Research

Team

Sophia Choukas-Bradley, Ph.D. 

Lab Director

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware. I hold an A.B. (B.A.) degree in Psychology from Brown University in 2008 and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 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.

 

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. Much of my research focuses on adolescents' social media use, including its influence on peer relationships, mental health, and wellbeing. I’m especially passionate about understanding the role of social media in adolescent girls' self-objectification and body image. Additionally, I have a growing line of work focused on body image and mental health among LGBTQ+ youth. 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.

Annie Maheux, M.S.

Graduate Student

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 will continue 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.

Graduate Student

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. Savannah will be continuing her graduate studies at the University of Delaware beginning in the fall of 2020. In the TAYA Lab, she is currently researching body image, disordered eating, and feminist identity in gender minority youth. She is interested in understanding the development of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in sexual and gender minority youth, as well as assessing the effect of social media on adolescents’ body image broadly. Previously, she coordinated NIH clinical trials for obesity in the Center for Weight, Eating, and Lifestyle Science at Drexel University. 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 researched the effect of gender on the perception of anorexia nervosa. 

Brianna Ladd, B.A.

Lab Manager

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 interested in how sociocultural contexts, interpersonal relationships, and sexual experiences influence body image and sexual and gender identity development. She is also interested in using a feminist framework to examine mental health among populations at the intersection of racial, sexual, and gender minority identities, as well as the social justice implications of research in this area. Brianna hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology in the future. 

Former Lab Members

Yiyao Zhou

Post-baccalaureate Research Assistant

Yiyao is a part-time research assistant in the Teen and Young Adult Lab. She graduated cum laude with a BSBA in Human Resources Management and minor in German Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Post-graduation, Yiyao obtained a PreK-4 Teacher’s Certificate, and she established interests in developmental psychology while working with kids. Her research interests include examining both societal and close relationships’ influences on adolescents’ body image, self-image, gender expression and psychopathology. She currently works as a child development specialist in the Pitt Parents and Child Laboratory (PI: Daniel Shaw) implementing Video Interaction Project (VIP) — a relationship-based intervention program for parents and their young children. Yiyao plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

Laura Boyajian

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Laura is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology and studio arts. Her research interests include the effects of social media on objectification behaviors, relationships, and mental health in adolescents. After she graduates, she aims to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, with the hopes of continuing to explore her research interests and clinical aspirations.

Sarah Drexler

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Sarah is currently a senior at the University of Pittsburgh working towards a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Her research interests include gender differences in various contexts such as depression, anxiety, and aggression. Specifically, she is interested in emotional internalization in boys and men and its potential harmful effects. After graduation, Sarah plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Haley Henry

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Haley is currently a senior at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a major in Psychology and a minor in Social Work. After graduation, she plans to pursue a doctorate degree in clinical psychology with an interest in counseling adolescents with mood disorders. Her research interests include examining the role of sociocultural and peer influences on the mental health of LGBTQ+ identifying adolescents. Furthermore, she is interested in studying factors that contribute to mental health disparities between cisgender and gender minority youth.

Megan Kundra

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Megan Kundra is a senior psychology major at the University of Pittsburgh. After she graduates, she hopes to go on to obtain a PhD in either clinical or counselling psychology. Her research interests include examining how minority communities are affected by systematic oppression, especially in relation to psychopathology.

Kendra Plummer

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Kendra is a senior Psychology and Anthropology double major at the University of Pittsburgh who joined the TAYA lab in the fall of 2019. Her research interests include abnormal psychology and the role that culture plays in the behaviors, thoughts, and overall mental development of adolescents. In the future, Kendra plans to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology. 

Julia Friedman

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Julia Friedman is currently a junior Psychology major at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests include developmental psychology and how social media is influencing the development, body image, and mental health of adolescent females. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in psychology in the future.

Uma Balaji

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Uma Balaji is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing majors in psychology and neuroscience and a minor in linguistics. Her research interests include the the mental health of minority groups and the social factors that contribute to adolescent girls’ self-image. Uma plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology while also advocating for underprivileged groups that face barriers to accessing mental health care.

Chloe Bryen, B.A.

Lab Manager

Chloe was one of the TAYA lab managers from 2017-2019. Chloe’s research interests include adolescent and young adult psychosocial development, and specifically the experiences of female and LGBTQ individuals. She is interested in sociocultural influences on self-objectification, body image, and psychopathology, and she hopes to research how social media affects these relationships. Similarly, Chloe is interested in psychopathologies that occur during adolescence including mood disorders, non-suicidal self-injury, and suicide. Chloe graduated with Highest Honors and Distinction from UNC Chapel Hill in 2017 with a B.A. in Psychology. At UNC, she completed a senior honors thesis focused on understanding associations among young adults’ chronic pain, hypervigilance, and executive function. Chloe was also involved in research on mood disorders including analyzing relationships between international rates of suicide and BMI. Chloe is pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Florida State University starting Fall 2019. 

Emily Carrino, B.A.

Lab Manager

Emily was a TAYA lab manager from 2017-2019. Her research in the lab centered around adolescent feminism, social media and body image, and the developmental outcomes of LGBTQ+ youth with bipolar disorder. Emily graduated with distinction from UNC Chapel Hill in 2017 with a B.A. in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies. In the fall of 2019, she returned to UNC to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, where she is studying the influence of sociocultural and interpersonal processes on romantic relationship outcomes with her advisor, Don Baucom. 

