I’m currently a PGY-4 child psychiatry fellow at MGH/McLean. Being a part of the RCP has been helpful to me in identifying a research mentor, having protected time for research, and being a part of the research community throughout residency training.
My research interests are in how psychiatric disorders develop in the brain. During medical school and graduate school, I worked in Jenni Blackford’s lab at Vanderbilt, I studied inhibited temperament, the tendency to be shy and fearful of novel situations and novel people. I used functional and structural neuroimaging to identify neurobiological differences associated with risk for social anxiety disorder. I found that children with an inhibited temperament failed to activate the prefrontal cortex when anticipating viewing social stimuli, suggesting that they fail to engage in preparatory cognitive processes. These alterations in brain activation may be the mechanism for their increased risk for social anxiety disorder. In the future, I hope to conduct longitudinal imaging studies of children at risk for anxiety and depression to understand how the development of psychiatric symptoms relate to changes in brain activity over time.
As a resident, I continue to be interested in child psychiatry and how we might better prevent and treat psychiatric disorders using biologically-based approaches. I have been involved in a project with Daphne Holt’s lab, the Emotion and Social Neuroscience Lab at the MGH Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. We are working to identify and follow children at high risk for developing psychiatric disorders. We provide training in emotion regulation and resiliency to these children and to understand how these interventions change emotion processing. I also recently started a project studying personal space (the distance at which you feel comfortable with a new person) in first-episode psychosis and neuroimaging markers of this trait. Having the RCP’s support has been critical to be able to present my work at conferences and have protected time to continue these projects.