Sewanee and Yale Collaborations

Sewanee-At-Yale Summer Internship Project Areas

Summer 2014 Project Areas

(1) Intern:  Shelby Monahan; Mentor: Tamara Vanderwal, M.D.: The summer intern in the VanderLab will be trained to 1) run EEG sessions, 2) help run sessions in a simulated MRI magnet with young children, and 3) will also help run function MRI (fMRI) sessions with healthy adults. These projects focus on the use of movies to study functional brain activity in children and adults, and are attempting to determine whether or not it is possible to measure brain connectivity from movie-watching data rather than data collected during “rest,” and to evaluate the effects of movies on head motion. Intern jobs include recruitment, organizing study materials, running EEG sessions, performing literature searches if indicated, and learning about fMRI.

(2) Interns:  Christine Carlone, Abigail Immanuel; Mentor: Helena Rutherford, Ph.D.: This project will focus on examining EEG data and exploring individual differences at the level of addiction as well as clinical symptoms, including depression and anxiety in mothers and non-mothers. Interns will learn how to collect as well as process EEG data. Interns will be exposed to the neuroscience of parenting and how substance use and abuse may impact parenting behavior. Interns will also gain experience in other aspects of parenting research.

(3) Intern: Litton Whitaker; Mentors: Kasia Charwarska, Ph.D. and Fred Shic, Ph.D.: This project covers studies of toddlers with Autism and other developmental disorders using behavioral and neurobehavioral methods to investigate the complex interplay between autism symptoms and emotion processing in early development.

(4) Intern: Matson Conrad; Mentor: Ifat Levy, Ph.D.: The summer intern will be involved in studying decision-making under uncertainty in humans. This will include contributing to study design, running subjects in behavioral and fMRI settings and analyzing the data.

(5) Interns: Natalie Jones and Zola Chihombori Quao; Mentor: Megan Smith, Ph.D.: Low-income new mothers are at greater risk for a range of mental health problems as well as parenting difficulties in part secondary to their social isolation. This project focuses on developing new strategies for enhancing social networks among pregnant women and their access to medical and mental health services for themselves and their infants. Some of these new strategies include using web-based and smart phone technologies. Interns in this program will learn about working in community settings, coordinating focus groups among parents, and designing models for web-based platforms to enhance social connectedness among new mothers.

(6) Intern: Olivia Glascoe; Mentors: Lois Sadler, Ph.D. and Arietta Slade, Ph.D.: The intern in this position will work in a home-based intervention project for first time at-risk mothers and their infants (Minding the Baby project) This project exposes interns to home-based intervention work with families and with the principles of intensive, long-term work with families and how to study the effectiveness of such interventions. 

(7) Interns: Lauren Vasquez and Michael Lord; Mentor: Michael Crowley, Ph.D.: The intern in this position will be involved in recruiting and assessment for a neuroimaging study of avoidance in children. The intern will also be learning about the acquisition and analysis of bio-signals (EEG, HR, startle) for studies of emotion and motivation in children and families. 

(8) Intern: Hannah Morgan; Mentor: Denis Sukhodolsky, Ph.D.: Dr. Sukhodolsky is currently conducting a study of neural mechanisms of behavioral therapy for aggression in children. This study enrolls children with a range of neuropsychiatric disorders in accordance with the Research Domain Criteria project of the National Institute of Mental Health. Children complete neuroimaging and electrophysiological experiments before and after treatment to examine changes in neural circuitry of emotion regulation and social perception associated with reduction in aggression. Summer intern will work with the multidisciplinary team conducing this study and will learn about clinical research in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Specific responsibilities will include help with guiding subjects through clinical assessments, data management, and literature reviews on study related topics. 

(9) Intern: Isabelle Hermantin; Mentor: Kimberly Yonkers, M.D.: The intern in this position will work on project MISA which is an implementation study evaluating 3 methods to implement motivational interviewing in a general medical setting. There are 3 arms to the study. The first is a seminary only group, the second is seminar plus bedside supervision and the third is seminar plus placing an inpatient consult. The target population is hospitalized patients who have a substance abuse or dependence problem.

