The GEM Study at the University of Denver

Purpose and Basis of Study
What is Depression?
Meet Our Team
Our Sister Study
Grants and Publications

Meet Our Research Team

Ben Hankin, Ph.D.
Ben Hankin is the Principal Investigator in the GEM Lab. He is an accomplished researcher and well-liked professor in psychology at the University of Denver. Read more about his varied research interests, publications, and presentations here.

Nick Hazel, Ph.D.
Nick received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed his internship and clinical fellowship at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. His dissertation examined the pathways by which early adverse experiences predict adults' reactions to stress in their everyday lives. Nick is continuing his work on the developmental implications of stress and affect as a postdoctoral fellow with the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group. His work in the GEM Lab focuses on building integrative longitudinal models of youth depression.

Caroline Oppenheimer, M.A.
Caroline Oppenheimer graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in psychology in 2006. After graduation, she worked with Dr. Martha Cox at the Center for Developmental Science at the University of North Carolina for a year doing family systems research within a developmental psychopathology framework. She is currently working towards her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Denver with a focus on the role of parenting and genetics in the development of depression among youth.

Jessica Jenness, M.A.
Jessica is originally from Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in psychology and spanish in 2006. After graduation, she spent two years working at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, doing fMRI and treatment research with kids and teens suffering from anxiety and depression. She is currently enrolled as a student at the University of Denver working towards her Ph.D. in clinical psychology with a focus on the interaction of genes and environment in the development of depression.

Andrea Barrocas, M.A.
Andrea Barrocas is from Miami, Florida, and attended Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, as an undergraduate. She majored in psychology and Italian studies. She focused on adolescent relationship research for a senior honors thesis in psychology and expanded her learning of all-things-Italian by studying abroad in Siena, Italy, for a semester. Upon graduating, Andrea began working as a research coordinator in the Department of Psychiatry at Emory University. She worked with Helen Mayberg, M.D., on a project looking at alternate treatments for severe, treatment resistant depression. She moved to Denver to study with Ben Hankin, Ph.D., at DU as his interests nicely fit with Andrea's interests in youth and psychopathology. Andrea's master's thesis focused on the associations among temperament, stress, anxiety, and depression in youth. Now a student working toward her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Denver, Andrea has developed an interest in nonsuicidal self-injurious behaviors. She currently focuses her research on understanding these behaviors in children and adolescents, as this is rarely studied. Andrea also makes an effort to find time to enjoy other things, like yoga, photography, cooking, and her cute dog.

Lauren Gulley
Lauren graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2008 with a major in psychology and a supplementary major in pre-professional studies. She was first introduced to depression research as an undergraduate research assistant in the Cognition and Emotion Lab of Jerry Haeffel, Ph.D., which explored cognitive theories of depression in adults. After graduation she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps in St. Louis, Missouri. She then came to the GEM Lab to work as a Research Coordinator, and ended up liking it so much that she decided to stay for graduate school. Lauren is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology, with a special interest in information processing biases as a risk factor for emotional problems in children and adolescents.

Chris Case, M.A.
After graduating from Colgate University with a degree in neuroscience, Chris spent two years as a research fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health investigating eye tracking in patients with schizophrenia. After moving to Colorado, he conducted immunohistochemical research at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in a study of Parkinson's disease. Then, a series of events led him to pursue a master's degree in journalism and positions in that field. He recently returned to the field of psychology. In addition to his role as research assistant in the GEM lab, he is a research and assessment specialist at the Adolescent Development and Preventive Treatment laboratory at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Sarah Perzow, M.A.
Sarah grew up in Fort Collins, Colo., and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009 with a degree in psychology. She continued her education at the University of Colorado, Denver, graduating with her M.A. in clinical psychology in 2011. Her research experiences are varied and include investigating the development of object permanence in infants, assessing the validity of a measure for post-partum depression, and interviewing children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect. Her master’s thesis was an investigation of the relationship between dissociative symptoms and academic functioning in children with a history of maltreatment. In addition to her position as a research assistant in the GEM Lab, Sarah works in the Fostering Healthy Futures program at The Kempe Center and is also an instructor at the University of Colorado, Denver.

University of Denver | Genes, Environment, and Mood (GEM) Study | Phone: 303-871-6828 | Email: