Laura Hennefield, PhD

Dr. Laura Hennefield is an Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine and Director of the STARK project. She completed her doctoral work in social cognitive development in the Department of Brain and Psychological Sciences at Washington University in St Louis in 2015, and a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry in 2021. Her research program focuses on how children acquire knowledge and form expectations about the future (optimism). She also studies how early-onset psychopathology, such as depression and suicidality, intersect with these basic social and cognitive processes. Outside of the lab, Laura enjoys practicing aerial trapeze and exploring St Louis with her partner and preschooler.

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Christina Chen

Christina recently graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, where she earned her B.A. in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology with minors in Music and Biology. As an undergraduate, she has worked as a research assistant on several studies in the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Emergency Department and Dr. English’s Emotion and Relationships Lab. Christina is the study coordinator and primary contact for STARK, and she will also be conducting clinical interviews.

Lisa Miller

Lisa graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She also majored in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. Before attending Pitt, Lisa interned in the Personality Measurement and Development Lab with Dr. Josh Jackson and the Optimism Study with Dr. Laura Hennefield, both at WashU. At Pitt, she was an Undergraduate Research Assistant with Dr. Jana Iverson at the Infant Communication Lab and the Pitt Parents and Children Lab with Dr. Daniel Shaw and Dr. Leah Hunter. She also was a social work intern at the Allegheny Department of Children, Youth, and Families. She conducts assessments for the STARK study.

Mentors and Collaborators

Joan Luby, MD

Thomas Joiner, PhD

Katherine Luking, PhD

Research Assistants

We are fortunate to have an amazing team of undergraduate research assistants.

Lab Alumni

Here is a list of former post-bacc research team members and where they are now:

  • Cristal Giorio (current Cognitive Psychology & Language Science PhD student at Penn State)
  • Allison Hollender (incoming Clinical PhD Student)
  • Meghana Kunam (current medical student at Midwestern University)
  • Nasreen Moursi (current Clinical PhD Candidate at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences)

Here are some of our former undergraduate research assistants in the field:

  • Alyssa Green
  • Lauren Dandridge
  • Monica Lu
  • Laura Talpey