(10) Intern: Eliana Cohen; Mentor: Kimberly Yonkers, M.D.: The intern in this position will work on project Start, which is a screening and brief intervention project for women who have a substance abuse or dependence problem.  Women are screened for substance misuse and those who screen positive are randomized to a motivational interview administered by a clinician or to a motivational interview administered by computer or to a pamphlet control condition.  Participants are followed up at 1, 3 and 6 months.

(11) Intern: Katie Arnone; Mentor: Steve Nagler: Serious Fun, Camps for children with serious illness:  The challenge for the continued success and growth of every non-profit is to strike the right balance between strengthening existing operations and exploring new opportunities. “What are we good at?” “How can we get better?” “Where and how can we have the most impact? By combining program innovation and evaluation, the Program Innovation and Evaluation, (PIE) Department of the SeriousFun Children’s Network addresses these questions in a 360 degree fashion, i.e., outcomes evaluations lead to innovation by determining how existing member camp and Global Partnership programs/activities are performing, thus informing areas for potential innovation; and innovations are evaluated in order to bring to light those with potential for replication within the Network. In preparation for a study of the psycho-social impact of camp on former campers who are now in their early 20s (+ or -), the intern working with Serious Fun this summer will research and write a literature review on the psychosocial effects of cancer and other serious illness on young adults and on the findings of previous studies regarding interventions that address these effects. The intern may also assist in the design and development of monitoring and evaluation protocols for forthcoming innovation grants for member camps of the Network.  The Network is always trying to come up with engaging, accessible ways to present data and findings to our stakeholders – board members, donors, staff from member camps, the public. It will be very helpful for the summer Intern to accept the challenge of creating “infographics”.

(12) Interns: Colton Treadwell, Daxi Liang, and Cortez Brown; Mentors: Brian Harel, Ph.D. and Jason Cromer, Ph.D., Supervisors at Cogstate: Cogstate is a private small business based in Australia and New Haven that develops web-based neuropsychological tests for children and adults. Involved in clinical trials around the world and in longitudinal studies of child development, Cogstate offers interns the experience to learn more about neuropsychological assessments in children and about the interface between neurodevelopmental research in a biomedical setting and work in a private health-based company.

(13) Intern: James Carmichael; Mentor: Hal Blumenfeld, M.D., Ph.D.: Consciousness is central to human life, allowing people to experience and respond to the world. The Blumenfeld laboratory investigates the brain when consciousness is impaired by epileptic seizures. They use brain imaging techniques, electrical measurements and testing of behavior. By understanding the mechanisms of consciousness, the research group aims to restore normal consciousness to patients with epilepsy and other brain disorders. The intern in this position will be exposed to the evaluation of epileptic patients as well as the detailed study of brain activity during epileptic seizures.

(14) Intern: Christopher Horacek; Mentor: Thomas Fernandez, M.D., Ph.D.: The intern will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of research projects and learning opportunities: (1) seeing patients and keeping records for a medication clinical trial in Tourette syndrome, (2) Gathering clinical data from patient records for a genetic study of obsessive-compulsive disorder, (3) genetics laboratory bench work to discover rare genetic variants in patients with Tourette syndrome and motor stereotypies, (4) shadowing child psychiatrists and psychologists during patient clinical evaluations in the Yale Tic Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Specialty Clinic

(15) Intern: Smita  Bhattacharya;  Mentors: Nancy Suchman, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Cindy DeCoste, M.S and Lourdes De Las Heras, M.S., Project Directors: Working with Parents with Substance Abuse and Psychiatric Disorders: The intern in this position will learn about an innovative parenting intervention for mothers with substance abuse and psychiatric disorders. Mothering from the Inside Out (MIO) is a brief, supportive, mentalization-based psychotherapy that has the primary focus of helping mothers with their parenting alongside the standard outpatient drug treatment and psychiatric services that they are receiving in the community. Currently, in a second five-year research phase funded by the National Institute of Health, MIO is being evaluated against a comparison Parent Education program in a randomized clinical trial. Interns will learn about addiction, psychiatric disorders, parenting interventions, attachment, child development, and assessments used in evaluating the effectiveness of parenting interventions. They will have the opportunity to participate in the day-to-day activities of the program and to attend weekly clinical supervision meetings focused on clinical issues related to patient care and supportive guidance and professional development for staff. 

