Dr. Jenae Neiderhiser

Dr. Neiderhiser received her doctoral degree in Human Development and Family Studies at Pennsylvania State University where she is currently a Professor of Psychology. Since 1988, she has been involved in studies looking at twins, siblings and adoptees in an effort to understand how children and their families influence each other. She is interested in understanding the interplay between genes and environment throughout the lifespan. Her studies often focus on examining how individuals influence their environments, in part because of their genetically-influenced characteristics (genotype-environment correlation). All of her studies include extensive assessment of the environment within the household, interpersonal relationships, adult and child adjustment, temperament and personality and other related measures. Her work has been published in journals specializing in developmental psychology and family relations.

Faculty Affiliates

Pete Hatemi

Dr. Hatemi is Associate Professor of Political Science, Microbiology and Biochemistry at The Pennsylvania State University and a Research fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. He was trained in political science at the University of Nebraska, and in genetic epidemiology at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR). He continued his post-doctoral study in Human Genetics, Psychology, and Psychiatry at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics (VIPBG) in the Medical College of Virginia and remains an active member of both institutes. He is primarily interested in advancing the study of the neurobiological mechanisms of social and political behaviors and utilizing genetics, physiology, endocrinology, and neurology in order to better understand human decision making and preferences in complex and dynamic political environments

Ginger Moore

Dr. Moore is a clinical child psychologist who studies ways in which early experiences affect developing bio-behavioral systems, including behavioral and physiological systems of emotion regulation, and how these systems may lead to risk for psychological disorders. Her current research examines how conflict between parents affects infants’ and mothers’ vagal tone reactivity and how genes interact with parenting in early childhood to affect toddlers’ risk for problems with self-control. Dr. Moore’s clinical interests include trauma-focused intervention for young children and treatment of maternal depression.



Lab Manager

Allison Mitchell

Allison received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Schreyer’s Honors College at The Pennsylvania State University in 2009. Less than a month after graduating she started working at the Early Growth and Development Study in fall of 2009. Allison’s main duties include keeping track of study data, interviewing adoptive parents and some birth parents, and looking after the day to day aspects of the lab. Allison is currently working on an online Master of Social Work at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

Post Doctoral Fellow

Briana Horwitz

Briana is a post doctoral fellow with Dr. Neiderhiser, and she earned her Ph.D. at the University of California, Irvine in December, 2008. She is interested in the interplay of genetic and environmental factors on the development of psychopathology. Her dissertation examined the extent to which parental warmth explains both genetic and environmental variance in depressive symptomatology.






Angela Brant

Angela earned her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2012 and is currently a post doctoral fellow with Dr. Neiderhiser. Her doctoral work focused on trajectories of genetic and environmental influence in the development of intelligence and she is interested in expanding this work to examine specific causal influences on cognition in early childhood.

Graduate Students

Charlie Beekman

Charlie is broadly interested in the genetic and environmental influences on child socioemotional development and how that development affects early school success. Charlie works primarily on the Early Growth and Development Study on research projects designed to investigate genetic, environmental, and prenatal influences on child temperament development, school adjustment and trajectories of child problem behavior. Charlie also has strong interests in quantitative genetic methodology and has worked on modeling genetic and environmental influences on family relationship systems using the NEAD study.



Nastassia Hajal

Nastassia received her B.A. in psychology from the University of Michigan in 2006, and her M.S. in Clinical Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University in 2010. She is currently a 5th-year doctoral student in Penn State’s Child Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, and has been working with the Early Growth and Development Study since her first year at Penn State. Her research interests include understanding parents' emotional processes (especially how young children influence their parents’ emotions, e.g., gene-environment correlation), prenatal and postpartum depression, and the impact of perinatal risk factors on both maternal and child health and well-being. In addition to working with Dr. Neiderhiser, Nastassia has conducted research with other Penn State faculty, including Drs. Pamela Cole (her primary child clinical mentor), Ginger Moore, and Douglas Teti. Finally, she enjoys working with children, teenagers, families, and adults as a staff therapist in the Penn State Psychological Clinic.

