Michael J. Zvolensky, Ph.D.

Michael Zvolensky

Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Professor
Director of the Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory / Substance Use Treatment Clinic
Clinical Psychology
Ph.D., West Virginia University

Heyne Building, Room 129

Biographical Summary

Dr. Michael J. Zvolensky is the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory and Substance Use Treatment Clinic (AHRL-SUTC) at the University of Houston (UH). He is also a research professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center at The University of Texas. His research program cuts across basic and applied work in the areas of anxiety, substance use disorders, and physical health problems (medical disease). He has published over 350 scholarly works. He has received numerous career awards for his scholarship, including the David Shakow Early Contribution to the Field Award (American Psychological Association), the President’s New Researcher Award (Association for Advancement of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies), and the Early Career Award (Anxiety Disorder Association of America). He is the Associate Editor of two journals in his area of expertise, currently sits on 10 editorial boards for other journals, and regularly reviews grants for national funding agencies. His research has been continuously funded by NIH since receiving his doctoral degree in 2001. Examples of some of his current grant-funded projects include (a) exercise-based smoking cessation for smokers with mental illness; (b) cognitive-behavioral treatments for anxiety/stress among tobacco using populations with and without HIV/AIDS; (c) enhanced smoking cessation program for first responders to the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11; and (d) integrated psychosocial treatment for cannabis dependence and anxiety/stress disorders. A growing aspect of his research program involves health disparities in the form of studying substance use-anxiety/stress relations among minority populations in the United States (e.g., Latino, African American).

Research Interests

  • Risk and Maintenance Factors for Anxiety Disorders
  • Substance Use Disorders Comorbidity with Anxiety Disorders
  • Role of Physical Health and Health Behaviors (e.g., aerobic exercise) in Anxiety Disorders and Addictive Disorders
  • Experimental Psychopathology and Translational Research
  • Health Disparities
  • Integrated Healthcare

Teaching Interest

  • Behavior Therapy
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Research Methodology
  • Acceptance and Mindfulness
  • Cultural Diversity

Selected Publications

Zvolensky, M. J., Farris, S. G., Schmidt, N. B., & Smits, J. A. J. (in press). The role of smoking inflexibility/avoidance in the relation between anxiety sensitivity and tobacco use and beliefs among treatment-seeking smokers. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.

Zvolensky, M. J., Bogiaizian, D., Salazar, P. L., Farris, S. G., & Bakhshaie, J. (in press). An anxiety sensitivity reduction smoking cessation program for Spanish-speaking smokers.  Cognitive and Behavioral Practice.

Langdon, K. J., Leventhal, A., Stewart, S., Rosenfield, D., Steeves, D., & Zvolensky, M. J. (2013). Anhedonia and anxiety sensitivity: Prospective relations to nicotine withdrawal symptoms during smoking cessation. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 74, 469-478.

Zvolensky, M. J., Forsyth, J. P., & Johnson, K. A. (2013). Laboratory methods in experimental psychopathology (pp. 7-23). In J. Comer and P. Kendall (Eds.) Oxford handbook of research strategies for clinical psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gonzalez, A., Zvolensky, M. J., Parent, J., Grover, K. W., & Hickey, M. (2012). HIV symptom distress and anxiety sensitivity in relation to panic, social anxiety, and depression symptoms among HIV+ adults. AIDS Patient Care and Sexually Transmitted Disease, 26, 156-164.

McMillan, K. A., Asmundson, G. J. G., Zvolensky, M. J., & Carleton, R. N. (2012). Startle response and anxiety sensitivity: Sub-cortical indices of physiologic arousal and fear responding. Emotion, 12, 1264-1272.

Smits, J. A. J., Tart, C. D., Rosenfield, D., & Zvolensky, M. J. (2011). The interplay between physical activity and anxiety sensitivity in fearful responding to CO2 challenge. Psychosomatic Medicine, 73, 498-503.

Zvolensky, M. J., Vujanovic, A. A., Bernstein, A., & Leyro, T. M. (2010). Distress tolerance: Theory, measurement, and relations to psychopathology. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 19, 406-410.

Leyro, T. M., Zvolensky, M. J., & Bernstein, A. (2010). Distress tolerance and psychopathological symptoms and disorders: A review of the empirical literature among adults. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 576-600.