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.

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.

Graduate Students


Nathan Jorgensen, M.S.


Nathan Jorgensen is a fourth-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 fourth-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 second-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 second-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 first-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

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.


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.

Alexa Cilia, B.A.


Alexa Cilia is the Lab Manager for the DSN Lab. She is from Texas and graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2021 with a B.A. in Psychology. Alexa plans on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology, and is interested in the effects of trauma exposure on the development of externalizing disorders and criminal behavior. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, photography, and gardening.


Undergraduate Research Assistants

A’sja Abron
Gabby Walton
Glorimel Rodriguez
Roshni Ammanamanchi
Jordan Doersam
Yijing Lin
Hannah Moore
Merytt Haney
Amy Xu
Jillian Whitener
Ben Dameron
Joseph Felsch
Madeline Underwood
Abby Hulka




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

Eva Telzer