Our Team

Bridget Callaghan, Ph.D.
Principle Investigator

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Bridget is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and is the director of the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab), which opened in 2019. Before starting at UCLA, Bridget was a postdoctoral research fellow at Columbia University in New York, and completed her doctorate in Psychology and her training as a clinical psychologist at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Bridget has experience working with animal models of early adversity, as well as in behavioral, fMRI, and biological research within human populations. Born in Sydney, Bridget is a lover of the sun and beaches. When she is not in the lab, she likes to spend time with her husband Beau, and dog Vinnie, hanging out, hiking (i.e., doing bush walks) and eating grehttps://trello.com/b/Q8py2w59/tasksat food.


Jessica Uy
Post-Doctoral Researcher

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Jessica is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the BABLab. She earned her PhD in Developmental Psychology at UCLA. Her research interest is in investigating how early experiences become biologically embedded in the developing brain to influence psychological and physical well-being across development, and how these effects might be transmitted across generations. She has used behavioral and neuroimaging techniques to characterize the neural circuits that link normative experiences, such as stress, sleep, and social interactions, to psychological and physical health during adolescence. During her time in the BABLab, she plans to integrate indicators of peripheral biology (e.g., microbiome, inflammation) into her psychology and neuroscience research to examine how these processes interact to influence health across development. Outside of the BABLab, Jessica enjoys spending time with her family and friends, running, reading, and playing board games.


Jennifer Somers, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellow

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Jenn is a Postdoctoral Fellow on UCLA’s T32 Program on Biobehavioral Issues in Mental and Physical Health. Before starting at UCLA, Jenn earned her doctorate in clinical psychology at Arizona State University. Her research interest is in biobehavioral processes through which close relationships support mental and physical wellbeing, especially among families facing socioeconomic disadvantage and contextual adversities. By evaluating bidirectional influences between children and their caregivers across multiple timescales (e.g., second-by-second processes that occur during social interactions, longer-term adaptation that unfolds across development), this research provides a framework for characterizing the effects of early social experiences on children’s development, which bears implications for both children and their caregiver’s wellbeing. During her time in the BABLab, she plans to study the effects of adverse early social experiences on parent-child biobehavioral synchrony and developing socioemotional and biological systems. Outside of the lab, Jenn enjoys spending time with friends and family, trying new recipes, and going to the beach with her rescue dog Rosie.


Fran Querdasi
Graduate Student

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Fran is a Graduate Student in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Fran is broadly interested in how experiences during childhood affect long-term health and resilience. In the BABlab, her research focuses on the development of social processes (e.g., cognitions, memory, reactivity to social stress) and interconnected biological systems (e.g., the gut-microbiome, HPA-axis, and brain). Fran also studies factors that foster well-being for children who have been exposed to early adversity, such as positive relationships. She graduated from Pomona College (1 hour east of Los Angeles!) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 2018. Before joining the BABLab, Fran was a research coordinator at Stanford University, where she worked on projects investigating neurobiological development in infancy and the influences of early life experiences. Outside of the lab, Fran likes to spend time running, hiking, cooking, and traveling with family and friends.


Katelyn Phillips
Graduate Student

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Katelyn is a Scientia PhD Candidate at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. She is working on a project about the psychological impact of congenital heart disease at the Heart Centre for Children at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. She is excited to be collaborating with the Brain and Body Lab at UCLA during her studies. Prior to commencing her PhD, Katelyn worked as a Research Assistant at Monash University on a study about adult outcomes in autism. She has also completed a Masters of Clinical Psychology at the University of Technology Sydney, where in addition to her clinical training, she completed a thesis focusing on schema therapy in older adults. In her spare time, Katelyn enjoys performing in musical theatre, listening to podcasts, and running her moderately successful Dungeons & Dragons campaign for her friends!


Naomi Gancz
Graduate Student

Naomi is interested in the physiological mechanisms by which early adversity affects self-regulation and health across the lifespan. Specifically, she studies how stressful experiences at different points in the lifespan interact to produce a more vulnerable or resilient phenotype. Her research focuses on interactions between the brain and peripheral systems like the immune system, HPA axis, and microbiome. Naomi graduated from the University of Chicago in 2019 and worked as a study coordinator at the Pittsburgh VA before joining the BAB lab. Outside of the lab, she enjoys baking, walking dogs at the animal shelter, and exploring L.A. on her bike.


Paul Savoca
Graduate Student

Paul is a Graduate Student in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is interested in how early life experiences shape mental and physical well-being. His primary focus is on how interoceptive processes are altered over the course of development and following adversity. Paul graduated from Northeastern University in 2019 with a B.S. in Psychology. Prior to joining the BABLab, he worked as a clinical research coordinator in the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. When not doing research, he enjoys watching soccer games, cooking, and hiking.


Zhidi (Judy) Zhang
Visiting Graduate Researcher

Judy is a Visiting Graduate Researcher in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is interested in developmental psychology, particularly the investigation of adversity early life and its impacts on mental health development in survivor’s adult life. Judy is a fifth-year PhD Candidate at Zhejiang University in China, majoring in Agricultural Economics. In her free time, Judy loves traveling to new places, playing tennis, and dancing Jazz.


 

James Lian
Visiting Scholar

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James is a Visiting Graduate Researcher from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. His research uses longitudinal data to examine the impact of childhood adversity on the mental health and cognition of older adults. Previously, James has worked as a research assistant examining domestic violence patterns in the US, as well as exploring mental health outcomes following natural disasters. In his spare time, James likes to play tennis, explore new hikes, go climbing, and learn useless new skills.


Siyan Nussbaum
Lab Manager

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Siyan is the Lab Manager in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is interested in the social-emotional development of children, particularly processes underlying the development of self and interpersonal emotion regulation, empathy and prosocial behavior shaped by early life experiences and memories. She graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical/Counseling Psychology, and a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Pepperdine University. Before joining the BAB Lab, she was a research and administrative assistant at the USC Center for Affective Neuroscience, Development, Learning and Education. During that time, she was also a research assistant at the UCLA SAN Lab and SAND Lab. More recently, Siyan had become a collaborator at the SAND Lab looking at how voice qualities may facilitate the efficacy of interpersonal emotion regulation utilizing cognitive reappraisal strategies. Outside of the BAB Lab, she enjoys spending time with her husband and cat – Safari!


Lorena Gonzalez
Senior Research Assistant

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Lorena is a Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is a rising third-year student at UCLA majoring in Psychobiology and hopes to pursue a career as a physician or clinical psychologist. More specifically, Lorena is interested in researching a wide variety of mental illnesses and neurological disorders in individuals who can potentially be treated via the gut-brain axis. Outside of BABLab, she is a pre-med mentor for students in the UCLA Pre-Med Community, an advocate for acid attack survivors through RISE UCLA, and a leader for students in grades K-12 attending Title I schools that are underfunded in STEM, as part of InterAxon at UCLA. In her free time, Lorena enjoys being creative through art, graphic design, photography, and writing, and loves spending time with her family and cat, Kiku!

Lorena G. is also a member of the Social Media team at the Brain and Body Lab.


Madelyn Robinson
Senior Research Assistant

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Madelyn is a Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is a third-year undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Psychobiology, and she hopes to attend medical school to become a physician. She is particularly interested in how mental health affects physical health. In her free time, Madelyn enjoys running, solving puzzles, and spending time with friends and family.


Alyssa Ortega
Research Assistant

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Alyssa graduated from UCLA in Spring 2020 with a bachelors in Communications and Psychology. She is currently working on a research project about student experiences and mental health with guidance from Dr. Callaghan. Specifically, she is interested in the transfer student population and discovering what risk and protective factors shape their mental health outcomes. Currently, Alyssa is pursuing various mentoring opportunities with organizations that aid at risk youth. In the future, Alyssa wants to pursue a Clinical Psychology PhD program to set the foundation for her own practice as a clinical psychologist. In her free time, Alyssa loves traveling to new places and binge watching Breaking Bad on Netflix.

