The Child Health and Development (CHaD) Lab is made up of a team of faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff who work to understand the influences of many factors on children’s health and development. Learn more about our team, including our lab alumni.

Principal Investigator

Sarah Watamura

Sarah Enos Watamura

Professor; Chair, Psychology

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Our Team

  • Graduate Students
    Chad Lab Tiffany Phu

    Tiffany Phu, MA

    Tiffany Phu is a 6th year graduate student in the clinical child psychology PhD program. She is currently funded by an NIH NICHD grant investigating multisystem physiologic coordination to stress among preschoolers experiencing low-income. Her emerging program of research investigates the early biological embedding of risk and resilience factors, with attention to socioecological contexts. 

    Biobehavioral processes of interest include stress physiology and sleep. Phu has prior research experiences in health psychology, social cognition, and dissemination and implementation science as related to public service systems. 

    Drew M

    Drew McGee, MA

    Drew McGee is a 5th year graduate student in the developmental psychology PhD program. McGee is primarily interested in intervention and prevention efforts in applied developmental processes across systems levels (policy, preK and ECE, parenting and dyadic relations, individual factors such as physiology, problem behaviors, self-regulation), with an abiding interest in resilience. Specifically, McGee is interested in the buffering influence of protective factors (such as sensitive parenting or quality early childhood education) on the impact of early life adversity on social-emotional outcomes, and behavioral and physiological stress responses in early childhood. McGee also has an abiding interest in the implications of these processes for public policy. 

    Elex Portell Chad Lab Photo

    Elex Portell

    Elex Portell is a first-year graduate student in the developmental psychology PhD program. After graduating from Vassar College with her BA in psychology, Portell spent five years working at a nonprofit providing child and family victim services in rural New Mexico as a grant writer. 

    Portell is primarily interested in the development, implantation, and evaluation of early childhood interventions that leverage the quality of caregiver-child relationships (parents, teachers, early childhood professionals) to promote resilience and well-being among children and families. Portell also has an abiding interest in the implications of this research for public policy. 

    Allie S

    Allie Stansell

    Alexandria Stansell is a first-year graduate student in the clinical child psychology PhD program. She previously worked as a post-baccalaureate research assistant in a child development research institute in Houston, TX. 

    Her research interests are primarily in examining the parent-child relationship as a protective factor in early childhood adversity and a promotive factor for positive outcomes for both child and parent. Stansell also has accompanying interests in supporting these relationships in both the clinical and public policy spheres. Her hobbies include knitting, listening to podcasts, and Sunday walks in Wash Park. 

  • Lab Staff
    Ariel lab photo

    Ariel Julian

    Ariel Julian is a project manager for the CHaD lab. As an undergraduate, Julian worked as a research assistant in the stress lab lead by Terrence Deak, PhD at Binghamton University. The primary focus was to determine how organisms respond and adapt to psychologically stressful events.

    After graduation, Julian was a research coordinator at Mount Sinai Medical Center for a project examining the genetic factors of congenital heart defects. In the Watamura lab his main focus is managing and coordinating the Buffering Early Stress Together (BEST) Study.

    Eve Halterman CHAD Lab

    Eve Halterman, MBA 

    Eve Halterman is a Bilingual Family Coach & Interventionist for the Parents Advancing Toddler Health (PATH) project. Halterman holds a BA in psychology as well as an MBA from the University of Denver. She has spent over 15 years conducting qualitative research for boutique as well as global marketing research agencies. Over the span of Eve’s qualitative career, she has completed projects in a wide range of industries (alpha order): advertising, arts/culture, automotive, beauty, consumer packaged and durable goods, education, food service, financial services, government, healthcare, housing, insurance, money transfer, pharma, real estate, restaurants, and technology. 

    Eve has also worked in social service outreach and education for the Alzheimer’s Association as well as in behavioral health research for Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Research. She has lived and worked in South America and Japan, and taught Spanish for over 20 years in an adjunct faculty role for various schools within the DU system. Eve’s passion is work that requires cultural and linguistic expertise related to understanding and/or servicing the Hispanic/Latino market. 

    Elizabeth KS

    Elizabeth Kay-Sherrard, MA

    Elizabeth is a project coordinator and a first year PhD student in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program. She graduated from Santa Clara University (SCU) with a BS in Psychology. While at SCU, she served as a research assistant and conducted intensive health and social psychology research which led to co-authoring two publications. Since then, she has worked in both high tech and academia and obtained a Master of Arts in Counseling. Her interests include developing policy, policy implementation, and moral reframing.  


    Lydia M

    Lydia Mathis, MA

    Lydia is currently working as a refugee therapist in the community with JFS and works to support various projects in the CHaD lab as a research assistant. Her research interests are in how to best support migrant families with culturally responsive mental health care and representative, community driven research. She especially enjoys engaging participants in focus groups and creating data visualizations to share findings. 

    Lydia graduated with her masters in International Disaster Psychology from DU. She has experience supporting youth and families in a variety of contexts including those displaced in camps in Iraq and Nicaraguan families settled in Costa Rica. In her free time, Lydia enjoys cooking, drinking coffee, hiking climbing and processing film photographs. 

    Nora B

    Nora Brock

    Nora is an undergraduate research assistant in the CHaD Lab.





  • Alumni

    Thania Galvan, PhD

    Thania Galvan was a doctoral student in the clinical child psychology PhD program. After graduating from Trinity University with her BA in psychology, Galvan spent four years working as a post-baccalaureate research assistant in several Northeast hospitals.

    Galvan's interests are focused on promoting the well-being of traditionally underserved populations. To that end, her research interests are centered around better understanding the factors that promote or inhibit risk and resiliency among Latinx youth and their families. Her work has explored how mental health disparities impact this population, as well as how sociocultural factors (e.g., acculturation/enculturation, legal status) influence Latinx families' wellbeing.

