Ann Masten, Ph.D., is a Regents Professor in the Institute of Child Development and the Director of PCR3. She earned her Ph.D. in Psychology (clinical) in 1982 from the University of Minnesota, with a clinical internship at UCLA. She grew up in the military and graduated from Smith College. After several years at the National Institutes of Health working as a research assistant, she headed to Minnesota to study risk and resilience with Norman Garmezy. Since that time she has focused her research on processes that promote competence, mitigate risk, and prevent problems in human development. Her research is highly collaborative with students, other faculty, and community partners. She is the author of over 200 publications, including the recent book, Ordinary Magic: Resilience in Development. She regularly offers a massive open online course (MOOC) through Coursera on the topic of "Resilience in Children Exposed to Trauma, Disaster and War: Global Perspectives."
Jillian Merrick graduated from Macalester College in 2016 with a B.A. in psychology and minor in educational studies. She now manages the Project Competence Research on Risk and Resilience group where she recruits and supervises undergraduates, collects data for current studies, and assists in preparing publications. She is currently applying to graduate programs in clinical psychology and hopes to continue to conduct research on risk and resilience in at-risk populations in the future.
Current Graduate Students
Sandra Ahumada, is a graduate student in the Developmental Psychopathology and Clinical Science Ph.D. track at the Institute of Child Development (ICD), University of Minnesota. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego in 2008 and her M.A. in Child Development from ICD in 2014. Sandra’s research seeks to identify some of the mechanisms by which childhood adversity (e.g., maltreatment, homelessness) may impact development. She is currently finalizing her dissertation, which examines the role of guilt and shame in the social-emotional functioning of young children residing in a homeless shelter. The ultimate goal of Sandra’s research agenda is to inform the treatment and prevention of the negative effects of early adversity. In addition to honing her researcher skills, Sandra has been developing skills as a clinician. She has expertise in assessment, intervention, and consultation-liaison services with individuals from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Sandra is currently in her last year of graduate training and is completing a clinical child doctoral internship at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
Carrie DePasquale is graduate student working with Project Competence Research on Risk and Resilience. Her main interests are in early life stress and its impact on physiological regulation, particularly the HPA axis, as well as associations with later socioemotional competence and factors that may promote resilience following adversity. Carrie is currently working on a project examining the coordination between parent and child displays of distress as a function of the severity of adversity experienced by homeless/highly-mobile children.
Rebecca Distefano is a graduate student in the Developmental track at the Institute of Child Development. Broadly, her research focuses on how poverty and risk influence parenting and child cognitive development. She currently has two lines of research with the Project Competence Research on Risk and Resilience group. The first examines how risk influences the relation between parenting behaviors and self-regulation in children and adolescents. The second aims to adapt laboratory tasks of self-regulation for use with homeless and highly mobile children in emergency shelters.
Rachel Foster is a Ph.D. student in the Developmental Psychopathology and Clinical Science program at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development. Rachel is interested in the interactions between biological and environmental risk and protective factors involved in child socioemotional development. She is currently studying the role of parent socialization in fostering emotional competence among school-age children as a potential promotive or protective factor within homeless families. The goal of her research is to inform programs and policies that promote parenting skills in highly disadvantaged families and the developmental success of their children. Prior to joining the Masten Lab, Rachel received her B.A. in biology with a minor in psychology from Mount Holyoke College. She then spent two years at McLean Hospital, where she worked in the Laboratory of Genetic Neuropharmacology.
Amanda (Wenzel) Kalstabbaken is a graduate student currently completing her predoctoral internship at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Amanda's research and clinical interests include processes of risk and resilience with a focus on early identification of children in need of intervention. One of the aims of her dissertation, which was a collaborative project with Minneapolis Public Schools, was to assess the value of including measures of Executive Function (EF) in early childhood screening with 3- to 5-years-olds to better identify children at risk for academic or behavioral difficulties prior to or at the start of kindergarten. Amanda's other research interests include developing sensitive measurement of EF for young children and those experiencing chronic stress and the impact of different types of adversity on stress response systems.
Alyssa Palmer is a doctoral candidate in Child Psychology on the Developmental and Clinical Science track. She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 2016 with a B.S. in Psychology focusing in neuroscience and minors in Biology and Sociology. Her research interests include the effects of childhood adversity on mental health, individual differences contributing to risk and resilience, emotion regulation, physiological reactivity and regulation, parenting and interventions targeting those processes. Currently she is working on a project looking at the effects of parenting on child social emotion outcomes in a homeless and highly mobile population.
Jyothi Ramakrishnan is interested in how protective factors such as motivation to master environmental challenges, positive emotionality and hopefulness contribute to resilient outcomes among individuals who have experienced significant early life adversity such as homelessness. She is also interested in how early strengths and personality traits moderate the impact of adversity on later physical health.
Madelyn Labella studies risk and resilience in children and families experiencing chronic stress, including poverty, homelessness, and exposure to violence. She is particularly interested in understanding parental contributions to children's developing emotion regulation skills in the context of poverty-related stress, with the long-term goal of developing supportive interventions to promote resilience in high-risk families. Current projects include piloting a brief measure of promotive and protective factors and evaluating actigraphy-measured sleep as a predictor of self-regulation in homeless/highly mobile children. Madelyn's dissertation investigates parents' responses to children's emotions in homeless families with young children, using both microsocial coding of affective dynamics during parent-child interaction and qualitative interviews about parents' beliefs and goals regarding emotion socialization.
Barbara (Graham) Bettelyoun
Signe (Andenas) Bobbitt
Wendy Seong-Cheng Lee
Donna (Samsa) Miliotis
Laura (Supkoff) Nerenberg
Jennifer (Roberts) Riley
Erin (Casey) Schubert