Our Team

Chris and Dash

Dr. Christine McCauley Ohannessian is the Director of the Center for Behavioral Health at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. She also is a Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry in the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Dr. Ohannessian graduated from the University of Massachusetts with an undergraduate degree in psychology and received both her Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. In addition, Dr. Ohannessian completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry’s Alcohol Research Center at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Dr. Ohannessian’s research interests focus on the relationship between contexts such as the family and adolescent psychological health and development. She is especially interested in adolescent substance use, internalizing problems (e.g., anxiety and depression), and technology use. Dr. Ohannessian currently serves on the Editorial Boards for Developmental Psychology, Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, and Journal of Marriage and Family. Previously, she served on the faculty at the University of Delaware and the University of Texas at Austin. View Vita



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Kaitlin Flannery graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Delaware. She received her M.A. from the University of Connecticut, where she is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology. Kaitlin’s research interests focus on social development in adolescence, especially within friendships and sibling relationships.

Kelly head shotKelly Nedorostek graduated with a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and is currently studying at UConn School of Medicine. She works as a research volunteer for the Center for Behavioral Health at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and is interested in studying pediatric and adolescent populations. Kelly will be doing research on the Adolescent Adjustment Project with a focus on depression and social media use in emerging adults.



Ainsley HeadshotAinsley Backman graduated from the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine in 2017 and is currently a graduate student pursuing a Masters in Public Health degree from George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She earned her undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr College in Cultural and Medical Anthropology. She works as a research volunteer for the Center for Behavioral Health at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and will be applying for a residency position in General Psychiatry. She intends on pursuing a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Ainsley’s research interests focus on developmental psychopathology and social development in childhood and adolescence.




Dr. Mellissa Gordon is an Assistant Professor in the Human Development and Family Studies Department at the University of Delaware. Her research interests focuses on the impact of families of origin (i.e., combined effects of parents, father-adolescent dyads, sibling relationships, etc.), other socio-demographic factors, and macro-level influences (i.e., community disadvantage, community poverty, etc.), on adolescent and young adult outcomes, such as educational attainment, career success, internalizing and externalizing behaviors, and intimate relationships. Dr. Gordon has been involved with the Adolescent Adjustment Project since 2013. Since then, she has worked on several projects including conference proposals and peer-reviewed manuscripts, using the AAP data.


Jessica Schulz is a graduate student in the Human Development & Family Studies doctoral program at the University of Delaware. Her research interests focus on adolescent technology use. Jessica was awarded first place in the graduate student poster division at the 2011 Marion Steele Symposium and second place in the graduate student poster division of the Steele Symposium in 2012 and 2013! Jessica has presented her work at numerous conferences including APS, SRCD, and CEA.

Laura Finan is a doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Studies department at the University of Delaware. Prior to entering the program, she received a master’s degree in Psychological Science from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Her research interests focus on how family and community relationships promote healthy development among racially/ethnically diverse adolescents who face challenges related to poverty and other adverse contextual situations. Laura also has a strong interest in statistics and research methodology. She currently is working on a project which examines how the relationship between adolescent depression and family satisfaction is mediated by adolescent-mother communication.


Beth Russell, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Human Development and Family Studies department at the University of Connecticut. Her areas of expertise include the development of self regulation in the context of the parent child relationship, child abuse prevention, program evaluation, and methods research designs. Dr. Russell’s recent work on the impact of parent-child relationships on children’s outcomes includes consideration of contextual and individual risk – from parenting in the face of poverty, or across the normative transition to parenthood. In the latter category of individual risk, Dr. Russell’s recent work with adolescent substance use as a particular normative risk category with self-regulation implications has led to studies of syndemic experiences of women in South Africa, and the complex social influences at play with polysubstance using youth.


Anne Heller received her B. A. in Sociology & Metro Urban Studies from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN.  In recent years she attained both a M.A. in Educational Leadership, Higher Education & Student Affairs and in Marriage & Family Therapy from The University of Connecticut (UCONN).  Currently she is in the doctoral program of UCONN’s Dept. of Human Development and Family Studies.  Anne’s research interests focus on adolescent risk and resiliency, specifically on adolescent substance use disorders along the continuum.


website photo tfTessa Fagle graduated with a B.A. in both Psychology and Human Development from the University of Connecticut. She currently works as a research assistant in the Center for Behavioral Health at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, engaged in work involving both adolescent adjustment and pediatric chronic pain. Tessa’s research interests involve examining the influence of technology and social media on adolescent psychopathology. Specifically, she is interested in studying the interaction of social influences, social media, and the development of anxiety disorders in adolescence.



MChappsMelissa Chapps is a research assistant for the Children’s Center for Behavioral Health at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. She received her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology and Master of Arts (M.A.) in Health Psychology from Central Connecticut State University. She has a passion for understanding how biological, behavioral, and social factors influence health and wellbeing. Her research is focused on investigating various psychological and developmental issues in children, adolescents and their families, particularly in relation to the causes, consequences, and prevention of mental and behavioral health problems.



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