Lab Director

Eva Telzer, Ph.D.

Email: | CV | Publications

Eva Telzer is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at UNC Chapel Hill. She is an Associate Editor at Child Development and Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience, and the co-director of the Winston National Center on Technology Use, Brain and Psychological Development. Her research examines how social and cultural processes shape adolescent brain development, with a focus on both prosocial and risk-taking behaviors, family and peer relationships, and long-term psychological well-being. She has authored over 175 publications, and has received numerous awards for her work including an APA Rising Star Award, a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant, a Jacobs Foundation Young Scholars Award, an early career award from the Society of Research on Adolescence, a Young Investigator Award from the Flux Congress Society for Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, the American Psychological Association’s Boyd McCandless Award for Early Career Contribution to Developmental Psychology, and the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology. In her free time she enjoys drawing biological illustrations, cooking and baking, and reading.

Research Professor


Kaitlyn Burnell, Ph.D.


Kaitlyn Burnell is a Research Assistant Professor with the Winston National Center on Technology Use, Brain and Psychological Development. She received her Ph.D. in Psychological Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, with a concentration in developmental psychology. Her research adapts a developmental focus to study how adolescents and emerging adults use digital technologies, including social media and smartphones. Kaitlyn’s research examines the associations between digital technology use and a wide array of psychosocial outcomes, including well-being and mental health, body image, and risky behavior such as substance use. She has a special interest in applying cutting edge methodological approaches to study these linkages, such as the use of passive sensing, eye-tracking, and observational coding. In her free time, she enjoys biking, paddle boarding, reading, and hanging out with her husband, Jake, and dog, JP.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Natasha Duell, Ph.D.

Natasha Duell is a postdoctoral fellow at UNC’s Center for Developmental Science. She received her Ph.D. in (developmental) psychology from Temple University under the mentorship of Dr. Larry Steinberg. Natasha is generally interested in the psychological and neural mechanisms undergirding adolescent decision-making and risk taking. Her most recent work explores the construct of positive risk taking in adolescence: what it is, how to measure it, and to what extent it benefits adolescents’ well-being. Additionally, Natasha’s work in this domain explores the shared and unique psychological, social, and neural correlates of positive and negative risk taking.

Jessica S. Flannery, Ph.D.

Jessica Flannery is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology a
nd Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina. She received her Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from Florida International University under the mentorship of Dr. Matthew Sutherland. Jessica is interested in studying individual differences in social and affective neurocognitive mechanisms during the critical developmental period of adolescence. She aims to leverage longitudinal neuroimaging data to identify antecedences and consequences of substance use. Jessica enjoys painting, running, and conversing.

Junqiang Dai, Ph.D.


Junqiang (Jacob) Dai is a postdoctoral researcher at UNC, Chapel Hill. He received his Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Penn State University under the mentorship of Dr. Suzy Scherf, he also worked with Dr. Dawn Witherspoon at Penn State for his dissertation. Jacob is broadly interested in the behavioral and neural signatures of social information processing, and what the developmental determinants, trajectories, and implications of these signatures are, especially in adolescents and emerging adults. To continue his dissertation work, he’s also interested in whether social development varies across ethnic/racial groups and how social behaviors might manifest differently in interracial contexts in adolescents. Working with Dr. Eva Telzer in DSNL, he aims to use longitudinal methods and computational neuroscience to investigate adolescents’ brain development and how it relates to substance use. In his free time he enjoys traveling, movies, Quora, swimming, and PC games.


Emma Armstrong-Carter, Ph.D.


Emma Armstrong-Carter is a postdoctoral scholar. She is a quantitative developmental psychology researcher and is funded by the National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. She earned her Ph.D at Stanford University in 2022 and also is affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley. Emma researches children’s and adolescents’ experiences helping and caregiving for family – and how these experiences relate to their school success. She is particularly interested in how children’s experiences supporting the family can either exacerbate or mitigate academic challenges in homes with family disability, chronic illness, or socioeconomic disadvantage. Her research is trans-disciplinary and integrative. It lies at the intersection of developmental psychology, education policy, community health, and data science. She addresses multiple contexts of development including family, school, neighborhood, and geographic processes. Her work informs the design of school- and government-based policies that support children’s wellbeing and educational success.

Jolien Trekels, Ph.D.


Jolien Trekels is a postdoctoral scholar associated with the DSN lab at the University of North Carolina. She received her Ph.D. in Social Sciences from the University of Leuven (Belgium) under the mentorship of Dr. Steven Eggermont. Jolien is broadly interested in (early) adolescents’ development in a digitalized society that is dominated by normative ideals. In her research, Jolien investigates which cognitive processes and individual difference factors underlie the effects of media use on well-being and self-image. To that end, she applies a multidisciplinary approach in which crucial concepts from communication sciences are integrated with psychological and sociological insights. In her free time, Jolien enjoys crafting and spending time with her husband, two children and two cats.


