Lab Director

Eva Telzer, Ph.D.

Email: | CV | Publications

Eva Telzer is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at UNC Chapel Hill. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from UCLA in 2012. 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 100 publications, and has received numerous awards for her work, including a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant, a Jacobs Foundation Early Career Research Fellowship, an Early Career Award from the Society for Research on Adolescence, the Boyd McCandless Award for Early Career Contribution to Developmental Psychology from the American Psychological Association Division 7, and was named a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science. Her research is supported by the National Science Foundation, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, National Institute of Drug Abuse, and National Institute of Mental Health. In her free time she enjoys drawing biological illustrations, hiking with her dog, and reading.

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.

Caitlin Turpyn, Ph.D.

Caitlin Turpyn is a postdoctoral fellow in the DSNLab. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from George Mason University and completed her clinical internship at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital. Broadly, Caitlin is interested in affective processes in the family context and their impact on adolescent risk behaviors, particularly substance use initiation and development. With this work, she hopes to inform and optimize parent and family-based prevention targeted to mitigate risk for youth substance use.

Jessica Flannery, Ph.D.


Jessica Flannery received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and completed her clinical residency at the University of Washington School of Medicine specializing in child psychology. She studies how social relationships can influence the trajectories between neurobiological development and mental and physical health outcomes. To do so, she take an interdisciplinary approach across neural, hormonal, microbial, and psychosocial indices to assess the emergence of mental health symptoms and health-risk behaviors during adolescence.


Benjamin Nelson, Ph.D.

Benjamin received his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and completed his Clinical Residency at the University of Washington School of Medicine, specializing in Behavioral Medicine. Broadly, he studies how close relationships modify the physiological mechanistic pathways between psychopathology and subsequent intermediate physical health outcomes (i.e., cardiac psychophysiology, inflammation, cortisol, and telomere length). In addition, he utilizes mobile, wearable, and smart home technologies in order to quantify digital phenotypes by continuously indexing, in real-time, individual-level data in an unobtrusive and ecologically valid manner.

Graduate Students

Kathy Do, B.A.

Email: | Website

Kathy Do is a sixth-year graduate student in the Developmental Psychology program. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from UCLA in 2013. Following graduation, she worked as a lab manager for Adriana Galvan at UCLA. Her research examines the role of maturing functional brain systems in social decision making across adolescence. Specifically, she studies how social cognition changes across development and informs characteristic adolescent behaviors, with a focus on prosocial and risk-taking behaviors. Kathy is also engaged in several diversity and outreach efforts that aim to increase diversity in, and accessibility of, science.

Nathan Jorgensen, M.S.


Nathan Jorgensen is a third-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, B.S.


Seh-Joo Kwon is a third-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, B.S.


Maria Maza is a first-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, B.S.


Jimmy Capella is a first-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.



Research Staff


Emily Watlington, B.S.

Emily Watlington is a Project Coordinator for Project NeuroTeen. She was born and raised in Houston where she graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in Psychology and minors in Anthropology and Quantitative Social Science. Emily plans on pursuing a PhD in Social Neuroscience where she can research the neural correlates of social connection (how and why we connect with others) and social pain (i.e., social rejection, loss of a loved one, loneliness). In her free time, she likes being outdoors, playing with dogs, listening to music, and rooting for the Astros (Go ‘Stros!).

Rosario Villa, B.A.


Rosario Villa is a Project Coordinator for Project NeuroTeen. She graduated from UNC in 2019 with a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology and a minor in Latinx Studies. Rosario plans to pursue a PhD in Child Psychology, specifically relating to the development of minority children. She hopes to bring awareness to underrepresented communities in the field. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, listening to music, enjoying good local restaurants, and catching up on good shows!

Emily Bibby, B.A.


Emily Bibby is the Lab Manager for the DSN Lab. She is from Brooklyn, NY and graduated from Binghamton University in 2019 with a B.A. in Psychology and a B.Mus. in Voice Performance. Emily plans on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology, specifically hoping to study intimate relationships and sexual communication/miscommunication. In her free time, she enjoys running and exercising, going to concerts, playing board games, and cooking.


Melissa Burroughs, B.S.


Melissa Burroughs is the Assistant Lab Manager for the DSN Lab. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2019 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. Melissa hopes to transition into public health and eventually be involved with creating and implementing policies to better serve those impacted by drug addiction or mental illness. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, watching Carolina basketball, and spending time with family.


Zelal Kilic, B.A.


Zelal Kilic is a Project Coordinator for Project TeenTech. She received her B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Computer Science from Connecticut College in 2020. Zelal plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology focusing on the interplay between self-harm behaviors, different facets of self, and interpersonal functioning on newly emerged online contexts. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, good music, hiking, pilates and spending time with family and friends.


Undergraduate Research Assistants

Alex Pettus
Clare Landis
Glorimel Rodriguez
Hannah Netschytailo
Ja’Kala Barber
Lang Duong
Lucy McClellan
Nikki Salazar
Olesya Iosipchuk


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

Eva Telzer