Our Team


Principal Investigator

Dr. Tara Chaplin is an Associate Professor of Psychology at George Mason University. She received a Ph.D. in Child-Clinical psychology from Penn State University and completed post-doctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania. Following this, she served as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine until moving to George Mason University in 2013.

Dr. Chaplin’s research interests are in the role of gender and emotion regulation in the development of psychopathology, substance use, and risk behavior in children and adolescents. She is also interested in the role of the family in adolescent development. Related to this, she is currently examining links between parent-teen interactions and adolescent development and is developing a mindfulness intervention for parents of adolescents. Dr. Chaplin’s research incorporates multiple methods to capture emotion regulation, including self-report, observation, physiology, neuroendocrine, and neuroimaging.

Graduate Students




Claire Niehaus

Claire is a doctoral student at George Mason.  She received her B.A. in 2015 from the University of South Carolina.  Before coming to Mason, she worked as a research coordinator for a parenting intervention lab at the University of South Carolina.  Her research interests include parenting, intervention and prevention work, risk and protective factors for harsh parenting, and neural activity as it relates to emotion regulation in parents of adolescents.



Stefanie Gonçalves

Stefanie is a fifth-year student in the clinical psychology doctoral program at George Mason University. She earned her B.S. in psychology from the University of Maryland in 2014. Prior to attending George Mason, Stefanie worked as a faculty research assistant at the Center for Addictions, Personality, and Emotion Research, as well as a rehabilitation counselor at a mental health non-profit. Stefanie’s research interests involve examining the role of emotion on impulse control processes, particularly as they relate to the onset of self-destructive behaviors (i.e. substance use) in adolescents. 




Kelsey Mauro

Kelsey is a fourth-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at George Mason. In 2016, she received her B.A. from George Washington University, after which she worked as a research fellow at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Kelsey’s research interests include adolescent stress processes and substance abuse, including risk factors for alcohol abuse and cognitive/physiological changes that result from heavy drinking behavior.




Rafael E. Hernandez Dubon

Rafael is a second-year student in the Ph.D. clinical psychology program at George Mason. He earned a dual B.S. degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in psychology with a concentration in addiction studies, and philosophy with a concentration in philosophy and science. Previous to Mason, he worked as a research assistant in projects focused on culturally enhancing substance use interventions for Latinx adolescents and young adults. He is interested in Latinx community oriented research, and the impact of sociocultural-spiritual factors in the development of psychopathology, specially substance use and addiction. As well as, culturally enhancing construct measurement, assessment, and interventions. He enjoys hiking, biking, and spending time with family.



Mary Ryan 

Mary Ryan (formerly Mary Fesalbon) is a second-year student in George Mason University’s doctoral program for Clinical. She earned her B.A. in psychology from the Catholic University of America in 2018. After undergrad Mary worked as Research Technician in the Center for Functional and Molecular Imaging at Georgetown University, where she received funding to study violence exposure as it relates to adolescent emotion processing and neurodevelopment. Mary’s research interests have continued in the trajectory of adolescent neurodevelopment. Additionally, she is interested in examining adolescent development as it relates to pubertal timing, parental bond, and media exposure. Outside of the lab, Mary is learning a series of aerial tricks on the flying trapeze.


Laboratory Managers

Alec Gamboa

Alec is the laboratory manager for the Parent-Teen Study II. He holds two degrees in Cellular Neuroscience and Cognitive Psychology from George Mason University. His research interests include the effects of psychedelics on cognition, neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, and he is also interested in neurophysics. He is pursuing a PhD in Neurobiology and hopes to work as a principal investigator in the future. He mentors high school students who are interested in Neuroscience and/or Medicine through the Action Potential Advising Program (APAP). On his free time, Alec enjoys working out, eating new food, and enjoying nature.


Cristopher Lance Hinagpis

Lance is the project manager for the Parent-Teen Study II. In 2020, he graduated from George Mason University with a B.S. in Psychology with a concentration in Clinical Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. His interests include finding different ways to cope with stress and learning how healthy emotion regulation strategies can reduce adverse consequences of suicide ideation and ruminative thought in young adults. In the future, Lance plans to apply to Ph.D. programs in Clinical Psychology. During his free time, he is either re-watching episodes of The Office, reading, or playing basketball.


