Assistant Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Yale, Dylan G., has been awarded the SAS 2022 Early Career Prize in Emotional Science for her work studying the relationship between childhood adversity and mental health outcomes.
Courtesy of the College of Arts and Sciences
Dylan Gee, assistant professor of psychology and psychiatry at Yale University, has been honored by the Society for Emotional Science, or SAS, for her research on how early adversity in childhood contributes to the development of mental health disorders.
The SAS Early Career Awards in the Affective Sciences recognize outstanding scholarly contributions by SAS members who have completed their Ph.D. degrees within the past ten years. Gee, who completed her Ph.D. at UCLA in 2015, was one of two designated recipients of this honor in 2022. Specifically, Gee was selected for her work in exploring the way the developing brain responds to its environment and how it can influence This experiences the mental health of the individual.
“I really enjoy the combination of the excitement of scientific discovery, the opportunity to connect with young people and families and the potential for the broader impact that our research brings,” Gee said. “Stress is a universal experience, and exposure to childhood trauma is unfortunately common. Our work has been applied to childhood adversities to inform policy decisions about children’s well-being, and this opportunity to contribute to translating science into societal impact is really important to me.”
Part of Gee’s interest in this field of study stemmed from her time as an undergraduate at Dartmouth where she worked with DREAM – Mentoring through Entertainment, Education, Adventure and Mentoring – a student-led mentorship program for children living in low-income housing in the boroughs of Vermont and New Hampshire. Gee observed a wide range of ways in which children respond to stress in their environments and became curious about how to promote positive development through a deeper understanding of children’s relationship to these factors.
Gee explores this aspect of psychology in her role as director of the active clinical development and neuroscience laboratory, called CANDLab, on campus. CANDLab investigates the role of caregiving and trauma in areas such as emotional regulation, anxiety disorders and PTSD. Notably, Ji has studied the impact of childhood stressors and risk of psychopathology with the hope of developing clinical strategies for intervention. The lab also assesses emotional learning and behavior through the lens of neuroplasticity and changes in cortical-limbic circuits, which are responsible for a myriad of cognitive functions.
“As a CANDLab Postdoctoral Fellow, I have benefited immeasurably from Dr. J’s mentorship,” said Alexis Brieant, Postdoctoral Fellow at CANDLab. “Her innovative research in clinical and emotional sciences continually advances the field, and I am very pleased that this work is being recognized by the field with this award.”
Going forward, Gee aims to bridge the gap between neuroscience and clinical practice by using the results of her lab to formulate new treatment methodologies for children. The lab has two primary goals for the future: to devise ways to observe a wide range of early childhood experiences to determine the influence of key factors on brain development and to explore how children regulate emotions such as fear and anxiety through their understanding of safety in their own environments. Ji hopes that finding answers to these questions can provide important insights for developing new treatments.
“Her work is not only really amazing basic scientific work helping to understand brain development, but it’s also important applied work,” said Jutta Gorman, chair of the Department of Psychology. “She takes the insights she gained from her research and then tries to improve the interventions we have. We know from research that oftentimes, childhood anxiety disorders are a kind of precursor to more serious psychopathology as children get older, so it’s really important to develop effective interventions. for childhood anxiety disorders.”
Gee also recently received the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Professional Contribution to Psychology from the American Psychological Association for Research in Psychopathology.