Kelly Knowles, Ph.D.

Biographical Sketch:

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kelly was an undergraduate research assistant in the Anxiety lab with Dr. Jon Abramowitz, working on studies involving intrusive thoughts and intolerance of uncertainty in OCD. She also worked in Dr. Sara Algoe’s Emotion and Social Interactions in Relationships lab studying laughter and positive emotions. Her honors thesis project combined these two interests by examining the use of laughter as an intervention during a stress induction task. Before starting at Vanderbilt, Kelly was a post-baccalaureate study coordinator at the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System/University of Michigan, working on a large randomized controlled trial of prolonged exposure and sertraline for PTSD in combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan with Dr. Sheila Rauch. Kelly attended Vanderbilt University from 2015 and received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2022. She completed her psychology internship at the Anxiety Disorders Center of the Hartford HealthCare Institute of Living. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow there.


Kelly is broadly interested in the dissemination of clinical science and evidence-based treatment for anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders. In the EARL lab, she studied cognitive-behavioral interventions for obsessive-compulsive disorder, especially ways to improve upon exposure therapy for OCD. Kelly is also interested in examining potential mechanisms of the development, maintenance, and treatment of anxiety and OCD, including maladaptive beliefs, behavioral avoidance, and emotion regulation.

Education and Training 

2009-2013 Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with Highest Distinction, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Honors Thesis (awarded highest honors): Laughter as a Buffer for Negative Thoughts in Anxiety-Provoking Situations

2015-2022 Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology, Vanderbilt University