Graduate Students


Nathan Jorgensen, M.S.


Nathan Jorgensen is a fifth-year graduate student in the Developmental Psychology program. Prior to coming to UNC, he received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Human Development and Family Studies from Brigham Young University. His research examines how cultural values and beliefs influence the developing adolescent brain, with a focus on social information processing. Nathan grew up in Troy, MI. He enjoys running, good music, and being outdoors.


Seh-Joo Kwon, Ph.D.


Seh-Joo Kwon is a fifth-year graduate student in the developmental psychology program. She received her B.S. in Biological Sciences and Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University in 2017 and worked as a Research Associate at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Her research examines social contextual and neurodevelopmental effects on adolescent decision-making and psychological well-being.


Maria Maza, M.A.


Maria Maza is a third-year graduate student in the Developmental Psychology program. She received her B.S. is Neuroscience and Education from Bates College in 2018. Following graduation, she worked as a research assistant and imaging coordinator with Dr. BJ Casey at Yale University. Her research aims to explore the impact of biosocial factors and technology on the developing brain and subsequent health risk behaviors. In her free time, Maria enjoys dancing, hiking, and baking.


Jimmy Capella, M.A.


Jimmy Capella is a third-year graduate student in the Developmental Psychology program. He received his B.S. in Neuroscience and Behavior from the University of Notre Dame in 2018. Following graduation, Jimmy worked as a Technical Associate for John Gabrieli at MIT. His research examines how family and peer relationships impact adolescent neurodevelopment. He’s particularly interested in how these interactions impact affective processes and behavior. In his free time, Jimmy enjoys hiking, trying new board games, and playing trombone.


Shedrick Garrett, B.S.


Shedrick Garrett is a second-year graduate student in the Developmental Psychology program. He received his B.S. in Psychology and Neuroscience with an area of emphasis in Behavioral Neuroscience from West Virginia University in 2021. As an undergrad, he also worked as a summer research assistant at the University of Virginia. His research interests explore the role of social and digital domains on marginalized youths’ socialization experiences and development. In his free time, Garrett enjoys reading, watching movies, and swimming. 


Research Staff


Maria Sobrino, B.S.


Maria Sobrino (she/her), is a Project Coordinator at the DSN Lab. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2021 with a B.S. in Psychology, a B.A. in English, and a minor in international development and humanitarian aid. Before coming to UNC Maria worked on tracking the inaccessibility of mental health and epidemiological resources in areas of low income, political instability, and within carceral complex systems at the national and international level, working both with the National Drug Early Warning System Project and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Maria is interested in investigating how structural and systemic inequities act as moderators for neural change, thus propagating adaptive behaviors within displaced and marginalized communities, and how mental health services in humanitarian settings can be improved by integrating methods in epidemiology. She is also interested in investigating the potential of collective healing and well-being. Her favorite color is purple, and when she’s not working she can be found roller-skating, listening to music, or dancing with her cat– Ziggy.

Courtney Medina, B.A.


Courtney Medina is a Project Coordinator. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2021 with a B.A. in Psychology, a B.A.Ed. in Human Development and Family Studies, and a minor in Latina/o Studies. She previously worked as a research assistant in Dr. Margaret Sheridan’s CIRCLE Lab of the UNC Psychology and Nueroscience department and Dr. Dorothy Espelage’s RAVE lab of the UNC School of Education. Her research interests include adolescent mental and sexual health promotion through the study of the interplay between psychopathology, sexual decision making, and dating behaviors. In her free time she enjoys drinking coffee, running, and listening to music.

Mary Cox, B.A.


Mary Cox (she/her) is a Project Coordinator for the Wifi Initiative. She is from Alabama and graduated from The University of Alabama (Roll Tide!) with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience in 2022. Mary plans on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology or Clinical Neuroscience.  She’s interested in body image, social media and development, affect recognition, callous-unemotional traits, and psychopathy. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, reading, fashion, and spending time outdoors.

Sarah Albani, B.S.


Sarah Albani (she/her) is a Project Coordinator for the Wifi Initiative. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2022 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a minor in Leadership of Organizations. Sarah is interested in learning how social and environmental stressors affect emotional regulation, resilience and mental well-being. She plans on pursuing these interests through a PhD in Clinical Psychology. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends, being outdoors, and getting a good cup of coffee. 


Undergraduate Research Assistants

Ben Dameron
Roshni Ammanamanchi
Amy Xu
A’sja Abron
Ryan Lipton
Gabby Walton
Yijing Lin
Joseph Flesch
Hannah Moore
Abby Hulka
Juan Castillo
Carolyn Pierce
Hana Kabir
Mugdhameghana Kankipati
Mariela Vargas Torres
Isabella Voos
Ryley Mcgaughey
Olivia Chester
Cesilia Lewis
Sara Schaecher
Zihan Yang




To see where our lab alumni are now, please visit our DSNLab Alumni page!

Eva Telzer