Current Lab Members

PI: Amanda E. Guyer

Chancellor’s Fellow

Professor | Dept. of Human Ecology

Chair | Human Development Graduate Group

Associate Director | Center for Mind & Brain

Education: PhD (Yale University), BA (Skidmore College)

267 Cousteau Pl., Room 196, Davis, California 95618
aeguyer@ucdavis.edu | 530-297-4445

Human Development Profile

Guyer CV


Veronika VilgisVeronika

Postdoctoral Scholar
Guyer Lab
Education: PhD (University of Melbourne, Australia), MA (Hons) (University of Glasgow, UK)
267 Cousteau Pl., Room 194, Davis, California 95618
vvilgis@ucdavis.edu |

Veronika Vilgis joined the lab in January 2016 after having completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne, Australia. She has an interest in brain development and how changes in brain structure and function relate to the onset and maintenance of affective disorders such as depression and anxiety. Her PhD focused on the broader question whether shared symptoms across neurodevelopmental disorders also share the same underlying neurobiology. To address this question she has compared groups of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and persistent depressive disorder using functional magnetic resonance imaging. In her current work, Veronika continues to use structural and functional imaging approaches to examine the longitudinal brain development in at risk samples such as the Pittsburgh Girls Study and the California Families Project. She is the recipient of a Young Investigator Award from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.


David Weissman

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Graduate Student
Guyer Lab
Education: BA (University of Southern California)
267 Cousteau Pl., Room 156, Davis, California 95618
dgweissman@ucdavis.edu |

I grew up in Dayton, Ohio and obtained my bachelors degree at the University of Southern California, where I majored in Neuroscience. I then taught middle school in Oakland, California for 5 years, where I gained an intimate appreciation for adolescent development. I’m interested in how exposure to environmental stressors like violence and poverty affect the way adolescents process and regulate their emotions. I live in Davis, California with my wife and coach junior high cross country at Holmes Junior High in Davis.


Luis Parra Luis-web-7a (1)

Graduate Student
NSF-GRFP Fellow

Guyer Lab
Education: BA (California State University, Northridge)
267 Cousteau Pl., Room 156, Davis, California 95618
lparra@ucdavis.edu |

I am a Human Development graduate student in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of California, Davis. I work under the supervision of my primary graduate advisers Drs. Paul D. Hastings in the Department of Psychology and Amanda E. Guyer in the Department of Human Ecology. My research focuses on three interconnected areas:

  1. The intersection of ethnic/racial and sexual minority identities. Specifically, I study the effects of compounded ethnic/racial and sexual minority prejudice (i.e., stress) on physiological self-regulatory mechanisms via hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and immune system functioning, and in turn, their effects on psychosocial adjustment (e.g., depression). I also seek to identify resilience factors such as parent and peer social support and coping strategies to help ameliorate the adverse effects of prejudice in sexual minority people of color. This is study is funded by the American Psychology Foundation’s Wayne F. Placek Grant awarded in 2015. http://www.apa.org/apf/funding/placek.aspx?tab=1
  2. I also am interested in peer-relationship processes during adolescence, particularly in ethnic minority youth of Mexican-origin. I focus on emotion regulation processes via parasympathetic system activation (e.g., heart rate variability and RSA) when adolescents experience rejection by peers and their effects on psychosocial adjustment.
  3. Lastly, I am interested in methodological issues associated with retrospective reports of peer victimization. In collaboration with Dr. Adrienne Nishina in the Human Development Graduate Group, using data from the UCLA Peer Project, we are testing how retrospective and concurrent reports of peer victimization are related to adolescents’ psychosocial adjustment.

During my free time, I run. Also, I love to cook, bake, learn about wine, and occasionally draw or paint.


Raj ChahalRaj

Graduate Student
Guyer Lab
Education: BS (University of California, Davis)
267 Cousteau Pl., Room 182, Davis, California 95618
rchahal@ucdavis.edu |

I grew up in San Jose, California and graduated from UC Davis in 2012 with a B.S. in Psychology, emphasis in Biology. My research interests focus on the development of brain systems supporting inhibitory control and emotion regulation in adolescence and young adulthood, which can be studied using functional magnetic resonance imaging and measures of executive performance. Currently, I am exploring resting-state developmental trajectories within the fronto-limbic region of the brain, including the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which may contribute to differences in the appraisal of motivational and emotional information.


Sarah Beard 

Graduate Student
Guyer Lab
Education: B.S. (University of North Florida), M.S. (University of North Florida)
267 Cousteau Pl., Room 182, Davis, California 95618

sjbeard@ucdavis.edu |

I am a graduate student in the Human Development Graduate Group. My research interests are broadly in adolescent neurodevelopment and risk-taking, specifically in how decision-making (especially substance use) is related to prosociality, depression, and poverty during childhood and adolescence.