Lab Director

LEAH SOMERVILLE, PHD
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Office: Northwest Building Room 290
Phone: (617) 495 7513
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  • Leah Somerville is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, faculty in the Center for Brain Science and faculty of the MGH Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior. Leah's primary line of research integrates psychological and neuroscientific approaches to inform how the way in which the brain develops through adolescence shapes psychological changes in cognitive, motivational, social, and emotional behavior. More broadly, this work is aimed at informing the mechanisms underlying unique features of adolescent emotions, decision-making, and risk for mental illness. When Leah was a teenager, she worked at a diner and went to an absurd number of rock concerts.

    Lab Members

    BARBARA BRAAMS, PHD
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    Office: Northwest Building Room 280.14
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  • Barbara received her BSc in Psychology from Groningen University, The Netherlands in 2008 and her MSc in Psychology from the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 2010. She did her PhD at Leiden University under supervision of Prof. Dr. Eveline Crone and Dr. Jiska Peper. During her PhD research she investigated the neural correlates of risk-taking behavior in adolescence. In the ANDlab she will extend this line of research and investigate social influence on risk taking behavior.

    MIA CHARIFSON
    Undergraduate Research Assistant
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  • Mia is a sophomore at Harvard College studying Neurobiology on the Mind, Brain Behavior Track and also pursuing a secondary in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is very interested in understanding the intersection between cognition in behavior as well as understanding social cognition such as through relationships or group mentalities. In the future, Mia hopes to pursue a PhD in cognitive neuroscience as well as do some advocacy work for issues such as sexual and gender based violence. Outside of the lab, Mia is a member of a peer-counseling group and she loves to travel, learn about new cultures, work-out and enjoy the outdoors along with the very volatile New England weather!

    JULIET DAVIDOW, PHD
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    Office: Northwest Building Room 280.14
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  • Juliet received her BA in Psychology from New York University in 2005 and her PhD in Psychology from Columbia University in 2014. Her research questions revolve around how adolescents learn to make decisions. She is interested in how different contexts and social relationships might influence what is learned and remembered from experiences, and the later impact on decisions. Her research includes trying to understand how ongoing brain development might especially suit adolescents for learning from different types of experiences. She is also interested in how individual differences in learning, memory, and functional connectivity relate to decision making. Outside of the lab, Juliet enjoys art, music, and food.

    ARIDENNE DEWS
    Undergraduate Research Assistant
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  • Aridenne is a sophomore in Winthrop House at Harvard College. She is concentrating in psychology, and takes a specific interest in personality. She is excited to gain experience with psychological and neuroscientific research methods and learn more about emotional development as a member of the lab. On campus, Aridenne serves as a Student Mental Health Liaison to destigmatize mental illness and inform students about campus resources. She also performs with the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College. Outside of the lab, Aridenne enjoys playing piano, going to the movies, and taking too many pictures with her iPhone. She also particularly adores cats.

    GINA FALCONE
    Research Assistant
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  • Gina received her BA in Psychology in 2012 and her MS in Mental Heath Counseling from Pace University in 2014. Gina is currently a Clinical Psychology PhD student at Suffolk University where she is specializing in neuropsychology. As a research assistant in the ANDLab, Gina demonstrates her love of research and gets more exposure to neuroscience and brain development. When she was younger, Gina played in softball tournaments all over the country and eventually, was offered the opportunity to play in college.

    MEGAN GARRAD
    Lab Manager & Research Assistant
    Office: Northwest Building Room 290.01
    Phone: 617 496 5447
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  • Megan received her BA in Psychology and Biology from William Jewell College in 2012. She then spent a year studying women in substance abuse recovery at DePaul University and a year studying psychotherapy change mechanisms for social anxiety at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Megan has interests in developmental psychopathology, emotional and social development, and comorbidity of mental health disorders. As a kid, Megan loved to build secret forts in the woods near her house.