Madelaine Romito, B.A.

Post-baccalaureate Research Assistant

Madelaine was a research assistant in the TAYA Lab from fall 2017 to the summer of 2019. Her research interests in the lab included understanding adolescent sexual and gender development as well as body image and disordered eating. More broadly, Madelaine has a special interest in studying disordered eating, body image, and weight through qualitative methods and a social justice perspective. Madelaine graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in music and minor in psychology from the University of Miami, where she gained her first exposure to research in the PEERS Lab. Post-graduation, she worked as an advocate for victims of gender-based violence and currently holds a research assistant position with the Pittsburgh Girls Study in Pitt's Department of Psychiatry (PIs: Alison Hipwell and Kate Keenan). Madelaine looks forward to ongoing collaboration with the TAYA Lab!

Emma Stewart

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Emma was an undergraduate research assistant in the Teen and Young Adult Lab from Fall 2017 to Spring 2019. She is currently an undergraduate senior dual majoring in Psychology and Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. She plans to further her education in law school or graduate school with a focus on forensic psychology. Emma’s goals are to work in a government or federal agency in the field of behavioral research. Emma is driven by her passion for helping others. Her research interests include social media’s impact on adolescent mental health, problem behaviors in teens, and how environments impact adolescent development.

Madeline Rushlau

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Madz was an undergraduate research assistant in the Teen and Young Adult Lab from Fall 2017 to Fall 2018. Her research interests in the lab included understanding the interpersonal relationships and the development of sexuality in young adults. She is interested in how the development and understanding of sex and sexuality in young adults influence their romantic, familial, and peer relationships. Madz graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. She currently works as a milieu therapist at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic with bipolar adolescents and adults. She plans to continue her education in the psychology field towards a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology. 

Evelyn Zamora-Vargas

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Evelyn was an undergraduate research assistant in the Teen and Young Adult Lab in Fall 2018. Evelyn is currently an undergraduate senior at the University of Pittsburgh. She is pursuing a double degree in Psychology and Philosophy with an additional major in History and Philosophy of Science. Her research interests are interdisciplinary in scope, but she is particularly driven to understand how sociocultural and technological factors influence the development of one's sense of self. She intends to continue exploring her research interests while attending law school by eventually applying to a JD/PhD program.

Tori Blazinski

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Tori was an undergraduate research assistant in the Teen and Young Adult Lab from Fall 2017 - Spring 2018. Her research interests in the lab included how adolescent experiences regarding sexual development, body image, and their relationship to mental health influenced individual psychopathology. Tori  received her B.S. in Psychology in the spring of 2018 from the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently a full-time research associate in the Affective Neuroscience and Developmental Psychopathology Lab at Pitt (PI: Erika Forbes) researching neurocognitive processes and comorbid psychopathology across eating disorder diagnoses, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Tori plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. 

TAYA Lab Gallery 

2017-2019

September 2017 - The First Lab Members

From left: Emily Carrino, Madeline Rushlau, Sophie Choukas-Bradley, Chloe Bryen, & Tori Blazinkski

Fall 2017 Lab Members

From top left: Emily Carrino, Sophie Choukas-Bradley, Chloe Bryen, Madeline Rushlau, Madelaine Romito, & Tori Blazinkski

April 2018 - Undergraduate Student Research Poster Session

From left: Chloe Bryen, Yiyao Zhou, Emma Stewart, Tori Blazinkski, Madeline Rushlau, Sophie Choukas-Bradley, & Emily Carrino.

Not pictured: Madelaine Romito & Julia Friedman

July 2018 - Conference in Madrid

Sophie Choukas-Bradley with her long-time collaborator Dr. Laura Widman, at the International Academy of Sex Research conference in Madrid

October 2018 - Soergel's Orchard

Lab managers Chloe Bryen and Emily Carrino

Fall 2018 Lab Members

Front row from left: Evelyn Zamora-Vargas, Chloe Bryen, Emily Carrino, Sophie Choukas-Bradley, Megan Kundra, Madeline Rushlau, Emma Stewart. Back row from left: Julia Friedman, Yiyao Zhou, Annie Maheux, Uma Balaji, Madelaine Romito. 

December 2018 - Holiday Lab Party

From left: Sophie Choukas-Bradley, Emily Carrino, Uma Balaji, Yiyao Zhou, Annie Maheux, Megan Kundra, Julia Friedman, Emma Stewart, Madelaine Romito, and Chloe Bryen

Not pictured: Madeline Rushlau

March 2019 - SRCD

Biennial Meeting

March 2019 - SRCD

Biennial Meeting

Lab manager, Emily Carrino.

From left: Annie Maheux, Sophie Choukas-Bradley, Emily Carrino, Chloe Bryen, Yiyao Zhou

March 2019 - Research Symposium

March 2019 - SRCD

Biennial Meeting

Annie Maheux at the 7th Annual Adolescent and Young Adult Health Research Symposium at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

August 2019: Welcoming New Lab Members, Pitt's Cathedral of Learning

Lab manager, Chloe Bryen.

From left to right: Lab manager Bri Ladd, lab director Sophie Choukas-Bradley, and grad students Annie Maheux and Savannah Roberts

University of Delaware

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Wolf Hall

105 The Green

Newark, DE 19716

(Operating remotely due to COVID-19)

Teen and Young Adult Lab

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© June 2020