Cameron L. Randall, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, recently was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health. The competitive individual pre-doctoral fellowship will allow Cameron to complete a large research project, Dental Pain Sensitivity, Fear, and Avoidance: Linkages with the MC1R Gene, an extension of his dissertation work.

 The study is aimed at exploring the role of genetic factors in the experience of dental pain and seeks to determine the mechanisms by which genes and environment interact to produce fear of pain, dental care-related fear, and dental treatment avoidance in humans. Additionally, the fellowship will provide Cameron with advanced and specialized training opportunities across several domains of the behavioral sciences and in statistical genetics.

Cameron is the first Eberly College of Arts and Sciences student to receive this type of award from the National Institutes of Health. His research, which bridges psychological science, behavior genetics, dentistry, and public health, is intended to improve our understanding of psychosocial barriers to health care in order to better the delivery of care and to reduce health disparities. Cameron’s specific research interests include: (1) the psychological processes involved in pain perception, treatment-seeking behavior, and health outcomes; (2) the etiology and treatment of healthcare-related fear and anxiety; and (3) the dissemination of knowledge on these topics to healthcare professionals.

Cameron completed his undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where his majors were biology and psychology. After working as a research assistant at the Center for Developmental Science in Chapel Hill, NC, he began studying clinical psychology at West Virginia University, earning a master’s degree in 2012. At WVU, he has been supported by the NIH-funded Research Training Program in the Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences (BBS).

Cameron will complete the NRSA project in collaboration with the Anxiety, Psychophysiology, and Pain Research Laboratory, which is directed by his mentor, Daniel W. McNeil, Ph.D. Dr. McNeil and Mary L. Marazita, Ph.D., at the University of Pittsburgh, will serve on the project as the sponsor and co-sponsor, respectively. For more information about the Anxiety, Psychophysiology, and Pain Research Laboratory, visit For more information about Cameron and his research, visit