top of page

Research Team

logo (1).png

Core Research Team at the University of Pittsburgh

Sophia Choukas-Bradley Photo.jpg

Sophia (Sophie) Choukas-Bradley, Ph.D.
LAB DIRECTOR & PI

I am an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), where I'm a core faculty member in the Developmental, Clinical, and Social Psychology programs. I'll be promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure in September 2024. 

I earned 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. I completed a pre-doctoral clinical internship and post-doctoral fellowship in the Pitt Department of Psychiatry (Western Psychiatric). My first faculty position was in the Pitt Department of Psychology from 2017-2020, during which time I started the Teen and Young Adult Lab. I moved the lab to the University of Delaware from 2020-2022 for dual career reasons, before returning to Pitt in June 2022. Since 2023, I have also served as the Clinical Psychology Lead at the new Center for Digital Thriving of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

My program of research focuses on interpersonal and sociocultural influences on the mental health and wellbeing of adolescents and emerging adults (ages 11–24). One major goal of my work is to identify specific social media experiences that predict adaptive and maladaptive body image, mental health, and identity development. I also aim to understand how gender identities, sexual identities, and racial/ethnic identities affect body image, mental health, and relationships. My work has increasingly focused on LGBTQ+ youth and the intersection of multiple marginalized identities. My research has been recognized with several honors, including a Rising Star award from the Association for Psychological Science (2020) and the Susan Nolen-Hoeksema Early Career Research Award from the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology (2024). 

In addition to my work as a researcher, I am a licensed clinical psychologist and an award-winning teacher. I teach undergraduate and graduate courses focused on adolescence, social development, and psychopathology. I have a longstanding commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in academic psychology; I have been involved in DEI committees for over a decade, and I have started LGBTQ+ affinity groups at Pitt and U. Delaware. My blog, Psychology of Adolescence: The Science of Teens, Screens, Gender, and Sexuality, is available through Psychology Today.  I live in Pittsburgh with my wife (Anna), our baby (Jordan), and our quirky tailless tuxedo cat (Balsam). 

Graduate Students

Annie Maheux new photo Aug 2018.jpg

Anne (Annie) Maheux, Ph.D.

GRADUATE STUDENT ALUM

Annie joined the TAYA Lab in 2018 and graduated with her Ph.D. in 2023 from the University of Pittsburgh. She was the first Pitt student to graduate with a with a Ph.D. in Developmental and Social Psychology, having developed an individualized training plan. In July 2023, she joined the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an Assistant Professor in the Developmental Psychology program and the Winston Distinguished Fellow in the Center on Technology Use, Brain, and Psychological Development. 

With the TAYA Lab, Annie completed two years of her graduate training at the University of Delaware from 2020–2022, before returning to the University of Pittsburgh in 2022. Annie received her B.A. in psychology from the University of Vermont in 2015 and completed an M.S. in psychology at the University of Pittsburgh in 2020.

 

Broadly, Annie’s research examines sociocultural influences on adolescent development, with a focus on the role of gendered norms in academic interest, sexuality, and mental health. Annie’s research and graduate training have been supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the American Psychological Association, and the Character Lab Research Network. Annie is particularly passionate about learning and applying advanced statistical methods, including longitudinal and mixture modeling techniques to understand within-person change and heterogeneity across development.

 

Annie is also committed to social justice, both through research and in professional service roles, and has prior experience in crisis-based social work and as a middle school teacher in rural India. She recently started a mentorship network to help graduate students in psychology learn and gain confidence in statistics, with a focus on promoting community among those traditionally underrepresented in quantitative fields. More information about Annie’s work can be found at annemaheux.com.

Headshot.png

Savannah Roberts, M.A. 

GRADUATE STUDENT

Savannah joined the TAYA lab in the fall of 2019 as a joint Ph.D. student in Clinical and Developmental Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. Savannah completed a B.S. in Psychology with Honors at Western Washington University in 2016, and she received an M.A. in Psychology at the University of Delaware in 2022 (when the TAYA Lab was at UD).

