Stress Research Group

Stress is an increasingly pervasive theme in the modern family.  The symptoms associated with stress in one individual can quickly cause stress throughout the entire family, making stress an important issue to research and address.  The physiology of stress  affects both hormone and immune function; if unchecked over time, symptoms associated with stress can contribute to disease.

The interdisciplinary Stress Group consists of about 25 researchers who have been meeting since 2008 to better understand the causes of stress, the effects of stress, and methods of stress measurement.  The Stress Group has been working across disciplines to integrate techniques, tools, and perspectives to examine how and why stress manifests in the body throughout life, how the manifestation of stress influences relationships and mental health, and how we can address the negative effects of stress to improve health.  The Stress Group applies a lifespan approach to study and measure stress from gestation and infancy, through adolescence and young adulthood, to menopause and beyond.    

The interdisciplinary group meets bi-weekly to discuss their stress and family related research. The meetings stimulate cross-disciplinary analysis and assist each member with his or her research. Family relationships, animal bonding, developmental phases, and neuroscience are important aspects of this cluster’s research. Members of the Stress Group have co-authored articles, submitted grant proposals together, and supported each other in productivity and creativity of thought.

Want to get involved? 
Email: crf@psych.umass.edu

Associate Professor, School of Public Health and Health Sciences
Stress Research Group
Research:

Ellizabeth Bertone-Johnson studies nutritional epidemiology, focusing on Vitamin D and women's health conditions including premenstrual syndrome, depression and breast cancer. She recently received a five-year, $868,857 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institutes of Health to study women’s mental health, with special emphasis on premenstrual syndrome and the role vitamin D may play in counteracting its effects on women.

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Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Neuroscience and Behavior Program
Co-Director, Stress Research Group
Research:

In order to learn how hormones act in the brain to modify brain function and behavior and how the social environment can influences these processes, we study the cellular and neuroanatomical mechanisms of ovarian steroid hormone action on reproductive behavior and the interactions between the environment, neurotransmitters and steroid hormone receptors. Although much of our work has focused

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Assistant Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Family Research Scholar 2008-09
Stress Research Group
Research:

Matt Davidson's research program targets a better understanding of the development of executive functions, including attention, working memory and cognitive control. Current studies are exploring the effects of physical activity on cognitive abilities and emotional stability in children and young adults,

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Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Director, Depression Specialty Clinic, UMass Memorial Medical Center
Stress Research Group
Research:

Dr. Deligiannidis completed her undergraduate degrees and an Honors Scholars Research Program in Neuroscience and Behavior at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  As a recipient of NIH pre-doctoral Intramural Research Training Awards, she trained in molecular neuroendocrinology research at the NIH/National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NIH/NICHD).  Her research was in the neural regulation of melatonin in the pineal gland.

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Research Fellow, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Research:
Professor, Public Health
Stress Research Group
Research:

Dr. Hankinson has been a senior investigator with the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and NHS II, two long-term ongoing cohort studies of women’s health for over 20 years, and was Principal Investigator of the NHS from 2006 to 2011. Her research predominantly focuses on breast cancer etiology and prevention along with the incorporation of biomarkers into epidemiologic research. With funding from NIH for the past 18 years, she has concentrated on lifestyle and endogenous predictors of both breast cancer risk and survival.

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Tippet Professor in Life Sciences
Psychology, Smith College
Stress Research Group
Research:

Mary Harrington researches circadian rhythm entrainment.  Her past research has been on neural systems mediating entrainment, in particular non-photic entrainment pathways utilizing neuropeptide Y and serotonin.  Currently she is investigating the role of circadian disruption in health.  One line of research examines effects of

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Assistant Professor, Nursing
Family Research Scholar 2012-13
Research:

Karen Kalmakis is currently studying the relationship between a history of adverse childhood experiences and the neurobiological stress response among young adults. During her year as a Family Research Scholar, Dr. Kalmakis will develop a grant proposal for the project entitled, “Exploring the role of socio-environmental and demographic influences on the stress process.” This project is focused on the impact that adverse childhood experiences,  socioeconomic status, and individual demographics have on the coping strategies that are part of the stress process. Dr.

