Graduate Research Assistants are a vital part of the TRIP Lab, as they provide leadership and guidance to undergraduates, high school interns, and volunteers.


Dr. Stavrinos effectively implements a hierarchical peer mentoring structure in the TRIP Lab. This teaching model is guided by Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory, a proven and successful approach involving hierarchical peer teaching. The hierarchical method of teaching means that more advanced students play an active role in teaching newer students. Graduate students mentor undergraduate students in collecting and compiling data, and performing appropriate data analytic techniques to answer research questions they have developed. Less experienced students benefit through learning from multiple teachers and multiple styles.


Given their significant involvement TRIP Lab, graduate students are also expected to produce theses and dissertations, as well as first-author and co-author manuscripts and scientific presentations.

Tyler Bell
  • Tyler Bell
    Tyler Bell Graduate Assistant

    Tyler Bell received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a training in Applied Statistics at the University of South Alabama, and is currently a fourth-year graduate student in the Lifespan Developmental Psychology Program with a focus on the role of health on cognitive processes and injury risk. He is an active member of the American Psychological Association and the American Pain Society, and the Southeastern Psychological Association where he has presented his research for the last three years. Recently, he has completed his Master’s thesis which assessed cognitive deficits in chronic pain which may impact risk of future injury.  He is currently assisting with studies looking at the role of traumatic brain injury on cognitive function and health across the lifespan. He is also beginning other projects for his dissertation assessing the role of “cognitive fog” on driving ability after traumatic brain injury. Upon completion from the Ph.D. program, he aspires to receive post-doctorate training to pursue a career on injury prevention among at-risk health populations.

    “Being a part of the TRIP lab has been an incredible experience which has allowed me to better understand the role of health psychology in cognitive assessment and injury prevention. Dr. Stavrinos provides a rich environment to train as future researcher and mentor.”
    Selected Publications

    Bell, T. R.; Dávila, A. L.; Clay, O.; Markides, K. S.; & Crowe, M. (2017). The association between cognitive decline and incident depressive symptoms in a sample of older Puerto Rican adults with diabetesCognitive decline. International Psychogeriatrics.  doi:

    Pope, C.N., Bell, T. R., & Stavrinos, D. (2017). Mechanisms behind distracted driving behavior: The role of age and executive function in the engagement of distracted driving. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 98, 123-129. doi:

    Email Tyler: 

Benjamin McManus
  • Benjamin McManus
    Benjamin McManus Graduate Assistant

    Benjamin McManus is currently a fifth-year graduate student in the Lifespan Developmental Program. Ben’s research focuses on human factors, cognition, and occupational factors involved in driving safety. He is currently collecting data for his NIOSH Education & Research Center-funded dissertation project examining sleep, fatigue, stress and driving performance in medical residents. Ben’s Master’s thesis work on sustained attention in commercial truck drivers has recently been published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, and his work in drowsy driving has been featured in U.S. News & World Report. In addition to leading his dissertation study, Ben is involved in studies investigating traumatic brain injury and driving (DART and SAF-TI) by running participants, programming the driving simulator, and managing driving simulator data. Ben enjoys furthering his programming, data management and analysis skill set at every opportunity. Ben aspires to continue his work investigating occupational considerations and human factors in injury prevention with a career in research and development of ergonomic interventions to improve driving performance.

    “I have had the unique opportunity to be a member of the TRIP lab as an undergraduate assistant, a post-baccalaureate assistant, and now as a graduate assistant. Dr. Stavrinos’ invaluable leadership of the TRIP lab has provided a vital foundation for the skills and experience necessary for success at all stages of my career. The TRIP lab is a thriving and active hub for not only the acquisition of knowledge in the fields of injury prevention, but also in translating the findings of our research for implementation in the community. The mentorship and opportunities provided by Dr. Stavrinos foster an environment where assistants at all stages of his or her career can thrive, gain crucial experience, and enjoy all aspects of the research process.”

    Selected Publications

    McManus, B., Heaton, K., & Stavrinos, D. (2017). Commercial motor vehicle driving performance: An examination of attentional resources and control. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 23(2) 191-203.

    McManus, B., Heaton, K., Vance, D. E., & Stavrinos, D. (2016). The useful field of view assessment predicts simulated commercial motor vehicle driving performance. Traffic Injury Prevention, 17(7), 763-769.

    McManus, B., Cox, M. K., Vance, D. E. &, Stavrinos, D. (2015). Predicting motor vehicle collisions in a driving simulator in young adults using the useful field of view assessment. Traffic Injury Prevention, 16(8), 818-823

    Selected Presentations

    McManus, B., Porterfield, J.R., Heaton, K.H., & Stavrinos, D. (2017, June). Sleep and driving safety in surgical residents. Abstract submitted for presentation at the 129th Annual Meeting of the Southern Surgical Association, Hot Springs, VA.

    McManus, B. & Stavrinos, D. (2017, March). Occupational Demands on Fatigue and Driving Safety in Surgical Residents. Oral presentation at the Tenth International Conference on Managing Fatigue. San Diego, CA.

    McManus, B. (2016, October). A Hard Day’s Night: How Work Impacts Driving Safety. Presented at the 2016 UAB Three Minute Thesis Competition [Winner of preliminary session, advanced to semifinals]. Birmingham, AL.

    McManus, B. (2016, March). Vigilance in commercial drivers: Individual differences moderate the effect of secondary tasks. Presented at 2016 UAB Graduate Student Research Days [Second Place Oral Presentation]. Birmingham, AL.

    McManus, B., Stavrinos, D. (2016, January). Safety perspectives on distraction and distracted walking. (Workshop:  Distracted Walking: An Emerging Problem in Need of Evidence-Based Solutions). 95th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board. Washington, DC.

    Email Ben:

Maria Lechtreck
  • Maria Lechtreck
    Maria Lechtreck

    Maria Lechtreck received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Alabama, majoring in Social Science and minoring Psychology.  After decades of employment, she decided to return to her interests in psychology by applying to graduate school.  She came to UAB to begin a transition that included taking a few undergraduate classes to update her knowledge and joining the laboratory of Dr. Bulent Turan to gain the research experience that had been unavailable to her earlier.  Under Dr. Turan’s supervision, she assisted with studies involving the stigma of living with HIV, the performance anxiety of musicians, and the coordination of hormonal responses to social status threats.  In 2016, she enrolled in graduate school at UAB where she is currently a second year student in the Behavioral Neuroscience program.  Maria has ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and is interested in ADHD research.  She heard about the TRIP Lab while attending her first graduate class at UAB.  Dr. Stavrinos, the Director of the TRIP Lab, has research interests in ADHD and driving safety, and so her lab appeared to be a great fit.  Maria completed one of her first-year laboratory rotations with the TRIP Lab and decided to make the lab her graduate research home.  Maria is especially interested in how deficits in emotional regulation may effect driving outcomes in persons living with ADHD.

    “I had selected to do a rotation in the TRIP Lab because Dr. Stavrinos and I share overlapping research interests.  I decided to stay because I saw how well Dr. Stavrinos and her Lab Manager run the Lab and saw the dedication Dr. Stavrinos has to mentoring students through all stages of their development as researchers.”

Austin Svancara
  • Austin  Svancara
    Austin Svancara Graduate Assistant

    Austin Svancara received his Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Kansas. Upon graduating he transitioned into a research assistant position at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, where he developed a passion for research in transportation safety. His primary area of interest is in the role of perceptual and cognitive processes in driving outcomes among drivers with developmental disabilities, particularly Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Now entering his first year as a graduate student in the Lifespan Developmental Psychology Program, he is excited to be a part of the TRIP Family!

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