Our lab could not function effectively without the contributions of undergraduate and Post-Bac Research Assistants from Emory, Atlanta, and the SURE, SIRE and BRAIN program initiatives. Pictured above is part of our research team from the fall of 2021.

People in the Lab

Patricia Brennan, Ph.D.

Patricia A. Brennan, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology at Emory University and a member of the Clinical Psychology Program.  She received her BS in Psychology from UMASS Amherst, and her MA and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Southern California. Professor

Brennan has been the PI or Co-I on several large scale, NIH funded longitudinal studies that have examined stress as well as perinatal and familial risk factors in association with children's cognitive development, emotional reactivity, sleep function, psychopathology and physical health outcomes.  She has a passion for multidisciplinary scientific efforts, mentoring, and teaching. Away from the office she enjoys walking the Atlanta Beltline, as well as exploring local markets, craft fairs, and festivals.

Julie Carroll, M.S.W.

Julie Carroll, M.S.W, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and the Research Projects Manager for the BUILD laboratory. Julie's research interests include perinatal factors related to maternal and child health, including mood disorders,

prenatal teratogenic drug exposure, and stress. Currently, she manages the NIMH-funded study on the gut-brain axis in African American infants. Prior to working in the BUILD lab, she worked as a clinician in high-risk prenatal clinics, labor and delivery units, and neo-natal intensive care units at hospitals in northern California. She has also coordinated school-age research studies at the Marcus Autism Center. She earned a Master of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley with a concentration in Health.

Katrina Johnson, Ph.D.

Katrina C. Johnson, Ph.D. is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology.  She is a previous recipient of a NARSAD Young Investigator Award, which supported a study of fMRI in neonates of depressed and non-depressed mothers.  Broadly, her research and consulting

career focuses on the interplay between emotion and behavior, with a special emphasis on the role of neurological predictors.  After earning her Bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, she completed her graduate work at Emory University.  Dr. Johnson also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory.  As a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Johnson has conducted assessments and interventions at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.  She now serves as a consultant in the BUILD lab on infant assessment protocols and collaborates on multiple publications resulting from completed studies. 

Research Staff
Kristi Martin, M.A.
Camille Albritton-Smith, M.P.H.

Kristi Martin is a Lead Research Specialist for the Baby Microbiome Study. She graduated from the Ohio State University with a degree in Psychology and Human Growth and Development, and then went on to earn her masters in Community Counseling at Argosy University. She has an extensive background in assessment, has provided therapy to children and adults via CORE services, and has over 10 years of mental health experience. She has also worked for over 10 years serving children and families through DFCS. Recently,

Camille Albritton-Smith is a Lead Research Specialist for the Baby Microbiome Study. She graduated from Albany State University in 2001 with a B.S. in Criminal Justice, and went on to earn her MPH in Public Health at Argosy University in 2015. Prior to joining the Baby Microbiome team, Camille worked as a disease investigator at the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness. She has also worked as a Senior Research Specialist at Emory University and as a Social Worker for the Georgia Department of Family and Child Services (DFCS). She is the proud wife of Ike and mother of Isaiah.

Heidi Morgan, B.S.

Heidi Morgan is a Lead Research Specialist for the Baby Microbiome Study and the Atlanta ECHO Study.  Heidi's primary roles include conducting infant and child developmental assessments. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2015 (Go Dawgs!) earning her

Bachelor of Science in Psychology.  Her previous work in the Language and Learning Clinic at the Marcus Autism Center sparked her interests in child development research, leading her here to Emory. In her free time, Heidi enjoys playing soccer, cheering on the Atlanta United Soccer team, and biking through Piedmont Park.

Tashena Jones-Maxwell, B.S.

Tashena Jones-Maxwell is a Senior Research Interviewer and blood lab manager. She performs pediatric blood draws on ECHO participants and process all biological samples.  She is also currently obtaining her Bachelor’s in Public Health online at Southern New Hampshire University. Prior to joining the ECHO team,

Tashena worked for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta starting in 2012 where she was a Pediatric Phlebotomist working with children in all specialty clinics. She is the proud wife of Cedric and mom of three beautiful girls Taylor, Londyn, and Kinsley. 

Olivia Sadler, B.A. 

Olivia Sadler is a Pediatric Developmental Psychology Specialist for the Atlanta ECHO Study. She graduated from Eckerd College in 2014 with a Bachelors of Arts, double majoring in Psychology and Human Development. 

Concentrating her undergraduate education in clinical work and early childhood development lead Olivia to work in the Language and Learning Clinic at the Marcus Autism until joining the ECHO team in early 2017. Olivia is interested in the biological and environmental influences on Autism Spectrum Disorder and how to best help children struggling with its side effects. Outside of work, Olivia enjoys hiking, cuddling with her dog, road tripping, and doing hand lettering and calligraphy.

she has taken interest in the field of nursing and is considering pursuing an RN degree. Kristi is also the mother of a beautiful, smart, funny 8 yr old daughter. In her free time, she enjoys live music, dancing, movies, and journaling.

