psychological Science 2020 Rising Star , 2019-2020
    • Fellow, International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course , 2010-2012
  • Editorships and Editorial Boards

    • Associate Editor, Developmental Psychology, 05/01/2021 –
    • Associate Editor, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 01/01/2021 – 12/31/2021