 

Savannah is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship recipient. She 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.

 

Previously, Savannah 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.

 

Beyond research, Savannah is passionate about increasing accessibility and inclusion in clinical psychology Ph.D. programs and co-founded a mentorship program to assist applicants who wish to study body image, disordered eating, and eating behaviors. More information about Savannah's work can be found at www.savannah-roberts.com.

ClaireStout2022

Claire Stout, B.A.
GRADUATE STUDENT

Claire joined the TAYA Lab in the fall of 2021 as a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student at the University of Delaware. She transferred to Pitt with the TAYA Lab in June 2022, where she is now a student in the joint Clinical–Developmental Ph.D. program.

 

Claire 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. She received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2023. 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!

Zelal photo 2022.png

Zelal Kilic, B.A.
GRADUATE STUDENT

Zelal joined the TAYA Lab in the fall of 2022 as a joint Clinical–Developmental Psychology Ph.D. student at the University of Pittsburgh. Her primary mentor is Dr. Jennifer Silk and Dr. Choukas-Bradley is her co-mentor.

 

Zelal graduated from Connecticut College in 2022 where she double majored in psychology and computer science. At the intersection of these two fields of study, she became interested in investigating the effects of digital media on developmental mental health and pursued multiple projects investigating different types of online interactions. Later, she worked as a project coordinator for the WIFI Initiative at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with Drs. Eva Telzer and Mitch Prinstein, where she conducted research on social media use, peer relationships and suicidality.

 

Zelal is now broadly interested in investigating the longitudinal links between online and offline interpersonal interactions, and self-harm behaviors and suicidality. She's excited to get involved with the diversity and inclusion committees at Pitt, hoping to increase visibility and accessibility for underrepresented folks in the field. 

Daniel Labrousse headshot_2020.jpg

Daniel Labrousse, B.A.
GRADUATE STUDENT

Daniel is joining the TAYA Lab in the fall of 2023 as a joint Ph.D. student in Clinical and Developmental Psychology and K. Leroy Irvis Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. Daniel is primarily interested in studying sociocultural influences on youth mental health and the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

 

Daniel graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Psychology with Honors in 2020. While in Chicago, Daniel worked with Dr. Alex Shaw in the Developmental Investigations of Behavior and Strategy Lab in the Center for Early Childhood Research. In 2020, Daniel conducted research on youth development in school and community settings while at the American Institutes for Research. Daniel gained experience in topics such as school-based mental health, school climate, social emotional learning, restorative practices, trauma-informed practices, and out of school time. In 2022, Daniel also worked as a research coordinator at Georgetown University with Dr. Kean Hsu on technological applications to detect internalizing psychological problems.

 

As a researcher, Daniel wants to increase the accessibility of mental health care, especially for Black queer youth. Passionate about liberation, Daniel hopes to become involved in advocacy and community building efforts for resilient youth and families. For fun Daniel enjoys mixology, swimming, and watching scary movies. 

Courtney Medina, B.A.
GRADUATE STUDENT

Courtney is joining the TAYA Lab in the fall of 2023 as a first-year Developmental Psychology Ph.D. student at the University of Pittsburgh. She was awarded the K. Leroy Irvis Fellowship for her first year of study.

 

Courtney graduated with highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2021, where she double majored in Psychology and Human Developmental and Family Studies and minored in Latinx Studies. Following her graduation, she worked as a research project coordinator in UNC’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience under Drs. Eva Telzer and Kristen Lindquist, where she conducted research on the neural correlates of adolescent risk-taking and socioemotional development.