Alyssa O. was previously a PROPS scholar and BABLAB Research Intern. Alyssa O. is also a member of the Social Media team at the Brain and Body Lab.


Genesis Flores
Research Assistant

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Genesis is a Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is currently completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (CPP) and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology soon after. Broadly, Genesis is interested in understanding how environmental, neurobiological, and behavioral factors influence the social cognitive and emotional development of both clinical and typical pediatric populations. During her free time, Genesis enjoys visiting plant nurseries, getting boba, and spending time with friends and family!


Liz Harty
Senior Research Assistant

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Liz is a Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is a rising third-year student at UCLA studying neuroscience and interested in attending medical school to become a physician. She is from San Francisco, California but currently lives in Los Angeles. Her clinical research interests lie within neuropsychology, physiology, and psychosocial/cognitive science. In her free time, she loves to play tennis, go surfing, spend time with friends and family, work out, and watch movies.


Megan Ngai
Research Assistant

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Megan is an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Brian and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is a rising third-year Psychobiology student with aspirations to become a physician and work with Doctors Without Borders. She is particularly interested in childhood adversity and how it contributes to mental health and overall wellness. Outside of BABLab, she spends her time as the Co-Director of Communications for GlobeMed UCLA and works with their partners in Central Uganda. In her free time, she enjoys graphic design, film, and weightlifting!

Megan N. is also a member of the Social Media team at the Brain and Body Lab.


Rory Simpson
Research Assistant

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Rory is a Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is a rising third year student at UCLA from Los Angeles majoring in Neuroscience, and he is interested in pursuing a graduate degree in developmental psychology. Outside of the lab, he is one of the volunteer coordinators for UNICEF at UCLA and spends time working with kids and families transitioning out of homelessness. During Rory’s free time, he enjoys playing guitar and listening to music, drawing, and petting random cats he finds in his neighborhood.


Maggie Yu
Research Assistant 

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Maggie is a 4th year undergraduate student majoring in MCDB, to which she likes to say she majors in McDonalds Double Burger. She is fascinated by the correlations between the gut microbiome and pathogenesis of neurological disorders, and its mechanisms with CNS homeostasis. Maggie is currently a medic in the U.S. Air Force. After receiving top honor medic graduate during the pandemic, she eagerly volunteered with other military medics to support hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities overburdened with positive coronavirus patients. The impacts from the pandemic and caring for very sick patients in the ICU and ER led her to pursue a Public Health minor, in addition to a Biomedical Research minor. After graduating as a super senior in the upcoming fall, she plans to continue working in research and work at the VA hospital while studying for the MCAT. After medical school, Maggie will continue to serve as an Air Force physician. Maggie’s ultimate career goal is to provide humanitarian aid to marginalized communities in developing countries with the Peace Corps. She would also love to open up a Chinese bakery with her dream dog, a golden retriever named Peach, as the mascot. In her free time, Maggie loves going on foodie adventures with her partner, walking dogs, walking around Trader Joe’s and checking for new yummy snacks, and working out at the John Wooden rec.


Meredith Faivre
Research Assistant

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 Meredith is a fourth-year undergraduate student (second-year transfer!) majoring in psychology. In the Brain and Body Lab, she is working on her senior thesis on early life adversity and gastrointestinal activity with graduate student Naomi Gancz as her mentor. After UCLA, Meredith hopes to attend graduate school in the field of clinical psychology. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, making dinner for her friends, and dancing.


Maisara Sukar
Research Assistant

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Maisara is a fourth-year student at UCLA with a major in psychology and a minor in Applied Developmental Psychology. After graduating, he plans on going to medical school and specializing in pediatrics. Outside the lab, he is the Professional Outreach Coordinator for the Association of Students in Child Development. ASCD is the sister club for the ADP minor at UCLA and works to provide students with different resources on early childhood development. In his free time, he likes to call his mom, spend time with friends, and meditate.


