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, 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

    AMMA ABABIO
    Undergraduate Research Assistant
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  • Amma is a rising senior in the History of Science Department on the Mind, Brain and Behavior Track. She is interested in the history of American Psychiatry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and contemporary cognitive psychology. Specifically, she is interested in how people make decisions, how they think of the brain over time, and the development of psychological practices. Outside of the lab, Amma loves mentoring her students in the Alberta V. Scott Leadership Academy and the Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment Extension Program. When she is not mentoring, she enjoys traveling and writing her upcoming memoir!

    BARBARA BRAAMS, PHD
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    Office: Northwest Building Room 290.01‚Äč
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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.

    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.

    MELANIE GRAD-FREILICH
    Summer Intern
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  • Melanie is a rising senior at Yale University studying Psychology with a Neuroscience track. She's interested in the fields of developmental and abnormal psychology, and is particularly interested in studying how mental illnesses that emerge during adolescence affect social, emotional, and physical development. She's also looking forward to conducting more imaging research in the future. Outside of the lab, Melanie loves camping, dancing, and continuing her search for the best cheesecake in the world.

    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!)

    MATT JIANG
    Undergraduate Research Assistant
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  • Matt is a senior at Harvard College studying Psychology and Computer Science. He is interested in personality and emotion especially during development, and he wants to work to improve mental health in his career. During his free time, Matt likes photography, meditation, surfing where possible, and going for walks.

    KAT KABOTYANSKI
    Human Connectome Research Assistant
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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 (Somerville Lab & Buckholtz Lab)
    Office: Northwest Building Room 280.14
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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. Laurel now works as a Research Assistant, focusing on how structural and functional brain networks interact and change across development. When not at work, Laurel enjoys reading, improv comedy, and exploring.

    CHRISTINA LI
    Undergraduate Research Assistant

    Christina is a junior at Harvard College studying neurobiology and economics. She is interested in studying the intersection of behavior and decision making. On campus, Christina is involved with Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross Club, as well as the Neurobiology Undergraduate Society and the Y2Y shelter.

    MICHAEL MAYER
    Human Connectome Research Assistant
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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 280.02
    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.

    MAHALIA PRATER FAHEY
    Human Connectome Research Assistant
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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.

    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.

    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
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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

    Nadine Abi Akar

    Summer Intern (2014)

    Jeremy Astesano

    Summer Research Assistant (2017)

    Alex Barry

    Summer Intern (2013)

    Amanda Brandt
    Undergraduate Research Assistant (2016-2018)

    Yang Cai

    Independent Study/Masters Student (2013-2014)

    Mia Charifson
    Undergraduate Research Assistant (2016-2018)

    Miwako Chimura

    Summer Intern (2017)

    Katie Cho
    Research Assistant (2017-2018)

    Susanna Crowell

    Research Assistant (2013)

    Ivy Defoe

    Fulbright Scholar from The Netherlands (2015)

    Aridenne Dews
    Undergraduate Research Assistant (2016-2018)

    Chiemeka Ezie

    Undergraduate Research Assistant (2013-2015)

    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)

    Lia Kaynor

    Undergraduate Research Assistant (2016)

    Gian Klobusicky

    Research Manager (2016-2017)

    Sandy Li

    Undergraduate Research Assistant (2016-2017)

    Kayla McGarrell
    Undergraduate Research Assistant (2016-2018)

    John Naghshineh

    Independent Study/Masters Student (2012-2013)

    Kristen Osborne

    Undergraduate Research Assistant and Thesis Student (2013-2015)

    Kate Pivovarova, PhD

    CLBB Research Fellow & Collaborator (2014)

    Sadhana Ponnaluri

    Undergraduate Research Assistant (2017)

    Katie Powers, PhD

    Harvard College Fellow and Postdoctoral Researcher (2014-2017)

    Arielle Rabinowitz

    Undergraduate Research Assistant and Thesis Student (2012-2014)

    Ana Reyes

    Undergraduate Research Assistant (2014-2015)

    Marilyn Romero

    Summer Research Assistant (2016)

    Stephanie Sasse

    Outreach Coordinator & Research Assistant (2012-2016)

    Maggie Schell

    Undergraduate Research Assistant (2015-2016)

    Hannah Shulman

    Research Assistant (2015-2016)

    Alea Skwara

    Inaugural Laboratory Manager (2012-2014)

    Caitlin Stavish
    Undergraduate Research Assistant (2016-2018)

    Sophie Turnbull

    M.Ed. Student (2013-2014)

    Christina Uhrig

    Undergraduate Research Assistant (2015)

    Zuzanna Wojcieszak

    Undergraduate (2012-2013)

    Joan Zhang

    Undergraduate Research Assistant (2015-2016)

    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