Our Team


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




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.


Project Manager


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.


Research Assistants



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!





Alec Gamboa

Alec is a fourth year Psychology and Neuroscience student at George Mason University. His research interests include the effects of psychedelics on cognition, neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, and 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 editing videos




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.





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.




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.






Research Lab Alumni




Christopher Kane

Christopher graduated from George Mason University with 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.




Sarah Armani

Sarah graduated from GMU with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology. 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!





Keri Fox

Keri recently graduated from Mason with a Bachelors of Psychology, with concentrations in both Clinical and Developmental psychology, and a minor in Social Work. 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. Keri got accepted into the Masters of Social work program at the University of Maryland (Baltimore Campus). She will be doing the Clinical concentration with a specialization in Behavioral Health, which focuses on both Clinical and Macro aspects of Social Work.



Sahar Rizwan

Sahar is recently graduated with an undergraduate degree in neuroscience. Her research interests include interpersonal relationships and neural imaging. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hiking, baking, and reading.







Shawal Tariq

Shawal recently graduate with a B.S. in Neuroscience and 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.







Chanele Greene

Chanele was 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!




Malek Salhab

Malek graduated with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a minor 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.




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.






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.






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 graduated from 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.






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.

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

Amysue Hansen graduated 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.


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.

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.