Research

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Lab Members

Principal Investigator: Kate McLaughlin, PhD

Katie McLaughlin is a clinical psychologist and psychiatric epidemiologist with interests in the effects of the childhood social environment on risk for psychopathology and in the development of sustainable interventions to prevent the onset of psychiatric disorders in disadvantaged segments of the population. 

She has a joint Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and in Chronic Disease Epidemiology from Yale University and is currently a faculty member at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.  Dr. McLaughlin's research examines the impact of childhood exposure to trauma, violence, and social disadvantage on risk for psychiatric disorders across the life course.  

She has identified psychological, physiological, and neurodevelopmental mechanisms that underlie the relationship between exposure to adverse environments in childhood and the subsequent onset of psychiatric disorders, including elevated emotional and physiological reactivity to stress, poor emotion regulation skills, and disrupted development of the cerebral cortex. 

Dr. McLaughlin’s current research includes a project examining the impact of childhood adversity on the development of physiological stress response systems and the role that these systems play in increasing risk for mental health problems among adolescents exposed to adverse rearing environments as well as a neuroimaging project examining the impact of child maltreatment on brain development and neural functioning in adolescents. 

Dr. McLaughlin is also involved in the development and evaluation of interventions aimed at preventing the onset of psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents. She is currently working with the Boston Public Schools to develop a stress-reduction intervention aimed at preventing the onset of anxiety and mood disorders in high school students.

Lab Coordinators

Sonia Alves (contact Sonia)

I graduated from  Smith College in 2010 with a B.A. in Psychology and Education. I joined the Sheridan Lab in October of 2010 as a full time research assistant on the Stress and Adolescent Study. Specifically, this is a psychophysiology study observing how stress in adolescents' everyday lives affects their mental and physical health. To study this occurrence, we are testing stress hormone and autonomic nervous system reactivity in adolescents, in addition to asking them questions about their health. We are particularly interested in how health is related to hormone and heart rate measures. To assess these measures we collect saliva samples as well as heart rate recordings. I plan on attending graduate school in the next few years to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. 

Meredith Gabriel (contact Meredith)

I graduated from Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Colleges, with a B.A. in Cognitive Neuroscience in May 2012. I joined the Stress and Development Lab in the summer of 2012 after graduation. I am currently working on the neuroimaging aspects of the Stress and Development Lab’s SAS study, using both EEG and fMRI to look at the impact of exposure to trauma on neural structure and function in adolescents. I ultimately plan on pursuing a graduate degree in Cognitive Neuroscience and/or Public Health.

Leslie Rith-Najarian (contact Leslie)

Two years ago, I joined the Stress and Development Lab team as a research assistant on the SAS study. This experience developed my own interests in stress research, inspiring me to write a senior thesis that examined the relationship between stress experiences and performance ability in adolescents. After graduating from Harvard College, not wanting to leave this wonderful group of people, I joined the lab as a full time research assistant in July of 2012. Now my focus is on running participants in Jacobs Foundation study, which examines adolescent peer group contexts and how they relate to psychopathology, emotion regulation, and risk-taking behavior. On the side, I am currently deciding what kind of weather I prefer, as I am in the process of applying to developmental psychopathology and clinical psychology PhD programs.

Research Assistants 

Laura Blowick

I received my B.A. from University College Dublin in 2009 and my M.S.c in Clinical Psychology from Bangor University, Wales in 2010. After moving to Boston in 2010, I worked with multi-stressed families and children and adolescents with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. I joined the Stress and Development Lab as a research assistant in 2012 to focus on exploring the relationship between childhood stressors and psychopathology. My goal for the future is complete a PhD in Clinical Psychology and continue research focusing on the long term effects of experiencing childhood stressors and intergenerational complex trauma.

Andrea Duys

I graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2011 with a B.A. in psychology. I began working in the Sheridan Lab in February of 2012 where I contributed to a study that is looking at the neural markers of ADHD in children using EEG and fMRI. More recently, I have been working in the Stress and Development lab on the Jacobs study, which assesses adolescent stress in relation to peer groups and emotion regulation among other things. In the future, I plan to complete a PhD program with a specific interest in stress-related psychopathology.

Peter Franz

I graduated from Cornell University in 2010 with a BS in Industrial and Labor Relations, focusing much of my coursework on organizational behavior. I am now taking courses in Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as I prepare to apply to PhD programs in developmental and clinical psychology. I am extremely fortunate to have worked on several different projects over the past year in the Stress and Development and Sheridan Labs. These projects have both enabled me to assist in fascinating developmental research and helped me refine my personal research interest in the intersection of cognition and emotion regulation across development.

Celia Gagliardi

I am currently a junior at Boston University as a Neuroscience major. I started working in the Stress and Development Lab in January of 2012 as an evaluator and now I am working in the Jacobs study as an operator. The time I've spent in the lab has convinced me that I'd like to start my own research some day on childhood disorders such as Autism and ADHD. After graduating I plan on working in a lab for another year for more experience in the lab and then apply to graduate programs for Neuroscience.

