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


Kelsey Mauro

Kelsey is a fifth-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 third-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 fourth-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.



Mallory A. Kisner

Mallory is a third-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at George Mason University. She received her B.S. in psychology from Colorado State University in 2019. Prior to joining the Youth Emotion Lab, Mallory worked as a research fellow at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), using fMRI to pilot a neurofeedback intervention for craving reduction for individuals with alcohol use disorder. Her research interests revolve around the development of harmful substance use behaviors across the lifespan. She uses developmental theory and neuroimaging techniques to study social and emotional influences on adolescent substance use and has additional interests in the use of mindfulness techniques for both the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.



Lucy McClellan

Lucy is a first-year student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at George Mason University. She received her B.A. in Psychology and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2021. After graduating, Lucy was a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Gender Development Program at Children’s National Hospital, using fMRI and neuropsychological testing to study cognitive and mental health trajectories of gender-diverse youth. Her research interests include the impact of social relationships on adolescent mental health trajectories, as well as related neurocognitive mechanisms and differences by sex and gender.


Laboratory Managers

Rachel Upton

Rachel is the laboratory manager for the Parent-Teen Study II. She graduated from George Mason in 2022 with a B.S. in Psychology. She also has two Associates degrees in English and the Social Sciences. Her research interests include the different presentation of ADHD and Autism in women and minorities and how family function and social support affects the development and treatment of these disorders. She plans to apply to a PhD program in Clinical Psychology or Neuroscience in the future. In her free time she enjoys reading and spending time with her parrots.



Dylan Dinh

Dylan is the assistant laboratory manager for both the Parent-Teen Study II & the Parenting-Mindfully study II. He graduated in Spring of 2022 with a B.S. in Psychology. He hopes to pursue a PsyD in Clinical Psychology. His research interests include stress and anxiety and their long term effects on childhood development. In his free time, he enjoys playing music and watching movies.


Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistants



Autumn Jones 

Autumn graduated with 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!






Ustina Sayed

Ustina graduated with a degree 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.





Mariam Shakeel 

Mariam graduated with a B.S. in Neuroscience from George Mason University. Her research interests include adolescent psychology and mental health disorders. In her free time, Mariam enjoys reading, rock climbing, and taekwondo.






Undergraduate Research Assistants



Giselle Macdonald

Giselle is a senior undergraduate Psychology student with a concentration in Clinical Psychology and a minor in Data Analysis.  She plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology with research interests including attachment, emotion regulation, interpersonal stress and traumatic stress, and crisis response.  She has a passion for working with other LGBTQ individuals by volunteering for the Trevor Project, and enjoys reading, yoga, and spending downtime with her partner and her dog.




Jennifer Aguilar

Jennifer is a senior pursuing a B.S. in psychology with a concentration in clinical psychology and health psychology at GMU. She plans to pursue a master’s in mental health counseling, interested in providing mental health services to the Spanish-speaking community. Her research interests include risk and resilience factors in Latin youth. Outside the lab, she enjoys spending time with her family and dog, cooking, and watching tv shows.





Emilia Judd

Emilia is a sophomore working towards getting a B.S. in Neuroscience and Clinical Psychology. Her research interests include the effects of trauma and abuse in childhood on adults and criminal psychology. She plans to go to medical school and would like to one day open a private practice in neurology or neuropsychology. Outside of classes, she enjoys riding horses, reading, and spending time her friends and her cats Nugget and Pepper.





Nina Larsen

Nina is an international senior psychology student at George Mason University with concentrations in clinical and health psychology. She has a previous baccalaureate and master’s degree in English from Copenhagen University, and she hopes to use her mixed educational background in the mission to help children, youth, and young adults lead better lives. Her future career goals encompass pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology and owning a private practice one day. When she is not RBT’ing or campaigning for mental health awareness, you will find her running a trail, tending to her garden, or learning a new craft.




Huda Emaan Naeem

Huda is a senior pursuing a B.S. in Psychology with a clinical psychology concentration, as well as the accelerated M.A. in Psychology with the Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience concentration. After completing her degrees at GMU, she plans to eventually complete a PhD or PsyD in Clinical Psychology. She’s interested in religion and spirituality-integrated clinical techniques, as well as the connection between processes of cognition and neuroscience to frameworks of clinical psychology. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with friends, reading and writing fiction, baking, and watching movies.





Jessica Keith

Jessica is a senior undergraduate working towards a bachelor’s in psychology, with concentrations in clinical and developmental psychology. She plans on graduating in May 2024 and applying for graduate school in pursuits of a PhD. Her research interests include the assessment of mental health developmental differences over the life span, how they may impact the success of mental health intervention strategies, and how clinical trials of new forms of therapy techniques and interventions might adjust for said differences. Outside of research and studies, she enjoys Dungeon and Dragons, video games, and creating digital art.





Michael Nhouyvanisvong

Michael is a fourth-year undergraduate student pursuing a B.A. in psychology with a concentration in Health Psychology. He is interested in becoming a counselor with a focus on positive psychology and promoting the well-being of others. In his free time, Michael enjoys hiking, playing video games with friends, and trying new experiences.



Graduate Student Alumni



Stefanie Gonçalves, PhD

Stefanie graduated from George Mason University with her Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 2023. She is currently a NIH T32 postdoctoral fellow at Western Psychiatric Hospital/University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Stefanie previously completed her predoctoral internship at Western Psychiatric Hospital/University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Her research is focused on understanding the role of emotion and motivation in mood disorders and substance use in adolescents.





Caitlin Turpyn, PhDCaity

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 maladaptivebehaviors, 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.





claire-photoClaire Milligan, PhD

Claire graduated from George Mason University with her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2022. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at University of Louisville’s Norton Children’s Hospital providing consultation-liaison services to hospitalized children experiencing psychiatric emergencies and conducting research on parent-child groups for children with chronic illness. Prior to that, she did her predoctoral internship at Denver Health Hospital specializing in working with underserved families affected by substance use, homelessness, parental incarceration,   or domestic violence. Broadly, her clinical work focuses on parenting interventions for underserved or historically marginalized families following a biopsychosocial approach. Similarly, her research uses multi-method approaches to understand parenting and child psychological outcomes in diverse or marginalized groups.



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:

Alec Gamboa is now in Georgetown University Medical Center’s Pharmacology & Molecular Neuroscience PhD program. He managed the Parent-Teen Study II (2022-2023)

Max Kinsey-Kerr is now in x. He started and managed the Parenting-Mindfully Study II (2022-2023)

Cristopher Lance Hinagpis is now in George Mason University’s Clinical Psychology PhD program studying under Dr. Leah Adams. He managed the Parent-Teen Study II (2020-2022)

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. (2018-2020)

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

Randall Golden

Evan Holloway

Vivien Nguyen

Rebecca Knebels

Sandi Daamash

Gabriela Kohlmayer

Tyne Hudson

Katherine Guzman

Geraldine Cruz

Ryan Paulson

Scott Kline

Rachel Yang

Rubbia Syed

Jeana Nelson

Jolie Megally

Leeza Ahmed

Elisa Akins

Katherine Chiari

Meryam Amber

Paola Gonzalez

Erika McMillan

Karmen Caylor

Aparna Mathew

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