Laboratory Personnel

Dr. Tracy Witte received her B.S. in Psychology from The Ohio State University in 2004.  She received her M.S. and Ph.D. from Florida State University’s Clinical Psychology Program in 2006 and 2010, respectively, and completed her clinical residency at the Brown University Medical School Clinical Psychology Consortium. Dr. Witte is currently an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at Auburn University, a licensed clinical psychologist (AL #1691), and is the director of the Suicidal Behavior and Psychopathology Laboratory. 

Dr. Witte’s primary research interest is in a construct first introduced by Joiner (2005), which is known as the acquired capability for suicide. According to the interpersonal-psychological theory, not all people who desire suicide exhibit the physical pain tolerance and fearlessness about death necessary to be capable of inflicting self-injury. This capability must be acquired over time through repeated experiences that involve pain and/or death (i.e. painful and provocative experiences). Through repeated exposure to such events (e.g., combat, physical aggression, non-suicidal self-injury), an individual habituates to fear of death and physical pain, thus rendering him/her capable of lethal (or near-lethal) self-injury. The acquired capability construct is the most novel aspect of the interpersonal-psychological theory and is in great need of empirical research. Dr. Witte utilizes a multi-method approach in order to solidify the parameters of this construct, as it involves a cognitive component (i.e. fearlessness), sensation/perception (i.e. pain tolerance), and neurological pathways that serve as biological substrates. Her research program is designed to investigate life experiences and trait-level variables that facilitate the acquisition of the capability for suicide. Dr. Witte has co-authored a book on clinical applications of the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicide.

Dr. Witte is also actively pursuing a line of research investigating negative mental health outcomes, including suicidal behavior, in veterinary professionals. This reseach involves interdisciplinary collaboration with public health experts, veterinarians, and physicians. A summary of this line of work can be found here.  

More information about Dr. Witte can be found on the Auburn University Department of Psychology website or on her CV.

Graduate Students

Maggie Davis, PhD received her BA in psychology from the University of Virginia in 2006 and worked as Research Coordinator at UVA Hospital’s Center for Behavioral Medicine Research before coming to Auburn in 2010. Maggie completed her internship at the Ann Arbor VA during the 2015-2016 academic year. Following internship, Maggie completed her postdoctoral training at the Neuroimaging Sciences Training Program in the Yale School of Medicine and obtained a K08 (Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award) from NIMH. Maggie is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. Maggie's research interests focus on the assessment of PTSD and borderline personality disorder and use of neuroimaging techniques to elucidate the relationship between trauma exposure and the development of suicidal behavior. Her K08 award focuses on the use of molecular imaging (PET) to investigate a potential biomarker for suicidal behavior in individuals with borderline personality disorder. Maggie was co-mentored by Dr. Witte and Dr. Frank Weathers.

Caitlin Williams, MS, received her BA in psychology from the Catholic University of America in 2010. She spent two years as a research assistant at New York State Psychiatric Institute before coming to Auburn in 2013. Caitlin is a fifth-year student in the AU Clinical Psychology Program and is currently completing her internship at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA. Her research is focused on the effects of exposure to suicide news media as well as stigma toward suicide.

Liz Spitzer, MA, received her BA in psychology in 2012 and MA in psychology in 2013, both from Vanderbilt University. Before beginning in the Clinical Psychology program at Auburn, she spent two years as a research assistant at the Denver VA Medical Center's Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center. Liz is currently a fourth-year student and is interested in investigating how trauma and post-traumatic symptoms facilitate acquired capability and increase the risk for suicide.


Jami Gauthier, PhD, received her BA in psychology from The Ohio State University in 2011. Jami completed her internship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Internship Training Consortium during the 2016-2017 academic year. Following internship, she is completing her postdoctoral training in the University of Mississippi Medical Center's department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior.  Jami is primarily interested in the relationship between suicidal behavior and substance use, focusing on how substance use may be linked to each of the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicide constructs. Jami is also interested in the development and dissemination of brief interventions for suicidal behavior and substance use.

Kelly Zuromski, PhD, received her BS in psychology and her BA in Criminology and Law from the University of Florida in 2011. Kelly completed her internship at the Charleston Consortium Psychology Internship Training Program and graduated from Auburn with her PhD in 2017. Kelly is a Fellow at Harvard University, under the mentorship of Drs. Matthew Nock and Ronald Kessler. As a fellow, Kelly works in collaboration with the Military Suicide Research Consortium (MSRC) and the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS) conducting research broadly related to suicide prevention in the US military. More specifically, Kelly's research is focused on understanding, predicting, and intervening upon short-term imminent suicide risk.

Eric Crosby, MSW, received his BS in psychology from Towson University in 2013 and his MSW from the University of Maryland-Baltimore in 2015. He spent two years as a research assistant at the Baltimore VA Medical Center's Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center before starting in the AU Clinical Psychology program. Eric is currently a second-year student interested in predictive factors of suicide ideation and suicide risk assessments.

Ian Cero, PhD, MPS received his BA in philosophy from Concordia College in 2010 and his MA in Clinical Psychology from Minnesota State University in 2012. He recently finished his internship at the Charleston Consortium (Medical University of South Carolina/Ralph H. Johnson VAMC) and is now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Rochester Medical Center's Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide. He also recently graduated from AU's Probability and Statistics Masters program, which he completed concurrently with his doctoral studies. Ian's research interests focus on network models of suicide risk and their application to suicide prevention.

Sharon Kramper, BA, received her BA in Linguistics from Northwestern University in 1997. Many of the intervening years were spent working in veterinary medicine, where she was sensitized to the elevated risk of suicide among veterinarians. She left a masters program in Counseling Psychology at the Chicago School for Professional Psychology to join the Suicidal Behavior and Psychopathology Laboratory at Auburn University. Sharon is a first-year student and Presidential Graduate Research Fellow whose research interests include identifying suicide risk factors, protective factors, and preventive strategies for individuals who study and work in veterinary medicine.