Rachel Abenavoli received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Fairfield University in Connecticut. After graduating in 2007, she worked as a project coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, where she helped to conduct research on the Penn Resiliency Program for middle school students and coordinate resilience and Positive Psychology training programs. As a TIES fellow, Rachel studied the intersection of child development and education; her research interests include social and emotional development, school-based prevention programs, and how social and emotional processes impact mental health and academic outcomes. Rachel began the Human Development and Family Studies doctoral program at Penn State in 2010 and is currently completing her dissertation, mentored by Dr. Mark Greenberg and Dr. Scott Gest.
Christopher Anthony graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Theology from the University of Notre Dame and is pursuing a Ph.D. in School Psychology at Penn State. During his time at Notre Dame, he had many experiences in psychology and education, including volunteering with an after school center for children with autism, volunteering in a group home for adults with developmental disabilities, and studying moral development with Dr. Darcia Narvaez. As a TIES fellow, his primary research interests focused on developing effective prevention and early intervention programs, especially as they relate to literacy development or the relationship between socio-emotional health and literacy outcomes. His mentor is Dr. Jim DiPerna. Chris is currently on clinical internship.
Charlie Beekman graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Psychology from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 2006. He spent the next two years developing his interests in a variety of applied and laboratory settings. Charlie began the doctoral program in developmental psychology at Penn State in 2009. He is interested in the development of socioemotional risk in the transition to school and school contexts. Charlie’s mentors were Dr. Kristin Buss and Dr. Jenae Neiderhiser in Psychology, who also served on his TIES committee. He graduated in 2015 and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University. (Completed PhD Program)
Kristine Bova graduated from Lebanon Valley College with a B.S. in psychobiology and German. After graduating in 2011, Kristine worked as a research assistant for the Penn State Harrisburg Center for Healthy Child Development where she collected data for the PATHS to Success and Strengthening Families Programs, externally-funded randomized-controlled trials evaluating school- and community-based interventions to promote social-emotional competencies. Working with children in the Harrisburg school district motivated Kristine to pursue the Human Development and Family Studies doctoral program at Penn State. As a TIES fellow, Kristine’s primary research interests focused on the intersection of adolescent neuroscience and educational prevention and intervention programs. She worked with Dr. Lisa Gatzke-Kopp to assess the social and emotional influences on the neurological decision-making process in children.
Gordon Hall graduated from Cornell University in 2006 with a B.A. in Anthropology. He was accepted into the 2006 Teach For America corps, and taught for two years in the School District of Philadelphia as a 7th and 8th grade science teacher. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008 with an M. Ed. In 2008, he moved to Brooklyn, and took a job at Excellence Boys Charter School, an all-male public school in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. He taught 5th and 6th grade science at Excellence for three years, and helped to write the science curriculum for the Middle Academy (5th – 8th grades). As a TIES fellow, he focused on social and emotional development and school-based intervention and prevention programs that promote positive academic outcomes. His adviser is Dr. Jim DiPerna. Gordon is currently working on his dissertation.
Alexis Harris received her B.A. in psychology from Rhodes College and her M.A. in Liberal Studies in Urban Childhood from the University of Memphis. Prior to joining Penn State’s doctoral program in HDFS in 2009, Alexis coordinated programming for children and families at a community-based wellness-promotion organization. In this role she developed and implemented wellness-promotion curricula, a service-learning and research collaboration with Rhodes College, and a narrative program called KidsTalk. She is interested in the development and implementation of mindfulness-based preventive interventions to support social and emotional competencies and school success of children and adolescents. She is also interested in mixed-methods research and the role of community and school-community partnerships in positive youth development and prevention efforts. With her primary mentor, Dr. Mark Greenberg, she is involved with PROSPER and in a study of yoga in public schools. (Completed PhD Program)
Deirdre (Hon) Katz received an undergraduate B.S. in Biology with a minor in Secondary Education from Loyola University in Chicago. She then attended Harvard, and completed a M.Ed. in Mind, Brain and Education. She was a science teacher for 8 years at the middle school and high school levels. As a TIES fellow, her research interests research included promoting adolescent social and emotional development through curricular interventions that are informed by current neuroscience research. As a graduate student in Human Development and Family Studies, she is currently completing her dissertation with Dr. Mark Greenberg and Dr. Scott Gest.
