Lab Members

Jennifer Ablow, PhD (Co-Director)

My research investigates the processes that underlie the intergenerational transmission of emotion regulation. For example, how is it that infants frequently come to manage their emotion in ways that are reminiscent of their parents? How do parents actually help their infants to regulate their emotions before they can actually do so for themselves? How does the larger emotional climate of the family beyond the immediate parent-child relationship contribute to emotion development? Finally, when and where does this process go awry, predisposing children to long-term mental health problems? Within one line of research, I have merged attachment and psychobiological perspectives to identify both prenatal and neonatal markers of risk for insensitive parenting. By following parent-infant dyads forward, I then examine how parents’ emotional arousal and regulation shape similar emotion processes in their very young children (ages 0-3). In a second line of work, I examine how emotional arousal and regulation in the marital relationship “spill-over” to shape young children’s socioemotional development. Critical to this transmission process are children’s subjective appraisals of their parents’ marital dynamics, in particular, young children’s sense of distress about their parents’ conflict as well as the vulnerabilities that accrue to children who assume blame for their parents’ difficulties.

Dr. Ablow is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon and Co-Director of the University of Oregon Infant Mental Health Program.

Jeffrey Measelle, PhD (Co-Director)

My research seeks to identify early sources of psychopathology in childhood, in particular, family processes that adversely influence the development of very young children’s psychobiology. A major focus of our work currently is parental sensitivity, which plays a critical role in shaping infants’ earliest development – both prenatally and neonatally. Within the context of sensitive versus neglectful or abusive parent-infant and parent-child relationships, I am particularly interested in how biological systems responsible for the regulation of emotions (autonomic nervous systems, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-cortex) become coordinated with each other and with behavioral self-regulation. New investigations are underway within our lab examining the genetics of early self-regulation as well as pre- and neonatal epigenetic processes that support the development of self-regulatory systems in children.

We are currently testing and developing pre- and neonatal intervention strategies with mothers recovering from chronic and serious substance abuse. Through intensive intervention targeting mothering behaviors, we are attempting to up-regulate affiliative neuropeptides/hormones (e.g., oxytocin, progesterone, cortisol) with known affinities in the mesocorticolimbic circuitry of the brain. Our goal is see if we can link more socially rewarding signals to areas of the brain that have been cooped by substance abuse and dependancy.  

Dr. Measelle is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon and Director of the University of Oregon’s APA accredited Clinical Psychology Program. With Dr. Ablow, he is Co-Director of the University of Oregon Infant Mental Health Program.

Heidemarie Laurent, PhD (Postdoc)

I am interested in a developmental biosocial dysregulation model of depression, which explores the ways in which stressful interactions with intimate partners throughout life contribute to mood disorder. As part of this research, I have examined associations among late adolescent romantic partners’ depression risk factors, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) reactivity to conflict, and depression/anxiety symptoms; young adult couples’ trajectories of conflict behavior and individual and dyadic adjustment; and most recently, depressed mothers’ neural response to infant distress. This latter project, which began with a subset of mothers from the From Pregnancy to Parenthood study, is designed to clarify brain mechanisms underlying patterns of neuroendocrine and behavioral dysregulation that maintain perinatal depression in new mothers and contribute to risk for internalizing disorders in their children.

Dr. Laurent is currently a NIMH postdoctoral research scientist at the University of Oregon. She completed her doctoral degree at the University of MAssachusetts, Amherst and APA approved clinical psychology internship at the University of Washington School of Medicine. 

Rosemary Bernstein (Doctoral Student)

My research interests grow from the dynamic interplay of trauma and loss, early attachment environments, and developmental psychopathology. I am most interested in the pervasive influence of early interpersonal experience over one’s conceptions and expectations of the self and of others, and how these working models, in turn, exert protective and deleterious influences on the development of psychopathology over the life span. Using data from the From Pregnancy to Parenting your First Baby Project, I am currently investigating expectant mothers' autonomic responsivities in respect to their reported histories of trauma.  My aim is in isolating the emotional arousal and regulation patterns most closely associated with resilient outcomes; i.e. those that moderate the intergenerational transmissions of attachment insecurity and trauma

Julia Oppenheimer (Doctoral Student)

My research is focused on the intrapersonal and interpersonal risk factors for the development of internalizing disorders in infancy and early childhood, especially the development of anxiety disorders. I am currently exploring how different parenting styles may interact with children's temperamental and personality factors to create risk or resilience in the development of psychopathology. Using data from the From Pregnancy to Parenting Your First Baby Project, I am looking at early behavioral precursors to locus of control, a cognitive style associated with the development of anxiety disorders in children and adults. Previous research suggests that early childhood experiences with uncontrollability foster a cognitive style involving a tendency to perceive events as externally controlled. I am especially interested in the role of parenting style, particularly the differential roles of consistent and sensitive maternal behavior versus intrusive and controlling parenting, and how these early parenting styles in infancy can predict behaviors and cognitive styles in toddlerhood and early childhood.

Lab Alumni

Cindy H. Liu, PhD

Dr. Liu completed her APA clinical psychology internship at McLean Hospital, Boston, and is currently a postdoctoral scientist in the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

Email Dr. Liu

Megan McDade-Beers, PhD

Dr. McDade-Beers completed her APA clinical psychology internship at the Oregon Health Sciences University and is currently Postdoctoral Fellow at the Early Childhood Clinical Research Center Bradley/Hasbro Research Center & Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Email Dr. McDade-Beers

Rebecca Silver, PhD

Dr. Silver completed her APA clinical psychology internship at the University of New Mexico Medical School and is currently Postdoctoral Fellow at the Early Childhood Clinical Research Center Bradley/Hasbro Research Center & Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Email D. Silver

Elizabeth Conradt (Doctoral Student)

I am studying the manner in which early rearing environments that are marked by chronic conditions of risk contribute to infants’ developing emotion regulatory skills. To further our understanding of the development of emotion regulation among children whose mothers are at high risk for parenting problems, utilizing both biological and behavioral data, I investigate three interrelated questions. (1) What behavioral and physiological patterns are involved in self-regulation among first-time expectant women? (2) Are these patterns similar after giving birth, when the mother is interacting with her own infant during a stressful situation? (3) Do the patterns of these interactions affect the development of their infants’ developing emotion regulation skills? The identification of markers of risk for unresponsive parenting and improved understanding of mothers’ capacities for optimally influencing infants’ emotion regulation will help in the design of sorely needed early intervention and prevention strategies aimed at enhancing parents’ sensitive caregiving in order to help caregivers raise children who can identify and optimally regulate their emotions.

Brianna Hailey (Doctoral Student)

Brianna is a new, incoming doctoral student. Brianna completed her undergraduate work at Columbia University in NYC as well as a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Psychology at Columbia where she worked with Dr. Beatrice Beebe. Brianna’s interests include, mother-infant interaction guidance, familial and neurobiological processes that support the development of infants’ and young children’s emotional capabilities.

Brittany Saykally (Lab and Project Coordinator)

Brittany graduated from the University of Oregon in 2009. She has worked on various parts of the lab’s From Pregnancy to Parenting Project, and become lab/project coordinator in 2010.  Brittany’s research interests include parent-child interactions and the protective effects of breast-feeding on infant’s stress biology; substance abuse prevention; attachment.

2009-2010 DSLab Team