Faculty

Kym Ahrens interests are in promoting positive physical and mental health outcomes in at-risk youth. Some of her past research has focused on the influence of adult mentors on the adult outcomes of youth in foster care and youth with learning disabilities. Dr. Ahrens is currently conducting a series of NIH-sponsored research studies focused on developing an intervention program to reduce risk of sexually transmitted infections including HIV among adolescents in the foster system.

Lynn Fainsilber-Katz focuses on children’s social and emotional development in the context of family relationships, including marital conflict, domestic violence, and parent’s use of emotion coaching. She is particularly interested in children's ability to regulate emotion in face of adverse environments and life events, and how parenting buffers children from negative outcomes and helps them develop successful healthy relationships with others, including peers. Her studies have involved children exposed to varying types of adverse circumstances, including domestic violence and pediatric cancer. In Dr. Katz’s most current work, she is developing a parenting intervention to promote the use of emotion coaching in families experiencing domestic violence to reduce the likelihood of behavioral and emotional problems in children.

Katie McLaughlin's research seeks to identify psychological and neurobiological mechanisms linking adverse childhood environments to the onset of psychopathology in youths using a variety of tools, including neuropsychological assessments, electrophysiology (e.g., measures of autonomic nervous system function, EEG) and brain imaging, including structural and functional MRI. Dr. McLaughlin has used these tools to study children and adolescents exposed to a wide range of adverse environmental experiences, including caregiver maltreatment, community violence exposure, institutional rearing, and poverty, and has identified a variety of neurodevelopmental mechanisms that underlie the relationship between adverse environments in childhood and the subsequent onset of mental disorders, including elevated emotional and physiological reactivity to stress, poor emotion regulation skills, executive functioning deficits, and disruptions in social cognition. 

Pooja Tandon is interested in developing, studying and advocating for programs and policies that promote the health of children by focusing on modifiable environmental risk factors for obesity. She is studying the impact of nutrition menu labeling on restaurant food purchasing for children. Her research also includes studying the physical activity and nutrition environments of child care settings. Dr. Tandon supervises residents in continuity clinic at the UW Pediatric Care Center.