Carla Kalvin graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in psychology. During her time there, she worked at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development and helped to conduct research on children’s academic and social functioning. After graduating in 2009, she worked as a research coordinator on several family treatment intervention studies at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan. As a TIES fellow, Carla’s primary interests included social and emotional development, the influence of family processes on social-emotional competence, and the development of school-based prevention programs for young children and adolescents. In 2011, Carla began the doctoral program in child clinical psychology at Penn State, where she has worked with Dr. Karen Bierman. Carla is currently on clinical externship, and is initiating her dissertation research.
Phyllis Lee earned a B.A. in Psychology and Mathematics from Dartmouth College. After graduation, she worked as a 7th and 8th grade math teacher in Los Angeles, CA as part of the Teach for America Program. Phyllis’ experience in the classroom inspired her research interests on the effects of stress and parenting/families on social-emotional development and interventions to promote school readiness in at risk populations. While working as a teacher, Phyllis received a M.A. in Education and pursued a M.A. in Developmental Psychology before arriving at Penn State to begin a Ph.D. in Child Clinical Psychology in 2010. As a TIES fellow, she worked with Dr. Pamela Cole and Dr. Karen Bierman. She completed the TIES fellowship and graduated in 2015. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Golda Ginsburg at the University of Connecticut.
John Loughlin-Presnal received a B.A. in drama in 2007 and a B.S. in psychology in 2011, both degrees from the University of Washington. He has worked with children, parents, and teachers in a variety of capacities, including working as a children’s theater director and an elementary school teaching assistant. He has trained extensively in attachment-based parent-child interventions through the Circle of Security Project. Through these experiences, John developed a strong research interest in–as well as a deep appreciation of–interventions that target the social and emotional development of children, particularly those interventions that can occur within the context of the classroom. John began doctoral work in the child clinical psychology program in fall of 2012, under the mentorship of Dr. Karen Bierman and Dr. Martha Wadsworth.
Rebecca Madill received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and French from Emory Henry College in Emory, Virginia. She began the doctoral program in human development and family studies (HDFS) at Penn State in 2008. Rebecca’s primary research interests are in the effective design of early education for at-risk children and the methodologies necessary for evaluating school-based research. Her mentor in HDFS is Scott Gest, Ph.D. Her TIES advisory committee is made up of Thomas Farmer, Ph.D., Michael Rovine, Ph.D., and Scott Gest, Ph.D. (Completed PhD Program)
Amber Mason graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Psychology and Visual Art. For two and a half years, she worked as a therapeutic staff support specialist, assisting children with behavioral disorders and learning disabilities in school, home and community settings. Amber’s experience with children in and outside the classroom inspired her interest in researching the extent to which social skills and emotional well-being impact a student’s ability to acquire and retain reading and language arts skills. Amber began her doctoral studies at Penn State in school psychology in 2011 under the mentorship of Dr. Jim DiPerna, and as a TIES fellow, worked with Dr. Dawn Witherspoon. Amber is currently on clinical internship.
Erin Mathis received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from North Carolina State University in 2008. Prior to attending the Pennsylvania State University, Erin worked at a child and adolescent development research company in Durham, North Carolina where she aided in the development of a computer-based emotion recognition tool for preschool-aged children. In addition, Erin helped develop two mindfulness-based intervention programs for elementary school and middle school-aged children. This experience led her to pursue a Ph.D. in child clinical psychology entering the Pennsylvania State University program in 2010 to work with Dr. Karen Bierman. As a TIES fellow, Erin focused on emotion dysregulation in young children, and attention control, and the role they play in educational adjustment and mental health. Erin defended her dissertation, and is now on clinical internship.
Devin McGuier received a B.S. in Biology and Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University in May 2011. During his time at CMU he conducted research with Dr. Amy Herschell at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, investigating two child-based interventions, Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Alternatives for Families, a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (AF-CBT). These interventions were designed to help children with disruptive behavior disorders (PCIT) as well as victims of child physical abuse and maltreatment (AF-CBT). As a TIES fellow, his research interests involved the study of evidence based interventions for child maltreatment and disruptive behavior disorders, and assessment of impact on school progress. Currently, his mentor is Dr. Sandra Azar.
Aaron Miller received a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) from Penn State University in 2007. After completing his bachelor’s, he served as a teacher for preschool children, and as a parent liaison for an early childhood education center in Seattle, WA. During this time he also worked with Dr. Kathryn Hynes on research and writing projects about improving attendance in out-of-school time activities for middle and high-school youth. Aaron entered Penn State’s doctoral program in HDFS in August of 2011. As a TIES fellow, his research interests centered on improving early childhood and elementary education through interventions in social and emotional learning. He is also interested in how early interventions can influence children’s engagement in learning during elementary and middle school. He would like to find ways to make current and future research about child development more accessible to teachers, administrators and organizations that play a role in the development of young children. Aaron’s primary mentor is Dr. Scott Gest.
