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 great 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.


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!


Kristen Chu
Lab Manager / Research Associate

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Kristen is a Lab Manager in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) at UCLA. Kristen is interested in developmental psychopathology, particularly the investigation of early life stress and its impacts on emotion regulation and emotional development in children and adolescents. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Communication, and a minor in Applied Psychology in 2019. During her time as an undergraduate, Kristen worked as a peer counselor at the UCSB Counseling and Psychological Services providing sessions to students seeking support and developing mental health outreach programs across communities on campus. These experiences led her to become a research assistant in several labs at UCSB studying topics of stress, resilience, and multicultural competency, before joining the UCLA Anxiety and Depression Research Center where she assisted in research focused on Anxiety and employment success. Outside of the BABLab, Kristen loves to dance, discover new music, and travel to new places, but can most often be found cuddling up with a good book and her dog, Scooter!

Kristen is a validated behavioral coder using the Family Interaction Macro-Coding System (FIMS) in the lab. 


Deborah Banner
Senior Research Assistant

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Deborah is a Senior Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is graduating from UCLA in 2021 with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology. She is interested in the relationship between the mind and body–more specifically, how the gastrointestinal microbiome and the brain interact. She is also a Research Assistant at the International Center for Talent Development (ICTD) Lab working on the Passionate People Project (P3), works as a special needs tutor for adolescents and young adults, and recently performed her own independent research on socioeconomic status and virtual schooling effects on adolescent academic success during the Covid-19 pandemic. In her free time, Deborah enjoys surfing, cooking, tumbling, and listening to audio books.


Sienna Osadon
Senior Research Assistant

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Sienna is a Senior Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She graduated from UCLA in Winter 2021 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She is particularly keen on investigating how experiences during childhood and adolescence affect long-term emotional/physical health and resilience and has a particular interest in developmental psychopathology. Sienna also works as preschool assistant teacher, volunteers for the Crisis Text Line as a counselor, and is planning to pursue her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, cooking nutritious, ethnic meals and is a passionate and devoted advocate for mental health awareness.


Tiffany Nassirian
Senior Research Assistant

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Tiffany is a Senior Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Tiffany graduated from University College London (UCL) in 2020 with a Master’s Degree in Cognitive Neuroscience. Her MSc thesis investigated the effects of mindfulness practice on decision-making, in addition to how these effects were moderated by trait neuroticism and the

perceived threat of COVID-19. She is interested in researching the relationship between mental and physical health, as well as how the body is affected by stress and anxiety. Prior to her Master’s, she graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, with minors in Fine Arts and Design. During her free time, she likes drawing, trying new recipes, and bouldering.


Yash Mehta
Senior Research Assistant

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Yash is a Senior Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Yash transferred to UCLA and is currently a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Psychobiology. Upon graduating from UCLA, he hopes to attend medical school and become a physician. During his time at BABLab, he is hoping to research and investigate how adverse early-life experiences impact one’s development and what therapies and tools can be provided to effectively overcome such challenges. He is also interested to learn more about how one’s mental health and diet can impact interconnected biological systems and overall health and quality of life in the long-run. Outside of BABLab, Yash is a tutor for K-12th students, a mentor with The Bruin Experiment for middle school students from underserved communities, a volunteer with Music & Memory UCLA to provide personalized music therapy to patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and a clinical research assistant at the American Institute of Research. In his free time, Yash loves spending time with his family and friends, playing basketball, watching movies, going to concerts, and working out.


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.


Andre Chan
Research Assistant

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Andre is an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is a 3rd year Psychobiology student with aspirations to become a physician. He is particularly interested in research related to the brain, but enjoys learning about all areas of the body. For fun, Andre has been playing pickleball and perfecting his Russian fluency.


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!


Grant Grech
Research Assistant

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Grant is an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Hailing from San Carlos, California, he is a second year student at UCLA pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Grant loves kids and would like to pursue a PhD and a career in Developmental Psychology. In his free time, Grant enjoys playing jazz guitar, exercising, watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, and snuggling with his Bernese Mountain Dog named Bentley.

Grant is a Primary Dyadic Behavioral Coder for our Mind Brain Body Study, with verified reliability on the Family Interaction Macro-Coding System (FIMS).


Keegan Buch
Research Assistant

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Keegan is a Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Keegan is a rising junior at UCLA, hoping to one day attend graduate school in Clinical Psychology. He has an interest in substance use psychology, and aims to help those in marginalized communities who are more vulnerable to the harms of substance use. In his free time, he likes to draw, play video games, and cuddle with his two cats, Roscoe and Iggy.


Liz Harty
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.


Lorena Gonzalez
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!


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.


Michael To
Research Intern

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Michael is an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Hailing from sunny Southern California, he is a 4th year transfer student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, as well as a minor and thesis in Biomedical Research. Prior to his involvement at the BABLab, he developed his interest in neuroscience through research on BCI (Brain-Computer Interfaced) systems and prosthetics conducted with the Department of Engineering and Computer Science at California State University, Fullerton. He is a bold advocate for socioeconomically disadvantaged and early adversity youth, as well as a passionate believer in the transformative power of growth mindset toward actualizing their success. Michael is leveraging his time at the BABlab to understand, investigate, and eventually integrate better outcomes for these vulnerable populations. When he has a spare moment, Michael loves training others in his capacity as a National Strength and Conditioning Association-PT, competing in USA Powerlifting at the Collegiate National level, practicing classical compositions as a cellist, and backpacking in the Sierra Nevada with his tail-wagging companion, Cookie.


Nicole Fonacier
Research Intern

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Nicole is an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is a passionate advocate of mental health majoring in Psychology and minoring in Education Studies. She also serves as a Transfer Mentor at UCLA, a Mental Health Coach under the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge, and dances for the Hui O ‘Imiloa Hawai’i Club. Nicole seeks to improve mental health literacy, identify the barriers related to accessing care, and share with the world how vulnerability is a strength. After UCLA, she plans on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology to do research, practice as a Clinical Psychologist, and teach as a professor. In her free time, she loves running, weightlifting, hiking, and Tahitian dancing!

Nicole is a member of the Social Media team at the Brain and Body Lab and a Primary Dyadic Behavioral Coder for our Mind Brain Body Study, with verified reliability on the Family Interaction Macro-Coding System (FIMS).


Sapir Yona
Research Intern

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Sapir is an Undergraduate Research Intern in the Brain and Body Lab (BABLab) in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is currently a 4th year Undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor on Applied Developmental Psychology. Sapir is working on an independent research, examining sense of calling as a promotive factor of post-traumatic growth, with Dr. Callaghan as a mentor. After UCLA, she aspires to attend medical school to become a pediatric psychiatrist. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, playing the guitar, and drawing.


Shir Atias
Research Intern

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Shir is a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology at UCLA. Shir is an international student, born in Israel and raised in Nigeria. She is currently working with Sapir on a research project about Sense of Calling as a Promotive Factor of Post-Traumatic Growth, with Dr. Callaghan as a mentor. She also volunteers as a mental health coach at the STAND Program. She devotes her time volunteering in a developmental clinic called Center for the Developing Mind, and works closely with children with cognitive disorders. After UCLA, Shir wants to continue to Graduate school, either in the medical or psychological field. In her free time, Shir loves traveling to new places and being with family and friends.


Alumni

Maria Calderon, Senior Research Assistant August 2020 – June 2021

Leticia Herrera, Research Assistant July 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