People

Lab Director

LEAH SOMERVILLE, PHD
Associate Professor of Psychology
Office: Northwest Building Room 290
Phone: (617) 495 7513
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  • Leah Somerville is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and faculty in the Center for Brain Science. Leah's research integrates psychological and neuroscientific approaches to inform the nature and consequences of adolescent brain development on changes in psychological functioning and well being. This work work integrates behavioral, computational, and neuroimaging approaches, and has recently expanded in scale to include conducting the Human Connectome Project in Development, a large NIH-funded study on brain connectivity development. Leah has been the recipient of several awards, including the Janet Taylor Spence Award from the Association for Psychological Science, the Early Career Awards from the Cognitive Neuroscience, Flux, and Social and Affective Neuroscience Societies, and the Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award from Harvard GSAS.

    Lab Members

    HAYOUNG AHN
    Undergraduate Research Assistant
    Office: Northwest Building Suite 290
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  • Hayoung is an undergraduate at Harvard College, concentrating in Neuroscience (Mind Brain Behavior track) with a secondary in Psychology. She is primarily interested in exploring emotional development, language, and self-awareness from a cognitive perspective—as well as understanding their roles in mental health. Ultimately, Hayoung plans on studying medicine and working in neurology or psychiatry. Outside of classes and lab, she loves to spend her time editing videos and photos, making music playlists, and journaling.

    LAURA CEGARRA
    Undergraduate Research Assistant
    Office: Northwest Building Room 280.12
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  • Laura is currently an undergraduate at Harvard College, where she studies Psychology with a focus in Cognitive Neuroscience. As a research assistant with the Human Connectome Project in Development, Laura interacts with parents and participants. She is especially interested in how adolescent emotional development impacts preference in reading materials, and how bilingualism impacts emotional experiences. When she’s not working, Laura likes to read, draw, and show people pictures of her dog.

    JULIET DAVIDOW, PHD
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    Office: Northwest Building Room 290.01
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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.

    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.

    KATHERINE GRISANZIO
    PhD Student
    Office: Northwest Building Room 280.14
    Phone: 617-496-5447

    Katherine graduated from Boston College in 2014 with a B.S. in Psychology. She then worked as a Neuroscience Research Lab Manager at Stanford University under the guidance of Dr. Leanne Williams. Katherine is currently a PhD student in the Cognition, Brain & Behavior track at Harvard. She is interested in studying how neural circuitry gives rise to adolescent cognitive control and affective experience. Outside of lab, she likes to run 5Ks, lounge with her cats, and play cards!

    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!)

    KAT KABOTYANSKI
    Human Connectome Research Assistant
    Office: Northwest Building Room 280.12
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  • Kat received her B.S. in Neuroscience from Duke University in 2014, where she completed her honors thesis on the differences in amygdala activation for self- versus informant- reported neuroticism. She then spent two years working with the Child Mind Institute in New York City, helping to develop and initiate the Healthy Brain Network- a project which seeks to better understand the biological mechanisms underlying mental health disorders and learning disabilities. Kat is particularly interested in the use of multi-faceted approaches to both the research and clinical treatment of developmental psychopathologies. Kat also loves spending time in the sunshine, swinging on swings, and dancing it out to the perfect song.

    ERIK KASTMAN
    Research Tech Developer
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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.

    LAUREL KORDYBAN
    Lab Manager
    Office: Northwest Building Room 280.13
    Phone: 617-496-5447
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  • Laurel received her B.S. in Biology-neurobiology option from the University of Wisconsin in 2016. She worked as an undergraduate in the Center for Healthy Minds and the Health Emotions Research Institute and particularly enjoys studying the emotional behaviors and well-being of children and adolescents. When not at work, Laurel enjoys reading, improv comedy, and exploring.

    MICHAEL MAYER
    Human Connectome Research Assistant
    Office: Northwest Building Room 280.12
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  • Mike received his B.A. in Neuroscience from Dartmouth College in 2017. As an undergraduate he worked in the Affective Cognitive Neuroscience Lab of Dr. Paul Whalen and the Space Medicine Lab of Dr. Jay Buckey. He is continuing his passion for neuroscience with the Human Connectome Project in Development! Mike is particularly interested in the ways that brain structure and cognitive processing is affected by peers and environmental influences throughout development. In his free time, Mike enjoys being in the outdoors, live music, eating lots of food, reading, exploring, and asking strangers if he can pet their dogs.