Dennis Gu (contact Dennis)

I am a junior at Brown University concentrating in Biology.  As a research assistant, I am currently involved in the SAS and Jacobs study, examining adolescent responses to stress and social context respectively. I assist in EEG and fMRI data collection to measure neural structure and function in adolescents as well as data analysis. After graduating, I hope to attend medical school and pursue a career in pediatrics. 

Angela Oh

My name is Angela Oh and I am a sophomore at Harvard college concentrating in neurobiology with a secondary in Visual and Environmental Studies. I am originally from Los Angeles and I am very interested in working with children. I am current working as an operator at the lab and interested in getting more involved with the fMRI studies.  I am also very interested in research involving sleep and memory and have interned at Dr. Stickgold's lab in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. After graduating, I hope to attend medical school where I can learn more clinical aspects of stress, memory, and sleep. 

Morgan Patch

I just moved to Cambridge from San Francisco to start my Ed.M in Mind, Brain, and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before that, I was working as a counselor in a treatment milieu with severely traumatized women on parole. I have been assisting in the Stress and Development Lab since September of this year, working on the Jacobs Foundation study. I hope to add my experience in the lab to my evolving research interests in neurobiologically informed interventions for learners with severe trauma histories.

Chris Pearman

I am a senior at Boston University majoring in psychology and minoring in business. I joined the Stress and Development Lab in January 2012 as a research assistant where I was trained to be an experimenter and operator. Currently, I serve as an operator for the Jacobs Study. After I graduate, I plan to pursue a Ph.D in either clinical psychology or industrial/organizational psychology.

Jared Scheck (contact Jared)

I am a rising senior at Boston University majoring in Psychology. I joined the Stress and Development lab as a research assistant in January of 2012. I am currently working on the Jacobs study, where I act as operator, and I have previously assisted with the Stress and Adolescent Study. Prior to my time at CHB, I worked as a research assistant at the V.A. hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. There I worked with Dr. Lindsay Smith in her investigation of concurrent use of alcohol and alcohol-interactive medication among veterans. After graduation, I plan to attend graduate school to pursue Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Marcus Way (contact Marcus)

I graduated from Harvard College in 2012 with a degree in neurobiology and a secondary concentration in economics.  I joined the Sheridan Lab and the Stress and Development Lab in May 2012.  I'm currently contributing to the longitudinal ADHD study, which seeks to identify neural markers for ADHD in young children and ultimately aid in the development of a more reliable paradigm for early ADHD diagnosis.  In the future, I hope pursue graduate education in neuroscience or biomedical engineering.  

Graduates 

Caroline Chan

I joined the Stress and Development lab in my junior year of my undergraduate career hoping to gain more experience in clinical psychology. As a Neurobiology major, I had been exposed to and greatly enjoyed fMRI laboratory work but wanted to have more patient contact, particularly with teenagers. I found that in the Stress and Development lab serving as both an operator and evaluator for the SAS study. In my senior year, I was able to gain more exposure to analyzing cardiac output data collected through SAS. I graduated from Harvard College in 2012 and began a clinical research coordinator job at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Center of Addiction Medicine a few months later. My job here as merged my interests in fMRI laboratory work and clinical psychology. I am currently working as a coordinator on a study which examines whether real time fMRI can be used to help individuals with nicotine addiction control their smoking urges and another study which studies the reward systems in individuals with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. After working here for two years, I plan on attending graduate school in psychology and pursuing a career as a child psychologist.

Kate Herts

I received my B.A. from Brown University in 2008 and my M.S. from Harvard School of Public Health in 2012. I was privileged to join the Stress and Development Lab as a research assistant while at Harvard. I currently work on the Boston Public Schools Stress Reduction Intervention project, which will build stress management into existing curricula in order to improve students’ physical and mental health. In the future, I hope to continue to conduct research and intervention work to mitigate the effects of childhood stressors on mental health outcomes. I am particularly interested in understanding risk and protective factors that link childhood chronic illness to psychopathology. To this end, I will begin my doctoral studies in clinical psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles in the fall. 

Louisa Michl

In 2009, I graduated from Middlebury College with a BA in Psychology and Spanish. After spending two years as a research assistant and project coordinator at the Judge Baker Children’s Center, Harvard Medical School, I joined the Stress & Development Lab in the summer of 2011. Here I have been involved in several studies focused on identifying risk factors for mental disorders and mechanisms linking stress and adversity to psychopathology.  This fall, I will be entering a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at the University of Rochester. My long-term research goals are to research the risk factors and causal mechanisms linking stress and adversity to psychopathology in an effort to guide empirically supported intervention and prevention programs for high-risk children and families.

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