 

Courtney is interested in investigating the bidirectional relationships and developmental pathways between adolescents’ mental health, sexual, and romantic experiences, especially among queer youth and youth of color. She is also interested in researching sociocultural and other influences on adolescents’ sexual and romantic experiences and subsequent well-being, such as body image, dating violence, and online sexualization and objectification. During her time at Pitt, Courtney hopes to bridge public health, youth-centered, and psychological research methods to promote holistic health and well-being for marginalized youth.  

Lab Manager

Screen Shot 2021-04-14 at 12.44.48 PM.pn

Emily Gotkiewicz, B.A. 
LAB MANAGER

Emily first joined the TAYA lab in the spring of 2021 as an undergraduate research assistant at the University of Delaware. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Psychology and minor in Health & Wellness from the University of Delaware in 2022. As an undergraduate research assistant in the TAYA lab, she completed her senior thesis examining personality factors in relation to disordered eating behaviors.

 

Emily’s research interests include adolescent and young adult disordered eating, mental health, and body image. She is also interested in the role of sociocultural factors in adolescent development and health behaviors. Following her graduation from the University of Delaware, Emily moved with the TAYA Lab to Pitt and became the part-time TAYA Lab Manager while completing pre-med coursework. 

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Dominique DiDomenico
UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT

Dominique joined the TAYA lab in the spring of 2023 as an undergraduate research assistant at the University of Pittsburgh. She will graduate in the spring of 2024 as a Psychology major, with a minor in LGBTQ+ and Critical Sexuality Studies, and a minor in Creative Writing on a journalism and nonfiction writing track. Her research interests include sexual development and functioning in women, as well as body image and mood disorders. Dominique intends to complete a graduate program and plans on pursuing a career in the mental health field. When she’s not studying or working, she is known to be somewhat of a movie critic.  

Hajjar Littles
UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT

Hajjar (she/her) is joining the TAYA lab in the fall of 2023 as an undergraduate research assistant at the University of Pittsburgh. She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Africana Studies and certificates in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine and Afro-Latinx/Afro-Latinx American Studies. Hajjar’s current research interest is in LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC adolescents, especially when these two identities intersect, and she hopes to expand into the topic of body image as well. Her future goals include pursuing a graduate degree in clinical psychology. A fun fact about her is she enjoys listening to fiction podcasts.

Basia Silverberg
UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT

Basia joined the TAYA lab in the spring of 2023 as an undergraduate research assistant at the University of Pittsburgh. She will graduate in 2024 with a double major in Psychology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and a certificate in Jewish Studies. Basia is interested in studying body image, disordered eating, and the intersection of cultural and personal identities as it pertains to LGBTQ+ adolescents and young adults. She hopes to pursue a graduate degree and a career related to clinical practice and research. Basia enjoys spending her summers as a camp counselor for teenagers at a Jewish sleepaway camp.

Derek Todd
UNDERGRADUATE HONORS THESIS STUDENT

Derek joined the TAYA Lab in the spring of 2023 as an undergraduate research assistant at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a junior majoring in Psychology with a Children's Literature certificate. Derek’s research interests include the roles of race and sexuality in adolescent identity development. He is currently working on an honors thesis with the lab. Derek plans to attend a graduate program to expand his knowledge in the field of psychology. One fun fact about Derek is that he is from Guatemala. 

Sami Silk
UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT VISITING FROM KENYON COLLEGE 

Sami (they/them) joined the TAYA lab in the summer of 2023 as an undergraduate research assistant at the University of Pittsburgh. They are a rising junior at Kenyon College, majoring in Psychology with a concentration in Women’s and Gender Studies. Sami is interested in studying LGBTQ+ and neurodiverse youth, and is especially passionate about education and learning environments for minority students. They want to pursue a doctorate in School Psychology, and are very interested in both research and clinical-oriented work. A fun fact about Sami is that their favorite book genre is fantasy!

