Research

Early Childhood and Family Research Lab

Lab Members

Angelica Addison Angelica Addison(BA ’13) started at Mills as a first-year student and will complete her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2017. Angelica has been involved with the Black Student’s Collective (BSC) and the Psychology Club. Angelica completed her IMH internship at the Angela Aguilar Center in Alameda, California; she is working at the Mills College Children’s School as a student teacher. Her master’s thesis research examines the contextual factors associated with African American fathers’ involvement with their young children. She plans to continue her education to become a licensed mental health clinician who works with vulnerable families and children. She also hopes to continue doing research.

Monica Arguello Monica Arguello (MA ′17) is a graduate student in the Mills Infant Mental Health Master’s Degree Program. She came to Mills with a BA in psychology from the University of San Francisco. She became interested in the physical, social, emotional, and psychological development of children when she was an undergraduate. Monica brings to her studies at Mills experience working with children in a range of age and abilities. She is currently working at the Children’s School at Mills College. Monica enjoys research. She is also currently working as a research assistant for students completing their master’s degrees and plans to continue with research after completing her master’s degree.

Cayley Arndt (MA ’18) came to Mills with a BA in child, adolescent, and family studies from California State University, Bakersfield. Throughout her undergraduate studies, she became fascinated by the importance of the parent-child relationship and how it impacts future success. This interest and desire for more knowledge lead to the Infant Mental Health Master’s Degree Program. Cayley wants to learn more about the family dynamic and attachment during times of high stress due to abuse, poverty, homelessness, and teen parenting. After her studies, she hopes to pursue a career aimed at working on parent-child relationships in families that experience more vulnerability within the household dynamic.

Emma Baumeister Emma Baumeister(psychology BA ′16) is on the accelerated infant mental health psychology major track (MA ′17). Emma came to Mills as a first-year student and began working in the lab during her sophomore year. She assisted with the Connected Emotions study in which she administered child assessments and helped with filming. Emma's master′s project examines the contributions of maternal competence, emapthy, and infant temperament to maternal postpartum depression.

Peri Champoux Peri Champoux(psychology BA ’16) is on the accelerated infant mental health psychology major track (MA ’17), and she plans to add a special education teaching credential to her program. Peri brings extensive experience with children with autism to studies at Mills. She has worked providing ABA in-home therapy for children on the autism spectrum and continues her work with the Early Start Lab at the UC Davis MIND Institute. In addition to assisting with graduate student and faculty research, Peri volunteers at the Early Intervention program at Children’s Hospital Oakland. She plans to use her IMH master’s degree as a bridge to doctoral level study that will prepare her to work as a clinical development psychologist providing assessments for infants and children during early intervention.

Cherry Chan Cherry Chan(psychology BA ’18) is on the accelerated infant mental health psychology major track (MA ’19). She came to Mills as a first-year student in 2014. Cherry works in the ECFR Lab to assist with faculty and student projects. As an international student from Hong Kong, she is interested in worldwide cultural differences in parenting and how those differences are associated with child-parent relationships and emotional development of young children in different cultures. She has strong interests in research and teaching, and plans to use her degrees as a starting point to pursue a doctoral degree in developmental psychology.  

Nina Comforti Nina Comforti(psychology BA ’16) is on the accelerated infant mental health psychology major track (MA ’17). Nina came to Mills as a transfer student from San Diego, where her work with the foster care system sparked her interest in working with infants and toddlers in stressful and traumatic situations. Her particular interest is attachment and bonding. Nina worked on the Connected Emotions in-lab research project, helping to administer child assessments and filming sessions. Her master’s project examines the associations between breastfeeding, bed sharing, and maternal stress and maternal self-efficacy. Nina is completing her graduate internship at the Infancy Parent Project in San Francisco, which will provide her with experience for future work with young children and families at risk.

Meredith GabrielMeredith Gabriel (psychology BA ’16) is on the accelerated infant mental health psychology major track (MA ’17). Meredith came to Mills as a first-year student. She is especially interested in attachment theory and child-parent relationships. She has worked in the lab assisting with student and faculty research. Meredith’s master’s project topic is parent conflict and its associations with developmental outcomes in young children. She plans to get her PhD in developmental psychology and has a strong interest in research and teaching.

Sophie GoldbergSophie Goldberg (psychology BA ’17) is on the accelerated infant mental health psychology major track (MA ’18). She works in the ECFR Lab to assist with faculty and student projects. Her professional goals are to work with families, helping parents of children with special needs—especially those on the autism spectrum. She ultimately plans to use her master’s degree as a bridge to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical developmental psychology.

