Joan LubyJoan 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.

Chad SylvesterChad M. Sylvester, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

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


Dr. Whalen is an Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine. She completed her PhD in Clinical-Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2014 and a T32 Postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University under the mentorship of Drs. Joan Luby and Deanna Barch. Dr. Whalen’s research broadly examines the complex relationships between physical and mental health in young children. Specifically, she is interested in identifying factors that contribute to the cooccurrence of mental and physical health problems in young children. She utilizes ecological momentary assessment, actigraphy, and ERPs in her work.

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.

Becky TillmanBecky 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.

Jenny Huang

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.


photo-JDP2Jennifer 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.

effingeremMary Grace Effinger, MA, LPC

PCIT-ED Therapist

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.

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.

Dr. Alecia Vogel-Hammen, MD, PhD

Clinical Instructor and Post-Doctoral Research Scholar

Dr. Vogel is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Washington University School of Medicine.  She completed both her M.D. and Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience in 2013 at Washington University School of Medicine.  She then completed a general psychiatry residency in 2016 and a child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship in 2018, also both at Washington University School of Medicine.  Currently, Dr. Vogel studies the development of emotion dysregulation, reward, and how these influence clinical outcomes using behavioral and neuroimaging methods.


Rose Donahue, PhD

Post Doctoral Research Scholar

Dr. Donohue (Meghan Rose) is a post-doctoral research scholar working under the co-mentorship of Joan Luby, M.D. and Deanna Barch, Ph.D.  She completed her undergraduate at Vanderbilt University, Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Georgia State University and her clinical internship/residency at Northwestern University (Lurie Children’s Hospital).  Dr. Donohue’s research focuses on the development of moral emotions (empathy, guilt) and prosocial behaviors in early childhood, and how disruptions in these emotions and behaviors contribute to the development of psychopathology.  She uses in vivo observational paradigms, parent-child interactions and EEG/ERP techniques in her research.

Beth HegerBeth Brunworth, MSW

Clinical Research Coordinator

Beth serves as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the EEDP.  She received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and her B.A. in Psychology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Washington University in St. Louis.  Beth has experience working with kids, adolescents, and adults in school, residential, research, and agency-based settings. She has particularly focused on clinical work with children and teens.  Within the EEDP, Beth conducts parent and child assessments for multiple ongoing studies, and oversees hiring and staff onboarding.

Katherine Pope, M.Ed., LPC, NCC

Clinical Research Coordinator

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 is currently coordinating the PDS study, the Families First study, and is working with the MESY study.  She conducts assessments for several of the studies in the EEDP.

Danielle KellyDanielle Kelly

Senior Data Control Coordinator

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.

Jennifer Harper

Research Staff

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.

Elizabeth Taaffe

Research Staff

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.

Mary Haman

Research Staff

Mary graduated from the University of Iowa and was a Research Assistant for Marsha Rosner, PhD. at The University of Chicago Ben May Institute for Cancer Research. She then was a Research Biologist for Monsanto/Searle and later with Baxter and Abbot Laboratories where projects focused on both basic and product-oriented research in Immunology and Infectious Disease. Mary is an avid runner, mother of five and has her Early Childhood Credential from the American Montessori Society/Maryville University. She taught Montessori preschool and kindergarten and also adults in an accredited teacher education program (UMSL, Webster University). Currently, Mary is working on eLABE studies with infants and toddlers conducting developmental assessments, fMRIS, EEGs, and eye tracking.

 Shannon O’Hara

Research Staff

Shannon graduated from Albright College with a B.S. in Molecular Psychobiology and a minor in Evolutionary Studies where she was involved in research projects spanning a wide range of topics in psychology. Currently she is working on the eLABE study with infants and toddlers, conducting EEGs, eye tracking, and behavioral assessments and analyzing neuroimaging data. She also runs MRIs for both the eLABE and PDS studies.

Cristal Giorio Jackson

Research Staff

Cristal is a Salem College alumna, receiving her Bachelors in Biology, Psychology, and Spanish Literature. While at Salem, she assessed ERNs and cognitive control relating to the topic of multilingualism. Her research interests revolve around topics pertaining to psycholinguistics and developmental cognitive neuroscience, alongside neuroimaging techniques. In the EEDP, she works on Dr. Hennefield’s optimism studies where she collects behavioral data from a community-based sample of young children, conducts EEGs, processes and analyzes data, and mentors undergraduate research assistants.