Emily LeDonne

Emily is a 5th year graduate student pursuing a doctorate in child clinical psychology at PSU. She researches the role of emotion in parent-child relationships and mental health through several research projects in the psychology department, and also works as a child therapist in the PSU Psychological Clinic. She began working as an NIMH site supervisor of the Early Growth and Development Study in May 2011




Micah Mammen

Micah Mammen graduated from Arizona State University with a B.S. in Psychology and began graduate study in Child Clinical Psychology at the Pennsylvania State University in 2009. Micah studies developmental pathways of self-regulation and is particularly interested in the associations among child sensory processing, parent-child interaction, and the development of self-regulation. Currently, Micah is training and supervising undergraduate research assistants to code videotaped parent-child interactions from the Early Growth and Development Study. Micah is also finishing work on her master’s thesis, which focuses on the relation between prenatal environment and children’s responses to sensory stimulation in parent-child interactions.


Kristine Marceau

Kristine Marceau is a fifth year graduate student working with Dr. Jenae Neiderhiser.  She graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Madison with degrees in Psychology and Philosophy in 2006.  Broadly, she is interested in the genetic and environmental influences on risk for psychopathology in adolescence.  Her research interests incorporate the role of puberty, parent-child conflict, and emotions in the development of behavior problems during adolescence and young adulthood. 




Caroline K. Pemberton Roben

Caroline is a sixth year Child Clinical student working with both Drs. Jenae Neiderhiser and Pamela Cole. She completed her dissertation in July 2011 and is currently on her clinical internship at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Caroline’s dissertation used EGDS data to examine the intergenerational transmission of risk from parental depressive symptoms to toddler emotion regulation via the gene-environment interplay. She is currently working on preparing her dissertation for publication and further examining the parent-child interaction as a mechanism for transmission of risk using the EGDS observational data. She graduated from Harvard University in 2006 with a degree in Psychology and completed her M.S. at Penn State with Pamela Cole in 2008.



Graduate Student Affiliates

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Research Staff


Nicole Gernhardt - Interviewer & Recruiter

Nicole earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a minor in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State. During her undergraduate career, she worked in both clinical and developmental labs as a research assistant. She has also volunteered as a 24-hour crisis hotline counselor and worked in a psychiatric rehabilitation facility. She joined the Early Growth and Development study in May of 2011 and conducts interviews with adoptive parents as well as managing the recruitment and scheduling of families. She enjoys all aspects of the research and is so excited to be a part of a study with such a dedicated research team whose main goals include bettering the health and well-being of parents and children.


DeniseDenise Ford - Interviewer

Denise earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Oregon and began working in the field of research in 1984. Denise spent 18 years at the Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC) conducting various aspects of research including interviewing, recruiting, coding, scheduling and coordinating home, school and laboratory assessments. She conducted more than 2000 interviews and observations with young children and their families during her time at OSLC. Denise also played an integral role in the revision of two assessments: Parent Code-Positive, Neutral, Negative and the Computer Assisted Child Interview (CACI). Denise has been working with the Early Growth and Development Study since it began in 2002.


DeniseBrittani Hollern - Interviewer

In May 2013, Brittani graduated from Penn State with a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in Spanish. She also earned a minor in Anthropology. As an undergraduate, Brittani worked in the Comparative Communication Lab as a research assistant before deciding to pursue other interests in clinical psychology. She then began working in the Laboratory for Personality, Psychopathology, and Psychotherapy Research, where she has continued working after graduation. She is excited to be a member of the Early Growth and Development Study team, particularly because of its goal of creating a greater understanding of how mental health symptoms develop for the well-being of families. She can’t wait to meet new people along the way.


MariMari Greecher - Human Research Technologist

Mari earned her Ph.D. in Psychobiology at the University of Sao Paulo, S.P., Brazil in 1999. She worked as a post-doctoral fellow in the Nutrition Department at PSU where she studied the interaction between gene and anxiety on binge-eating behavior. Prior to joining the Early Growth and Development Study she worked in the field as a preschool teacher. For the Early Growth and Development Study Mari is working primarily on the data management.







ddCharlene Chester dRebecca Brooker