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Our team

Lab Director: Autumn Kujawa, Ph.D.

Autumn Kujawa, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University and a licensed clinical psychologist. Her research integrates multiple methods, including psychophysiology, neuroimaging, and behavioral measures, to examine emotional processing styles involved in the development and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Dr. Kujawa earned her Ph.D. from Stony Brook University and completed her clinical internship and postdoctoral research fellowship in the neuroscience of mental health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Kujawa has been awarded both a Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation fellowship award and a Brain and Behavior Research Foundation Young Investigator grant, and she has been recognized as a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science. When not teaching or in the lab, she enjoys hiking and exploring Nashville with her family.

Graduate Students and Staff: 


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Sam Pegg, M.S. is a third-year doctoral student in the Clinical Science area and works under Dr. Autumn Kujawa. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Miami in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and minor in Biology. Following her time at UM, she worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Dauten Family Center for Bipolar Treatment Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital for two years. Samantha is broadly interested in studying the underlying mechanisms of mood and anxiety disorders. More specifically, she is interested in the cognitive and emotional processes involved in the development and maintenance of these disorders. Outside of the lab, Samantha enjoys hiking, watching movies, and spending time with her family, friends, and her dog, Tater.

 

IMG_0900Emilia “Emili” Cárdenas, M.S. is a third-year doctoral student in the Clinical Science area. She is co-mentored by Drs. Autumn Kujawa in the Mood, Emotion & Development (MED) Lab and Kathryn Humphreys in the Stress and Early Adversity (SEA) Lab. Emili graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2016 with a dual degree in Psychology and Art. Emili then worked as a research coordinator in the Lab for Affective and Translational Neuroscience at McLean Hospital for two years. Emili is interested in advancing translational neuroscience to promote resilience in vulnerable children and families. Specifically, she is interested in using multimodal methods (e.g., ERPS, heart rate variability, behavior) to investigate predictors of caregiving behavior and postpartum health. Emili is excited about a new NIH grant awarded to the MED and SEA Labs to study predictors of peripartum depression across pregnancy. When Emili is not in the lab, she enjoys listening to albums from start to finish (as the artists intended), cooking new recipes, and taking long walks around Nashville.

 

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Lindsay Dickey, M.Ed. is a second-year doctoral student in the Clinical Science area. Prior to starting the doctoral program, Lindsay completed the Vanderbilt Child Studies program, specializing in the Clinical & Developmental Research Track. She graduated with high distinction from Indiana University in 2014, receiving BA’s in both psychology and political science. She is broadly interested in studying the dynamic relationship between cognitive, affective, and physiological processes in the development and maintenance of depression and anxiety. Particularly, she is interested in individual differences in the cognitive processing of stressful life events, and how this interacts with physiological reactivity, motivation, and emotion regulation. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, and running.

 

1586371583147_plusLisa Venanzi, M.Ed. is a first-year doctoral student in the Clinical Science area and is working with Dr. Autumn Kujawa. She received a B.S. in Psychology from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, then moved to Nashville and completed a M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Vanderbilt. After receiving her Master’s, she worked as a lab manager for Dr. Gavin Price, where she learned additional skills necessary to pursue her research interests. Lisa is broadly interested in the development and maintenance of neural predictors of suicidal behaviors in adolescents, with a long-term goal of applying these findings to improve treatment efficacy and response. Outside of the lab, she enjoys reading, hiking, traveling, and taking varied classes through Nashville Community Education (most recently, 14th century German Longsword).

 

Resh Gupta

Resh Gupta, M.S., is a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the Vanderbilt Brain Institute working under the direction of Dr. Autumn Kujawa. In 2015, she graduated with highest distinction and received a B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). As an undergraduate student at UIUC, she conducted research on associative memory in younger and older adults. As a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, she has conducted research on the short and long-term consequences of proactive interference and has also examined differences in cognition and brain structure, vasculature, and white matter integrity between individuals at-risk or not-at-risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Presently, Resh uses EEG/ERP, behavioral, and clinical outcome measures to investigate the effects of mindfulness on threat-related attentional biases in anxious populations. When she is not engaged in research, she enjoys spending time with family, creating art, and playing her accordion, piano, and guitar.

