With our research efforts, we focus on developing impactful, collaborative, and culturally competent strategies to prevent mental illness, promote brain health, and optimize early and effective intervention for children and families.
Our Team of Researchers
Emily Aron, MD, is a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist with a particular interest in infant and early childhood mental health. After completing her general residency at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital, she completed her child and adolescent fellowship at NYU.
Dr. Aron is experienced in multiple therapy modalities including those that focus on prevention for young children and their parents such as Parent Child Interaction Therapy and Child Parent Psychotherapy. Dr. Aron provides services in historically marginalized community settings focusing on trauma and resilience while also addressing social determinants of mental health and advocating for social justice.
Matthew Biel, MD, MSc, is the chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at MedStar Georgetown University Medical Center and associate professor of clinical psychiatry and pediatrics at Georgetown University School of Medicine. Dr. Biel has clinical interests in child development, trauma and resilience, mood and anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and psychiatric care of children with medical illnesses. He is involved in research and has published numerous articles and book chapters addressing access to mental health care for underserved populations, trauma and resilience, and family factors in mood and anxiety disorders. He is very active in medical student and psychiatric residency training and is the training director for the child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at Georgetown. Dr. Biel studied history and Spanish at Amherst College before receiving his MD and MSc in community medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He completed residency and fellowship training in psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine.
Jeff Bostic, MD, EdD, is a child/adolescent psychiatrist who primarily focuses on improving mental health within schools through the Wellbeing In School Environments (WISE) program and supporting primary care clinicians to manage mental health needs of their patients through the DC Mental Health Access Program (DC MAP). Dr. Bostic has developed wellbeing materials for teachers and students and is a member of the AACAP Schools Committee. Dr. Bostic obtained his medical and doctoral degrees from Texas Tech University, completed Residency at Timberlawn/University of Texas-Southwestern Medical School, and completed his Child Psychiatry Fellowship at Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital in 1996, where he remained until joining the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital as professor of Clinical Psychiatry in 2016.
Erica E. Coates, Ph.D., is a licensed psychology associate at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and an assistant professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center. Dr. Coates serves as the director of the Family Wellbeing Program (a multidisciplinary, center-based program supporting caregiver, child, and staff wellness and mental health) at early childhood education centers in Wards 7 and 8. Dr. Coates has published several articles on the role of paternal involvement and coparenting in child development, and her research has been externally supported by several entities including the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychological Foundation. Dr. Coates received her doctoral degree in clinical child psychology from the University of South Florida and received specialized training in trauma-informed family treatment at the APA-accredited VA Maryland Health Care System/University of Maryland School of Medicine Consortium. Dr. Coates completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Maryland – College Park as a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow.
Dionne Smith Coker-Appiah, PhD, MAED, is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry. She is affiliated with the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and provides clinical care for adolescents and emerging adults. Dr. Coker-Appiah has also engaged in a focused program of research that has focused on Rural Adolescent Dating Violence Prevention and Rural Adolescent Mental Health. Her research program has enabled her to build a comprehensive, domestic and international, Adolescent Dating Violence (ADV) Prevention research program, utilizing community-based participatory research approaches. More specifically, her research program is designed to: (a) prevent ADV and the associated health implications (mental, sexual, physical) among rural African Americans and international youth of Color, (b) build effective and sustainable community partnerships that build community capacity to address these issues, and (c) design culturally and geographically appropriate ADV prevention interventions. She directs the Adolescent Dating Violence Prevention Laboratory, which, in addition to conducting research, provides training and mentoring to numerous students (undergraduate, graduate, medical) and fellows. Her research has been funded by both federal and non-federal grants. Dr. Coker-Appiah’s most recent research has focused on building community partnerships to promote mental health and prevent ADV in rural North Carolina (Project LOVE) and Ghana, West Africa (GEAR UP-Ghana). She is also currently exploring, from an intergenerational and key stakeholder perspective, knowledge, perceptions and beliefs about mental health in rural communities (Minding Our Business). Dr. Coker-Appiah has dedicated her career to engaging in innovative research designed to prevent ADV and promote the mental health of youth in rural communities of Color. She is passionate about using her clinical skills and research and prevention efforts to ensure that all adolescents are mentally healthy and able to live healthy, violence-free lives.