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Associate Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Family Research Scholar 2013-14
Research:
Agnès Lacreuse’s research addresses the biological factors that contribute to differential aging trajectories in males and females. Because human cognition is strongly influenced by sociocultural and environmental factors, sex differences in cognitive and brain aging may be best studied in an appropriate primate model.
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Assistant Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences (Developmental Division)
Neuroscience and Behavior Program
Family Research Scholar 2011-12
Stress Research Group
Early Childhood Group
Research:

Jennifer McDermott’s research explores the role of early experience in relation to children’s cognitive and affective development. Her past work reveals that early adversity impairs physiological and behavioral indices

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Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Stress Research Group
Research:

Jerrold Meyer’s research program has two major themes. The first theme concerns the neurotoxic and behavioral effects of drugs of abuse, with a current focus on MDMA (“Ecstasy”). We are particularly interested in MDMA preconditioning (the ability of moderate MDMA pretreatment to blunt the serotonergic neurotoxic effects of a subsequent MDMA binge) as well as the interactions between MDMA and

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Assistant Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Stress Research Group
Research:
Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Former Chair, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Stress Research Group
Research:

Melinda Novak  is a past recipient of the College Outstanding Teacher Award, The Distinguished Faculty UMass Alumni Association Award, and a recent recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, the highest honor bestowed on faculty for exemplary research and service contributions. 

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Assistant Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Stress Research Group
Research:

Mariana Pereira’s research program explores the basis of cognitive, motivational and affective mechanisms of parenting at the behavioral, neural and neurochemical levels, both under healthy conditions and in the context of maternal neuropsychiatric disorders; emphasis on limbic-cortical-striatal interactions, mesocorticolimbic dopamine system and animal models of depression and drug addiction.

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CRF Faculty Director, Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Family Research Scholar 2006-07
Steering Committee
Care, Work and Family Policy Network
Stress Research Group
Research:

Maureen Perry-Jenkins is a nationally renowned scholar whose contributions on the national, state, regional, and university levels have had profound impact. Her work focuses on the ways in which socio-cultural factors such as race,

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Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Family Research Scholar 2003-04 & 2015-16
Stress Research Group
Steering Committee
Research:

Paula Pietromonaco is a social psychologist whose work focuses on how people think, feel, and behave in the context of their closest relationships. Her particular interest lies in how couple members influence each other’s ability to manage their emotions, and how these relationship processes are connected to emotional and physical health over time.

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Associate Dean, College of Natural Sciences (Faculty Development)
Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Stress Research Group
Former CRF Faculty Director
Steering Committee
Research:

As a developmental psychopathologist, Sally Powers’ investigates the interaction of normal developmental processes and psychopathology in adolescents and young adults.  

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Associate Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Family Research Scholar 2008-09
Stress Research Group
Research:

Dr. Ready is a geriatric neuropsychologist with research interests in the assessment of emotion regulation in healthy aging and in clinical populations.  She studies emotion reactions in the lab and in daily life and is interested in how individual difference factors, such as executive functions, memory, and personality affect emotion regulation outcomes.  She utilizes multiple methods to measure emotion variables, such as subjective reports, neuropsychological testing, observation, cortisol, and physiological data.  

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Assistant Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Neuroscience and Behavior Program
Stress Research Group
Research:

The Healey lab studies the electrophysiological and neurochemical phenomena that govern natural behavior. We focus on songbirds because of their many biological/behavioral parallels with humans. Many of these phenomena are readily accessible in the laboratory, including lifelong pairbonds, biparental care, vocal learning, and widespread production of steroid hormones in the brain. Our work and the work of our collaborators has demonstrated that the neurobiological and neuroendocrine mechanisms of social bonding are conserved between songbirds and mammals.

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Assistant Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Family Research Scholar 2010-11
Stress Research Group
Research:

Heather Richardson studies the influences of heavy, episodic alcohol consumption (i.e. “binge drinking”) on neurological and behavioral development using rodent models. Early onset alcohol use is one of the strongest predictors of a lifetime prevalence of alcohol dependence and is associated with cognitive impairments and

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Professor, Anthropology
Family Research Scholar 2004-05 & 2008-09
Co-Director, Stress Research Group
Steering Committee
Research:

Lynnette Leidy Sievert is a biological anthropologist whose research has focused on age at menopause and symptom experience at menopause as two aspects of human variation. She is also interested in the evolution of menopause and

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Assistant Professor of Nutrition
Commonwealth Honors College Professor of Nutrition
Family Research Scholar 2013-14
Stress Research Group
Research:

Lisa Troy uses the novel application of pattern analysis to examine diet and exercise on chronic disease prevention. She also studies how government programs and policies impact diet quality and public health outcomes. Toward accomplishing these goals, she developed the DGAI_2010, an Index to measure adherence to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Public Health
Stress Research Group
Research:

Brian Whitcomb's research focues on epidemiologic evaluation of the immune system and inflammatory factors in adverse pregnancy outcomes and menstrual cycle function and dysfunction. Using serum samples collected early in gestation from participants in a large study of pregnancy, we have considered levels of a panel of cytokines, including Th1, Th2 and growth factors, comparing cases of miscarriage and

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