Child Adaptation and Neurodevelopment (CAN) Lab
Lab Group Photo


Dr. Elisabeth Conradt portrait

Dr. Elisabeth Conradt, PhD, Director.

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Elisabeth Conradt is an assistant professor in developmental psychology at the University of Utah. She received her PhD in clinical psychology in 2011 from the University of Oregon, where she worked with Jennifer Ablow and Jeff Measelle. Liz then trained with Barry Lester while on an NRSA-funded postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University. Together with her collaborators, Liz studies the epigenetic mechanisms involved in the development of problem behavior in young children, with the goal of identifying who may be most susceptible to maladaptive developmental outcomes.

Sheila Crowell PhD portrait

Sheila Crowell, PhD, collaborator

Sheila Crowell’s research is focused on mechanisms underlying risk for suicide and severe psychopathology among intentionally self-injuring adolescents. She is particularly interested in researching biological vulnerabilities for emotion dysregulation (ED) and impulsivity and understanding how these vulnerabilities interact with potentiating environmental experiences across development (from conception onward). A unifying theme across her research is to better understand ED, including intergenerational and reciprocal transmission between parent and child, ED as a developmental precursor to psychopathology, psychophysiological, genetic, and epigenetic correlates of ED, and contextual processes contributing to ED within family and peer dynamics. As a lifespan developmental psychopathologist, Dr. Crowell is especially interested in elucidating early targets for intervention and prevention of depression, self-injury, suicide, and personality disorders.

Lee Raby PhD portrait

Lee Raby, PhD, collaborator

Lee Raby's research focuses on longstanding questions regarding the significance of early parent-child relationship experiences. Specifically, he is interested in understanding (a) the degree to which various early caregiving experiences predict individuals’ social, cognitive, and behavioral functioning during childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood as well as (b) the representational and physiological processes that may account for these enduring effects. Currently, he is investigating these issues among families with adopted children. The two-fold goal of this work is to deepen our understanding of the interplay of children’s genetically based characteristics and environmental experiences while simultaneously providing information about how parent-child relationship experiences can promote the healthy development of these at-risk children.

Graduate Students

Mindy Brown, graduate student portrait

Mindy Brown

Mindy is a doctoral student studying with Dr. Elisabeth Conradt. She is interested in how factors such as maternal sensitivity and mothers’ emotion dysregulation affect attachment and subsequent child self-regulation. She is excited about the possibility of applying this knowledge to inform parenting and early intervention studies for children at risk for psychopathology. Mindy is the mother of five children, which have each been an intensive case study of their own, and an amazing husband of 23 years.

Learn more about Mindy here

Jennifer Charrier-Isenhour, graduate student portrait

Jennifer Charrier-Isenhour

My program of research focuses on the significance of early experiences on cognitive and neurobiological development. Through my research, I hope to elucidate factors that shape and mediate the development of stress response systems as well as executive function skills including self-regulation. I am currently examining these issues among internationally and domestically adopted children and children raised in their biological families. The goal of these projects centers on disentangling the early experiences from genetic factors by comparing outcomes between groups in order to better understand how environmental factors and parent-child relationships bolster healthy development in early childhood. During the minimal time spent away from the research lab, I enjoy spending time with my three wonderful sons and doting husband.

Parisa Kaliush, graduate student portrait

Parisa Kaliush

Parisa is a clinical psychology doctoral student under the supervision of Dr. Sheila Crowell. Parisa is interested in how women’s early adverse experiences influence their health—physical, mental, and interpersonal—across the transition to parenthood. In addition, she is interested in how women’s traumatic lifespan experiences influence offspring development (i.e., transgenerational effects). Parisa is thankful to be a member of the CAN Lab and co-leader of the lab's Psychophysiology Team, and hopes to use this research to inform her clinical work and promote evidence-based policy for maternal and family health care across the perinatal period.

Learn more about Parisa here

Nicolette Molina, graduate student portrait

Nicolette Molina

Nicolette is a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Sheila Crowell. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ) in May 2016. Nicolette is interested in the development of emotion dysregulation across the lifespan. Additionally, she is interested in understanding maladaptive coping strategies often used to manage emotion dysregulation, such as self-inflicted injury and substance use.

Ashley Pappal, graduate student portrait

Ashley Pappal

Ashley is a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Sheila Crowell. She received her Bachelor of Music from Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA) in 2006 and a post-baccalaureate certificate in psychology from the University of California, Irvine in 2019. Ashley is interested in the effects of early life adversity on psychological and physical health across the lifespan. In addition, she is interested in the development and resulting impacts of emotion dysregulation.

