Research Team

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Sophia Choukas-Bradley

Sophia (Sophie) Choukas-Bradley, Ph.D.

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware. I received an A.B. (B.A.) degree in Psychology from Brown University (2008) and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2016). Before beginning my first faculty position in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychology in 2017, I completed a pre-doctoral clinical internship and a post-doctoral fellowship in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry (Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic). I joined the University of Delaware’s Clinical Science Program in June 2020. I am returning to the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychology (developmental, clinical, and social psychology programs) in June 2022. 


My research focuses on understanding interpersonal and sociocultural influences on adolescent mental health, with an emphasis on gender and sexuality. A clinical psychologist by training, I integrate developmental and social psychology theories and methods into my work. I’m especially passionate about understanding the role of social media in adolescent body image and mental health; studying the development of sexual attraction, behavior, and identity across adolescence; and understanding mental health among LGBTQ+ youth. Additionally, I am currently working to increase the focus on intersectionality across my lines of work, with an emphasis on understanding intersecting racial/ethnic, gender, and sexual identities among adolescents and young adults. Across my areas of work, I use a range of study designs and methods, including laboratory-based studies that integrate eye-tracking technology; qualitative interviews, which allow us to hear adolescents' own words and inform the development of larger-scale studies; longitudinal school-based studies, through which we can examine a broad range of behaviors over time; and anonymous online surveys, which allow us to reach understudied populations (e.g., transgender adolescents who are not out to their parents). I also collaborate with neuroscientists to understand adolescents' brain responses to social media experiences. While most of my research has focused on basic science, I’m currently collaborating on several intervention development projects.


As the director of the Teen and Young Adult Lab (TAYA Lab), I strive to foster an inclusive, warm, and collaborative research lab. I’m passionate about mentoring undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-baccalaureate trainees who are interested in gaining research experience between college and grad school. If you’re interested in learning about opportunities to join the TAYA Lab research team, please visit our Join the Lab page. You can also learn more about our current and recent work on the Research Projects and Publications pages.

In addition to my work as a researcher, I am a licensed clinical psychologist in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. My clinical training at the University of North Carolina and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic included therapy and assessment work across outpatient, partial hospital, and inpatient settings, with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families. As an instructor, I teach undergraduate and graduate courses focused on psychopathology and adolescent development. Additionally, I have a longstanding commitment to work focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in academic psychology; I have been involved in DEI committees for the past decade, and I have started LGBTQ+ affinity groups at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Delaware. I live in Newark, Delaware with my wife and our quirky tailless tuxedo cat. We'll move back to Pittsburgh in the summer of 2022. 

Check out my new Psychology Today blog, Psychology of Adolescence: The Science of Teens, Screens, Gender, and Sexuality.

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Annie Maheux, M.S. 


Annie joined the TAYA Lab in the fall of 2018 as a joint Ph.D. student of Developmental and Social Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. She continued her graduate studies and her work in the TAYA Lab at the University of Delaware beginning in the fall of 2020. A 2020 recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Annie graduated in 2015 with a B.A. in psychology from the University of Vermont and completed an M.S. in psychology at the University of Pittsburgh in 2020, where her master’s thesis investigated the longitudinal associations between adolescents’ social media use, appearance-related social media consciousness, and depressive symptoms. Broadly, Annie’s research examines sociocultural influences on adolescent development, with a focus on the role of gender in academic achievement, sexuality, and mental health, particularly through the routes of gender socialization, peer influence, media messages, and social media use. Annie’s interdisciplinary work seeks to unite basic social psychological research with multi-methodological investigations of development—including using eye-tracking, implicit association tests, ecological momentary assessment, and both quantitative and qualitative designs—to address gender disparities and enhance well-being for all adolescents. Annie is also passionate about social justice work. She has prior experience in crisis-based social work and as a middle school teacher in rural India. She now mentors undergraduate students with special attention to building knowledge and confidence in advanced statistical methods among young female scientists. During her time at Pitt, she served as chair of the Outreach Subcommittee of Pitt’s Psychology Equity, Inclusion, and Community Committee.


Savannah Roberts, B.S. 


Savannah joined the TAYA lab in the fall of 2019 as a joint Ph.D student of Clinical and Developmental Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, and continued her graduate studies at the University of Delaware starting in Fall 2020. A 2021 recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Savannah is interested in studying the sociocultural factors implicated in the development, maintenance, and prevention of body image concerns and disordered eating during adolescence, particularly as they relate to sexual and gender minority youth. She also studies the effect of social media use on adolescents’ body image, broadly. Savannah previously coordinated NIH clinical trials in the Center for Weight, Eating, and Lifestyle Science at Drexel University. As an undergraduate, Savannah worked as a research assistant in the Eating and Body Image Lab at Western Washington University to develop inclusive eating disorder prevention programs for college students. Savannah graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Psychology and B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from Western Washington University in 2016, where she completed an honors thesis researching the effect of gender on the perception of anorexia nervosa.


Claire Stout, B.A.