(16) Intern: Aimee Chase;  Mentors: Jean Adnopoz, M.P.H. and Virginia Zecchini, MSW: Providing Home-Based Mental Health Services to Children and Families: In this experience, interns will learn about delivering mental health services to families and their children within the IICAPS model, an intensive home-based model designed to minimize risk for repeat hospitalization for mental health difficulties.  Along with IICAPS there are other In-home models that are coordinated by Ms. Adnopoz and her colleagues which include: Family Based Recovery, Intensive Family Preservation, Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy, and Positive Interventions for Families Affected by HIV/AIDS. Interns will learn about the In-home models and ways to understand behavior within family systems.  Interns will also learn about evaluation of the effectiveness of these intervention approaches.

(17) Intern: Angelica DeFreitas; Mentors: Nicole Landi, Ph.D., Julia Irwin, Ph.D., and Jessica Whittle: In this study interns will learn how to assess very young children who are at risk for developmental and learning disabilities, including autism using both cognitive neuroscience techniques (NIRS and EEG) and behavioral assessments of developmental and language milestones.

(18) Intern: Zachary Stuckelman; Mentor: Michael Bloch, M.D.: The intern in this position will work with Dr. Bloch with his studies on several patient populations including individuals with Tourette syndrome (TS), Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Trichotillomania (TTM). The intern will learn about treatments for these conditions in children and adults and on the predictors of long-term outcome.

(19) Intern: Megan Mastey; Mentor: Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, Ph.D.: The intern in this position will work on projects relating to adolescent smoking and interventions to impact smoking in young people. The intern will learn both about the science of nicotine as well as accomplishing an intervention program embedded in schools. Additionally, the intern will learn about the emerging regulatory policies about nicotine marketing to different populations.

(20) Intern: Simey Emerson-Hernandez; Mentor: Christopher Pittenger, Ph.D.:  The intern in this position will be exposed to work wit patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder and learn about animal models that aim to elucidate the mechanisms of learned automatic behaviors seen in OCD. The intern will learn about the translation of basic science to better treatments for OCD and other neuropsychiatric conditions.

(21) Intern: Paige Brennan; Mentor: Mary Gunsalus, Ph.D., Child Psychiatry Inpatient Unit: The intern in this position will be working on the child psychiatry inpatient unit school. The intern’s roles will be to support teachers with diagnostic-prescriptive teaching/cognitive-behavioral plans/adaptive functioning within a therapeutic classroom located on the inpatient school. The intern will also interact with multidisciplinary clinical team members and will learn about educational assessment and intervention in a mental health setting.

(22) Intern: Paige Brennan; Mentor: Walter Gilliam, Ph.D. (Preschool Education Policy): The intern in this position will be assisting on a variety of projects regarding early childhood development, early education and policy. The intern will be assisting to develop a new test of for measuring development in young children, revising and validating an observational measure of the “mental health climate” of early care and education centers, assisting with analyses of the effectiveness of mental health consultation for preschool teachers, and other similar projects.

(23) Intern: Paige Brennan; Mentor: Carla Horwitz, Ph.D. (Calvin Hill Early Childhood Education Center): The intern in this placement will have experience working in a early childhood program with master teachers and learning the principles of child development as put into action in a high quality early childhood classroom.

(24) Interns: James Carmichael and Zola Chihombori Quao;  Mentor: Brent VanderWyk, Ph.D. (Processing of Biological Motion):  Specific neural circuits for processing biological motion of other humans are theorized to play a critical role in mentalizing and empathy. However, little is known about how this circuitry adapts to process the unique biological motion patterns of young infants. In this project we aim 1) to develop a novel stimulus set of point-light-displays of human infant motion, 2) use behavioral, eye-tracking, and cognitive neuroscience methods to explore the processing of these stimuli in parents and non-parents.

(25) Intern: Hallie Crosby; Mentors: Marc Potenza, M.D., Ph.D., Linda Mayes, M.D. , and Helena Rutherford, Ph.D.: (Neuroimaging studies of addiction  in mothers):  Accumulating research is evidencing the disregulation of stress and reward neural circuits in addiction. Critically these same brain regions seem to underscore maternal responding. There may therefore be a neurobiological through which addiction impacts parenting. This intern opportunity will involve learning about neuroimaging research and its application to maternal addiction – in the context of two ongoing neuroimaging studies being conducted at Yale.  

