Dr. Prescott received BA and MA degrees in psychology from Johns Hopkins University. She obtained her PhD from the University of Virginia where she studied clinical psychology and quantitative methods. She completed a clinical psychology internship at the Neuropsychiatric Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a post-doctoral fellowship in quantitative genetics in the Department of Human Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to joining USC in 2005, she was on the faculty of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics in the Department of Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Dr. Prescott has published over 100 articles in scholarly journals on genetic influences on behavior and various aspects of adult psychopathology. The goal of her research is to identify the mechanisms whereby genetic variation is translated into risk for alcoholism and related disorders. Toward this end she has applied data from twin studies to address etiological mechanisms in alcoholism, including the role of sex differences, comorbid psychopathology, early drinking onset, changes in marital status, and drinking motivations. She collaborates in molecular genetic studies of alcohol dependence, including linkage and association analyses. She also has interests in methodological issues in psychopathology, behavioral genetics, and longitudinal data analysis. Dr. Prescott serves as an associate editor of the journals Behavior Genetics and Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Her research has been funded by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, and the Virginia Youth Tobacco Foundation.
Dr. Prescott teaches undergraduate and graduate courses related to psychopathology, genetic influences on behavior, and research methodology. She has supervised undergraduate and graduate research projects on a variety of topics related to genetic and environmental risk factors for adult psychopathology.
In 2004, Dr. Prescott was the first recipient of the Theodore Reich Young Investigator Award from the International Society for Psychiatric Genetics for her research on genetic influences on alcoholism. In 1999 she received (with coauthors) the Templeton Foundation Award for Outstanding Paper on Religion in the Medical Sciences. Other honors include election to the Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology (in 1998) and serving on the Executive Committee of the Behavior Genetics Association (2000-2003).