Coping And Regulation of Environmental Stress Lab



Principal Investigator

Martha Wadsworth photo

Martha Wadsworth is a licensed clinical psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychology. She got her B.A. (1995) and Ph.D. (2001) from the University of Vermont and completed her pre-doctoral internship at the University of Washington. Martha’s research interests include: child and adolescent stress and coping, poverty-related stress’ role in health disparities, and family strengthening and coping-based programs to counteract family stress. The overarching goal of all of Martha’s ongoing projects is to understand the role of stress in contributing to health disparities and to build a knowledge base of coping (& other protective mechanisms) tools that show efficacy in combating stress at both the phenomenological and biological levels. Ultimately, the goal is to apply this knowledge to building interventions and programs that will help combat and prevent health disparities. When not at work, Martha enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, skiing, white-water rafting, hiking, gourmet cooking, and entertaining.

View Martha's Curriculum Vitae


Miriam Zegarac photo

Miriam Zegarac graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a B.A. in Psychology and Cognitive Science in 2015. She previously worked with Dr. Anastasia Dimitropoulos and Dr. Sandra Russ on studies assessing the efficacy of play-based interventions delivered via telehealth to children with Prader-Willi Syndrome and their caretakers. Miriam is interested in how children develop various coping strategies, and the long-term effects of successfully employing those strategies. While working as Lab Coordinator of the CaRES Lab, she hopes to learn more about how clinicians and researchers can facilitate coping and emotional understanding through evidence-based mental health services that are accessible and approachable.

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Melissa Mesones-Ortiz is originally from Lima-Peru. She studied Chemistry at the National University of San Marcos and Translation and Interpretation of Foreign Languages at Cesar Vallejo University. She came to the USA as an Exchange University Student and studied Human Services at the Harrisburg Area Community College in which her involvement in the community began serving as a Case Manager. She is currently obtaining her Bachelor Degree in Human Services from Elizabethtown College in order to enter Law School. Her interests are Social Justice, Animal Welfare and Traveling. Melissa is a recruitment coordinator on the BaSICS Project.

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Amanda Thompson completed her B.A. in psychology at Appalachian State University. While there, she focused on improving the retention rates of first generation college students under her undergraduate mentor. She later completed her M.A. in applied psychological research at the Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg. During her graduate studies, she focused on the differences in the internalization of Western media across developing nations and how this internalization affects various races and socioeconomic groups differently. Amanda discovered that she loves working with kids as a swim coach in North Carolina, and she enjoys working with the children in her position as interventionist and project coordinator on the BaSICS project. She spends most of her free time playing with her pet rabbit and planning her wedding.

Graduate Students

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Jason Bendezu is a fifth year graduate student in Child Clinical Psychology at the Pennsylvania State University.  Originally from Miami, FL, he earned his B.S. in Psychology at the University of Florida in 2006 and went on to receive his M.A. in Clinical Developmental Psychology from the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University in 2010. Broadly speaking, Jason is interested in stress, coping, and self-regulation processes as they pertain to the development of psychopathology. He is particularly interested in answering the question: What constitutes effective coping and self-regulation? To this end, his research endeavors focus on disentangling for whom and under what conditions specific coping and self-regulation strategies have either adaptive and/or maladaptive functions at multiple levels of analysis. In his spare time, Jason enjoys acting with the State College Community Theater, singing with the Penn State University Choir, and folk-style wrestling.

Amanda Broderick is a graduate student in the Child Clinical Psychology program at Penn State and graduated from the University of Michigan in 2011 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Applied Statistics. Following graduation, she worked at the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry, where she coordinated a diagnostic assessment clinic for preschool-aged children, as well as a longitudinal study that followed women who had experienced childhood abuse or neglect as they transitioned into motherhood. Amanda is interested in biological and environmental factors (e.g., genetics, family context) that contribute to children's ability to regulate their thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

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Celina Joos

Celina Joos is a graduate student in the child clinical psychology program.  Before coming to Penn State, she worked as a tutor and teaching assistant with seventh and eighth graders in the Chicago Public Schools system.  She also worked with preschoolers in Boston, providing developmentally-appropriate play and care while they lived in a homeless shelter.  From these two experiences Celina developed an interest and passion for working with children who have experienced early childhood adversity such as poverty.  Her other interests include cooking, jogging, and watching classic movies.

John Loughlin-Presnal received a B.A. in drama in 2007 and a B.S. in psychology in 2011, both degrees from the University of Washington. He has worked with children, parents, and teachers in a variety of capacities, including working as a children’s theater director and an elementary school teaching assistant. He has trained extensively in attachment-based parent-child interventions through the Circle of Security Project. Most recently, he assisted Dr. Liliana Lengua in her long-term study of the development of effortful control in children. Through these experiences, John has developed a strong research interest in—as well as a deep appreciation of—interventions that target the social and emotional development of children, particularly those interventions that can occur within the context of the classroom. John is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in the child clinical psychology program at Penn State.

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Ashley McDonald graduated from Duke University with a B.S. in Psychology. In 2012, she received her Master’s in Public Health from The University of Illinois at Chicago. During her studies in Chicago, she studied the effects of a multi-faceted mentoring and coping intervention on the academic, emotional and behavioral outcomes of African American adolescents. Ashley is interested in the how cultural and environmental factors impact the development of coping styles in minority youth. She is interested in the sources of resiliency in minority youth, particularly racial identity as a protective factor and the development of school and community based interventions.

Sarah Perzow is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in child clinical psychology at The Pennsylvania State University. She received her B.A. in psychology from the University of Colorado Boulder (2009) and completed her M.A. in clinical psychology at the University of Colorado Denver (2011). Sarah has basic and applied research experience with children, adolescents, and families, including assisting with a longitudinal study of a preventive intervention program for youth in foster care and coordinating a study examining risk and protective factors implicated in the development of adolescent depression. These experiences have contributed to Sarah’s interest in environmental, psychological and physiological factors that contribute to individual differences in intervention outcomes among youth facing adversity.

Sarah Perzow
Emile Tilghman-Osborne photo

Emile Tilghman-Osborne graduated from the University of Rochester with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. Subsequently he worked with Dr. Joseph Wehby at Vanderbilt University where he helped investigate the effectiveness of a multi-component intervention for teachers and its outcome on the academic and social behavior of children with serious behavioral disorders. In 2010 he received a master's degree in Health Science from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health where he focused on the mental health and academic outcomes of first generation Latino adolescents who were obliged to translate important documents for their parents. He is particularly interested in understanding how cultural factors impact the social and emotional development of minority children and adolescents. Emile started his doctoral training in the fall of 2010 in the child-clinical psychology program where he has focused on developing interventions for children and families.

Kristine Creavey is a fifth-year student in the Human Development and Family Studies department. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychobiology from Lebanon Valley College. Her current research focuses on the development of social, emotional, and behavioral well-being in children living in adverse environments. She is particularly interested in how the parent-child relationship and parenting practices within an environment of risk contribute to child development, as well as how these family measures interact with individual child physiological measures to contribute to healthy developmental outcomes in children. Kristine is happy to be a part of the CARES lab and the Building a Strong Identity and Coping Skills (BaSICS) project, as she ultimately seeks to work with prevention and intervention programs in an effort to connect developmental science with practice and policy.

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Undergraduate Research Assistants

Jesse Mozeko

If you are interested in joining our team of undergraduate research assistants, email Miriam Zegarac at for more information!