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Travis Research Institute

Kim Lab
Kim Lab

Clinical Data Science Lab

Sung Kim, PhD


Psychology Building 330
Fuller Theological Seminary
180 N. Oakland Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101-1714






Our lab does empirical studies to understand abnormal psychological aspects (e.g., PTSD, mild traumatic brain injury) of humans using (neuro-) psychological assessment tools (e.g., MMPI) as well as brain imaging (e.g., PET scans of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans). We apply conventional methods popular in social sciences as well as more recent developments in artificial intelligence such as machine learning and deep neural networks to examine the complexity among psychological constructs.

Some popular research agenda items in our lab are:

Artificial Intelligence (Machine Learning and Deep Learning)

  • Unsupervised/supervised learning on text data and assessment data (classification; Latent Dirichlet Allocation; structural topic model)
  • Brain imaging (PET images among veterans with PTSD and/or mild traumatic brain injury)

Research on or with psychological assessment

  • Personality (MMPI, Big Five, sentence completion tests, etc.)
  • Intelligence (WAIS-IV)
  • Neuropsychology (D-KEFS, BVMT, HVLT, or Rey-O)


How Can We Deploy Artificial Intelligence to Analyze the Data from Psychological Assessment Measures Such as the MMPI?

The authors applied machine learning (ML) to the item responses of 44,846 MMPI-2 (Butcher et al., 1989) profiles to identify important predictors of gender identity, utilizing ML algorithms’ capacity to learn and recognize structural relationships in the data without being explicitly programmed or hypothesized (Samuel, 1959). Several ML algorithms, including XGBoost and deep neural networks, were trained on a train set using a 5-fold cross-validation to predict each profile’s gender from the item responses. Their predictions were then compared with each profile’s reported gender, a proxy variable for gender identity. Their prediction accuracy on the test set ranged from 96.09% to 97.06%. The majority of the 20 most important item responses for gender prediction identified by ML belonged to the seven-item Feminine Gender Identity scale in Martin and Finn (2010), who studied it using factor analysis and expert judgment, thereby demonstrating the validity and usefulness of ML for psychological research.



Neuropsychological Presentations of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Veterans

Objective: To explore the neuropsychological sequelae of blast-induced mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), several neuropsychological tests and self-reported measures of cognitive and emotional functioning were administered to 138 Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veterans. We hypothesized that veterans affected by mTBI and PTSD would manifest differences in neuropsychological testing and self-report measures compared to a group of healthy veteran controls and to veterans with only PTSD. Results suggest that among OIF/OEF veterans with blast-induced mTBI, PTSD with its accompanying emotional distress may be a significant determinant of subjective sense of well-being both cognitively and emotionally. The objective discrepancy in PS between the comorbid group and the healthy controls also appears largely due to PTSD more so than the remote blast-induced mTBI, as the group mean difference in PS became negligible after controlling for PTSD levels.



Dimensions of Religion and Spirituality: A Topic Modeling Approach (Structural Topic Model)

In lieu of the traditional text data analysis methods, structural topic modeling was utilized to analyze the text contents of 255 self-report inventories of religion and spirituality (R/S) published from 1929 to 2017. The study had two objectives: (a) to clarify and identify the latent dimensions of R/S inherent in the items of the measures; and (b) to examine and demonstrate the usefulness of a longitudinal topic modeling in the study of R/S. We identified 5,617 unique text terms from the measures and fitted topic models on those terms to extract latent dimensions called topics. We also simultaneously analyzed the longitudinal effect of publication decade (i.e., 1950s–2010s) on the topics. A topic model with three topics was chosen to best support the data: Experience of Transcendence (Topic 1), Engagement in Transcendence (Topic 2), and Essence of Transcendence (Topic 3). In addition, the longitudinal analysis revealed that Topic 1 showed a continual increase over the decades, while Topics 2 and 3 both demonstrated a gradual decrease, in effect matching the general trend of Topic 1’s increasing popularity in society and academia.



Religion, Cognition, and Emotion: What Can Machine Coding Tell Us About Culture?

As cultural conflicts are intensifying locally and internationally in the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic, fine-tuned investigation of culture/religion, especially that of the marginalized populations, holds the potential to reduce disparity and suffering in the global village. This study used 3 textual analysis programs—Topic Modeling, C-LIWC, and SSWC-Chinese—to shed light on the differences in cognition and emotion between two communities with radically different religious beliefs (Bimo and Christianity) among the Yi ethnic minority in Southwest China. Findings from these programs replicated the manual coding results of the previous study, and confirmed the prediction that cultural differences in cognition and emotion between the Yi-Bimo and the Yi-Christian fall along the divide between strong-ties and weak-ties rationality (Sundararajan, 2020a). Demonstrating an edge of advantage over manual coding, this machine-assisted analysis lends convergent validity to the previous study, and presents a more nuanced picture of diversity in emotion and cognition among the Chinese, with practical implications for future research and intervention for the marginalized populations.



