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Rohan PalmerAssociate ProfessorDirector of the Behavioral Genetics of Addiction Laboratory


I began my career in Behavior Genetics at William Paterson University where I earned an undergraduate degree in Biology in 2005. Soon after, I attended graduate school at the Institute for Behavioral Genetics (IBG) at the University of Colorado at Boulder where I earned my PhD in 2010. Soon after, I was appointed to the NIMH postdoctoral training grant in child mental health at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University where I conducted research on childhood/adolescent behaviors that predispose individuals to SUDs. 

In 2012, I was awarded a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Mentored Research Scientist Award (K01) and joined the faculty at Brown University. My NIAAA K01 focused on systems-based genetic studies of complex traits, specifically, alcohol use disorders. In 2015, I was recognized as a Rising start by the Association for Psychological Science for my research on the genetic and behavioral mechanisms of substance use and disorders. I later joined the Emory faculty in September 2016. Research in my lab (see below) focuses on mechanisms of substance use and related disorders/traits using a variety of methodological approaches all done in collaboration with national and international collaborators.


  • Rollins School of Public Health
  • Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology
  • Providence VA Medical Center
  • Psychiatric Genetics Substance Use Disorder Working Group
  • NIDA Genetics Consortium


Research Interests

My research centers on understanding the persistent and transient problems leading to alcohol and other substance use disorders (SUDs). Current research in the lab include:

  1. the identification of genetic and environmental factors for SUDs using twin, family, and whole-genome data,
  2. developing, evaluating, and testing the utility of multivariate approaches (e.g., hierarchical Bayesian modeling and Dimensionality Reduction) for enhancing the identification of genetic factors for complex traits, and
  3. refining clinical phenotypes and endophenotypes to enhance gene finding studies for SUDs. 

How to Join the Palmer BGA Lab Research Team

All interested parties should review the instructions on our website.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Please email Dr. Palmer or a graduate student to confirm if the lab is accepting undergraduate research assistants.

Application for undergraduate research education should be submitted using the online application form after consulting with a graduate student in the lab. A two-year commitment is required. All undergraduates undergo 1-2 semesters of training before being permitted to conduct research for credit (PSYCH 499, NBB 499, or departmental equivalent; 12+ hours/week required). Honors are available to lab members upon approval from Dr. Palmer. This is usually approved for students who have been with the lab for 2+ years (12+ hours/week required).

Postdoctoral Training

Individuals interested in pursuing postdoctoral training in behavioral/psychiatric genetics should contact Dr. Palmer directly. Postdoctoral applicants are strongly encouraged to seek F32 (Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award) application; 2+ years of support or Emory FIRST Program; 3 years of support. Limited R01 funded postdoctoral spots may be available.


  • PSYC 180: Research in College Drug Use
  • PSYC 190: Freshman Seminar in Psychology
  • PSYC 223: Drugs and Behavior
  • PSYC 385R: Special Topics in Psychology
  • PSYC 720: Behavioral Effects of Drugs
  • PSYC 770R: Topical Seminars in Psychology