Research Team

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Core Research Team at the University of Pittsburgh

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

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 earned 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). 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. After two years at the University of Delaware, I returned to Pitt in June 2022.

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.

In addition to my work as a researcher, I am a licensed clinical psychologist, and 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 the past 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, and our quirky tailless tuxedo cat, Balsam. 

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Annie Maheux, M.S. 

GRADUATE STUDENT

Annie joined the TAYA Lab in 2018 as a joint Ph.D. student of Developmental and Social Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. With the TAYA Lab, she 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 has 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.

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Savannah Roberts, B.S. 

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, received an M.S. in Psychology at the University of Delaware in 2022, and is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship recipient. 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. 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.

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Claire Stout, B.A.
GRADUATE STUDENT

Claire joined the TAYA Lab in the fall of 2021 as a first-year 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 2nd-year 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. 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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Zelal Kilic, B.A.
GRADUATE STUDENT

Zelal joined the TAYA Lab in the fall of 2022 as a first-year 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 secondary 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. 

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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 part of 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. 

Former Lab Members

Post-baccalaureate Alumni & Former Graduate Students

Chloe Bryen

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

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Rachel Martino, B.S.
Graduate Student at UD
Current Position: Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology, Harvard

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

Madelaine Romito

Madelaine Romito, B.A.
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt
Current Position: Masters Student in Counseling, Northeastern Illinois University

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

Yiyao Zhou, B.A.
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt
Current Position: Doctoral Student in Counseling Psychology, University of Indiana

Undergraduate Alumni

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Maddi Kesten, B.A.
TAYA Research Assistant at U. Del.

Subsequent position: College Advising Corps - Boston University

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Uma Balaji, B.S.
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt
Subsequent Post-Bacc Position: Research Specialist, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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Emily Gotkiewicz, B.A.
TAYA Research Assistant at
U. Del.

Subsequent position: TAYA Lab Manager at Pitt

Tori Blazinski

Tori Blazinski, B.S.
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt
Subsequent Post-Bacc Position: Research Specialist, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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Sarah Drexler, B.S.
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt
Subsequent Post-Bacc Position: Research Coordinator, Drexel University

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Megan Kundra, B.S.
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt
Subsequent Post-Bacc Position: Administrative Assistant, Dartmouth College

Madeline Rushlau

Madeline Rushlau
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt
Subsequent
Post-Bacc Position: Clinical position at Western Psychiatric

Julia Friedman
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt

 

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Kendra Plummer, B.S.
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt
Subsequent Post-Bacc Position:  Intake Coordinator, Child and Family Institute, NY

Emma Stewart, B.S.
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt
Subsequent Post-Bacc Position: Lease Analyst, JLL, Pittsburgh, PA

Rmonte' Smack, B.A.
TAYA Research Assistant at
U. Del.

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Laura Boyajian, B.S.
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt
Subsequent Post-Bacc Position: Research Coordinator, Drexel University
Subsequent Graduate Position: Joining U. South Florida Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program in Fall 2022

 

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Haley Henry, B.S.
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt
Subsequent Post-Bacc Position: Clinical Research Specialist, Duke University

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Alexa Rial
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt


 

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Evelyn Zamora-Vargas
TAYA Research Assistant at Pitt

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

 
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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

 

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 

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

 

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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

 

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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

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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 [...]

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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

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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
 

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

PI on TeenBrainOnline Study

 

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

Harvard Graduate School of Education
Principal Investigators at Project Zero

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