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Kara Christensen Pacella, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

CHB-B 328
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Although typically mischaracterized as rare, eating disorders are common (13-18%; Lipson & Sonneville, 2020) and have the second-highest mortality rate among mental disorders. Unfortunately, many people do not achieve remission and sustain recovery from their eating disorder – even with high quality, evidence-based treatment – thus, it is critical to find ways to improve treatment options and increase access.

To meet this need, Dr. Christensen works across the translational research spectrum to develop, test, and disseminate interventions for disordered eating using novel clinical targets and methods of treatment delivery. Essentially, she addresses two basic questions for improving eating disorder care: 1) What are promising new treatment targets that could be integrated with existing therapies to enhance results for clients and their families? 2) How can we make empirically supported treatments for eating disorders more accessible to all who need them? To address the first question, she conducts translational research identifying potentially modifiable mechanisms, such as sleep and relationships, that contribute to eating disorder psychopathology. For the second question, she is developing mobile-based treatments for eating disorders that have the potential to increase treatment efficacy and expand access to evidence-based care. Dr. Christensen’s research uses a variety of methodological approaches, including cross-sectional surveys, intensive longitudinal designs (e.g., EMA), qualitative studies (e.g., focus groups), and treatment designs (e.g., randomized controlled trials, single-case designs).

Dr. Christensen received her doctoral degree in clinical psychology with a specialization in quantitative psychology from the Ohio State University in 2019. She completed her doctoral internship at the Medical University of South Carolina (2018-2019). Dr. Christensen joined the faculty at UNLV in 2022, after completing a three-year postdoctoral clinical research fellowship in eating disorders at the University of Kansas.

Dr. Christensen WILL be accepting graduate students for admission in the 2023-2024 academic year.