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John C. Kinnamon Lab


John C. Kinnamon earned his doctorate in 1976 from the University of Georgia.

My research interests focus on the neurobiology of sensory systems. The vertebrate taste bud is used as a model for studying interactions between a sensory system and the central nervous system. Other interests include the development of technologies for imaging and reconstructing biological structures in three dimensions. Techniques include electron microscopy, high-voltage electron microscopy, immunocytochemistry, structure-function correlations, and computer-assisted 3-D reconstructions.

Representative Publications:

  • Kinnamon, J.C., & Royer, S.M. (1994). Synaptic organization of vertebrate taste buds. Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Microscopy Society of America, G.W. Bailey and A.J. Garratt-Reed (Eds.), San Francisco Press, pp. 104-105.
  • Ganchrow, D., J.R. Ganchrow, R. Gross-Isseroff and J.C. Kinnamon. (1995). Taste bud cell generation in the perihatchling chick. Chemical Senses, 20, 19-28.
  • Royer, S.M. and J.C. Kinnamon. (1996). Comparison of high-pressure freezing/freeze substitution and chemical fixation of catfish barbel taste buds. Microscopy Research and Technique, 35, 385-412.

Graduate Program:


This program prepares students for research and teaching careers in affective science and social psychology. Specific expertise of the program faculty includes emotion, social cognition, psychophysiology, and coping. All program faculty participate in the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience program, but not all Affect/Social students participate in DCN (it is not a requirement of the program). Students are trained to conduct research using methods of affective science, social and cognitive psychology as well as developmental psychology, neuropsychology, and psychophysiology. In addition, students have the opportunity to examine social psychological questions both in normal populations and in special populations, such as individuals with autism or those with traumatic experiences. In addition to program faculty, students often work with faculty in the cognitive, clinical, or developmental areas.


The Cognitive Psychology program offers broad training in theory, methodology, and research in an atmosphere of close interaction between faculty and students. This program provides training in topic areas such as: memory, reading, language, neural modeling, reasoning, unconscious cognition, and social cognition; and in methodologies such as: fMRI, ERPs, behavioral genetics, and psychophysiology. Both adult and developmental perspectives on issues are covered. All Cognitive faculty participate in the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience program and thus offer a cognitive neuroscience perspective in each of the content areas. Cognitive students can opt to participate in the DCN program or not, depending on the focus of their interests. The cognitive research labs are well equipped with audiovisual equipment and computers and software for online control of experiments and data analysis. Students interested in imaging cognition can take coursework on imaging in our department and use the magnet at the nearby medical school for research studies. Access to patients with neuropsychological disorders and developmental disabilities allows our students the opportunity to study the components of cognition from the perspective of neurological breakdowns.

Cognitive students participate in regular meetings of the Cognitive Research group. This group of students and faculty meets to hear about each other's research and discuss articles. It gives students the opportunity to develop their ideas and presentation skills in a supportive environment as well as providing fun intellectual interactions.

Graduates of the Cognitive program are prepared for both academic and industry jobs involving cognitive research. Recent graduates have obtained academic positions at universities with an emphasis on research as well as smaller teaching colleges; jobs in industry have tended to be in educational research and in human factors.

Clinical Child

Our program seeks to attract students with a strong interest in clinical child psychology. We are a clinical science/scientist-practitioner program. Our particular goals are to produce Ph.D. psychologists who: 1) have the requisite knowledge and skills for entry into the field of clinical psychology, 2) can contribute to scientific knowledge, 3) can carry out science based clinical work, and 4) approach their work with sensitivity to ethical issues and to developmental, cultural, and individual differences.

We believe that the practice of clinical psychology requires a stronger scientific/research foundation than it now has. We are a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science, which is a coalition of doctoral training programs that share a common goal of producing and applying scientific knowledge to the assessment, understanding, and amelioration of human problems. Membership in the Academy is granted only after a thorough peer review process. Our membership in the Academy indicates that our program is committed to excellence in scientific training and to using clinical science as the foundation for designing, implementing, and evaluating assessment and intervention procedures. Thus, our program is designed to produce high quality researchers and science-based clinicians. Students also have opportunities to work with faculty in other areas (e.g. McIntosh, Watamura).

We believe in an integrative approach to science and practice wherein each must continually inform the other. Practicing psychologists should have a research orientation in their clinical practice. Likewise, researchers should conduct research that is relevant to and informed by clinical work. All of our students are expected to be able to function as both clinical researchers and as science-based practitioners. At the same time, our program is characterized by a high degree of flexibility and a wide range of apprenticeship opportunities, providing students opportunities to develop specializations of their choice. Training opportunities are offered in the context of a junior colleague model, in which students learn to carry out clinical research and practice with increasing degrees of independence and responsibility, preparing them for independent professional careers. We envision a diverse array of professional careers for our students, including research careers in universities, institutes, and medical schools, but also embracing leadership roles in public service, program development, teaching, and clinical practice. Our ideal would be to have 50% of our graduates accept academic or primarily research positions. We believe that applicants primarily interested in careers in private or independent practice will find other programs to be a better match for their interests.

Our students' careers are consistent with our program's objectives. In our survey for our 2006 accreditation report, we found that 64% of recent graduates engage in research in their current position at least 20% of their time; 56% engage in direct clinical work at least 20% of the time, and 52% engage in indirect clinical work (supervision/consultation) at least 20% of the time. Finally, 44% did both research at least 20% of their time and direct or indirect clinical work at least 20% of their time.

Accredited by APA in clinical psychology since 1964, the University of Denver program is one of the few in the country that primarily focuses on providing training in clinical child psychology. Almost all of our clinical faculty, rather than just one or two, have special interests in children and families. In fact, most of the faculty in the other areas of the department are interested in children or psychopathology. Consequently, the training in research and clinical work with children and their families is much more intensive and comprehensive than in most other graduate programs.