 

Irena Kesselring is a second-year master’s student in the Child Studies program on the Clinical & Developmental Research Track. She graduated with distinction from the University of Virginia in 2019, with a double major in Cognitive Science, (concentration: Cognitive Psychology) and English. She is interested in cognitive biases and underlying neural factors associated with the onset of mood disorders as well as the use of EMA. In her free time, Irena enjoys spending time with friends, cooking, and playing video games.

 

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Andrew Milowsky is a third-year master’s student in the Human Development Counseling program. He graduated from the Pennsylvania State University majoring in Rehabilitation and Human Services while also earning minors in Spanish and Psychology. Andrew is interested in investigating the interconnection between emotional regulation and trauma. He also has research interests in suicidality, masculinity, and gender socialization. In his free time, Andrew enjoys playing video games, watching sports and playing with his cats.

 

 

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Maya Jackson is a first-year master’s student in the Human Development Counseling program on the Clinical Mental Health Counseling track. She graduated from Vanderbilt University in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Psychology and a minor in Spanish, receiving the Peabody College Willis D. Hawley Award for her commitment of service to others. As an undergraduate student, Maya was a research assistant in the Mood, Emotion, and Development Lab from 2018-2020. She is interested in studying the impact of early adversity on children’s development and mental health disparities in diverse populations. In her free time, Maya enjoys crocheting, watching documentaries, relaxing with her cat (18+ years old), and trying out DIY projects and food recipes.

 

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Nat Nigro is a first-year master’s student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. She graduated from Vanderbilt with a Bachelor’s of Engineering in Engineering Design with minors in Math and Computer Science. Nat is interested in the development and treatment of mood disorders in adolescents and young adults, and also the use of evidence-based approaches in treatment of suicidality. Outside of the lab, Nat likes to do art, take her dog on hikes, teach yoga, and spend time with kids.

 

 

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Maddie Politte-Corn is a first-year Master’s student in the Child Studies program on the Clinical & Developmental Research Track. She graduated summa cum laude from Cornell College in May 2020, with a major in Psychology and a minor in Applied Statistics. In 2019, she worked at the Centre for Emotional Health in Sydney, Australia as the Bryan International Fellow in Adolescent Well-Being, where she worked a number of projects related to social media and adolescent/young adult mental health. Her Honors thesis investigated the impact of no-makeup selfies and positive appearance comments on young women’s body image. Maddie is broadly interested in the development, maintenance, and treatment of internalizing symptoms and disorders in adolescents. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, watching baseball, and spending time outside.

 

Screen Shot 2020-05-28 at 3.36.21 PMElizabeth Estes graduated from the University of Michigan in 2019 with a B.A. in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience, and a minor in the History of Medicine and Health. Elizabeth wrote her undergraduate honors thesis on the association between child maltreatment and the volume of the extended limbic system in a population-based sample of adolescents, for which she received highest honors. Currently, she is the Lab Manager for the Mood, Emotion, and Development Lab, and also spends her time as the Project Coordinator in the Vanderbilt Stress and Early Adversity Laboratory with Dr. Kate Humphreys. Her interests include studying factors that impact the transition to parenting (e.g., maternal stress, quality of peripartum care, psychopathology), in order to identify targets of intervention. Outside of the lab, Elizabeth enjoys reading, cooking with friends, and going backpacking.

Undergraduate Research Assistants:

Leo Brown
Anh Dao
Spencer Deng
Frank Feng
Lindsey Gordon
Nicole Herman
Sydney Okland
Joshua Pímentel
Alexis Pramberger


Lab Alumni: 

Haley Green – Haley was the lab manager of the Mood, Emotion, and Development lab from 2018-2020. In the fall of 2020, she will begin a clinical psychology Ph.D. program with Dr. Elizabeth Hayden at the University of Western Ontario.

Jennifer Ude – Jennifer was a master’s student in the Mood, Emotion, and Development lab. She will begin medical school in 2020.

Hee Jung Jeong – Hee was a member of the Mood, Emotion, and Development Lab, and began the clinical psychological science program at Vanderbilt in fall 2019 under the mentorship of Dr. Antonia Kaczkurkin.