Our Team


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

Not pictured: Joe Dinh, Sonakshi Negi, Somi Lee, Jaira Hilbert, Amysue Hansen.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Tara Chaplin is an Assistant 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


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

Amysue Hansen is a sixth year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Department at George Mason University working with Dr. Tara M. Chaplin. She is currently a Clinical Psychology Resident at Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Stony Brook University in 2012. Broadly, her research interests include the biological effects of love and attraction on arousal and regulatory systems in adolescence. She is currently interested in why romantic relationships are associated with heightened risk behavior and the onset of psychopathology. She hopes to explore how neural activation in adolescent romantic relationships is an underlying factor that is facilitating risk behavior and psychopathology in this unique subset of adolescents.





Claire Niehaus

Claire is a fifth-year 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 fourth-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 third-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 first-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 first-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.


Project Manager


Cristopher Lance Hinagpis

Lance is the project manager for the Parent-Teen Study II. He recently 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 how healthy emotion regulation strategies can reduce the adverse consequences of ruminative thought. He is also interested in studying the biological and emotional responses to early life stress. 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 watching NBA games.


Research Assistants


Sarah Armani

Sarah is a senior and will be graduating from GMU with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology this August 2020. She plans to take a year off before attending George Mason’s Master’s program for Social Work. Sarah loves working with people, playing the piano, and just about anything outdoors!






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.





Margaret Hudak

Margaret is currently studying Neuroscience as a senior at George Mason University. Her research interests include anxiety disorders, positive psychology, and the underlying neural systems that drive maladaptive behaviors. She is pursuing the career path to therapeutic interventions that consider the interaction between family, emotion, and cognition. In her free time, Margaret enjoys spending quality time with family and friends, going on trails, reading, and drinking coffee.





Chanele Greene

Chanele is a senior neuroscience student who is most passionate about participating in research that explores the mental, emotional, and physical needs among women from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, particularly those sharing the unique experience of identifying as African American.  Chanele hopes to assist in dismantling racial and gender-biased societal ideas that prevent individual growth and well-being. In her free time, Chanele loves listening to music, singing, and dancing.  She also likes learning about physics and space travel.  Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Chanele loves food, especially anything spicy!






Keri Fox

Keri is a senior who will be graduating in the Fall of 2020. Her psychology interests focus on child development, mental health disorders, cognition, and trauma. Outside of the lab, Keri is as an ABA therapist, and in her free time loves being outside with her dog, catching up on shows, or spending time with friends.






Malek Salhab

Malek is a rising senior majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in CDS. His research endeavors are multifaceted, ranging from nanotechnology to neuronal reconstruction. Outside the lab, he is an avid reader, up-and-coming entrepreneur, and naturalistic photographer.






Sahar Rizwan

Sahar is currently a senior majoring in neuroscience. Her research interests include interpersonal relationships and neural imaging. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hiking, baking, and reading.







Shawal Tariq

Shawal is a senior pursuing a B.S. in Neuroscience with a minor in psychology. She is interested in biopsychology research in areas such as stress and social-emotional development as well as exploring how diseases influence one’s behavior. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, baking, and spending time with her family.







Grace Maher

Grace recently graduated from George Mason University with a degree in Psychology. Grace has a passion for clinical research, especially involving the topics of anxiety and depression. When she is not working, Grace enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking or kayaking and loves creating art.







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.







Christopher Kane

Christopher is a senior at George Mason University pursuing a B.S. in Psychology with a concentration in Clinical Psychology. He is interested in the potential of using lucid dreaming as a format of treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as the psychophysiological relationship between trauma, emotions, stress, and behavior. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing music, and spending time outdoors.





Micaela Selma-Toledo

Micaela is a first-generation Latinx graduate. Upon graduating in December 2018 with a BS in Psychology with a concentration in Developmental Psychology from George Mason University, Micaela began working for the Youth Emotion Lab and as an ABA therapist. Her research interests are Latinx mental health, parent-child relationships, PTSD, and cross-cultural sensitive interventions. Micaela plans to apply to a doctorate program next fall. Her lifetime goals and career aspirations are to create interventions for at-risk Latinx and African American youth, organizing mentoring/personal/professional development programs for Latinx children and women, and creating a parenting program for fathers.



Research Lab Alumni



Irene Regalario

Irene was the previous project manager for the Parent-Teen study II. She graduated from GMU in 2018 with a degree in Psychology with a concentration in Health. She is now in George Mason’s Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program working with Dr. Leah Adams. Her research interests include emotion regulation, anxiety, cardiovascular and hormonal responses to stress, and caregiver stress. Outside of research, she enjoys music, photography, and trying new food.




Robin Semelsberger

Robin Semelsberger graduated from the University of Mary Washington in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology, after graduation she worked as an applied behavioral analysis instructor and emergency mental health technician. Robin is now at Sam Houston State University’s Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. She was a research assistant in the Youth Emotion’s Lab from August 2017 – August 2020. Her current research interests include substance abuse interventions, health behaviors, and parent-child relationships. In her free time, Robin continues to work on independent research projects and enjoys watching her Law & Order box set.




SoMi Lee

SoMi graduated from George Mason University with a BA in Psychology with a concentration in Developmental Psychology. She is now a graduate student in George Mason’s School Psychology program.  She enjoys traveling and listening to music.







Nadia Roghani

Nadia Roghani is an undergraduate at George Mason University, studying psychology. She is most interested in marriage and family therapy, as well as research about trauma and refugee experiences. Outside of research, she enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with friends.






Sonakshi Negi

Sonakshi graduated in the fall of 2018 with a B.A. in Psychology with concentrations in Clinical Psychology and Health Psychology. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and research the mechanisms underlying existing treatments to understand how to personalize psychological treatments in adolescents. In doing so, she hopes to better treatment outcomes. She enjoys art and likes to paint in her free time.



Jaira Hilbert

Jaira graduated in the spring of 2019 with a degree in Psychology. She had a concentration in Development and a minor in African & African American Studies. Her research interests center the mental health of minority children and families. After earning her Master’s degree, she hopes to contribute to the field of Community Psychology to help aid in community problem-solving through research and outreach programs. Outside of the lab, Jaira enjoys eating a good meal, watching a good show, and liturgical dancing






Joe Dinh

Joe graduated from George Mason University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in Development Psychology. Joe plans to apply to a Clinical Ph.D. program in the future. Some of his hobbies include reading and working out.







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.