Bailey Speck, graduate student portrait

Bailey Speck

Curriculum Vitae

Bailey is a doctoral student in Developmental Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Lee Raby. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Rochester in May 2019. Bailey’s research focuses on the psychophysiological underpinnings of the intergenerational transmission of attachment among vulnerable child populations. Specifically, she is interested in the psychophysiological and socioemotional development of children who have experienced prenatal and early postnatal adversities such as prenatal opioid exposure or early institutionalized care.

Katie E. Wyant-Stein, graduate student portrait

Katie E. Wyant-Stein

Curriculum Vitae

Katie is a doctoral student in Developmental Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Elisabeth Conradt. She received her B.S. in Human Development from the University of California Davis in June of 2020. In her research, she is interested in the biological and social factors that promote emotion regulation in early childhood. Her second line of research is interested in how to disseminate research to parents with substance abuse disorders. She is also passionate about advocating for policy broadly related child development and well-being. Katie is grateful to be a member of the CAN Lab and a co-leader of the lab's psychophysiology team.

Robert Vlisides-Henry, graduate student portrait

Robert Vlisides-Henry

Curriculum Vitae

Robert is a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology (Child and Family Track), working with Dr. Sheila Crowell. He received a B.A. in Biology and Psychology from Hope College (Holland, MI) in May 2017 and a M.S. in Psychology from the University of Utah in August 2019. Robert’s research interests focus on using rigorous research methods to study the extent to which lifespan transitions are impactful for individuals struggling with regulating their emotions. He often tries to incorporate temporal research designs and use multiple levels of analysis to understand emotion dysregulation in real time.

Project Coordinators

Dylan Neff, Research Assistant portrait

Dylan Neff

Dylan graduated magna cum laude from the U in the spring of 2020 with an honors degree in psychology and a degree in instrumental music performance. He hasn’t decided on a future career path, but he especially enjoys learning about the developmental impacts of stress, anxiety, and trauma, as well as performing orchestral and chamber music. He manages data of participants in the Baby Affect and Behavior (BABY) and COVID-19 and Perinatal Experiences (COPE) studies.

Cynthia Sanchez, project coordinator portrait

Cynthia Sanchez

Cynthia received her Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Utah with great distinction, magna cum laude. She enjoys learning about the psychology of intergroup relations and child behavior. Above all else, Cynthia loves working with babies! Currently, she is the recruitment coordinator for the BABY Study. She hopes to advance the field of child behavior to help future mothers and their children. She enjoys hiking, camping, and gardening with her husband and three pups on her days off.

Marylinn Santana, project coordinator portrait

Marilynn Santana

Marilynn is the lab manager for the CAN Lab and the project coordinator for the BABY Study and the COVID-19 and Perinatal Experiences (COPE) Study. She received her Psychology B.S. and Human Development & Family Studies B.S. from the University of Utah in May 2018. She hopes to apply to a PhD program to study the developmental origins of health and disease to better inform interventions and treatment of chronic conditions. When not working in the lab, she enjoys spending time with her family and three dogs.

Research Assistants

Rachael Cervantes, Research Assistant portrait

Rachael Cervantes

Rachael is a returning student to the University of Utah double majoring in Psychology and Human Development and working on a certificate in Positive Psychology. She currently works in the early education center at the YWCA. She plans to apply to a graduate program in Developmental Psychology in hopes of working in a clinical setting with young children to help mitigate the effects of trauma experienced in early childhood. During her free time, she loves doing anything outdoors with her dogs and husband, traveling, and baking.

Izzy Grover, Research Assistant portrait

Izzy Grover

Izzy is a graduate of Emerson College and is currently working as a Research Assistant in the CAN Lab. She plans to pursue psychology at the graduate level and is primarily interested in examining connections between early childhood trauma and emotional dysregulation throughout adolescence. She enjoys skiing in the Wasatch, biking with her golden retriever, and spending time with family.

Marissa Larkin, Research Assistant portrait

Marissa Larkin

Marissa is a junior undergraduate student majoring in Psychology while also earning her Honors degree and a certificate in Applied Positive Psychology. After graduation, she plans to apply to a graduate program in Clinical Psychology. She hopes to one day be a practicing clinical psychologist with an emphasis in positive psychology and anxiety disorders. In addition to clinical and developmental psychology, Marissa is highly interested in the future of positive psychology and its impacts on the clinical side of psychology. During her free time, Marissa can be found hiking, reading, and traveling.

