Current Environment:

Melody Altschuler Melody Altschuler

Melody is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the Developmental Psychopathology and Clinical Science doctoral program at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development and Department of Psychology. She is interested in the developmental etiology and structure of psychopathology, with a particular focus on autism and internalizing/externalizing symptoms. She also focuses on understanding the processes involved in social cognition and self-regulation. Under the mentorship of Dr. Susan Faja and Dr. Robert Krueger, Melody's research incorporates quantitative, developmental, clinical, and neuroscience methods. By integrating a developmental psychopathology framework with an individual differences approach that considers intersections between normal-range personality, pathological personality, and mental disorders, she aims to delineate the empirically-based structure and mechanisms of psychopathological tendencies. Through her program of research, she aims to inform efforts that promote adaptive functioning across the lifespan. Prior to graduate school, Melody received her B.A. in psychology from Bates College. She then spent two years at the Yale Child Study Center as a Sara S. Sparrow Fellow in Clinical Neuroscience. In her free time, Melody enjoys running, reading, and drinking mint tea.


Madison Surmacz Madison Surmacz

Madison graduated from Johns Hopkins University in the spring of 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. As an undergraduate, Madison spent 2.5 years at the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), where she worked primarily on a study that observed the phenomenology of anxiety in preschool children with ASD through clinical and behavioral assessments. She completed her senior honors project in the characterization of intolerance of uncertainty in ASD through completing item-level factor analyses of the Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale for Children (IUS-C) alongside her research team. On campus, Madison participated in the Best Buddies program, provided academic guidance through peer mentoring, and served as an internal trainer for JHU’s mental health organization, A Place to Talk. Madison is excited to be a part of the Faja Lab and continue to grow in a clinical research context in hopes of one day pursuing her PhD in Clinical or Developmental Psychology. In her free time, Madison enjoys spending time outdoors, trying new restaurants, and watching documentaries.


Sebastian Salinas Sebastian Salinas

Sebastian graduated from Florida International University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, as well as a minor in Biology. As an undergraduate research assistant, Sebastian worked in the School READY Lab which focuses on the development, assessment, and dissemination of early behavioral and academic interventions across multiple contexts. Independently, he designed and conducted a research study investigating the impacts of student-teacher relationship quality on academic achievement in preschoolers with disruptive behavior problems. Sebastian also worked as a counselor in evidence-based cognitive behavioral interventions for preschool and elementary-aged children. In these interventions, he administered daily, intensive behavioral intervention in addition to designing and implementing an art-based enrichment curriculum for preschoolers. Sebastian aspires to earn a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, and he is excited to enhance his knowledge of neurological development in the Faja Lab. In his free time, Sebastian enjoys kayaking, sunbathing at the beach, and listening to alternative rock music.