Tamika C.B. Zapolski, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

LD 126K
(317) 274-2934
Research Areas:
Clinical Psychology


Dr. Zapolski's PRISM (Prevention Research In Substance Use & Minority Health) Lab focuses on risk for substance use and other health behaviors among African Americans. Much of her previous work has focused on alcohol use, as important race differences have been observed. Specifically, research has shown that comparative to Whites, African Americans tend to (a) report lower rates of alcohol used based on both age and gender, (b) report later initiation of drinking, and (c) report higher rates of abstinence. Yet, paradoxically, African Americans experience more problems at comparable levels of use. 

Given limited integrative literature on understanding African American risk for alcohol use and related problems, Dr. Zapolski developed a theoretical model for African American alcohol use that was recently published in Psychological Bulletin. Using this theoretical model and an ecological framework, Dr. Zapolski has expanded on her research to also understand risk/protective for marijuana use among African Americans.

Specifically, she is examining the interactive effect of cultural variables (e.g., discrimination, racial socialization, racial identity) on physiological, individual level (e.g., personality, expectancies, perceptions of risk), interpersonal (e.g., parental/peer support, parent/peer substance use, drug use beliefs), and environmental (e.g., access to drugs, school support, neighborhood disorganization) factors to better understand drug choice, course of use and consequences among African American youth and young adult popuations.

Students in Dr. Zapolski's lab are also examining risk for other health behaviors, such as risky sexual behavior and illicit drug use among both youth and college populations. Dr. Zapolski also engages in intervention research on the implementation of a brief Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills group for adolescents in school and community settings.

Research Areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Health
  • Substance Abuse & Addictions

Graduate Students

  • Alia Rowe
  • Devin Banks
  • Richelle Clifton
  • Shirin Khazvand


  • 2013 Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, University of Kentucky
  • 2013 Clinical Internship, University of Kentucky Medical Center
  • 2008 M.S. Clinical Psychology, University of Kentucky
  • 2005 B.A. Psychology, University of Missouri-Columbia

Publications & Professional Activity

Zapolski, T.C.B., & Smith, G.T. (in press). Pilot study: Implementing a brief DBT skills program in schools to reduce health risk behaviors among early adolescents. Journal of School Nursing.

Zapolski, T.C.B., Fisher, S., Wen, W, & Barnes-Najor, J. (2016). What can parents do? Examining the role of parents on buffering the negative relationship between racial discrimination, negative affect, and behavioral outcomes among African American youth. Clinical Psychological Science, 4(4), 718-731. doi: 10.1177/2167702616646371

Zapolski, T.C.B., Baldwin, P. & Lejuez, C.W. (2016). Examining risk for frequency cocaine use: Focus on an African American treatment population. Substance Use & Misuse, 51(7), 882-891. http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/10826084.2016.1155618

Zapolski, T.C.B., Lau, K.S., Garcia, C.A., Jarjoura, G.R. & Aaslma, M.C. (2016). Examining the influence of ethnic/racial socialization on aggressive behaviors among juvenile offenders. Journal of Juvenile Justice 5(1), 65-79.

Hershberger, A., Zapolski, T.C.B., & Aaslma, M.C. (2016). Social Support as a buffer between discrimination and cigarette use in juvenile offenders. Addictive Behaviors, 59, 7-11.doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.03.00

Birkley, E.L., Zapolski, T.C.B., & Smith, G.T. (2015). Race differences in the prospective relationship between depression and alcohol use from elementary school to middle school. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Zapolski, T. C. B., Pedersen, S. L., McCarthy, D. M., & Smith, G. T. (2014). Less drinking, yet more problems: Understanding African American drinking and related problems. Psychological Bulletin,140(1), 188-223. doi:10.1037/a0032113

Zapolski, T.C.B., & Smith, G.T. (2013). Comparison of parent versus child-report of child impulsivity traits and prediction of outcome variables. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 35 (3), 301-313. doi:10.1007/s10862-013-9349-2


  • Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Center
  • Indiana Alcohol Research Center
  • Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute
  • Research Society on Alcoholism
  • Society for Prevention Research


  • Learning for Early Careers in Addiction & Diversity (LEAD) Program Scholar
  • Center for Translational and Prevention Science (CTAPS) Mentored Scientist
  • National Institute on Minority Health Disparities (NIMHD) Translational Health Disparities Course Scholar
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) National Diversity Scholars Network Professional Development Fellow
  • Psychology Summer Institute (PSI) Fellowship funded by SAMHSA