Joan Luby, MD
Early Emotional Development Program Director
Samuel and Mae S. Ludwig Professor of Child Psychiatry
Dr. Luby is the Samuel and Mae S. Ludwig Professor of Child Psychiatry at Washington University. She is founder and director of the Washington University School of Medicine Early Emotional Development Program, which focuses on the study and treatment of mood disorders in preschool-aged children. Dr. Luby’s clinical work and research also focuses on the emotional development of young children and how deviations in this trajectory relate to risk for early onset mood disorders and predict their longitudinal course. Dr. Luby and colleagues have conducted the first large-scale empirical studies to establish the criteria for identifying and validating the characteristics of depression in preschoolers. Dr. Luby and colleagues are currently investigating the role of experience and more specifically early relationships on brain development and risk for mood disorders as well as the effects of early onset depression on brain change. Related to this, early psychotherapeutic intervention that focuses on the parent child relationship in the hopes of changing the trajectory of this early onset disorder is a key aim of the program. Dr. Luby earned her medical degree from Wayne State University and completed her residency in psychiatry and fellowship in child psychiatry at Stanford University. She was honored with NARSAD’s Gerald L. Klerman Award for Outstanding Clinical Research in 2004 and the Washington University Faculty Achievement Award in 2015. She serves on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Psychiatry and The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Andy Belden, PhD
Dr. Belden is an Assistant Professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in the Child Psychiatry Division. He received a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Saint Louis University in 2006. From 2006 to 2009 Dr. Belden was a NIMH postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Joan Luby, M.D. Dr. Belden’s research examines atypical neural functioning associated with emotion regulation in healthy versus mood disordered children. More specifically, Dr. Belden is using fMRI to examine neural circuits in brain regions that subserve children’s use of cognitive strategies (e.g., looking on the bright side) while attempting to regulate their experiences and expressions of sadness. Dr. Belden’s research is currently funded by the McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience (McDCSN). Building upon 5 years of support, collaborations, and mentoring from Dr. Luby and more recently Dr. Barch, Dr. Belden is currently seeking NIMH funding to begin establishing a career as an independent scientist in the field of translational developmental neuroscience with a program of research investigating neurobehavioral development and early onset mood disorders.
Chad M. Sylvester, MD, PhD
Dr. Sylvester is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Washington University School of Medicine. He completed M.D. and Ph.D. (neuroscience) degrees in 2009, a general residency in psychiatry in 2012, and a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry in 2014, all at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Sylvester uses computer games and neuroimaging to study attention in youth with anxiety disorders.
Diana Whalen PhD
Post Doctoral Research Associate
Dr. Whalen is a post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine under the co-mentorship of Joan Luby, M.D., and Deanna Barch, Ph.D. She completed her Ph.D. in Clinical-Developmental Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh in 2014. Dr. Whalen’s research focuses on the development and maintenance of borderline personality disorder (BPD) in children and adolescents, specifically the roles of emotion dysregulation and parenting practices.
Becky Tillman, MA
Senior Statistical Data Analyst
Becky received a Masters degree in statistics from the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign in 2002. She has worked in the Washington University psychiatry department as a statistical data analyst since 2002. She is responsible for data management and statistical analysis for several of the research studies being conducted in the EEDP.
Senior Statistical Data Analyst
Jenny received a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Missouri – Rolla in 2004. She has worked in the Washington University psychiatry department as a statistical data analyst since 2009. She is responsible for database management in the EEDP.
Jennifer Pautsch, MA, LPC
PCIT-ED Trainer and Therapist
Jennifer is responsible for the training and supervision of all PCIT-ED therapists. She also functions as a therapist for families participating in the Parent Child Interaction Therapy – Emotion Development Study. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor who earned a Master’s Degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Prior to her work at the Early Emotional Development Program she worked for an agency providing mental health services for homeless women with children. She has also worked with adults in a private practice setting. Jennifer joined the EEDP in October of 2004 and has enjoyed many roles since that time including a parent interviewer for Dr. Luby’s longitudinal study of preschool depression, co-author of the PCIT-ED manual, and a coordinator and therapist for an earlier phase of PCIT-ED.
Mary Grace Effinger, MA, LPC
Mary Grace is a therapist for families participating in the Parent Child Interaction Therapy – Emotion Development Study. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor who earned a Master’s degree in Counseling and Family Therapy from Saint Louis University. Mary Grace has over 8 years of clinical experience working with children and families in both a research and private practice setting. Her previous research experience includes substance abuse and its prevalence in families. Mary Grace joined the EEDP in February 2008 and has served many roles, including study coordinator for the Preschool Depression Study and as a therapist in earlier phases of PCIT-ED. She also collaborated with Dr. Luby and colleagues in the development of the Parent Child Interaction Therapy-Emotion Development treatment.