    ERIK NOOK
    PhD Student
    Office: Northwest Building Room 290.02
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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.

    MAHALIA PRATER FAHEY
    Human Connectome Research Assistant
    Office: Northwest Building Room 280.12
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  • Mahalia received her B.A. in Cognitive Science from Pomona College in 2015. She is interested in changes in affective decision-making across development and what factors during adolescence contribute to the development of psychopathologies. She would like to explore how these factors might alter the mechanisms underlying affective decision-making. In the Somerville lab she is working on the Human Connectome Project in Development. Outside of the lab she can be found playing water polo, day-dreaming about warmer weather, and spending too much money on avocados. She has a dog at home in California and regularly videos chats with him.

    JESSIE SCHWAB, PHD
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    Office: Northwest Building Room 290.01
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  • Jessie received her BA in Psychology from Georgetown University in 2012 and her MA in Communication Sciences from Northwestern University in 2014. She did her PhD at Princeton University, where she researched how differences in children’s language input influences their learning. In the ANDlab, Jessie is interested in studying the intersection of language, emotion, and learning over the course of development. Outside of the lab, Jessie teaches in the Psychology department as a College Fellow, and she enjoys playing board games, being outdoors, and cooking (but mostly eating) all kinds of food.

    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.

    ABI STARK
    Research Assistant
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  • Abi received her BA in Psychology and English in 2012 from Williams College and her MS in Clinical Psychology from Suffolk University. Abi is currently a Clinical Psychology PhD student at Suffolk University where she is specializing in peer relations and childhood bullying. She is especially interested in how cognitive and cultural frames influence peer relations. Outside of the lab, she loves to read, write, and go running!

    CONSTANZA (CONY) VIDAL-BUSTAMANTE
    Human Connectome Research Manager
    Office: Northwest Building Room 280.14
    Phone: 617-496-4979
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  • Cony received her B.A. in Psychology (Cognitive Neuroscience focus) from Harvard College. She worked as an undergraduate research assistant at the Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab for two years, including the completion of her honors thesis on the developmental trajectories of reward processing and inhibitory control. Cony now coordinates the planning and execution of the Harvard branch of the Human Connectome Project in Development, a ground-breaking multi-site study investigating how different parts of the brain are connected to each other, and how these connections change from childhood through adulthood. Outside the lab, Cony enjoys walking around the city, reading about politics, urban planning and design, and listening and dancing to Latin beats.

    Alumni

    Barbara Braams, PhD
    Postdoctoral Fellow (2016-2018)

    Yang Cai

    Independent Study/Masters Student (2013-2014)

    Katie Cho
    Research Assistant (2017-2018)

    Susanna Crowell

    Research Assistant (2013)

    Ivy Defoe

    Fulbright Scholar from The Netherlands (2015)

    Megan Garrad

    Lab Manager & Research Assistant (2014-2016)

    Catherine Glenn, PhD

    Collaborating postdoc (2013-2015)

    Nadia Haddara

    Research Assistant (2014-2015)

    Jessica Hsu

    Research Assistant (2017)

    Brian Huh

    Research Assistant (2013-2015)

    Gian Klobusicky

    Research Manager (2016-2017)

    John Naghshineh

    Independent Study/Masters Student (2012-2013)

    Katie Powers, PhD

    Harvard College Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher (2014-2017)

    Kate Pivovarova, PhD

    CLBB Research Fellow & Collaborator (2014)

    Alexandra Rodman, PhD

    Graduate Student (2014-2018)

    Stephanie Sasse

    Outreach Coordinator & Research Assistant (2012-2016)

    Hannah Shulman

    Research Assistant (2015-2016)

    Alea Skwara

    Inaugural Laboratory Manager (2012-2014)

    Sophie Turnbull

    M.Ed. Student (2013-2014)

    Undergraduate Research Assistants

    Amanda Brandt, Mia Charifson, Aridenne Dews, Chiemeka Ezie, Lia Kaynor, Christina Li, Maggie Schell, Sandy Li, Kayla McGarrell, Kristen Osborne, Sadhana Ponnaluri, Arielle Rabinowitz, Ana Reyes, Caitlin Stavish, Christina Uhrig, Zuzanna Wojcieszak, Joan Zhang

    Summer Interns

    Amma Ababio, Nadine Abi Akar, Jeremy Astesano, Alex Barry, Miwako Chimura, Melanie Grad-Freilich, Matt Jiang, Marilyn Romero