Josh Marchant, Research Assistant portrait

Josh Marchant

Josh is graduating this Spring and has been working in the CAN Lab since Spring of 2021. He is the proud new father of a baby boy named Thomas and is happy to participate in research benefiting new parents and babies. In his free time, Josh likes to play the piano, play basketball, and play board games (especially Monopoly, but it’s quite hard to find other people who like Monopoly to play with). After graduating, Josh hopes to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology.

Caroline Martin, Research Assistant portrait

Caroline Martin

Caroline is an undergraduate student pursuing an honors degree in Psychology and Human Development. Upon graduation, she intends to pursue a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology in order to apply for licensure as a practicing child psychologist. She is also particularly interested in pursuing a certificate in infant mental health through the University of Utah. She is currently an intern at The Children’s Center Utah and hopes to return after graduate school as a doctoral candidate to further study the effects of trauma on the young, growing brain. In her free time, Caroline loves to ski, play soccer, and go on hikes with her German Shepard.

Raina Miller, Research Assistant portrait

Raina Miller

Raina is an undergraduate majoring in Psychology and minoring in Chemistry. She is interested in developing a more thorough understanding of self-injurious and suicidal behavior, emotion dysregulation, complex trauma, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Raina hopes to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology with the goal of using research to develop and improve evidence-based treatments for these patient populations.

Alex Peterson, Research Assistant portrait

Alex Peterson

Alex is graduating this year from the University of Utah and has been working with the CAN Lab since Fall of 2018. He is double majoring in Psychology and Sociology and working towards a B.S. Upon graduation, he hopes to continue to work in research with the goal of eventually applying for a graduate program. He just finished research pertaining to socioeconomic status and the role it can play in infant development. He is specifically interested in examining the associations between low socioeconomic status and newborn neurobehavior. When not studying or reading about Psychology, Alex can be found learning more about his secondary passion, Paleontology. Alex also just became a father this year with the birth of his son, Miles.

Kara Trombley, Research Assistant portrait

Kara Trombley

Kara is an undergraduate student majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Neurobiology and a minor in Psychology. Kara is applying to graduate programs in Occupational Therapy and hopes to work with pediatric populations in mental health settings as an OT. She is especially interested in looking at early intervention methods to improve the prognosis of children at higher risk for psychopathology. In her free time, Kara enjoys hiking, camping, training for triathlons, and playing with her dogs.

Alec Westover, Research Assistant portrait

Alec Westover

I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Utah in the fall of 2019. I hope to apply to a masters program in mental health counseling and use my experience as a research assistant to inform better mental health interventions. I am particularly interested in stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness based cognitive therapy, and how these interventions can promote infant/caregiver well-being as well as mitigate the negative effects of emotional dysregulation. In my free time I like to do yoga, snowboard, and go hiking with my dog.

Kira Wright, Research Assistant portrait

Kira Wright

Kira is a junior undergraduate student majoring in Psychology. She hopes to attend graduate school one day to pursue a PhD in Clinical or Developmental Psychology and pursue a career as a child psychologist with an emphasis in childhood trauma and emotion dysregulation. She hopes to focus future research on understanding childhood trauma and developing treatments for early childhood that can aid children in mitigating childhood trauma, stressors and emotions.

Graduates of the CAN Lab

Nila Shakiba, graduate student portrait

Nila Shakiba

Curriculum Vitae

Nila graduated with a PhD in Developmental Psychology in 2021 under the supervision of Dr. Elisabeth Conradt. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow under Dr. Nicholas J. Wagner at Boston University. In her research, she is primarily interested in understanding how early life experiences shape the functioning of immune and stress response systems and related behavioral profiles. Her second line of research focuses on understanding the psychophysiological mechanisms underlying individual differences in susceptibility to environmental influences, and how they moderate the effects of various environmental conditions on children’s health and developmental outcomes (Differential Susceptibility Theory).

Brendan Ostlund, graduate student portrait

Brendan Ostlund, PhD

Brendan graduated with a PhD in developmental psychology in 2019. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Koraly Pérez-Edgar at Penn State.

Sarah Terrell, project coordinator portrait

Sarah Terrell

Sarah Terrell, former lab manager, is now a graduate student at Penn State’s Human Development and Family Studies doctoral program.

Betty Lin PhD portrait

Betty Lin, PhD

Betty Lin, former postdoctoral fellow, is now a tenure-track assistant professor of child clinical psychology at University at Albany – SUNY.