    KATIE INSEL
    PhD Student
    Office: Northwest Building Room 290.02
    Phone: 617 496 5447
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  • Katie received her BA in Psychology from Columbia University in 2010, where she then worked in the labs of Edward Smith and Kevin Ochsner. She is currently a graduate student in Harvard's Psychology PhD program where she studies the developing brain. Her research focuses on understanding how the functional maturation of brain networks affects motivation and cognition interactions, such as cognitive control and learning. Katie also explores how key neurodevelopmental changes may explain why certain teens are at increased risk for psychiatric illness. When Katie was a teen, she aspired to be a food critic, but she's pretty happy pursuing a career in science (and still loves good food!)

    ERIK KASTMAN
    Research Tech Developer (Somerville Lab & Buckholtz Lab)
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  • Erik received his BS in Biology and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin and spent the next several years working on neuroimaging studies of aging in the Johnson Neuroimaging Lab and the WADRAC neuroimaging group. At Harvard, Erik is in charge of a number of large-scale data analysis projects and serves as a lab generalist, ensuring that people have the resources they need to ask the questions they ask. When not at work, he is also a gardener (during the growing season) and homebrewer (all the year round). As a kid, Erik was obsessed with dinosaurs.

    LIA KAYNOR
    Undergraduate Research Assistant
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  • Lia is a current junior in Winthrop House at Harvard College. She is concentrating in psychology, with a potential secondary in classics. She focuses her academic pursuits on straddling the line between humanities and sciences, reconciling a deep love of Beethoven and Jane Austen with the thrill and rigor of scientific discovery. On campus, she volunteers as a peer counselor with Eating Concerns Hotline and Outreach, and dances/choreographs with the Harvard Ballet Company and Harvard-Radcliffe Modern Dance Company. She hopes to study medicine in the future, and loves discussing the importance of empathy in healthcare.

    ERIK NOOK
    PhD Student
    Office: Northwest Building Room 280.14
    Phone: 617 496 5447
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  • Erik hails from the town of Schaller, Iowa, but he also spent time in South Africa and Australia while growing up. He received his B.A. in psychology from Columbia University, where he worked with Prof. Kevin Ochsner and Dr. Ajay Satpute on the effects of emotion naming on emotion regulation. After graduating, Erik served as the lab manager for Prof. Jamil Zaki, where he studied the role of emotion concepts in emotion perception and the positive application of social norms. Erik is currently a Clinical Science PhD student at Harvard, with Prof. Matt Nock as a secondary advisor. In the ANDLab, Erik plans to extend these lines of work into developmental and clinical domains. For example, he's interested in understanding how children and teens develop their ability to differentiate emotions and what this means for mental health.

    KATIE POWERS, PHD
    Harvard College Fellow & Postdoctoral Researcher
    Office: Northwest Building Room 280.14
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  • Katie received her AB from Bowdoin College and PhD from Dartmouth College. She is currently a Harvard College Fellow and post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology. Katie’s research focuses on understanding the psychological and biological mechanisms that underlie social cognition and social interaction. She uses a combination of social psychological, psychophysiological and neuroscientific tools to investigate how our core motivation to connect with other people shapes cognition, learning and behavior. Katie also teaches several undergraduate courses at Harvard: Social Bonds and Human Connections, The Social Brain, and Social Cognition: Making Sense of our Social World. If Katie could only eat one thing for the rest of her life, it would be macaroni and cheese.

    ALEXANDRA RODMAN
    PhD Student
    Office: Northwest Building Room 290.02
    Phone: 617 496 5447
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  • Alex graduated from Tufts University with a BA in clinical psychology. She then became a research assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital, working on a clinical trial for Deep Brain Stimulation for intractable depression. Alex is currently a Clinical Science PhD student at Harvard and is interested in how neurodevelopmental shifts during adolescence shape learning and motivational processes in the context of social evaluation. She is also interested in the clinical application of this work as it relates to trajectories of risk for depression. As a teen, Alex was a little risky. Now, she gets her thrills by parking in spots that are not entirely legal.