    Amy Dominguez, PhD

    Amy Dominguez was a doctoral student in the clinical child psychology PhD program. After graduating from Yale University with a BS in psychology, she worked as a therapist for children with developmental disorders. She recently completed her MA investigating patterns of cortisol reactivity to stress in preschoolers from low-income families.

    Dominguez is primarily interested in studying the relationship between early life stress, developmental trajectories and physiological markers of stress, particularly among Latino and immigrant families. Ultimately, she aims to conduct comprehensive neuropsychological assessments in a diverse, community-based setting to inform interventions that empower parents to buffer effects of early life stress on their child's development.

    Elly Miles, PhD

    Elly Miles was a graduate student in the developmental psychology PhD program. Before beginning graduate school, Miles worked in community mental health where she organized and supported home-based programming for adult, parent and child mental health.

    Miles is interested in caregiver wellbeing and early childhood biobehavioral health, especially in refugee and minority populations. She is investigating how the timing and severity of perimigration experiences impact caregiver and child outcomes, especially in post-resettlement contexts. Currently, she is co-investigator on a project examining how culturally-specific risk and protective processes in resettled Syrian and Iraqi families moderate associations between displacement and later family outcomes.

    Neda Senehi, PhD

    Neda Senehi was a postdoctoral fellow in the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group. She completed her doctoral work in human development and family studies at Michigan State University.

    She investigates the various ways in which parents socialize and promote the development of self-regulation in infants and toddlers living in poverty. Her work examines links between parental mentalization, emotion socialization and emotional availability with children's physiological and behavioral regulatory outcomes.

    Senehi, PhD, is also interested in implications of early adverse childhood experiences and socioeconomic adversity in how parents manage their own stress and stress responses. Her work is tailored to promote positive parenting behaviors and child social-emotional outcomes for families living in adversity.

    Samantha M. Brown, PhD, LP

    Brown was a postdoctoral fellow in the Stress, Early Experiences, and Development (SEED) Research Center. Brown is interested in translating knowledge regarding adverse childhood experiences, healthy development and family functioning to inform the enhanced tailoring and development of childhood trauma prevention interventions.

    Eliana Hurwich-Reiss, PhD

    Hurwich-Reiss was a doctoral graduate student in the clinical psychology program. She completed her predoctoral clinical internship at the UCSD/VA training program in San Diego. She is now a post-doctoral scholar at the University of California San Diego and the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center.

    Hurwich-Reiss's primary interests involve research and clinical work with diverse populations, in particular Latino immigrant parents and children. Her graduate research program was motivated by a desire to understand those family-level factors which serve to mitigate risk for low-income Latino youth and families, and translate this understanding into improved culturally sensitive intervention efforts.

    As part of her current postdoc, Hurwich-Reiss trains community-based therapists and school mental health providers in AIM HI (An Individualized Mental Health Intervention for Children with ASD), an intervention designed to reduce challenging behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorder and comorbid diagnoses. Her postdoctoral research program focuses on identifying disparities in mental health care utilization and access for Latino families, and reducing disparities through community collaborations, provider training and the cultural adaptation of interventions.

    Natasha Link

    Link received her BA degree in American studies in May 2013. In the CHaD Lab, Link coordinated the data collection for the Buffering Early Stress Together (BEST) study, managed the lab's IRB protocols and supervised a team of undergraduate research assistants.

    Her research interests include examining and reducing the socioeconomic disparities in education, mental health and public health resources. Currently, Link is a clinical-community psychology doctoral student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

    Marina Mendoza, PhD

    Mendoza worked in the Child Health and Development Lab from 2007–2015. Prior to joining the lab, she was a bilingual probation case manager. The transition to the CHaD lab illuminated the overlap between those involved in the criminal justice system and those with adverse life experiences.

    As a project manager and research assistant, she learned valuable research, practice and analytical skills. For example, Mendoza provided input on research protocols, administered developmental assessments with children, and regularly conducted data analyses for conferences and papers. She was also trained in the collection and storage of psychobiological data, including salivary cortisol. Outside of the lab, she built lasting partnerships with several preschool and Head Start centers around the Denver Metro area. She found connecting with families and engaging with children the most rewarding.

    Mendoza graduated from the University of Denver with a PhD in developmental psychology and a concentration in developmental cognitive neuroscience. She is currently a Society for Research in Child Development Policy Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology Fellowship program. In her placement, she is expanding her training to include the application of developmental science to the criminal justice field, as well as effective dissemination of scientific research to varied audiences.

    Lisa J. Schlueter, PhD

    Schlueter (McFadyen-Ketchum) was a graduate student in the developmental psychology PhD program. She had 8 years combined research experience in molecular developmental neuroscience. Schlueter is generally interested in risk and resilience in infants and toddlers with a particular emphasis on school readiness.

    In the CHaD lab, she explored the relationship between physiologic stress reactivity and developmental trajectories in early childhood. She assisted on a project examining the role of parents in buffering their children from stress, as well as investigating the potential cognitive benefits of physical activity in preschoolers.

    Allison Stiles, PhD

    Stiles graduated from the clinical child psychology program at the University of Denver. After receiving a BA from Bates College in 2010, Allison joined Teach for America and taught fifth grade in Gallup, New Mexico. Her experiences working with at-risk youth led her to begin working as a research assistant in the CHaD lab, exploring the function of parental support in safeguarding children from early environmental stress.

    Her research interests involve understanding mental health treatment disparities for disadvantaged, ethnically diverse youth and families. She is interested in the development of culturally sensitive treatment interventions that can be implemented into realistic, challenging settings such as schools and community centers.