Celene E. Domitrovich is the director of Research and Innovation for the Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN). This collaborative co-led by Children’s National Medical Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital joins health and education providers, community-based organizations, researchers, advocates, and family leaders in order to promote resilience and wellbeing in families and children from pregnancy through age 5 in Washington, D.C.. Dr. Domitrovich is also an associate research professor at Georgetown University and has research appointments at Penn State University and the Johns Hopkins School of Pubic Health.
Dr. Domitrovich is a prevention scientist who studies resilience and social-emotional learning. She obtained her doctorate in Child Clinical Psychology from Penn State University. Dr. Domitrovich is the developer of the preschool version of the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) Curriculum. She has conducted randomized trials of this and several other school-based SEL programs. In addition to expanding the evidence base of preventive interventions, Dr. Domitrovich is dedicated to developing strategies that address the factors that influence the implementation process. She has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals and written several federal reports on evidence-based interventions and implementation science. She served two terms on the board of the Society for Prevention Research and received the CASEL Joseph E. Zins award in 2011 for Action Research in Social Emotional Learning.
Karyn Hartz-Mandell, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and an assistant professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center. Dr. Hartz-Mandell's clinical work focuses on early childhood mental health, child group therapy, and parent training and support, including treatment for childhood anxiety, adjustment disorders, and behavioral disorders. Dr. Hartz-Mandell leads the Resilience Builder cognitive-behavioral group therapy program for children and adolescents in the psychiatry department. Dr. Hartz-Mandell provides supervision and teaching for psychology externs and psychiatry fellows.
Dr. Hartz-Mandell is part of the Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN) where she engages in research and evaluation of early childhood programs, including early childhood mental health consultation in early learning environments as well as child development and mental health support in pediatric primary care. Dr. Hartz-Mandell's research interests include early childhood mental health, teacher-child relationships, classrooms interactions, and the implementation of prevention and intervention programs to support children's social, emotional, and behavioral wellbeing.
Dr. Hartz-Mandell completed her Bachelor’s Degree at Cornell University. She then completed her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education, her clinical internship at the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital, and her postdoctoral fellowship specializing in early childhood mental health at Brown University.
Jay Hawkins (she/her) is a community researcher dedicated to social justice, mental health promotion and transformative systems change. Jay earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Business Administration from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She works diligently to uphold the historic legacy of her alma matter by always aiming to embody its motto of “excellence in truth and service.” Jay is profoundly committed to the service and liberation of African-Diasporic, and other BIPOC communities. She thinks of herself as a narrative shifter helping to creatively inspire forward change through the process of reimaging equity and justice, while authentically partnering with the stakeholders/communities that are most impacted by unjust systems.
Previously, she served as Special Projects Manager, then Cyber Mentors Program Manager within the Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs (OEMA) and the Office on AIDS respectively, at the American Psychological Association (APA). Presently, Jay works for Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in the Psychiatry Department as the Community Research Lead for the Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN). Her primary role at ECIN includes designing and directing a multi-site mindfulness-based intervention program, collaboratively leading community based participatory research strategy, as well as championing various DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and co-creation strategic efforts. Jay is also a certified fitness trainer (CPT) and mindfulness-based meditation teacher. In her time at ECIN, Jay has supported 10 behavioral health and equity promotion projects across early education, public health and community sectors. In all her work, Jay aims to spotlight the assets, strengths and resiliency already present within communities of color.
Kean J. Hsu, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Georgetown University. His research investigates how basic cognitive processes (e.g., attention, executive functioning) contribute to the development and maintenance of mood disorders and anxiety. He is also interested in scalable mental health interventions (e.g., cognitive training, brief interventions) and examining mechanisms underlying psychotherapeutic interventions, as well as increasing awareness of issues surrounding mental health and stigma in communities that are typically under-served or under-utilize mental health services. Clinically, Dr. Hsu specializes in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and stress across adulthood, from late adolescence to older adulthood. He is a member of the Associate Editorial Board at Behaviour Research and Therapy.
