Coping and Regulation of Environmental Stress Lab

The Pennsylvania State University


Principal Investigator

Martha Wadsworth is a licensed clinical psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychology. She got her B.A. (1995) and Ph.D. (2001) from the University of Vermont and completed her pre-doctoral internship at the University of Washington. Martha’s research interests include: child and adolescent stress and coping, poverty-related stress’ role in health disparities, and family strengthening and coping-based programs to counteract family stress. The overarching goal of all of Martha’s ongoing projects is to understand the role of stress in contributing to health disparities and to build a knowledge base of coping (& other protective mechanisms) tools that show efficacy in combating stress at both the phenomenological and biological levels. Ultimately, the goal is to apply this knowledge to building interventions and programs that will help combat and prevent health disparities. When not at work, Martha enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, skiing, white-water rafting, hiking, gourmet cooking, and entertaining.


Recruitment Leader- Holly Figueroa

Recruiter and Assessment Coordinator- Melissa Mesones-Ortiz is originally from Lima-Peru. She studied Chemistry at the National University of San Marcos and Translation and Interpretation of Foreign Languages at Cesar Vallejo University. She came to the USA as an Exchange University Student and studied Human Services at the Harrisburg Area Community College in which her involvement in the community began serving as a Case Manager. She is currently obtaining her Bachelor Degree in Human Services from Elizabethtown College in order to enter Law School. Her interests are Social Justice, Animal Welfare and Traveling.




 Intervention Coordinator (Rise Uptown and BaSICS project) – Tabatha Hahn

Tabatha Hahn is the intervention specialist for the BaSICS and RiseUptown projects. She has a master’s degree in Community Psychology and Social Change at Penn State. Prior to her work on this project she supervised two Multisystemic Therapy (MST) teams in the Harrisburg, PA area, was a National Trainer for the PAX Good Behavioral Game and was an intervention specialist on the LEGACY Together: Strengthening After School Programs project at Penn State. She has a passion for working with children and families, specifically through the implementation of evidence-based prevention programs.




Lab Coordinator- Allison Pequet is from Houston, Texas and manages ongoing data collection for the BaSICS Project with the undergraduate team at the CaRES lab in University Park. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas State University and previously worked on research investigating children’s social motivation and prosocial behaviors. She is interested in pursuing a graduate degree in developmental research, particularly the effect of negative stereotyping and stigma on well being across development. She also enjoys volunteering in local animal shelters.


Graduate Students

Brandon Patallo is a student in the child clinical psychology program at Penn State. Graduate study is a continuation of his passion for working with children and families in various positions: Mentoring, tutoring, afterschool group leader, and high school development. He previously conducted research on young adults with cancer, foster children, child maltreatment and family drug treatment court. His interests revolve around understanding the processes that transmit risk and resilience in families and children exposed to chronic stress and trauma.  He is particularly interested in research addressing how subjective experience of stress and trauma may affect identity development during the middle-school and high school years.


Chelsea Mayo joined the Child Clinical Psychology program at Penn State in Fall 2017. Before Penn State, she worked for two years as a counselor with a social-emotional college-prep program for underserved high school students in Chicago. She then joined the Immigration Critical-Race and Cultural Equity Lab (IC-RACE) at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and assisted a study at Northwestern University about adolescent health and achievement. These experiences contributed to her interests in how youth cope with poverty and discrimination and the development of interventions that are strengths-based and trauma-informed. Chelsea’s master’s thesis is related to social identity development in pre-adolescents.


Holly Pham is a graduate student in the Child Clinical Psychology program. She graduated with a B.S. in Psychobiology from UCLA, where she gained valuable research experience working with children and using psychophysiology measures to examine stress responsivity. Before she started her current studies at Penn State, Holly worked at the Stanford Neurodevelopment, Affect, and Psychopathology Lab, where she coordinated a longitudinal study of early adversity and puberty effects on neurodevelopment in adolescence. These experiences have led Holly to develop a research interest in understanding the biological mechanisms through which childhood adversity contributes to risk for psychopathology and other negative outcomes. She also enjoys baking, traveling, and discovering new music.

Esha Vaid is currently a graduate student in the child clinical psychology doctoral program at The Pennsylvania State University. She received her B.A. in 2016 from Rutgers University where she worked on social-emotional and character development interventions in urban school and community settings. She gained additional experience working at Dartmouth College working with adolescents with chronic illness in a rural setting to promote positive health management skills. Esha is interested in continuing to learn more about promoting positive youth development in the face of stress and adversity. In her free time, she likes to sing and play the ukulele.

Meet our Undergraduate Research Assistant Team!

(Caption left to right)

Cym Guo (Senior, Psychology), Elana Lindner (Junior, Psychology), Kayleigh White (Junior, Psychology)

Mary Crino (Junior, Psychology). Not pictured: Kara Bergerstock (Junior, Psychology)

Students on Internship (Placement in Parentheses)

  • Jason Bendezu (Medical University of South Carolina)
  • Sarah Perzow (University of Michigan)
  • John Loughlin-Presnal (CAPS, Penn State)
  • Celina Joos (Milton Hershey School)


  • Emile Tilghman-Osborne, PhD
  • Kristine Creavey, PhD


  • Amanda Thompson, MA (Attending Developmental Psychology PhD Program at Georgia State University)
  • Alaina Wodzinski, MPS (Attending Clinical Psychology PhD Program at Montclair State University)
  • Miriam Zegarac (Attending the Clinical Psychology PhD program at The University of Georgia)
  • Lorna LeMelle
  • Kathleen Best (Community Engagement Specialist, M.S Therapist at Penn State)

Former Undergraduate Students

  • Sierra Cobler
  • Trystanne Rawlings
  • Ezinne Enyiosiobi
  • Jessica Taylor
  • Alexandra Kanash

If you are interested in joining our team of undergraduate research assistants, contact our lab manager Allison Pequet ( for more information!


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