Post-Docs, Graduate Students, and Staff
Ilana Berman – Project Director, Post-Doc
Ilana Berman is a postdoctoral fellow with the Carolina Consortium on Human Development (CCHD) T32 training program. Originally from Philadelphia, she earned her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Arkansas in 2020 after completing her clinical internship at Duke University Medical Center with a concentration in child trauma. Ilana is currently the BEE Project director. Her research involves understanding how the family context (e.g., poverty), systems and processes (e.g., parent and child interactions) and early experiences of adversity and trauma impact child development and psychopathology across the lifespan and intergenerationally – with an ultimate goal of increasing access to and improving trauma-informed care for historically underserved families. Ilana encourages a healthy work-life balance and spends her free time with her family and pets including taking her dog for hikes, snuggling with her cat, and doing jigsaw puzzles.
Jessie Goldblum – Graduate Student
Jessie Goldblum is a doctoral student in the department of Developmental Psychology from Albuquerque, NM. She currently studies the early development of social communication in typically developing children and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In her spare time, Jessie enjoys spending time with her loved ones and playing with her two pups, Junior and Tallulah.
Lindsay Gomes – Graduate Student
Lindsay, originally from Seekonk, MA, is currently a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from UNC Chapel Hill. She completed a B.A. in Psychology and Human Services & Rehabilitation Studies from Assumption College. Lindsay is broadly interested in parent-child interactions in infancy and early childhood. Specifically, she is interested in the activation of the stress response system during these interactions and challenging tasks, as well as examining subsequent influences on social-emotional outcomes, including emotion regulation. In her free time, Lindsay loves to travel, watch Harry Potter, and play with her cat Luna.
Melissa Grimes – Graduate Student
Melissa is currently a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from UNC Chapel Hill, and she has completed a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from
Pennsylvania State University and a M.A. in Developmental Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Originally from Potomac, MD, Melissa studies the developmental and biopsychosocial processes that result in health disparities in the early life course. Specifically, she is interested in the interplay between the neighborhood and family contexts, and how risk or deprivation in either of these contexts can ultimately lead to poor socioemotional and health outcomes, with an emphasis on infant sleep. In her free time, Melissa enjoys traveling, binge-watching cooking shows, and cheering for her alma mater, Penn State (We are!).
Kirsten McLaughlin – Graduate Student
Originally from Middletown, NJ, Kirsten is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. She has previously received a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Family Science from the University of Maryland, College Park and a M.A. in Developmental Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Kirsten’s research interests include perinatal experiences and how they influence children’s cognitive and socioemotional development, with a specific focus on the association of maternal stress and the development of self-regulation and attention. In her free time, she loves to run, explore new coffee shops, and spend time with her pet bird, Bibi, and her puppy, Wilson.
Guan Wang – Graduate Student
Guan is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Science from UNC-Chapel Hill. Originally from China, Guan received her B.A. from Peking University and a M.S. from University of Pennsylvania after coming to the States. Guan is interested in using advanced statistical methods to examine how early childhood adversities, such as poverty and maltreatment, impact child development and health. When her research brain is offline, she likes to pick up her paintbrush, go hiking, play board games with her friends or just chill with her cats.
Amanda Wylie – Graduate Student
Originally from Pittsburgh, Amanda is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill and is an alumna of Penn State University (B.S. in Biobehavioral Health) and Johns Hopkins University (M.S.P.H. in Population, Family, and Reproductive Health). Before coming to UNC-CH, Amanda worked for RTI International, where she was involved in research projects focused broadly on physical and cognitive development in early childhood and supporting families of children with special health care needs. Amanda is interested in how maternal health and the prenatal and postnatal environments interact to predict child health, behavior, and cognition. In her spare time, Amanda enjoys visiting the hiking trails in the Triangle with her dog (named Goose) and trying new restaurants.
Jesse Barr – Staff Research Assistant
Jesse is currently a full-time research assistant for the BEE Lab. She grew up in Pilot Mountain, NC, before moving to Philadelphia to attend the University of Pennsylvania. While there she completed a B.A. in Psychology as well as a B.A. in History. In the future Jesse plans to complete a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a special interest in externalizing disorders in young children. She hopes to study how biological and environmental factors interact to produce various disordered behaviors in children, including the presence and absence of callous-unemotional traits, and how these nuances should be incorporated into effective treatment and prevention. She was inspired to investigate this area after her coursework highlighted the behaviors she was experiencing first-hand while tutoring young children at a Philadelphia homeless shelter. In her free time, she loves coffee and all things true crime, and enjoys traveling and movie nights with friends.
Andrea Ryan – Staff Research Assistant
Andrea attended the University of New Mexico in her hometown of Albuquerque, NM. In 2016 she graduated summa cum laude earning both a B.S. in Psychology and a B.S. in Biological Anthropology. While earning her degrees Andrea worked as the lab manager for Dr. James Cavanagh’s Cognitive Rhythms and Computations Lab. There she completed her thesis investigating how emotion influences inherent action-outcome biases. After graduating, Andrea moved to Providence, RI to manage Dr. Michael Frank’s Laboratory for Neural Computation and Cognition at Brown University. Two years later Andrea moved to North Carolina and currently works as a Research/Administrative Assistant for the Center for Developmental Science. Andrea provides administrative support for the BEE Lab and is interested in how internal and external emotional expression forms across development particularly in children with histories of trauma. In her free time, she enjoys B-horror movies, old school blues, and green chile.
Natalie Suchy – Staff Research Assistant
Natalie, originally from Raleigh, NC, is a member of the BEE Lab’s research assistant staff. She joined the team in 2018 after graduating from UNC Greensboro, where she earned a B.S. in Psychology with a Biology minor. While at UNCG, she worked in a social and cognitive development lab and became fascinated with developmental research. Broadly, Natalie is interested in relationships between nervous system development, individual life experiences, and biological states. Her primary responsibilities in the BEE Lab include conducting 2-week and 6-month study visits and managing undergraduate assistants. In her free time, Natalie enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, listening to rock music (preferably live), and observing her two cats’ eccentric behavior.