Gordon (Max) Kinsey-Kerr

Max is the laboratory manager for the Parenting-Mindfully study II. He graduated in 2021 from George Mason University with a B.S. in Psychology. He has research interests in how mindfulness can reduce the effects of stress, depression, anxiety, and even lead to healthier relationships. He plans to apply for PhD programs in Clinical Psychology in the future. While Max has free time you would likely find him spending time with his loved ones, trying to improve in some way, or playing video games.


Research Assistants

Ryan Paulson 

Ryan Paulson is a Junior pursuing a Psychology degree with a concentration in both Clinical Psychology and Educational Psychology at GMU. As an aspiring school psychologist, he is interested in learning how an adolescent’s environment influences their emotional, cognitive, and social development as well as various risk factors for anxiety-related disorders. Outside of the lab he loves playing tennis, watching football, spending time with family, and playing video games!



Aisha Qureshi 

Aisha Qureshi is a post-baccalaureate with a B.S. in Biology with hopes to pursue medical school in the near future. Her research interests include psychophysiology and neurodegenerative diseases. Outside of lab, Aisha loves to spend time with her family, take film photos, play soccer, and go on runs.






Mariam Shakeel 

Mariam is a sophomore majoring in Neuroscience at George Mason University. Her research interests include adolescent psychology and mental health disorders. In her free time, Mariam enjoys reading, rock climbing, and taekwondo.







Gabriela Kohlmayer 

Gabriela Kohlmayer is a 2021 graduate of George Mason University’s psychology program, where she graduated with a 4.0 GPA, honors, a concentration in clinical psychology, and a minor in English. Her research interests include obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance abuse in adolescents, and family-enhanced psychotherapy. When she has free time, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with friends, family, and her two guinea pigs.  






Rebecca Knebels

Rebecca recently graduated with her undergraduate degree in Psychology with a concentration in Clinical Psychology. She aspires to get her PhD and become a Clinical Psychologist. Her research interests include anxiety disorders, child development, and memory. Outside of research, she enjoys spending time with my family and friends and watching movies.





Autumn Jones 

Autumn is a Senior at GMU pursuing a B.S. in Psychology with a concentration in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and a minor in Neuroscience. Her research interests include psychophysiology, the use of psychedelics to treat mood and anxiety-related disorders, and how traumatic brain injuries affect cognition and neurodegeneration. Outside of the lab, she enjoys outdoor adventures, playing the piano, and going to the movies!





Aparna Mathew 

Aparna Mathew is a junior pursuing a Psychology degree with a concentration in Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience. She is interested in learning more about the dynamic of different types of human relationships (familial, platonic, etc.) Outside of school, she loves to read, to go to the movie theater, and to play the guitar!



Geraldine Cruz

Geraldine Cruz graduated in the Spring of 2021 with a B.S. in Psychology. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Specifically, Geraldine is most interested in clinical child and adolescent psychology. Outside of the lab, Geraldine enjoys watching movies, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends.




Erika McMillian 

Erika is currently a Junior at GMU and she is majoring in Psychology, with a concentration in Clinical Psychology, and a minor in Nutrition. Her research interests include anxiety and mood disorders and healthy lifestyle interventions. Outside of the lab, she is interested in going to the gym, animals, and traveling.




Paola Gonzalez

Paola is a senior and will be graduating from GMU May 2022. She is perusing a BA in Psychology with a concentration in Developmental and Clinical Psychology as well as a minor in Immigration Studies. Her psychology interests focus on child development, emotion, and mental health disorders. Outside the lab, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family.



Meryam Amer

Meryam is a biology major interested in going to Pharmacy School. She will be graduating in spring 2022. Her research interests include clinical psychology. Some hobbies she enjoys are exercising with friends and family, learning new languages, and listening to Arabic music.





Elisa Akins

Elisa is a Junior pursuing a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience. She aspires to be a Clinical Neuropsychologist, and her research interests include psychophysiology, emotions, memory, mental health disorders, reward pathways, and neuroplasticity. In her free time, Elisa enjoys hiking, biking, and exploring the area for good food or fun local shops!