Vi Nguyen
Research Assistant

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Vi is a Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is currently a second year student at UCLA majoring in Physiological Science. Following her undergraduate years, she plans to attend medical school. Her research interests lie at the intersection of physiology and psychology, and she hopes to work toward a future in which mental healthcare is integrated into primary healthcare. Outside of the BABLab, she enjoys volunteering and serves as President of Chapter Compassion, a club that works to raise awareness about empathy in medicine by providing social and emotional support to patients and families experiencing challenging times. In her free time, she loves watching sunsets, having photoshoots at random locations, trying lots of good food, and having really epic Just Dance and karaoke parties with friends (specifically, at 1 AM).


Alumni

Andrew Hanna, Senior Research Assistant October 2021 – July 2022

Yash Mehta, Senior Research Assistant March 2021- August 2022

Alice Deng, Research Assistant April 2022 – August 2022

Daniel Huang, Research Assistant September 2021 – August 2022

Michael To, Senior Research Assistant January 2020 – August 2022

Sapir Yona, Research Assistant July 2020 – August 2022

Shir Atias, Research Assistant July 2020 – August 2022

Nicole Fonacier, Research Assistant November 2019 – August 2021

Anna Bretz, Senior Research Assistant November 2021 – June 2022

Andre Chan, Research Assistant March 2021 – May 2022

Deborah Banner, Senior Research Assistant May 2021 – April 2022 

Sienna Osadon, Senior Research Assistant March 2021 – April 2022

Keegan Buch, Research Assistant August 2020 – March 2022

Tiffany Nassirian, Senior Research Assistant September 2020 – October 2021

Grant Grech, Research Assistant March 2020 – July 2021

Maria Calderon, Research Assistant July 2020 – June 2021

Leticia Herrera, Senior Research Assistant August 2020 – June 2021

Daisy Ramirez, Research Assistant May 2020 – June 2021

Charis StanekSenior Research Assistant August 2020 – April 2021

Reese Wix, Research Assistant November 2019 – November 2020, UCLA Hammer Museum

Danielle LadensackSenior Research Assistant/ Co-Project Coordinator for the EGG & Emotionality Study October 2019 – October 2020

Emily Towner,  Lab Manager / Research Associate July 2019 – September 2020, Gates-Cambridge Scholar and Ph.D. student at Cambridge University

Alyssa Wieand, PROPS Scholar & Research Assistant November 2019 – September 2020, USC Imaging Genetics

Chloe Schwartz, Senior Research Assistant March 2020 – July 2020
UCLA Semel Institute, Jeste Lab

Aileen Gozali, Senior Research Assistant October 2019 – June 2020
University of California, San Fransisco (UCSF) Medical School

Ananya Eeraveni, Research Assistant November 2019 – May 2020
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Eason Taylor, Lab Manager July 2019 – January 2020
Loyola Marymount University (LMU), HeadsUP! Labs


Collaborators

Nim Tottenham, Ph.D.
Columbia University, New York, United States

Lila Davachi, Ph.D.
Columbia University, New York, United States

Paul Bloom
Columbia University, New York, United States

Camille Gasser
Columbia University, New York, United States

Natalie Brito, Ph.D.
New York University, New York, United States

Nadine Kasparian, Ph.D.
The University of New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia

Akemi Tomoda, Ph.D.
University of Fukui, Fukui Prefecture, Japan

Shota Nishitani, Ph.D.
University of Fukui, Fukui Prefecture, Japan

Catherine Monk, Ph.D.
Columbia University, New York, United States

Clare McCormack, Ph.D.
Columbia University, New York, United States

Sarah Whittle, Ph.D.
University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Julian Simmons, Ph.D.
University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Tovah Klein, Ph.D.
Barnard College, Columbia University, New York, United States