University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Althoff Laboratory


Principal Investigator

Robert Althoff, M.D., Ph.D.

An Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Althoff is a practicing Child Psychiatrist and Principal Investigator studying children with profound self-regulatory problems and how these problems may relate to metabolic issues in adulthood. The lab uses a multi-method approach, funded by NIH and private foundations, to look at dysregulation and its multimodal influences on a child's environment and behavior. The lab uses psychophysiological measures performed using eye movement and heart rate variability monitoring in addition to the study of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental contributions to the dysregulation phenotype. Neuroimaging is being performed with our colleagues at UVM and around the world in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and McGill University.

Research Coordinators

Merelise Ametti, BA

After graduating from Middlebury College in 2013 with degrees in Psychology and Spanish, Merelise joined Dr. Althoff's lab as a study coordinator. She currently works primarily on a research program investigating the common epigenetic and psychophysiological mechanisms involved in childhood emotion regulation problems and poor metabolic outcomes in adulthood. Peripherally, she has also done work exploring hunger, food insecurity, and nutrition as it relates to behavioral health and metabolic functioning. Merelise is also a part-time master's student in the Public Health program at UVM and interested in the development of public policies that support child emotional and behavioral health. Outside of the lab, Merelise volunteers as a Spanish-English translator and on community restorative justice panels. For leisure, she enjoys skiing, biking, gardening, photography, hanging out with cats, and exploring the natural beauty and delicious food in Vermont!

Hannah Frering, BS

Hannah is a recent graduate of UVM and is passionate about the clinical aspect of research. Although she started in the lab as an undergraduate intern, she is now managing recruitment, participation, and administrative needs for two projects occurring at the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families involving children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder. She hopes to remain in clinical health care field and pursue a profession as a Physician’s Assistant or Nurse Practitioner.

Graduate Students

Meghan Schreck, BA, PhD Candidate in Clinical Psychology

Meghan is a 5th year clinical psychology graduate student at the University of Vermont. Her program of research seeks to better understand transdiagnostic processes of mental health problems, using a multi-method approach, to improve classification and evidence-based intervention. To this end, she has utilized a variety of statistical methodologies to understand the development of behavior, including twin studies to estimate relative genetic and environmental influences, latent class and latent transition analysis to clarify phenotypic definitions, and structural equation modeling to examine theoretical models. More specifically, she has used these approaches to investigate the determinants of leisure-time exercise behavior (i.e., planned physical activity) in youth. Her dissertation seeks to explore the relation between internally motivated withdrawn behavior, defined by shyness and a preference for solitude, and sports participation.

Tim LaVigne BA, PhD Candidate in Clinical Psychology

Tim's research broadly focuses on externalizing disorders, such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Previous projects include examinations of the association between children's physical fitness and psychological well-being, and treatment outcome studies utilizing parent training and exercise prescriptions for both parents and children. He is currently working on a project comparing Theory of Mind abilities in children with ADHD and children with Autism, and his dissertation involves examining the influence of television pacing on attention and executive functioning.

Undergraduate Research Assistant Internship

Allison Giroux

Allison is a senior neuroscience major from Hinesburg, VT, and is a dual citizen in the UVM College of Arts & Sciences and The UVM Honors College. She has been a member of the lab team since May, 2014. Currently, Allison is working on her Senior Honors Thesis through the lab for which she is investigating the relationship between childhood secondhand tobacco exposure and the development of emotion recognition abilities. Outside of the lab, she is the student leader for the UVM Tobacco-Free Initiative, a member of Alpha Phi Omega (a non-Greek, co-ed national service fraternity), and a peer mentor and ambassador for The Honors College. Allison is passionate about healthcare and hopes to attend dental school in the future.

Hannah Woodruff

Hannah is a senior Neuroscience major at UVM with a minor in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s studies. She has been an intern in the Althoff lab since the summer of 2014. She is originally from Waterbury, VT- right across from the Ben and Jerry’s factory! In the future, she hopes to apply to medical school and continue participating in research on the human brain. In her free time, I enjoy baby-sitting, running, hiking, creative writing, and re-watching The Office.

Jenny Michael

Jenny is a UVM student in her Junior year studying Neuroscience and minoring in Music.  In her free time, she is in an all female a cappella group called the Cat’s Meow, draws, and loves to go outside.  She hopes to one day become a Pediatrician, as she loves working with children and is interested in medicine.

Michelle Thompson

Michelle is a junior studying Psychological Science and Economics at the University of Vermont and has been working in the lab since June, 2015. She is particularly interested in the development of decision-making skills and the role that one's environment has on their learning of these processes. After graduating from UVM, she hopes to pursue a career as a clinical psychologist. She also enjoys serving as a peer mentor to students in the Honors College, giving tours of the university, and tutoring students in writing.

Mackenzie Hakey

Mackenzie is a junior in the psychology program at UVM. She is passionate about art, music and exercise and using her free time she enjoys taking pictures, pottery, hiking, kayaking and other outdoor activities. She loves working with children and works at the YMCA of Greater Burlington when she can. Her parents just got a new golden retriever puppy Rosie, who she spends a great deal of time with.

Shannon Sweeney

Shannon is currently a second year student majoring in Biological Science and Psychological Science. She is interested in pursuing a career in psychiatry. Her hobbies include photography, skiing and hiking. Shannon is a program director for the Community for Artistic Development. She also enjoys spending time with Mackenzie’s puppy, Rosie, and Mackenzie too.

(Not pictured, Dylan Herman)

Last modified November 13 2015 12:53 PM