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Neurodevelopmental Research

Neurodevelopmental Research Program




Elysia P Davis, PhD

Elysia P. Davis, PhD

Frontier Hall 252
Phone: 303-871-3790

Dr. Elysia Poggi Davis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Denver. She received her PhD in Developmental Psychobiology at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota and completed a postdoctoral fellowship as the University of California, Irvine. The multidisciplinary research that is conducted in her lab examines biological and social/behavioral processes in human pregnancy and in fetal, infant, child and adolescent development. This research addresses a major health issue involving the role of early experiences in determining the risk for health and disease across the lifespan. Specifically, her program of research evaluates the way that prenatal exposure to maternal psychosocial stress and stress hormones are incorporated into the developmental program and the influence this has on adaptation to the postnatal world.




Jennifer Kuo, BS

Project Coordinator

Jennifer Kuo earned her B.S. in Neurobiology & Physiology and Psychology at the University of Maryland in 2013. Then she spent a year working at Duke University under Dr. Rhonda Merwin on a study involving Type 1 Diabetes and eating disordered behavior, and Dr. Nancy Zucker on an intervention study for children with functional abdominal pain. Jennifer completed her master's thesis on stress, mindfulness, and eating behavior at Ohio State University in 2017. Her research interests are in psychoneuroimmunology, nutrition, women's mental health, chronic disease, and obesity. Outside of lab, Jennifer enjoys baking, swimming, traveling, and yoga.


 alyssaAlyssa Morgan, BS


Research Staff

Alyssa works on multiple studies out of the Neurodevelopment Lab and Denver Health Hospital. She aspires to go to school for pathology in the future as a physician assistant. Her research interests include understanding the consequences of fetal exposure to stress hormones and their role in programming cognitive functions and brain development across the lifespan.She is a Colorado native who in her free time loves to bike, try new breweries, or hangout with her boyfriend, friends, and family!


Post doctoral fellows


Laurel Hicks, PhD, LCSW

Laurel is postdoctoral fellow and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She graduated from Wayne State University with dual-title Ph.D. degree in Social Work (clinical concentration) and Infant Mental Health. Her primary interest is focused on understanding the effects of trauma (both contextual and interpersonal) on physiology and psychology and how these contribute to the health of both parents and infants during antenatal and postnatal periods. Her secondary research interest focuses on mindfulness-based interventions and how they may improve mental health, and parent-infant outcomes in expectant and new parents.

Graduate Students

  • Amy Anderson

    Amy Anderson, MA, PhD Candidate

    Developmental, DCN

    Amy completed her Bachelor of Arts at Stony Brook University in New York with a major in psychology. She went on to obtain her Master's of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London in London, UK in 2010, where she studied early risk factors for mood disorders such as attention to negative affect, emotion processing, and genetics. Amy is interested in exploring how early life experiences (prenatal through childhood) may influence developmental outcomes and how brain structure and function may be altered in response to such experiences or an early indicator of developmental disorders. Outside her studies, Amy enjoys cycling, outdoor adventures, and traveling to new places!


  • fall16leah

    Leah Grande, BA

    Clinical, DCN

    Leah received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Cognitive Science at the University of Virginia in 2014. Following graduation, she worked as a project coordinator for Dr. Joseph Allen's KLIFF/VIDA longitudinal study. Leah is interested in the intergenerational transmission of emotional and cognitive differences, as well as the consequences of early life experience for long-term health and brain development. In her free time, she likes to travel, cook, and learn new languages.


  • fall16stephanie

    Stephanie Stout, MA, PhD Candidate

    Developmental, DCN

    Stephanie obtained her Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Michigan in 2010, concentrating in Brain Behavior and Cognitive Science and a minor in music. Stephanie has worked with both animal models and humans to explore how prenatal and early postnatal stressors impact health and development. Her primary research interest is exploring the biological pathways by which prenatal maternal psychological distress impacts infant health and development.


  • dwales

    Danielle Swales, BA

    Clinical, DCN

    Danielle received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Emory University in 2015. As an undergraduate, she completed an honors thesis examining the impact of the timing and trajectory of maternal depression during pregnancy on offspring emotional reactivity outcomes in the preschool period. Danielle is interested in studying the mechanisms by which prenatal stress shapes developmental outcomes including later risk for psychopathology. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, playing ultimate Frisbee, and spending time outdoors!

Research Assistants

  • fall16joshua

    Joshua Jolly

    Joshua is a second year undergraduate student at the University of Denver. He is majoring in Biology and Chemistry with a minor in Math. He hopes to continue his studies into medical school and later go into surgery. He is originally from Northampton, England and enjoys playing rugby and snowboarding.




  • Morgan Zueger

    Morgan hopes to achieve a BS in Biological Sciences and a BA in Psychology with a concentration in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Denver. Morgan is interested in studying the physical, mental and emotional effects of stress, and how developmental disorders evolve over time. Her future plans involve attending medical school, and she wants to work in the orthopedic field. Morgan is also involved in the Pioneer Leadership Program on campus and is on the Club Ultimate Frisbee team. As a Colorado native, she enjoys hiking, skiing and exploring Denver.


Jehanzeb Khan 

  • JJ is currently a Psychology and Socio-Legal Studies double major with minors in Chemistry and Leadership. JJ is fascinated by Social and Abnormal Psychology and how society impacts the way individuals interact engage and think. JJ is also very fascinated by gender roles and how they play a role in today's society. He hopes to one day earn a Ph.D (in either the Psychology or Socio-Legal realm) in order to hopefully become a scholar and teach at a University or practice on his own. JJ also works at the Undergraduate Admissions Office here at DU. He enjoys playing soccer, running and spending plenty of time outside.


Rosalie Whyte

  • My name is Rosalie Whyte and I am from California. I attended boarding school at Culver Academies in Indiana before attending the University of Denver. I am a second-year student majoring in Psychology with a Concentration in Cognitive Neuroscience and minoring in Biology and Leadership. I am involved with the Panhellenic Association and Pioneer Leadership Program on campus. I am interested in maternal-fetal health and development and hope to pursue a career in the medical field in the future.


Kalie Nakata

  • I am hoping to receive a BS in Biology. I am interested in learning about the prenatal environment and how it affects childhood development. This lab was the perfect place to learn about research that I am interested in and I hope to gain more research experience. My future goals are to attend medical school and work in the pediatric field. I am a Colorado native who likes hiking, cooking, baking and spending time with family and friends.