Claire joined the TAYA Lab in the fall of 2021 as a first-year Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student. She graduated from Duke University in 2019 where she studied psychology, human development, and education. While at Duke, she worked with Dr. David Goldston at the Center for the Study of Suicide Prevention and Intervention and Dr. Sarah Gaither at the Identity & Diversity Lab. Following her time at Duke, Claire worked as a research assistant for Dr. Kate Guthrie at Brown University, where she gained experience in qualitative data collection and analysis on the topics of sexual and reproductive health. She also worked as a research assistant for Dr. Kimberly Nelson at the Boston University School of Public Health, where she became passionate about youth engaged research. Claire is interested in using quantitative and qualitative research methods to study LGBTQ+ adolescent development, with a focus on sexual health. In the future, she hopes to develop community informed interventions to address health disparities impacting LGBTQ+ adolescents. Claire cares deeply about advocacy, and she hopes to use her research to inform progressive policy. In her free time, Claire loves to play ultimate frisbee!

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Rachel Martino, B.S.

Rachel is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Clinical Science program at the University of Delaware. She graduated from Brown University in 2019 with a B.S. in Psychology and Gender and Sexuality Studies. As an undergraduate, Rachel worked with Dr. Dima Amso examining children’s acquisition of STEM gender biases. She also interned at Boston Children’s Hospital with Dr. Susan Faja developing a sexual and romantic health training program for young adults with ASD. After graduating, Rachel worked as a research coordinator in Dr. Katie McLaughlin’s Stress and Development Lab at Harvard University coordinating a longitudinal study investigating the dynamic changes in emotion, behavior, and brain function following stressful life events during adolescence. In graduate school, Rachel is interested in studying how stigma, social identities, and structural barriers influence child development and mental health. She also hopes to explore and identify protective factors for marginalized youth, such as social support from peers, parents, and broader communities. Rachel is passionate about drawing on interdisciplinary frameworks from intersectional feminism and disability studies, and community-informed and -engaged methodologies that address inequity and ultimately improve mental health for children, adolescents, and families.

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Brianna Ladd, B.A. 

Brianna joined the TAYA Lab in the summer of 2019. She graduated first-generation from UNC Chapel Hill in 2019 with a B.A. in Psychology. At UNC, she was involved in research that focused on the role of the classroom context on children’s executive function and academic achievement. She was also involved in research with the Peer Relations Lab that investigated suicidal behavior and the role of peer influence on adolescent risk behavior. Brianna is broadly interested in understanding how systemic oppression, sociocultural contexts, and interpersonal relationships influence adolescent identity development, mental health, and sexuality. She is particularly interested in utilizing Black feminist and intersectionality theories to examine mental health and resilience among marginalized populations, as well as the social justice implications of research in this area. Brianna hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology in the future. 

Emily Gotkiewicz 

Emily is a junior at the University of Delaware majoring in psychology with a minor in health & wellness. After graduation, she plans to continue her psychology education by pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology. Her research interests include how both interpersonal and intrapersonal factors influence the mental health, body image, and eating behaviors of adolescents and young adults. She is also interested in how health behaviors affect one’s view of self. 

Maddi Kesten 

Maddi Kesten is currently a junior at the University of Delaware. She is pursuing a degree in Psychology with minors in English and human development and family sciences, and plans to continue her education at a graduate level before pursuing a career in counseling psychology. Her research interests include the effect of peer relationships on adolescent development, social media’s growing influence on body image and self esteem, and shifts in self-perception over the lifespan with a focus on adolescence.


Rmonte' Smack 

Rmonte' is currently a junior undergraduate at the University of Delaware. They are pursuing a double degree in psychology and cognitive science. They are interested in going into the clinical field as well as becoming a school counselor. Their research interests include mood disorders, personality disorders, and other psychopathology in relation to creative arts.

Former Lab Members

Post-baccalaureate Alumni

Chloe Bryen

Chloe Bryen, B.A.
TAYA Lab Manager
Current Position: Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology, Florida State University

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Emily Carrino, B.A.

TAYA Lab Manager

Current Position: Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology, UNC-Chapel Hill

Madelaine Romito

Madelaine Romito, B.A.

TAYA Research Assistant

Current Position: Masters Student in Counseling, Northeastern Illinois University

Yiyao Zhou, B.A.

TAYA Research Assistant

Current Position: Doctoral Student in Counseling Psychology, University of Indiana

Undergraduate Alumni


Uma Balaji, B.S.
TAYA Research Assistant
Current Position: 

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Sarah Drexler, B.S.

TAYA Research Assistant

Current Position: Research Coordinator, Drexel University


Megan Kundra, B.S.

TAYA Research Assistant

Current Position: Administrative Assistant, Dartmouth College

Madeline Rushlau

Madeline Rushlau

TAYA Research Assistant

Tori Blazinski

Tori Blazinski, B.S.

TAYA Research Assistant

Current Position: Research Specialist, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Julia Friedman
TAYA Research Assistant

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Kendra Plummer, B.S.

TAYA Research Assistant

Current Position:  Intake Coordinator, Child and Family Institute, NY

Emma Stewart, B.S.

TAYA Research Assistant

Current Position: Lease Analyst, JLL,

Pittsburgh, PA

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Laura Boyajian, B.S.

TAYA Research Assistant

Current Position: Research Coordinator,

Drexel University

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Haley Henry, B.S.

TAYA Research Assistant

Current Position: Clinical Research Specialist, Duke University


Alexa Rial
TAYA Research Assistant

Current Position: University of Delaware Undergraduate Student


Evelyn Zamora-Vargas

TAYA Research Assistant