2013 Janet Taylor Spence Award

Lea Rose Dougherty

University of Maryland, College Park

What is the focus of your award-winning research?
My research interests lie broadly in the field of developmental psychopathology and focus on the examination of the phenomenology, etiology and course of depression from a developmental, lifespan perspective. Within this domain, I focus primarily on three areas: 1) an examination of the developmental origins of risk for depression, with a particular focus on early neuroendocrine functioning, individual differences in affect and temperament/personality, and examining associations between potential endophenotypes for depression and specific genotypes; 2) investigating the phenomenology and validity of preschool mental health problems; and 3) investigating the neural basis of emotion regulation and the effects of early experience and stress on brain development.

How did you develop an interest in this area?
During my undergraduate studies at the University of Delaware, I pursued training in clinical psychology, biological sciences, and mathematics, which provided a strong foundation for my future interdisciplinary research. In addition, I developed a strong interest in developmental psychopathology and the study of children’s emotions by working with Julie Hubbard at the University of Delaware. I was lucky to continue and expand upon this work with Daniel Klein at Stony Brook University.

Who are your mentors and/or biggest psychological influences?
My biggest influence has been my graduate advisor, Daniel Klein (Stony Brook University). He has taught me the importance of broadening one’s training across several domains of psychology and incorporating rigorous methodological and statistical approaches. I am also indebted to Marv Goldfried, at Stony Brook University, for providing invaluable clinical training in psychotherapy. As an assistant professor, I am grateful to be in a department that supports my interdisciplinary and collaborative interests. At the University of Maryland, Andrea Chronis-Tuscano has provided me with much encouragement and mentorship. In addition, I have been lucky to collaborate with several neuroscientists at the University of Maryland, including Luiz Pessoa, Tracy Riggins and Elizabeth Redcay. These collaborations have allowed me to develop projects that bridge neuroscience, clinical science, and developmental psychology. My research would not have been possible without these collaborations and the University of Maryland’s internal funding mechanisms that support collaborative and innovative research across the university. Finally, I am thankful to my parents, siblings, and friends for their continual support and encouragement.

What unique factors have contributed to your early success?
An amazing mentor, persistence, and teamwork. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with amazing collaborators who make science and the scientific pursuit fun and exciting. I am particularly grateful to Elizabeth Hayden (University of Western Ontario), Sara Bufferd (Caifornia State University, San Marcos), Thomas Olino (University of Pittsburgh) and John Pachankis (Yeshiva University). I am also passionate in my pursuit to uncover the etiology and developmental pathways of psychopathological disorders. Many adult patients with chronic depression report feeling depressed as long as they can remember. This observation ignited me to investigate mechanisms of risk and emerging mental health problems in early childhood — with the hope of developing effective interventions with lasting effects.

What does winning this award mean to you both personally and professionally?
I feel extremely honored to receive this prestigious award and to be recognized by APS. My work would not have been possible without my collaborators. I view this award as an acknowledgment of strong collaborative research.