    STEPHANIE SASSE, M.ED
    Outreach Coordinator & Research Assistant
    Office: Northwest Building Room 290.01
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  • Stephanie received her BS in Science and Psychology from Portland State University in 2012 and a Masters Degree through the Mind, Brain & Education program at Harvard University in 2013. After spending two years studying affective, behavioral, and neural changes across adolescence in the Developmental Brain Imaging Lab at OHSU, she joined the lab in the fall of 2012 to further her understanding of research methods and the developing brain. Blending her experience in curriculum design, social justice, health education, and scientific research, Stephanie has spent the past few years identifying ways to improve public understanding of science, promote research literacy skills, work towards responsible application, and make science accessible to everyone. She runs a number of outreach efforts through the lab, including free educational workshops for teachers and students, and moonlights as the Executive Director of The People's Science (www.thepeoplesscience.org). When she was young, she was pretty sure she was a mermaid.

    MAGGIE SCHELL
    Undergraduate Research Assistant
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  • Maggie is a junior at Harvard College studying Psychology. She is very excited to join the Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab, and will be working on projects that examine how adults and adolescents regulate and process their emotions in various contexts. Maggie is interested in studying the developing brain, and fascinated by the intersections between this research and other domains such as mental health, education, and development. When not in class, Maggie enjoys playing flute, traveling, and exploring the outdoors.

    MAHEEN SHERMOHAMMED
    PhD Student
    Office: Northwest Building Room 290.02
    Phone: 617 496 5447
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  • Maheen received her BS in Neuroscience from Duke University in 2012. She then spent two years working as a research assistant for John Gabrieli at MIT. Maheen is currently a PhD student in the Cognition, Brain, & Behavior track of Harvard's graduate program in Psychology. She is interested in how both adults and adolescents manage or control their emotions in the face of challenging circumstances. As a teen, Maheen's goal in life was to be 5'3.

    HANNAH SHULMAN
    Research Assistant
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  • Hannah is a visiting research assistant and recently completed her first year in the Masters in Counseling Psychology program at Northeastern University. She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University, University Park in 2014 with a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Visual Art. She is currently co-authoring a behavioral change theory-based content analysis of weight management phone applications for children and adolescents in the Mindfulness for Mental and Physical Wellness Lab at Northeastern University. Hannah is also a per-diem research assistant at the Psychosocial Oncology & Palliative Care Unit at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. This past year, Hannah completed her clinical practicum at the Boston Institute of Psychotherapy. She is hoping to obtain a PhD in clinical health psychology in the future. Her current clinical and research interests include investigating stress prevention therapies such as biofeedback, stress inoculation training, guided imagery, mindfulness, and nutritional planning. She is also very interested about how biopsychosocial factors can influence diet, exercise, psychopathology, sleep, and coping mechanisms among children and adolescents. When not in the lab, Hannah enjoys oil painting, listening to music, exploring Boston, watching Penn State football, and spending time with friends.

    CAITLIN STAVISH
    Undergraduate Research Assistant
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  • Caitlin is a current sophomore at Boston University, double majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology with a minor in Theatre Arts. She’s thrilled at the opportunity to learn about how individuals develop emotionally, and how such developmental factors may affect the onset of mental illness throughout the lifespan. On campus she serves as the secretary of BU’s branch of Active Minds, a national organization dedicated to raising awareness regarding mental health, and fighting stigma surrounding such illnesses. Outside the lab she enjoys watching panda videos, belting showtunes, and watching the Office.

    CONY VIDAL BUSTAMANTE
    Undergraduate Research Assistant
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  • Constanza, or simply Cony, is a senior at Harvard College studying Psychology (Cognitive Neuroscience track). Cony hails from Chile, and in the summer of 2013 she worked as a research assistant with the Developmental Unit (led by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore) at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in University College London. Cony is now extremely excited to be joining the Affective Neuroscience and Development lab, where she will be investigating emotion regulation and reward processing across development. Outside the lab, she enjoys organizing conferences for high schoolers on Latin American sociopolitical issues, salsa-dancing, exploring new places, philosophizing, and watching Mad Men reruns (over and over again).