 

Summer 2013 Project Areas

(1) A study of adolescent risk taking and emotional avoidance (Michael Crowley, Ph.D. and Linda Mayes, M.D., supervisors): In this study, interns learn about negative reinforcement and how to assess emotional avoidance using both behavioral tasks and electrophysiology.

(2) A treatment study of attention deficit disorder (Tamara Vanderwal, M.D., supervisor): In this study, interns learn about designing a pharmacologic treatment study with a placebo control group and about following treatment response over an eight week window. Interns in this position also learn about using electroencephalography to study attentional processes in children.

(3) Adolescent response to stress (Michael Crowley, Ph.D., supervisor): In this study, interns learn about how to assess adolescent stress response in a laboratory setting and how to score emotional regulatory behaviors in both individual children and parents and in family interactions.

(5) Neurocognitive and language development in children birth to 5 yrs (Nicole Landi, Ph.D., supervisor): In this study interns will learn how to assess very young children who are at risk for developmental and learning disabilities using both cognitive neuroscience techniques (NIRS and EEG) and behavioral assessments of developmental and language milestones.

(6) Resilient behaviors among children with serious illness (Steve Nagler, Ph.D. and Linda Mayes, M.D., supervisors): Interns will participate in assessments of children and their families prior to their attending a summer camp especially designed for children suffering from serious illness. Interns will learn about concepts of resilience and stress as growth promoting.

(7) Individual differences in parental response to infant cries (Helena Rutherford, Ph.D., supervisor): This project uses a simulated computer baby to study parental stress in response to infant cries and individual differences in that response. Interns will learn about assessment of parental behaviors and about the concept of parental attachment. 

(8) A home-based intervention project for first time at-risk mothers and their infants (Minding the Baby project) (Lois Sadler, Ph.D., and Arietta Slade, Ph.D., supervisors): This project exposes interns to home-based intervention work with families and with the principles of intensive, long-term work with families and how to study the effectiveness of such interventions.

(9) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Michelle Hampson, Ph.D., Denis Sukhodolsky, Ph.D., supervisors):  This project is focused on developing a set of stimuli that provoke symptoms in children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and running pilot studies on the stimuli. With the pilot studies we hope to confirm that the stimuli induce symptoms in a transient fashion in children with OCD, but that they are also well-tolerated by the children. In the long term, these sets are intended to be used in real-time fMRI neurofeedback studies that train children with OCD to control the brain patterns associated with their symptoms.  

 (10) Developing a resilience curriculum for families and school aged children (Steven Southwick, M.D. and Linda Mayes, M.D., supervisors): In this project, interns learn about working in partnership with private industry (Scholastic Publishing) to develop a curriculum for implementation in schools that encourages specific skills to foster resilience.

 (11) Developing Neuropsychological Tests for Children (Brian Harel, Ph.D., supervisor at Cogstate): Cogstate is a private small business based in Australia and New Haven that develops web-based neuropsychological tests for children and adults. Involved in clinical trials around the world and in longitudinal studies of child development, Cogstate offers interns the experience to learn more about neuropsychological assessments in children and about the interface between neurodevelopmental research in a biomedical setting and work in a private health-based company.

(12) Understanding the Neural Circuitry of Parenting (Linda Mayes, M.D., Marc Potenza, M.D., Ph.D., and Helena Rutherford, Ph.D., supervisors): This project uses neuroimaging and electroencephalography to study parental response to salient infant cues such as cries or facial emotional expressions. The focus of this program of research is to understand changes in neural response on the birth of an infant and to study the impact of psychiatric conditions such as substance abuse or depression on parental neural circuitry. Interns in this project will learn about neuroimaging and about the neural basis of parenting. They will also gain experience using behavioral and EEG assessments.

(13) Enhancing social networking and social support in new parents (Megan Smith, Ph.D. and Linda Mayes, M.D., supervisors): Low-income new mothers are at greater risk for a range of mental health problems as well as parenting difficulties in part secondary to their social isolation. This project focuses on developing new strategies for enhancing social networks among pregnant women and their access to medical and mental health services for themselves and their infants. Some of these new strategies include using web-based and smart phone technologies. Interns in this program will learn about working in community settings, coordinating focus groups among parents, and designing models for web-based platforms to enhance social connectedness among new mothers.