Former Lab Members

Former Post-baccalaureate & Graduate Student Members

Chloe Bryen

Chloe Bryen, B.A.
TAYA Lab Manager at Pitt, 2017-2019
Subsequent Position: Graduate Student in Clinical Psychology, Florida State University

Screen Shot 2021-09-14 at 7.11.04 PM.png

Rachel Martino, B.S.
Graduate Student at U. Delaware, 2021-2022
Current Position: Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology, Harvard

Emily Headshot 2018.JPG

Emily Carrino, B.A.
TAYA Lab Manager at Pitt, 2017-2019
Current Position: Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology, UNC-Chapel Hill

Madelaine Romito

Madelaine Romito, B.A.
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt,
2017-2019

Current Position: Graduate Student in Counseling, Northeastern Illinois University

image1_edited_edited.png

Brianna Ladd, B.A.; TAYA Lab Manager at Pitt & UD, 2019-2022
Current Position: Doctoral Student in Counseling Psychology, University of Maryland

Yiyao Zhou, B.A.
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt,
2018-20

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

Former Undergraduate Research Assistants 

Uma Balaji,  Research Assistant at Pitt, 2018-2020   
  Subsequent post-bac position: Research Specialist, Pitt Department of Psychiatry

Tori Blazinski, Research Assistant at Pitt, 2017-2018   
 
Subsequent post-bac position: Research Specialist, Pitt Department of Psychiatry

Laura Boyajian, Research Assistant & Honors Thesis Student at Pitt, 2019-2020   
Subsequent grad school position: Ph.D. Student in Clinical Psychology, U. South Florida


Perpetua (Peppy) Buadoo, Research Assistant at Pitt, 2023
  Subsequent undergraduate position: Bphil Student in Gianaros Lab

Sarah Drexler, Research Assistant at Pitt, 2019-2020   
Subsequent post-bac position: Research Coordinator, Drexel University


Julia Friedman, Research Assistant at Pitt, 2018-2019 

Emily Gotkiewicz, Research Assistant & Senior Thesis Student at UD, 2021-2022
   Subsequent post-bac position: TAYA Lab Manager at Pitt

Haley Henry, Research Assistant at Pitt, 2019-2020   
Subsequent post-bac position: Research Specialist, Duke University


Megan Kundra, Research Assistant at Pitt, 2018-2020     
 
Subsequent post-bac position: Administrative Assistant, Dartmouth College

Maddi Kesten, Research Assistant at University of Delaware, 2021-2022
 
 Subsequent post-bac position: College Advising Corps - Boston University

Kendra Plummer, Research Assistant at Pitt, 2019-2020     
 
Subsequent graduate school position: Master’s Student in Mental Health Counseling, George Washington University

Alexa Rial, Research Assistant at University of Delaware, 2021 
 Subsequent post-bac position: Mental Health Associate, High Focus Centers

Madeline Rushlau, Research Assistant at Pitt, 2017-2018   
 Subsequent post-bac position: HR Specialist, Carnegie Mellon University

Rmonte' Smack, Research Assistant at University of Delaware, 2021-2022

Emma Stewart, Research Assistant at Pitt, 2018-2019
  Subsequent post-bac position: Lease Analyst, JLL

Evelyn Zamora-Vargas, Research Assistant at Pitt, 2018
  Subsequent graduate school position: Master’s student, Pitt Graduate School of Public and     International Affairs

Current TAYA Collaborators
See Research Projects page for more info about current projects

Collaborators Anchor
Screen Shot 2021-09-14 at 7.11.04 PM.png

Rachel Martino, B.S.
Harvard University
Ph.D. Student in Clinical Psychology
F
ormer doctoral student in TAYA Lab at U. Del., continued collaborator on many projects

 

image1_edited_edited.png

Brianna Ladd, B.A.
University of Maryland
Ph.D. Student in Counseling Psychology
Former lab manager of TAYA Lab, continued collaborator on Project ROSE & many other projects 