Ethan Fleuchaus

Research Staff

Ethan joined the EEDP team after completing his Master of Arts degree in psychology at the University of Cincinnati. Specializing in children’s cognitive development and learning, he is interested in working with kids to further the behavioral sciences and spread enthusiasm for STEM research in general. Prior experience has had him conducting research with children in schools, museums, and academic psychology labs. Currently, Ethan handles EEG administration and helping to coordinate and manage data collection and processing.

Ella Sudit

Research Staff

Ella graduated with Latin honors from Washington University in St. Louis in 2019, where she earned a B.A. in Psychological and Brain Sciences with a concentration in Personality and Individual Differences and a minor in Graphic Design. As an undergraduate, she worked in the Emotion Regulation and Relationships Lab, assisting in Dr. English’s research on emotion regulation strategies and expression as well as completing her honor’s thesis on emotional clarity and emotional awareness, and in the Early Emotional Development Program, assisting in Dr. Gilbert’s study on development of over control by conducting behavioral assessments and EEGs with preschool-aged children. In the EEDP, she will continue pursuing her passion for emotional development research and mental health support as a research coordinator for the early development of over control (eDOC) study and as an interviewer and EEG technician for the Families First study and MESY.

Lauren Dandridge

Research Staff

Lauren is a recent graduate from Washington University in St. Louis, where she earned her B.A. in PNP: Cognitive Neuroscience with a minor in Children’s Studies.

As an undergraduate, she worked in the Cognition and Development Lab, assisting with Dr. Hennefield’s study of the development of optimism in preschool-aged children, conducting behavioral measures and assisting with EEGs. While attending Wash U, Lauren also gained counseling and advocacy experience and knowledge of St. Louis community resources as a member and training coordinator of Uncle Joe’s Peer Counseling and Resource Center, and while interning with a local domestic violence crisis center. In the EEDP, she will be continuing her passions for developmental research and the promotion of mental well being in underserved populations by assisting with the Families First study and the MESY study.

Ariel Miller

Research Staff

Ariel graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2019, where she earned her B.A. in Psychological and Brain Sciences with minors in Children’s Studies and Anthropology. As an undergraduate, she worked as a research assistant, conducting behavioral tasks with preschoolers, and also completed her honor’s thesis. In the EEDP, she works on the Families First study and the MESY study, administering interviews and assisting with EEGs.

Meghana Kunam

Research Staff

Meghana recently graduated from Washington University with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Children’s Studies. She is currently working on Dr. Hennefield’s Optimism Study where she works with preschool aged children in various schools around St. Louis and conducts EEGs, as well as Dr. Donohue’s Shame and Guilt project.

Katherine Lane

Research Staff

Katherine is a recent graduate from the University of Missouri (Mizzou), earning a B.S. in psychology and a minor in English. Her research interests include child development and cognitive neuroscience. She has experience working with infants in Dr. Yuyan Luo’s Infant Cognition Lab at Mizzou, as well as with children in Dr. Laura Hennefield’s Child Optimism Study at Washington University. Currently, she is working with infants and toddlers in the EEDP’s eLABE study, administering behavioral and developmental assessments and conducting EEGs and eye tracking.

Sarah Engle

Research Staff

Sarah Engle was born and raised here in St. Louis. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Truman State University and is currently working towards her Master of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from UMSL. With many years of experience working with children with emotional dysregulation and other special needs, Sarah has a passion for helping children develop and express their emotions in a healthy way. In the EEDP, Sarah does EEGs and assessments with children who are involved in the ‘Early Development of Overcontrol (eDOC)’ and ‘Mood, Emotion, and Stress in Youth’ studies. Sarah hopes to become a Licensed Professional Counselor and do parent-child interaction therapy, play therapy, or preventative/intervention work with children and adolescents who are at risk for substance abuse.

Brittany Haus

Research Staff

Brittany received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Missouri State University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor.  Brittany has over 5 years of clinical experience working with children and families in residential and outpatient settings.  In the EEDP, she works on the Families First study and the MESY study administering interviews.

Alex Puricelli

Research Staff

Alex Puricelli graduated from Boston College in 2018, where he earned his B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in Clinical Psychology. As an undergraduate, he worked with Dr. Barry Schneider on a study analyzing suicidal ideation in a population of Cuban adolescents. He has worked extensively with children and teens in environments ranging from after-school programs to ABA therapy clinics for children with autism. He also worked previously in Washington University’s Cognitive Control and Psychopathology Lab under the direction of Dr. Braver. In the EEDP, he will continue with his passion of working with children and adolescents by assisting with the Children’s Health in Lab and Life (CHiLL), Radical Openness for Adolescents (ROA), and PCIT-ED studies.