    JOAN ZHANG
    Undergraduate Research Assistant
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  • Joan is a junior in Leverett House studying Psychology on the Cognitive Neuroscience track. She's excited to be helping with fMRI research this year and is really interested on what occurs in brain development among adolescents that increases their risk for mental illness. She's really excited about the development on digital health and ways to use technology to help increase access to behavioral therapy and decrease stigma. On campus, she also sings soprano in an acappella group called Under Construction, and loves organizing board game nights with her friends.

    Alumni

    Nadine Abi Akar

    Summer Intern (2014). Nadine is an undergraduate at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

    Alex Barry

    Summer intern (2013). Alex is an undergraduate neuropsychology major at UMass Amherst.

    Yang Cai

    Independent Study/Masters Student (2013-2014). Yang is now pursuing postbaccalaureate pre-med studies.

    Susanna Crowell

    Research Assistant (2013). Susanna is now a PhD student in the Child Clinical program at Georgia State University.

    Ivy Defoe

    Fulbright Scholar from The Netherlands (2015). Ivy has returned to her dissertation studies at the University of Utrecht.

    Chiemeka Ezie

    Undergraduate (2013-2015). Chiemeka was an undergraduate researcher in the lab. He is currently Lab Manager for Dr. Aaron Heller at the University of Miami.

    Catherine Glenn, PhD

    Collaborating postdoc (2013-2015). Cassie was a postdoc in Prof. Matthew Nock's lab and collaborated with ANDL on a brain imaging project focusing on the mechanisms of self-injurious behavior during adolescence. She is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester.

    Nadia Haddara

    Research Assistant (2014-2015). Nadia was a research assistant in lab for a year and a half. She is continuing her affective science training in Syracuse, NY and will be pursuing PhD studies in the near future.

    Brian Huh

    Undergraduate (2013-2015). Brian was an undergraduate researcher in the lab. He is currently Lab Manager for the Center for Decision Sciences Lab at Columbia University Business School, working with Drs. Eric Johnson and Elke Weber.

    John Naghshineh

    Independent Study/Masters Student (2012-2013). John is now an educator in California.

    Kristen Osborne

    Undergraduate (2013-2015). Kristen was an undergraduate researcher and completed an honors thesis in the lab.

    Kate Pivovarova, PhD

    CLBB Research Fellow & Collaborator (2014). Kate is now an Assistant Professor researching bioethics at UMass.

    Arielle Rabinowitz

    Undergraduate (2012-2014). Arielle was an undergraduate researcher and completed an honors thesis in the lab. She is a research assistant at Yale University Medical School.

    Ana Reyes

    Undergraduate (2014-2015). Ana was an undergraduate researcher in the lab. She is now pursuing dental school.

    Alea Skwara

    Alea was the Inaugural Laboratory Manager from 2012-2014 and helped to build the lab. She is now pursuing her PhD at UC Davis.

    Sophie Turnbull

    M.Ed. Student (2013-2014). Sophie is working on her PhD in the UK.

    Christina Uhrig

    Undergraduate research assistant (2015). Christina is continuing her undergraduate studies at Harvard.

    Zuzanna Wojcieszak

    Undergraduate (2012-2013). Zuzanna worked in Professor Kate McLaughlin's lab at University of Washington, and is now pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology at Temple University.

    Collaborators & Friends

    Randy Buckner, PhD
    Harvard University

    Bernd Figner, PhD
    University of Nijmegen, Netherlands

    Hedy Kober, PhD
    Yale University

    Kate McLaughlin, PhD
    University of Washington

    Joe Moran, PhD
    US Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command

    Matthew Nock, PhD
    Harvard University

    Margaret Sheridan, PhD
    University of North Carolina

    Robert Wilson, PhD
    University of Arizona

    Gideon Yaffe, PhD
    Yale University