Brian Thoma photo.jpeg

Brian Thoma, Ph.D. & his trainees; UPMC
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Thoma's faculty page
Co-I on GMY Study, PI on GMY II Study, co-I on Project TIDE
Example paper: Thoma, Salk, Choukas-Bradley, et al., 2019: Suicidality Disparities Between Transgender and Cisgender Adolescents

Jen Silk photo.png

Jennifer Silk, Ph.D. & her trainees
University of Pittsburgh 

Professor of Psychology & Psychiatry; Silk's faculty page
Co-PI on Teen SCREEN Study (with Cecile Ladouceur), collaborator on other social media studies, primary mentor to TAYA student Zelal Kilic
Example paper: Choukas-Bradley et al., 2022: Picture-Perfect During a Pandemic?

Brian Galla photo.jpeg

Brian Galla, Ph.D. 
University of Pittsburgh School of Education & LRDC
Associate Professor of Psychology in Education
Galla's faculty page

Collaborator on social media research 
Example paper: Galla, Choukas-Bradley, et al., 2021: Values-Alignment Messaging Boosts Adolescents' Motivation to Control Social Media Use

Matteo Giletta photo.jpeg

Matteo Giletta, Ph.D.
Ghent University (Belgium)
Associate Prof. of Psychology
Faculty profile of Giletta 

Long-time collaborator on research on peer relations
Example paper: Giletta, Choukas-Bradley, et al., 2021: 
A meta-analysis of longitudinal peer influence effects in childhood and adolescence

Lewis_Jioni-2021-Headshot.jpeg

Jioni Lewis, Ph.D. University of Maryland School of Education
Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology
Lewis's Faculty Page
Collaborator on ROSE and other projects focused on intersection of race and gender

 

Mitch Prinstein photo.jpeg

Mitch Prinstein, Ph.D.
UNC Chapel Hill & American Psychological Association
Chief Science Officer at APA; John Van Seters Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at UNC
Prinstein's UNC website
Prinstein's APA page

SCB's grad school advisor & long-time collaborator on peer relations research

 

Jacqueline Nesi photo.jpeg

Jacqueline Nesi, Ph.D. Brown University
Assistant Prof. of Psychiatry
Nesi's Website

Longtime collaborator on social media research

Example paper: Nesi, Choukas-Bradley, & Prinstein, 2018: Transformation of Adolescent Peer Relations in the Social Media Context

Escobar-Viera_Cesar photo.jpeg

César Escobar-Viera, MD, Ph.D. & his trainees; UPMC
Assistant Prof. of Psychiatry
Escobar-Viera's faculty page

Collaborator on social media intervention development work
Example paper: Escobar-Viera, Choukas-Bradley, et al., 2022: [...] Reducing Social Isolation Among LGBTQ Youth Living in Rural United States [...]

Laura Widman photo.jpeg

Laura Widman, Ph.D. & her Teen Health Lab
North Carolina State University
Associate Prof. of Psychology
Widman's Lab Website
Longtime collaborator on sexuality research

Example paper: Widman, Choukas-Bradley, et al., 2016: Parent-Adolescent Sexual Communication and Adolescent Safer Sex Behavior: A Meta-Analysis

Jamie Zelazny photo.webp

Jamie Zelazny, Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing
Assistant Professor, Health & Community Systems
Zelazny's faculty page
PI on R21-funded study using natural language processing to understand patterns of social media use preceding youth suicide attempts
 

Caroline Oppenheimer photo.jpeg

Caroline Oppenheimer, Ph.D. 
RTI International
Research Scientist 
Oppenheimer's LinkedIn page

PI on TeenBrainOnline Study

 

Jess Hamilton photo.webp
Emily Weinstein photo.png
Carrie James photo.png

Emily Weinstein, Ph.D., &
Carrie James, Ph.D.

Harvard Graduate School of Education
Center for Digital Thriving of Project Zero

Link to Weinstein & James' new book: Behind Their Screens
Collaborators on social media intervention development & dissemination

bottom of page