 (14) Toddlers and Infants at Risk For Autism (Kasia Chawarska, Ph.D., supervisor):  Studies of younger siblings of children with autism using both behavioral and eye-tracking methods explore whether or not there are specific social cognitive markers evident prior to the emergence of symptoms of autism in very young children.

(15) Developing Mirror Neuron System in Infants (Tammy Vanderwal, M.D., Ph.D., supervisor): The mirror neuron system (MNS) is a network of neurons that automatically respond when a person performs an action and when a person watches someone else perform an action. In this way, they perform a fascinating integration in the brain that has researchers excited about things like social cognition and empathy. This study aims to elicit brain signals associated with mirror neuron activity in both a quick, "impulse" based way, and to test whether or not mirror neuron activity changes brain activity in a longer, more sustained way. We are also testing the effects of audio-visual dysynchrony on mirror neuron functioning. The goal is to test 20-25 healthy adults, ages 18-24, using dense-array EEG, over the course of the summer.

 (16) Working with substance abusing parents (Nancy Suchman, Ph.D., Monica Ordway, supervisors): Interns in this position learn about an innovative clinical model delivering care to substance using mothers. Mothering from the Inside Out helps substance using mothers with their parenting as the primary focus of intervention alongside standard drug treatment services. Interns in this position learn about addiction, psychiatry, parenting interventions, and assessing the effectiveness of intervention programs. Work this summer specifically focuses on refining mentalization or mindfulness approaches to working with mothers and infants.

(17) Providing Home-Based Mental Health Services to Children and Families (Jean Adnopoz, M.P.H. and Virginia Zecchini, MSW, supervisor): In this experience, interns will learn about delivering mental health services to families and their children in intensive home-based models designed to minimize risk for repeat hospitalization for mental health difficulties. A related model coordinated by Ms. Adnopoz and her colleagues is a home-based intervention program for substance-using parents.  Interns will also learn about evaluation the effectiveness of these intervention approaches.

(18) Reward Sensitivity and Adolescent Marijuana Use (Christopher Hammond, M.D., supervisor): This project investigates the relationship between individual differences in reward sensitivity and adolescent marijuana use. Using electroencephalography, the project focuses on key components of neural response to reward prediction. 

(19) Adolescent Smoking (Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, Ph.D.): In this project, interns will learn about interventions with adolescents and young adults for smoking and how to evaluate outcomes of treatment studies.

(20) Neural Basis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Christopher Pittenger, Ph.D.): In this project, the intern learns about animal models of a complex psychiatric disorder and about using animal models to understand the neural circuitry of OCD.

(21) Relationship Between Prenatal Stress and Adverse Outcome in Offspring (Hanna Stevens, M.D.): This project uses animal models to study stress during pregnancy and the impact on brain development in offspring. Closely paralleling ongoing human studies, this project will introduce interns to translational research and the general area of chronic stress and long-term health outcomes.

(22) Neural Correlates of Affective Touch (Helena Rutherford, Ph.D.): This project uses EEG/ERP to examine the neural correlates of affective touch in parents and non-parents while at rest as well as while engaged with visual stimuli. Interns will learn how to collect and analyze EEG/ERP data.

(23) Neurocognitive Functioning in Children with Cancer (Nina Kadan-Lottick, M.D.):  This project focuses on the neurocognitive outcomes of children treated for cancer  and quality of life and family stressors for children with cancer.

(24) Outpatient Mental Health Services for Children and Families (Chris Dauser, Ph.D.):  In this experience, interns learn about the day to day delivery of mental health services for children and their families and the organization of a child guidance clinic.

(25) Social Policies for Early Childhood Health and Development (Walter Gilliam, Ph.D.): In this area of work, interns will be exposed to early childhood education and intervention policy analysis (specifically how policies translate into effective services), ways to improve the quality of prekindergarten and child care services, the impact of early childhood education programs on children’s school readiness, and effective methods for reducing classroom behavior problems.

(26) The Impact of Stress and Stress-Reducing Interventions (Rajita Sinha, Ph.D.):  In this area, interns learn the effects of stress on behavior and neurobiological systems and the development of effective addiction prevention and treatment strategies that target stress and emotion regulation in individuals both at-risk for and those with addiction problems.