Quantitative Textual Analysis of the Rotter Incomplete Sentence Blank (RISB-2) Responses

Despite its popularity as an assessment within counseling settings, the RISB-2 sentence completion test is often used in a subjective manner and interpreted independent of its official scoring manual. This project seeks to examine the validity of the RISB-2 via quantitative textual analysis of an existing dataset of scored RISB-2 assessments. As a part of this process, an AI-based scoring system will be developed which can score responses and match them to one of three possible categories. 


Research Collaboration with Huntington Medical Research Institute (HMRI)

The collaboration with HMRI involves administering, scoring, and interpreting neuropsychological batteries in pursuit of discovering deteriorating cognitive functioning over the course of a participant's lifetime. This is done in order to better understand what loss of functioning is more predictive of early signs of Alzheimer's Disease. The current projects being done in this lab involve comparing biomarkers such as amyloid levels and urine DCA levels to relevant neuropsychological domains. 


Patel, S., Kim, S.-H., Johansen, C., Meier, A., Nolty, A. T., Delgado, N., Fernandez, N., Dekel, N., Folbrecht, J., Mullins, W., & Behrendt, C. (2021). Threshold Score for the Self-Report Pediatric Distress Thermometer Rating Scale in Childhood Cancer Patients. Psycho-Oncology, 1-9.

Kim, S.-H., Rising, S., Green, R., & Sin, C. (2020). Machine learning analysis of the MMPI-2 items for gender identity. Journal of Asia Pacific Counseling, 10(2), 79-88.

Sundararajan, L., Ting, R. S., Hsieh, S.-L., & Kim, S.-H. (2020). Religion, Cognition, and Emotion: What can automated text analysis tell us about Culture? The Humanistic Psychologist.

Kim, S.-H., Martin, B. J., Lee, N., Suh, J., Walters, D., Silverman, D. H., & Berenji, G. R. (2020). Examining Post-traumatic Stress Disorder as a Key Post Injury Risk Factor in OIF/OEF Veterans with Blast-Induced Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Neuropsychology. Advance online publication.

Kim, S.-H., Lee, N., & King, P. E. (2020). Dimensions of religion and spirituality: A longitudinal topic modeling approach. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 59, 62-83. doi:10.1111/jssr.12639

Lim, E.-M., & Kim, S.-H. (2020). A validation of a multicultural competency measure amongst South Korean counselors. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 48, 15-29. doi:10.1002/jmcd.12161

Abernethy, A. D., & Kim, S.-H. (2018). The Spiritual Transcendence Index: An Item Response Theory Analysis. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 28(4), 240-256.

Lim, E.-M., Kang, H. J., Kim, S.-H., & Koo, J. K. (2018). The development and validation of a multi-cultural counseling competence scale for Korean counselors. Korean Journal of Counseling, 19(1), 421-442.

Lim, E.-M., Kang, H. J., Kim, S.-H., & Koo, J. K. (2018). The development and validation of a multi-cultural counseling competence scale for Korean counselors. Korean Journal of Counseling, 19(1), 421-442.

Kim, S.-H., McNeill, T. M., Strenger, N. R., & Lee, C. (2016). An Actor-Partner Interdependence analysis of the ABC-X stress model among clergy couples. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 8(1), 65-76.


Faculty and Principal investigator

Prof_Sung H. Kim

Sung Kim

Associate Professor of Psychology



Bethany Ling

Bethany Ling is a third year Psy.D. student. She is interested in neuropsychological assessment, and Asian American psychology. Her current research is focused on Asian adoptees within the U.S., and how narrative therapy may aid Asian adoptees in processing their experiences.