Dr. Hsu graduated with distinction at Yale University with a B.A. in psychology (with a behavioral neuroscience specialization) before receiving his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Southern California. He completed postdoctoral research fellowships at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Texas at Austin. Most recently, Dr. Hsu was a research assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin in the Institute for Mental Health Research and the Department of Psychology. He also co-directed the Anxiety and Stress Clinic with Jasper Smits, Ph.D., at UT-Austin.
Erin Mathis, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Georgetown University located in the Center for Child and Human Development and the assistant director of Research and Innovation of the Early Childhood Innovation Network (ECIN). ECIN is a citywide effort to improve developmental outcomes for children and families living in underserved communities in Washington, D.C. Dr. Mathis's research interests center on child social-emotional development, self-regulation and academic success and the design and evaluation of both child- and parent-focused prevention programs that are implemented in school and community settings. In particular, Dr. Mathis has focused on school readiness interventions, mindfulness and early childhood mental health consultation. Dr. Mathis received her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at the Pennsylvania State University and received training in school-based mental health at the University of Maryland-Baltimore.
Dr. Megan McCormick is the director of Programs of The MedStar Georgetown Center for Wellbeing in School Environments (The WISE Center). Her interests include large-scale program development and implementation aimed at improving public health outcomes for youth. She has worked extensively within community-based organizations on improving public health causes and advocating for youth mental health issues within the Washington, D.C., metro area. Her research background has focused on psychological factors that impact health outcomes, such as pain management and medication adherence, as well as the design, implementation, and evaluation of behavioral interventions to improve access to mental healthcare in primary healthcare settings and prevent negative medical outcomes in pediatric chronic illness populations. She is the co-founder and former co-executive director of InSite Solutions and is a member of the faculty within Georgetown University's School of Medicine. Dr. McCormick received her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, completed her pre- and post-doctoral fellowships at Children's National Medical Center, and is a licensed child psychologist in Washington, D.C.
Shy Porter, PhD, LMFT, provides clinical care in our outpatient program and as an integrated clinician within OBGYN as part of the MedStar Health Safe Babies Safe Moms initiative. She is also a member of the Safe Babies Safe Moms clinical research team. Dr. Porter completed a Ph.D. in Family Science with a specialized focus in maternal and child health. She is also a licensed marriage and family therapist and has worked in private practice for a number of years. In her clinical practice, she specializes in work with couples, adolescents, and adult individuals, and employs a range of models and techniques to efficiently and effectively move clients toward their goals. In her research practice, much of her work has centered around the reproductive health needs of women, specifically issues related to the preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum periods. She aims to use her clinical and research expertise to provide psychological support services to women at all stages along the pregnancy spectrum. Her work also investigates racial/ethnic disparities in sexual and reproductive health. Critical to Dr. Porter’s work is centering the needs and experiences of people of color both in clinical practice and in research.
Hillary A. Robertson, MPH, CHES, is a senior research associate and research instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Georgetown University. Ms. Robertson received her Master of Public Health with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health from Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. She is a member of the Early Childhood Innovation Network, a citywide effort to improve developmental outcomes for children and families living in underserved communities in Washington, D.C. Ms. Robertson is passionate about a community-based approach to working with children and families exposed to trauma. Her deep understanding of the challenges experienced by underserved children and families combined with her training in public health bring a unique perspective to research, project management, and intervention-related work.
Dr. Williams recently completed the Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Program at University of Pennsylvania-Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He is a former Washington, D.C. public school teacher and received a Masters in Teaching from American University. He then received an MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and completed his adult psychiatric residency training at the Yale University Psychiatry Residency Program, where he served on the Departmental Diversity & Inclusion Committee and received recognition for patient advocacy. Dr. Williams is a former APA/SAMHSA Minority Fellow where he conducted research on racial bias in physician recruitment. In addition to providing clinical care in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Division’s outpatient programs, he will be a part of the Early Childhood Innovation Network and the Center for Wellness In School Environments. Dr. Williams will also dedicate time to research – his interests are focused on examining the ways in which racism shapes medical practice and developing antiracism curriculum for medical trainees.