Sandi Daamash

Sandi is currently a senior studying Psychology with a concentration in Health Psychology at George Mason. She is excited to be graduating Fall 2021. With her degree, she aspires to be a research coordinator. She is very fascinated and intrigued with child development. Outside of school and the lab, she enjoys spending time with her nephews, painting, and being outside in nature.





Katherine Chiari 

Katherine is a junior majoring in Psychology with a concentration in Clinical Psychology. Her research interests include child and adolescent development. She hopes to become a speech pathologist in the future. Outside of research, some of the things she enjoys are listening to music and watching anime.




Ustina Sayed

Ustina Abdel Sayed is currently a senior majoring in Neuroscience. Her research interests include family dynamics in relation to anxiety and respiratory diseases. Outside of the lab, she enjoys painting, playing the piano, and biking.






Karmen Caylor

Karmen Caylor is a post-baccalaureate working in the Youth Emotion Lab. Her research interests include contributing factors to suicidality, the ways parental demographics affect the emotion regulation of their children, and the link between substance use in parents and children. In her free time, Karmen enjoys crafting, outdoor activities, and traveling to new cities.




High School Research Assistants

Rawan Hashim 

Rawan is a senior at John R Lewis High School in Springfield VA. She plans to major in Neuroscience in college on the pre-medical track, and she’s specifically interested in cultural behavior, as well as learning more about the prevalence of seasonal affective disorder among black women in the United States. In her free time, she enjoys watching rom-coms, journaling, and spending time with her family!




Himaja Chintalapalli

Himaja is a Senior at Independence High School. She is interested in majoring in Psychology in college with a concentration in Clinical Psychology. In her spare time she likes to read, dance, and hang out with her family and friends.





Graduate Student Alumni


Caitlin Turpyn, PhD

Caitlin graduated from the Clinical Psychology program at George Mason University and is completing her post-doctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Caitlin received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2011 from Pennsylvania State University. Before entering GMU’s clinical program, she worked as a project coordinator in the Neuroscience and Education Lab at New York University. Her research interests include adolescent emotion reactivity and regulation in relation to the development of psychopathology.


Jenny Poon, PhD

Jenny graduated from the Clinical Psychology program at George Mason University and is completing her post-doctoral fellowship at Brown University. She received her B.S. in Psychology (Minor: Creative Writing) from Virginia Tech and her M.A. in Experimental Psychology from the College of William & Mary. She is broadly interested in using multiple methods (e.g., self-report, behavioral observation, cortisol, HRV, fMRI) to better elucidate how emotion-related processes (e.g., emotion regulation) impact adolescents’ psychological functioning. Currently, she is interested in examining how early adolescents’ neural responses to positive and negative stimuli are associated with depression, suicidality, NSSI, and other maladaptive behaviors, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally.


Amysue Hansen, PhD

Amysue Hansen graduated from the Clinical Psychology Program at George Mason University and is currently employed as a Specialist at McKinsey & Company. Through the Social, Healthcare, and Public Entities practice, she works on engagements in the public, social, and private sectors around behavioral health reform.






Pictured (from left to right): top row: Dr. Tara Chaplin (PI), Claire Niehaus, Robin Semelsberger, Stefanie Goncalves.
Bottom row: Kelsey Mauro, Irene Regalario.

Previous Project Managers:

Irene Regalario is now in George Mason University’s Clinical Psychology PhD program studying under Dr. Leah Adams. She managed the Parent-Teen Study II.

Juliana Jacangelo who is now studying for a master’s degree in Public Health at the University of Virginia managed the Parent-Teen Study.

Alexandra Martelli who is now in a PhD program for Social Psychology at the Virginia Commonwealth University managed the Parenting Mindfully Study.

Cory Ross, who managed the Parenting Mindfully Study and Parent-Teen Study, is now pursuing a PhD in School Psychology at Penn State University.

Fran Faundez Rojas, who managed the Parent-Teen Study, will now be working at Wediko Children’s Services Summer Program.


Research Lab Alumni


Margaret Hudak

Christopher Kane

Micaela Selma-Toledo

Sarah Armani

Keri Fox

Sahar Rizwan

Shawal Tariq

Chanele Greene

Malek Salhab

Grace Maher

SoMi Lee

Nadia Roghani

Sonakshi Negi

Jaira Hilbert

Joe Dinh

Robin Semelsberger