Moreover, our program is one of the very few programs in the world that offers graduate training in clinical child neuropsychology. All students in our program receive at least three months of training in this aspect of clinical child work. Clinical students who are also in the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience program receive much more extensive training in clinical child neuropsychology and can pursue careers in this specialty after completing graduate school.

An emphasis on children does not, however, mean that training in working with adults is neglected. The child is viewed as a member of a number of important social systems (e.g., school, family, community). Therefore, all students learn to work with parents, the family, and community systems relevant to children (e.g., schools). Furthermore, students receive training in adult psychopathology, adult psychotherapy, marital therapy, and community interventions. Opportunities for working with research-clinical populations such as young couples and distressed adults as well as children are also available. Thus, while we provide much more training with children than do most other clinical psychology programs, we also provide a significant amount of training with adults.


The Developmental Psychology program offers broad training in theory and research in an atmosphere of close interaction between faculty, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and undergraduate students. We have a strong history and tradition across the department devoted to the study of developmental processes.

Opportunities for training exist in the areas of perceptual, cognitive, social, and emotional development. Specific areas of expertise of the Developmental faculty include attention, memory, executive functions, spatial cognition, temporal representation, stress, health, child care, parenting, and the self-system. In addition, several Developmental faculty participate in the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience (DCN) program and thus offer a cognitive neuroscience perspective in each of the content areas. Developmental students can opt to participate in the DCN program or not, depending on the focus of their interests.

There is a strong focus on research throughout the program, and a long-standing commitment to multidisciplinary research. Developmental research labs are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for data collection and analysis including high-density electrophysiology (EEG and ERPs), eye-tracking, psychophysiological markers of stress and health, and video recording and analysis. In addition, cross-area emphases in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and Developmental Psychopathology, as well as on-going collaborations with scientists at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, and the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado, Boulder provide unique collaborative opportunities for students.

In addition to coursework and research, the developmental program offers opportunities for intellectual and professional development in a variety of formal and informal settings. For example, students, faculty and post-doctoral fellows in the developmental program meet on a regular basis to discuss each other's research. These meetings give students the opportunity to develop their ideas and presentation skills in a supportive environment as well as providing fun intellectual interactions. Developmental students also have the option of participating in other research meetings in the department such as the Neuroscience Research Group, the Cognitive Research Group, and the Stress Research Network. Several of our faculty and students also participate in the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Graduates of the Developmental program are well prepared for independent research, scholarship and teaching careers.


Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Specialization

The Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience (DCN) Program at the University of Denver is one of the few cognitive neuroscience programs in the world to emphasize the processes of development across the life span. This encompassing perspective results in a diverse yet highly interactive community, where graduate students can develop their particular interests while being informed by a wide range of approaches to cognitive neuroscience. Members of our faculty use a variety of methods to investigate cognitive neuroscience issues in typical, special, and brain-injured populations.

The Psychology Department includes programs in Developmental, Clinical Child, Cognitive, and Social psychology. The DCN program stands as a specialization within each of these areas of psychology while also bridging them with a common vision. Thus, a student in the DCN program is also a student in one of these four areas. The DCN program capitalizes on the interdisciplinary environment that exists within the Psychology Department and across other departments at the University of Denver, and with other universities in Colorado. The program includes course work in psychology, neuroscience, and biology, and participation in a wide range of research groups. Students are trained in a variety of research methods which are applied to a variety of normal and abnormal populations. These research methods include cognitive experiments, neuroimaging, psychophysiology, and both behavioral and molecular genetics. In addition to taking courses in the Psychology and Biology Departments, students can receive training through the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. For clinical students, this is one of the few programs that offer graduate level training in clinical child neuropsychology. The program is also distinctive in offering a special focus on social neuroscience.

Curriculum: Students enrolled in DCN learn essential anatomical, physiological, and psychopharmacological information about the developing brain. They also master various research methods for studying normal and abnormal development. The DCN program provides extensive training in all of these skills in five fundamental ways, through student research, coursework, internships, workshops, and research groups.

Research. The most important aspect of training is research conducted in close collaboration with a faculty mentor. Every student will have a primary advisor but will be able to work with any of the faculty members; our program emphasizes the availability of different types of input and accessibility of faculty from different areas.

Course work. To attain solid training in neuroscience methods, all students in the program will take three of these seven neuroscience courses: cognitive neuroscience, neuroimaging, psychophysiology, psychoneuroimmunology, neural network modeling, behavioral neurology, and neuropharmacology. Students also take core courses in neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, and developmental psychology, and other courses to meet the requirements of the Department (e.g. in statistics and ethics), and their particular area, (i.e., additional courses in cognitive, developmental, clinical or social psychology.)

Internships. Students gain valuable hands-on experience through choosing practica in one of several areas: child clinical neuropsychology, neuroimaging, and research with abnormal populations, including children with autism, dyslexia, other speech and language disorders, ADHD, and various mental retardation syndromes. In addition, adjunct faculty from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center conduct research on schizophrenia, Huntington's and multiple sclerosis.

Workshops. Workshops on neuroimaging and behavioral and molecular genetics provide additional training in critical neuroscience research skills. DCN faculty and students are conducting research using both structural and functional neuroimaging.

Research Groups. Research mentors have periodic lab meetings at which students present their research. In addition, a number of research groups meet regularly, including the Neuroscience Research Group, the Autism Research Group, and the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group.

The Neuroscience Research Group, held at DU, brings together scientists from the greater Denver area (including the University of Colorado, Boulder, the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and Colorado State University) who share an interest in neuroscience. The result is a rich and exciting interaction of various perspectives focused on understanding common questions.