Graduate Students


Santiago received his B.A. in neuroscience from Hiram College in 2011.  He is currently working on his Ph.D in developmental psychology at Penn State University.  In his years as an undergraduate, he mostly worked with Dr. Koehnle studying animal temperament in free-living squirrels and laboratory rats. He obtained his M.S. at Penn State examining the longitudinal effects of infant temperament and early psychophysiology in socioemotional outcomes during kindergarten. Currently, he is working with Kristin Buss and Koraly Pérez-Edgar studying emotion, emotion regulation, and temperament in children by using psychophysiological, neurobiological, and behavioral measures. He is also working with Pamela Cole and Nilam Ram in a project aimed to explore the dynamics of self-regulation by using longitudinal methods to model micro-coded, second-by-second, repeated measures. 

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Eran Auday

Eran is a graduate student in the child-clinical area. Eran's research interests are focused on effects that families-of-origin have on mental well-being and social functioning across human development, from childhood into adulthood. Specifically, he is interested in examining whether parenting behaviors during childhood and adolescence are associated with individuals’ self-perceptions and social information processing, as well as psychological functioning (e.g., risky decision-making, development of anxiety and mood disturbances).

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Xiaoxue (Jessie) Fu

Jessie received her BSc in Psychology from Bristol University and MSc in Psychological Research from Oxford University. For her master’s thesis, she employed psychophysiological methods to study the acquisition of fear and anxiety in anxious adults. Since graduation, she has been working on projects that assess the efficacy of cognitive bias modification of interpretations training in ameliorating interpretation bias and negative mood in Chinese adolescents with subclinical and clinical anxiety. For her Ph.D., She is broadly interested in how neurocognitive processes interact with genetic and environmental factors to contribute to the risk and resilience of developing social-emotional maladaptations in temperamentally at-risk youths.

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Nhi Thai

Nhi is currently a fourth year graduate student pursuing her PhD in Developmental Psychology under the mentorship of Dr. Perez-Edgar. She received her bachelors in Child Psychology and Biology from the University of Minnesota, where she conducted research with Dr. Philip Zelazo on the development and neural bases of executive function throughout the lifespan. Her Master's work looked at the neural underpinnings of attention bias to threat and attention training. For her doctoral work, she would like to investigate the neurocognitive processes involved in emotion regulation and explore effective emotion regulation strategies toward adaptive behavior, particularly in the context of psychopathology.

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Leigha MacNeill

Leigha received her B.A. in psychology and English from the University of Rochester in 2012, and she is currently working toward her Ph.D. in developmental psychology at Penn State.  Leigha's research interests bridge family systems and neuroscience perspectives to examine the biological underpinnings of the family's emotional climate.  Her master's thesis examined whether the influences of both mothers' and fathers' emotional expressiveness on young children's prosocial behavior were contingent upon children's physiological regulation, and whether the effects differed for older and younger siblings within the family.  Additionally, Leigha investigates how changes in infants' brain activity may indicate shifts in infant cognitive skill across early development.

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Alicia Vallorani

Alicia Vallorani graduated from Knox College in 2011 with a B.A. in Psychology emphasizing in Behavioral Neuroscience. She then worked in the Neurology Department at the Washington University School of Medicine as the Clinical Research Coordinator for the Washington University Neurofibromatosis (NF) Center where she aided in the study of social-emotional delays in children with NF1. She will be joining the CAT Lab in Fall 2016 as a Ph.D Candidate in Developmental Psychology and Social and Affective Neuroscience where she intends to study the developmental trajectories of infants, children and young adults predisposed to Social Anxiety Disorder.

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Berenice anaya

Berenice Anaya received a B.A. in Psychology (2014) and a M.S. in Psychology (2016) from Western Kentucky University. For her Master’s thesis, she examined the validity of “hot” and “cool” tasks as measures of self-regulation, and how these tasks predicted future academic performance and socio-emotional competence, which play a crucial role in school readiness.Berenice is currently work under the mentorship of Dr. Koraly Pérez-Edgar, studying how affect, temperament, and attention interact to shape social processes.