Kirsten Gilbert, PhD
Kirsten Gilbert is a licensed clinical psychologist. She completed her undergraduate at Stanford University, her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Yale University, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University and Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Gilbert’s research examines how ‘too much self-control,’ in the form of heightened performance monitoring and ‘overcontrol’ develop in young children. She is interested in understanding when overcontrol may be adaptive or may contribute to psychopathology, (e.g., anxiety) in young children and adolescents. Kirsten also studies the development of reward processing/positive emotional functioning in young children exhibiting overcontrolled tendencies. Kirsten uses behavioral, EEG/ERP techniques, and parent-child observational data in her research.
Laura Hennefield, PhD
Post Doctoral Research Scholar
Laura Hennefield is a post doctoral research scholar in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine, under the mentorship of Joan Luby, M.D, and co-advised by Lori Markson, Ph.D., Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. She completed her Ph.D. in Psychology at Washington University in St Louis in 2015. Dr. Hennefield’s research focuses on knowledge acquisition in preschool-aged children, with an emphasis on social and cognitive constraints that affect the learning process. Her current projects focus on the development of optimism in preschoolers, including how optimism affects how children learn from and about the world around them, and how a lack of optimism may contribute to psychopathology in early childhood.
Beth Brunworth, MSW
Research Study Coordinator
Beth received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.
Beth has experience facilitating individual, group, and family therapy with kids, adolescents, and adults in school, residential, and agency-based settings. She has particularly focused on children and teens undergoing difficult transitions and adults suffering from eating disorders in combination with other mental health diagnoses. Beth also received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. She is currently serving as the Clinical Coordinator for the PCIT-ED study. She conducts parent and child assessments and also serves as the Student Coordinator, managing undergraduate and graduate student interns assisting in the EEDP.
Katherine Pope, M.Ed.
Kathy completed her Master’s degree in Community Counseling from the University of Missouri – St. Louis with an emphasis on Family and Couples counseling and also received her B.S. degree from Purdue University. Kathy’s prior experience includes working in pediatric hospice, advocacy work with various area agencies, and working with families affected by domestic violence. Kathy conducts parent interviews for the PCIT study at the EEDP.
Danielle Kelly received a B.A. in Psychology from University of Missouri – St. Louis. She currently conducts EEGs and MRIs with preschoolers for the PCIT-ED study. Danielle also works in Deanna Barch’s lab doing recruitment and data entry for adults with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. She has prior experience working at UMSL’s Center for Trauma Recovery.
Grace joined the EEDP after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology and minors in Biology and Spanish. She had previously worked in the EEDP as an undergraduate research assistant during her junior and senior years of college. Now, Grace leads the Brain and Behavior in Preschoolers study and assists with EEGs and fMRI scans.
Megan Dandurand, MSW
Megan earned her Master’s of Social Work from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. During her undergraduate career at Eastern Illinois University, she completed a B.A. in Psychology and studied nightmares and anxiety traits in school aged children. Megan has experience working with children and adolescents with behavior concerns and mental illness, as well as working with adults diagnosed with chronic and severe mental illness. At the EEDP, Megan conducts EEGs with participants in the PDS, PCIT-ED, and eDOC studies as well as assisting with fMRIs in the PDS study.
Becca attended the University of Texas at Arlington where she received a B.A. in Psychology. She recently received her Master’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL). At UMSL, Becca worked in the Neural Substrates of Language Lab where she conducted research with adults and children using electroencephalography (EEG). She also has prior teaching experience with children of various ages, a lot of which has come from her time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa. At the EEDP, Becca works on the PCIT – ED study, conducting Child Assessment Interviews and assists with EEGs and fMRI scans.
Jennifer graduated from University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou) with a B.S. in Psychology with minors in Biological Sciences and Chemistry. While at Mizzou, she worked in the Family and Child Development Lab by assisting with EEG scans and participating in the strange situation procedure. Jennifer also has experience working in the Solution-Focused Emotion & Behavior Assessment Lab where she conducted child observations. In the EEDP, she will be assisting with Dr. Sylvester’s Anxiety study by conducting eye tracking games and MRIs.
Qiongru Yu, M.Ed
Qiongru received a Master’s degree in Quantitative Methods from Vanderbilt University in 2017. While at Vanderbilt, she worked on data analysis for educational and mental health studies in Peabody Research Institute and Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health. In the EEDP, she will be working on conducting fMRI and data processing for Dr. Sylvester’s Anxiety study.
Gemma graduated in Fall 2017 from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology and minors in Computer Science and Writing. As an undergraduate, Gemma worked in several psychology labs on the Danforth Campus and also began volunteering for Crisis Text Line, a national support service for people in crisis. She now works in the EEDP as a coordinator for the eDOC study, administers eDOC parent interviews, and assists with EEGs and fMRIs in the PDS study.
Elizabeth Taaffe graduated from Fontbonne University with a Bachelors in Psychology in 2016. Elizabeth completed an internship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Child Life Services Department. Her time at SLCH focused on the therapeutic use of art in helping children cope with long term hospital stays. Elizabeth has previously worked on research studies involving preschool MRI’s, EEG’s, and infant/ toddler eye tracking. Currently she is working on the eLABE study with infants and toddlers 0-3, conducting developmental assessments as well as MRI scans and eye tracking.