Graduate Students
April Brown, M.A., M.P.H

April Brown is a sixth year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program at Emory University. After graduating from Spelman College with a BA in Psychology, April attended Rollins School of Public Health where she earned an MPH in Behavioral Science and Health Education. In 2012, she began

 working as a Guest Researcher and Program Analyst at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders. April has studied the cycle of violence hypothesis, psychosocial stress, and examined the intergenerational effects of adverse childhood experiences on parenting practices, child antisocial behavior, and criminal offending. She is currently interested in studying how psychosocial stress contributes to child psychopathology via hormonal processes within the neuroendocrine system. 

Julianne Ammirati, B.S.

Julianne Ammirati is a sixth year PhD student in the School of Nursing who has been assisting with data organization for the Baby Microbiome Study since the Fall of 2015. She completed her B.S. in psychology with a focus in behavioral neuroscience at Yale University and her BSN at

at Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.  Before deciding to pursue her BSN at Emory, Julianne served as a clinical coordinator for the Brain Imaging and EEG Lab at the University of California, San Francisco, studying functional abnormalities in individuals with psychosis using various electrophysiological and neuroimaging techniques. Her research interests include the development and management of mental illness during the perinatal and postpartum period, and the impact of  delayed treatment within this population.

Madeleine Cohen, M.A.

Madeleine Cohen is a fifth year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at Emory University. In 2015, she graduated from Boston University with a B.A. in Psychology and French. She then worked as a Research Technician (2015-2017) at

the Boston University Twin Project, a longitudinal study examining genetic and environmental influences on preschoolers' temperament. Currently, Madeleine is interested in modifiable environmental influences (e.g., parenting behaviors, sleep) on maternal and child psychopathology and wellbeing. Specifically, her Master's Thesis examined associations between maternal anxiety, maternal sleep quality, and parenting behaviors in the postpartum period. Madeleine received an Honorable Mention for the 2019 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Outside of work, Madeleine enjoys long morning runs and reading.

Brooke McKenna, M.A.

Brooke McKenna is a fifth year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at Emory University. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015 with a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Biology. While at UNC, she worked in the Peer Relations Lab studying the effects of interpersonal stress on depression, self-injury, and other health-risk behaviors. She then spent two years at the University of Iowa’s molecular psychiatry department examining the genetic and metabolic factors

that contribute to neurodevelopmental disorders. In the BUILD Lab, Brooke’s research focuses on the interplay between biological factors (e.g., genetics, gut microbiome) and environmental influences (e.g., childhood trauma, chronic stress) that contribute to developmental psychopathology within and across generations. She is also a 2019 recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. In her free time, Brooke enjoys yoga, sand volleyball, exploring local restaurants, and going on hikes with her pup.

Elle Johnson, M.A.

Elle is a fourth year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at Emory University. She graduated from the City College of New York in 2017 with a B.A in Psychology. At CCNY she worked as a research assistant in the Attention and Neuropsych-ological lab studying the relationship between ADHD and Obesity. She also worked at the Child Mind Institute providing treatment to children with ADHD, Selective Mutism and other behavioral disorders. After graduating, she joined the Applied Developmental Psychology Lab at the University of Cambridge

to examine the efficacy of interview protocol for victims of domestic violence. Elle is interested in exploring the relationship between resilience, environmental stress factors and the development of mood disorders in individuals who have faced repetitive traumas or live in high-stress environments. In her free time, Elle loves to explore different cities, learn different languages, listen to music, and eat good food.

Melissa Engel, M.A.

Melissa Engel is a fourth year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at Emory University. She received her BA in Psychology from Emory in 2017, where she worked as a research assistant in both the BUILD Lab and at Children's Healthcare of

Atlanta. Melissa then spent two years at the University of Minnesota, where she earned her MA in Developmental Psychology in 2019. Her research focuses on pediatric chronic illness through a developmental psychopathology framework, with particular emphases on psychobiological mechanisms, stress, and resilience. Some of Melissa's recent projects have examined somatic complaints throughout childhood, anxiety and depression in youth with epilepsy, and early life stress and inflammation in adolescence. Melissa is also a certified yoga teacher and is currently writing a memoir. 

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Chaela Nutor, B.A.

Chaela is a second year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at Emory University. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018. Chaela then spent two years at the Yale Child Study Center as a Developmental

Psychopathology and Social Neuroscience research fellow where she closely examined health disparities in autism spectrum disorder. With her research, she aims to better understand the environmental factors that lead to disparities in child development. She is also a 2020 recipient of a NIH Diversity Supplement grant for the ECHO consortium. Outside of research, she enjoys exercising, dancing, and trying new foods.

Nia Barbee, B.A.

Nia Barbee is a second year student in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at Emory University. She received her BA in Psychology from Columbia University in 2018, where she worked as a research assistant in the TAUB Institute of Alzheimer’s Research at the Columbia University Medical Center. Nia then spent

two years at the University of Southern California, where she worked as the lab manager of the Neuroendocrinology of Social Ties lab. Her overall research goal is to increase literature on the African American community and decrease health disparities. Nia is specifically interested in how prenatal stressors are related to mother’s sleep quality and how that is related to postpartum outcomes. In her free time, Nia enjoys traveling, learning how to powerlift, and trying out new recipes.