Paul Domigan

Paul Domigan is a second career, clinical psychology PhD student in Dr. Kim’s lab. Paul’s first career was in the field of MRI and PET/CT system development and holds several related patents. Paul’s current research is involved in understanding the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injury experienced by combat veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraqi theaters on cerebral glucose metabolism and measures neuropsychological performance. Paul earned engineering degrees from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Paul also earned an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and an MA in Psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Shant Rising

Shant Rising is a clinical psychology PhD student who is focused on studying traumatic brain injury and early detection of Alzheimer's Disease using neuropsychological testing. His dissertation will focus on identifying early neuropsychological deficits or patterns that may predict Alzheimer's Disease earlier on in its course. He currently works at Huntington Medical Research Institutes (HMRI). He is also involved in various projects that promote and integrate the view that mental and physical health are the same. His view of mental health is that the body is an extension of the brain to interact and learn from the environment around us. Thus, when our physical health is optimized, our mental and subjective states are given the weapons or tools to interact with our environment and others more adaptively. Shant earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a major in Psychology and a minor in Applied Psychology. He earned his MA in Clinical Psychology from Fuller Graduate School of Psychology.

Caleb Sin

Caleb Sin is a fourth year PhD student in Clinical Psychology. He is interested in clinical work such as neuropsychological assessment and psychotherapy in Asian American communities. His recent research interest is in the effects of mild traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder on memory and attention in veterans. His dissertation is in examining the effects of urine DCA levels as an indicator for early indicators of neuropsychological deficits in potential prediction of Alzheimer’s Disease. He earned his BA in Psychology from Biola University, and his MA in Clinical Psychology from Fuller Graduate School of Psychology.

Rachel Green

Rachel Green is in the fourth year of a PsyD. in Clinical Psychology. Primarily interested in research and clinical work within a forensic setting, her current research is focused on improving assessment administration practices in forensics settings, with a specific focus on individuals convicted of sexual crimes. Her clinical experience ranges from community mental health settings, research institutions, and nonprofits, where she has focused on providing care to underserved populations.

Elise Chan

Elise Chan is a second year PsyD student in clinical psychology. She has previous clinical experience in inpatient and outpatient mental health settings in Hong Kong and the U.S., working with individuals of diverse ages and backgrounds. Her research interests include exploring mindfulness-based interventions for depressive relapse prevention, as well as global and immigrant-based acculturative processes in Asian American and international student populations.

Sean Noe

Sean Noe is a third year PhD student. His research interests include spiritual development and gratitude. He is currently completing a Master’s project on spirituality in the lives of Salvadoran youth. He is also working on projects exploring experiences of gratitude and spirituality.

Ju-In Lee

Ju-In Lee is a second career, first year PhD student in Clinical Psychology. Ju-In’s first career was in Global Operations and as a Financial Analyst in Zurich, Switzerland. She earned two BA degrees in International Management and Economics in Germany and the UK, a Certificate in Theological and Pastoral Studies from the University of Oxford, and an MDiv and MA in Marriage and Family Therapy as well as Mental Health Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Her research interests include post-traumatic stress disorder and post-traumatic growth in North Korean refugees. 

Zach Wong

Zach Wong is a second-year PsyD student in Clinical Psychology. He has previous clinical experience working in community mental health settings, social service agencies, and hospital outpatient programs with BIPOC and individuals from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. His research interests include psychological assessment, the treatment and interventions for patients with serious mental illness (SMI), as well as mental health within the Asian American community and other minority populations. His current research project focuses on examining the validity of a semi-projective assessment measuring psychological maladjustment.

Rachel Woo

Rachel Woo is a first-year Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student. Her interests include neuropsychological/neurodevelopmental assessments and clinical work across the lifespan, particularly in older adults. She earned her BA in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.

Lab Alumni:

Darrell Walters is a clinical psychology PhD alumni who completed his APA-accredited internship at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. He has continued with post-graduate work in pediatric and adolescent neuropsychology under a board-certified neuropsychologist in private practice as he works toward board certification in clinical neuropsychology. Darrell is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and continues to do work with Daniel J. Siegel, MD, and the team at the Mindsight Institute. His dissertation was on the iatrogenic effects of cancer and its treatments; more specifically, he analyzed neuropsychological data through confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling to determine the source of memory complaints in a cohort of clinically referred female cancer survivors. Findings revealed encoding (i.e., attention span, processing speed, and learning efficiency) difficulties rather than true memory (i.e., recall) deficits.

Joy Suh is a recent graduate from the Clinical Psychology PhD program. She completed her internship at the Colorado Mental Health Institute Fort Logan in Denver, Colorado and is currently finishing a postdoctoral fellowship at Fuller Psychological and Family Services. In the fall of 2020, she will begin a neuropsychology postdoctoral fellowship at Cedar Sinai Medical Center to pursue specialization in neuropsychological assessment. 

Bess Martin

Narae Lee

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Jim Cummings, MDiv, MA
Research Administrator

Office Hours

8 am–5 pm


Room 326
180 N. Oakland Ave

Pasadena, CA 91182