Mojdeh Motamedi received her B. S. in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego. After graduating she worked at the American Institutes for Research in support of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There she supported a national campaign on children’s mental health focused on early childhood and trauma, conducted research, and collaborated with various national organizations and government agencies. Her experiences working with education and mental health agencies and organizations combined with her experiences volunteering in schools sparked her interest in researching school-based interventions for young children with social-emotional challenges. Mojdeh started her doctoral training in the fall of 2011 in the child-clinical psychology program where she is working with Dr. Karen Bierman and Dr. Cynthia Huang-Pollock.
Melissa Ray has a B.A. in Linguistics and M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to attending the Pennsylvania State University, Melissa worked as a developmental education instructor, teaching reading, writing, and English as a second language to community college students. She began the doctoral program in educational psychology at Penn State in 2009. Her general areas of interest are literacy, reading comprehension, and the transition to adulthood, and she is interested in conducting intervention research focused on improving the reading comprehension skills of struggling adolescent readers. Her TIES committee includes her primary mentor, Dr. Robert Stevens in educational psychology, Dr. Bonnie Meyer in educational psychology, and Dr. Wayne Osgood in sociology. (Completed PhD Program)
Tyler Sasser received his B.A. in Psychology from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. Prior to coming to Penn State, Tyler completed internships at the 2007 and 2008 Summer Treatment Programs for children with ADHD at the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB), under the advisement of William Pelham, Ph.D. Additionally, Tyler served as a Teacher Consultant at the Center for Children and Families at UB in a study of the effects of an early, intensive behavioral intervention for children with ADHD. Tyler initiated the doctoral program in child-clinical psychology at Penn State in 2009, working with Dr. Karen Bierman. He is interested in the development and implementation of early, school-based interventions for children with ADHD and behavior problems. Tyler’s advisory committee includes Dr. Mark Greenberg. Tyler defended his dissertation in 2015 and is currently on clinical internship.
Emile Tilghman-Osborne graduated from the University of Rochester with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. Subsequently he worked with Dr. Joseph Wehby at Vanderbilt University where he helped investigate the effectiveness of a multi-component intervention for teachers and its outcome on the academic and social behavior of children with serious behavioral disorders. In 2010 he received a master’s degree in Health Science from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health where he focused on the mental health and academic outcomes of first generation Latino adolescents who were obliged to translate important documents for their parents. As a TIES fellow, he focused on understanding how ethnic identity impacts the social and emotional development of adolescents. Emile started his doctoral training in the fall of 2010 in the child-clinical psychology program where he has been working with Dr. Martha Wadsworth, with Dr. Karen Bierman serving as his TIES advisor.
Cindy Willner received a BS in Cognitive Science Psycholinguistics from Brown University in 2004. After graduating, she spent six months teaching English to community college students in Tehuantepec, Mexico. Following this teaching experience, she worked for five years as a research assistant and analyst at MDRC, a non-profit social policy research organization. At MDRC, Cindy worked on evaluations of school-based interventions including high school Career Academies (PI: Dr. James Kemple), instructional leadership training for elementary school principals (PI: Dr. Janet Quint), and preschool classroom management and social-emotional learning interventions (PI: Dr. Pamela Morris). As a TIES fellow, Cindy’s research interests revolved around the application of basic developmental neuroscience to the design and evaluation of school-based interventions for children and adolescents at risk for emotional or behavioral difficulties, particularly social anxiety and depression. She entered the doctoral program in Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State in 2010, and she is mentored by Dr. Lisa Gatzke-Kopp.
Kathleen Zadzora received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology from the University of Notre Dame and her master’s degree in educational psychology from New York University. Prior to coming to Penn State, Kathleen served as project coordinator for the Chicago School Readiness Project (PI, Dr. C. Cybele Raver) and as a field researcher on the New York City Study of Social and Literacy Development (PIs, Drs. J. Lawrence Aber, Joshua L. Brown, and Stephanie M. Jones). Kathleen’s research interests include the interplay between children’s social-emotional processes and their school readiness and academic success, school-based intervention programs, and the intersection of neuroscience and prevention. Kathleen began the doctoral program in human development and family studies at Penn State in 2009. She is mentored by Drs. Mark Greenberg and Scott Gest, in HDFS, and also includes Dr. Karen Bierman, in child-clinical psychology, on her advisory committee. She will complete her graduate studies this year.