Christian HernandezChristian Hernandez (MA ’17) came to Mills with a BA in psychology from Humboldt State University. After obtaining her BA in psychology, she spent several years working at Children’s Institute, Inc., in early intervention with children who were experiencing behavioral difficulties in school and at home. There she worked with doctors and therapists to help implement the goal plans that would aid the children in finding better ways to cope and regulate their emotions. This work led her to pursue the IMH master’s degree program so as to be able to work with children with trauma in intervention to buffer risk factors that impact their development. Christian’s thesis project will investigate the role of familism (familismo) in maltreatment risk in Latino families. She plans to continue her education and research following her Mills education to pursue a clinical PhD, which will support her ultimate plan of becoming a therapist that works in early intervention with children and families.

Steffani Kizziar Steffani Kizziaris in her first year of the two-year master’s program in infant mental health. Previously, Steffani worked as an executive in healthcare and nonprofit management. In this capacity, she ran a residential program for children and ultimately a large nonprofit with an annual budget of $42 million and serving over 500 vulnerable clients each year in a variety of community, outpatient, and residential care settings. She entered Mills with a deep interest in learning how to promote children’s flourishing and wanted to move from working from behind the desk to working in direct relationships with children. She is especially interested in understanding the mechanisms, risk, and protective factors involved in the intergenerational transmission of risk, with the goal of developing effective research-informed interventions. Steffani has been volunteering in the ECFR Lab since January (prior to becoming a graduate student) and is a research assistant for the Connected Emotions project, a large multi-faceted study of mothers and their four- and five-year-old children.

Kira Lewis Kira Lewis(psychology BA ’13) came to Mills after 10 years of preschool teaching experience. After volunteering at a crisis nursery and domestic violence shelter, she wanted to work in preventive mental health aiming to integrate early childhood education with psychology. In 2015, Kira completed her course work for the combined IMH MA and Early Childhood Special Education Teaching Specialist Credential. She is currently completing her thesis research. Kira works as a program director at Lotus Bloom, a local family and child resource center in Oakland that supports high-need families. At Lotus Bloom, she created a developmental playgroup for children with special needs and integrated infant mental health in the case management support of families, and she trains all the family advocates throughout the organization. Kira focuses on supporting children and their families in strength-based and culturally sensitive ways.

Matisse MichalskiMatisse Michalski (MA ’17) is a graduate student in the Infant Mental Health Master’s Degree program. Matisse received her BA in Theater and Peace Studies at Goucher College in Baltimore. She has over 15 years of experience with children in many different settings, including as a teacher, nanny, child-care provider, and camp counselor. Excited to return to academia, Matisse is focusing her master’s research on co-parenting in families of lesbian mothers. She hopes to work with families, especially those at high risk, to promote healthy attachment and bright futures.

Kelsey NibbelinkKelsey Nibbelink (psychology BA, fall ’16) is on the accelerated infant mental health psychology major track (MA ’17). Kelsey transferred to Mills as a junior from California College of the Arts and has an extensive background in childhood development and in the importance of artistic expression in childhood. Kelsey assisted with graduate and faculty lab research in her junior year and is crafting her master's thesis project as a senior. Her project topic is attachment, caregiving, and early infant loss.

Kaija StaskoKaija Stasko (psychology BA ’19) is on the accelerated infant mental health psychology major track. She came to Mills as a first-year student in 2015, having previously taken courses at Pierce and Los Angeles Valley colleges. Kaija works in the ECFR Lab assisting with faculty and student projects. Her hope is to use her degrees as a beginning point in pursuing a doctorate in clinical or clinical developmental psychology. Her professional goals are to work as a child psychologist in a hospital or as a family therapist in a clinic.

Alexandra TollAlexandra Toll (MA ’17) came to Mills with a BA in anthropology and linguistics from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She has worked in the field for many years in various therapeutic settings specializing in early intervention—preschool classrooms, therapy centers, developmental play spaces, and in-home visiting programs throughout the Bay Area—gaining a wide breadth of knowledge and experience working with families and young children. Alexandra worked on the Connected Emotions in-lab research project, helping to administer child assessments. She is also a proud new mom to a baby girl, which means she completes most of her work one-handed. She is currently working at Early Head Start in Alameda, as well as on her thesis about single mothers and child developmental outcomes. 

Lauren Lee WrayLauren Lee Wray (psychology BA ’16) is on the accelerated infant mental health psychology major track (MA ’17). She came to Mills as a junior transfer student from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, after taking some time off to begin her family (now proud mother of two young children while she finishes graduate school!). Lauren Lee worked on the Connected Emotions in-lab research project, helping to administer mother and child assessments and filming sessions. Her master’s project examines the associations of maternal empathy and trauma to caregiving helplessness and young children’s developmental risk. Lauren Lee is especially interested in early childhood attachment and its implications for later in life. She attended the Adult Attachment Projective Picture System training session during the summer between her undergraduate and graduate year to hone assessment skills for future research. She plans to get a PhD in clinical psychology, with the goal of working with adolescent girls with PTSD. She would like to integrate Equine Assisted Psychotherapy into her practice.

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Contact Information

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Last Updated: 10/25/16