Child Development Lab

Department of Psychology

Current Lab Members

Dr. Susanne Denham

Dr. Denham

Professor of Psychology

Susanne Denham, Ph.D., of George Mason University, is an Applied Developmental Psychologist with particular expertise in the social and emotional development of children. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Western Maryland College, Dr. Denham went on to receive her M.A. from the Johns Hopkins University and her doctorate from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Apart from using her experience as a mother of three children to initiate and explore her research on emotion and development in children, Dr. Denham has also used her 11 year hands-on experience as a school psychologist to aid in her research. She has authored articles and two books on varying topics, from emotional and social competence in preschoolers and older children, to developmental psychopathology. These projects have been supported by the National Institutes of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, and the W.T. Grant Foundation. Dr. Denham has also studied the development of forgiveness in children with the support of ‘A Campaign for Forgiveness Research’ of the John Templeton Foundation.

Dr. Susanne Denham's Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Hideko Hamada Bassett


Research Assistant Professor

Hideko Hamada Bassett was born and raised in Japan. She received M.S. in Psychology at the University of Memphis, and Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology at George Mason University. Her main interest is children's social and emotional development.

Naomi Watanabe


Graduate Student

Naomi is an advanced doctoral student in the ADP program. She is originally from Tottori, Japan and earned a B.A. in Psychology at the University of South Florida and M.A. at GMU. Through her work experience at the Social Skills Workshop for Children with Disabilities at USF and cultural experience living in the US, she developed her interests in children's social-emotional development, in relation to parenting, early childhood education, and the influence of cultural context. She is currently working on a project investigating Japanese preschoolers' emotional competence and its relation to parental socialization, in collaboration with the NTT Communication Science Laboratories.

Naomi Watanabe's Curriculum Vitae

Kristina Herndon


Graduate Student

Kristina was born and raised in Northern Virginia. She received both her undergraduate and Masters degree from George Mason University. Currently, Kristina is working towards her doctorate in Applied Developmental Psychology. Her research interests include the study of social and emotional competence, with an specific interest in preschoolers' emotion regulation.

Sammi Plourde


Graduate Student

Sammi is currently a fourth year doctoral student in the Applied Developmental Psychology program at George Mason University. She received her M.A. in psychology from GMU in 2013 and her B.S. in psychology at Virginia Tech in 2011. During her time at Virginia Tech, she studied under Dr. Julie Dunsmore, who specializes in children's helping and prosocial behaviors and their social development. Sammi's overall research interests are in young children's social emotional development. Particularly, she is interested in toddler social emotional development, socialization of emotional competence, peer relationships and behaviors, and social relationships in familial and educational contexts. She is also interested in professional development programs that promote social and emotional competence for young children.

Sammi Plourde's Curriculum Vitae

Nicole Fettig


Graduate Student

Nicole is currently a fifth year doctoral student in the Applied Development Psychology (ADP) program.  She earned her MA in the ADP program at George Mason University (2012).  Her research examines individual differences in emotion and behavior in both home and classroom contexts.  In particular, her work focuses on both the unique and interactive roles of temperament and environmental factors/context on the development of adaptive and maladaptive social and emotional outcomes. Building on this work, she is interested in prevention interventions in young children for cultivating regulatory processes to prevent affective and behavioral risk and promote resilience.

Nicole Fettig's Curriculum Vitae

David Ferrier


Graduate Student

David is currently a fourth year doctoral student in the Applied Developmental Psychology program at GMU. David is originally from Fort Fairfield, ME but has also spent several years in New York state. A graduate from Elmira College in 2010 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in French, he worked with Dr. Benjamin Lovett on the development of a moralization scale and looked at testing accommodations in a sample of college students with either a documented learning disability or a diagnosis of ADHD. In 2013, David received his M.A. in School Psychology under advisor Dr. Ellen Rowe. Currently, David's research interests include the relations between emotion regulation and emotionality with executive functioning and how teachers and peers can socialize self-regulation.

David E. Ferrier's Curriculum Vitae

Mandana Mohtasham


Graduate Student

Mandana received her B.S. in Psychology from George Mason University in 2012. After graduation, she worked as a volunteer research assistant in Dr. Denham's lab and learned about the executive functioning and social emotional development in young children in classroom settings. Her research interests are to examine the social emotional development of young children and the influence of immigrant parents. Mandana entered George Mason's M.A. program in Fall 2013 and looks forward to further explore her interests in Dr. Denham's lab.

NiLa Austin


Graduate Student

NiLa was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from George Mason University with Latin honors in 2013. During her undergraduate career, she participated in research programs at both George Mason and Howard University. NiLa is in her first year of graduate study in the Applied Developmental Psychology program. Her ultimate goal is to open a “Concrete Center for the Youth” in her hometown of Brooklyn, the center will be a place to foster positivity and help children create and fulfill their dreams.

Gaby Espinoza


Graduate Student

Gaby was born and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She graduated with her B.S. in psychology from Virginia Tech in 2013, where she was a research assistant at the Virginia Tech Autism Clinic. She is particularly interested in emotion regulation in young children diagnosed with autism. She is currently a first year graduate student in the school psychology program.

Maral Abooali


Graduate Student

Maral is a master's student in the School Psychology program. She was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, moved to the U.S. when she was 7 and has been living in Northern Virginia ever since. She earned her B.S. in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2013. After graduation, Maral began volunteering in Dr. Susanne Denham's lab as a research assistant where she learned much about the emotion regulation and social emotional development of preschool-aged children. She is very interested in studying mental health interventions and effective implementation programs in the school setting.

Natalie Williams


Undergraduate Student

Natalie is an undergraduate at George Mason University studying psychology. She is planning on furthering her studies by getting her master’s degree in school psychology. She is a member of the Psi Chi honors society. She is looking forward to volunteering in Dr. Denham’s research and learning more about the field she is passionate about.