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Isabella S

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of California San Diego (UCSD)


clinical psychology (e.g., development and treatment of psychological disorders), neuroscience (e.g., neurocircuitry of fear and stress), social and cognitive psychology


Hello! My name is Isabella Spaulding (she/hers). I am originally from Nebraska and got my BS at Tufts University where I studied Clinical Psychology and American Studies. My research in undergrad focused on the underlying biological mechanisms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After graduating, I moved to DC for two years to work at the National Institutes of Health in the Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience as a post-baccalaureate research fellow. Currently, I'm pursuing my doctorate in clinical psychology at the Joint Doctoral Program at San Diego State University/UC San Diego. My research interests are focused on exploring the cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms underlying mood, anxiety, and trauma disorders, and how these insights might inform the development of novel treatments. I’m also particularly interested in better understanding the impacts (e.g., biological, social) of early adversity on individuals with psychological disorders in adulthood, in an effort to identify potential treatment targets and ultimately improve outcomes for this population. In my free time, I love traveling and exploring new cities, going to the beach, gardening, and trying out new recipes! I deeply value mentorship and have been lucky to have many impactful mentors throughout my life. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, and I look forward to working with you!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Abnormal psychology: the development and treatment of psychological disorders

Do you have a special interest in mental health? Are you curious why only some people develop mental health conditions and what kind of clinical care they receive if they do? In this project, students will choose one psychological disorder (e.g., Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder) of interest, and conduct a thorough literature review of its etiology and treatment. Students will explore scientific papers on neuroimaging, novel therapeutics, patient cases, and any societal and policy level issues related to the disorder.

Conduct your own psychological experiment

Have you ever wondered if spending time on social media can impact your mood or if listening to music actually helps you study? In this project, students will learn how to design and implement their very own psychological research study. Students will start with a research question on a topic that sparks their curiosity and develop a hypothesis after conducting a review of the relevant literature. We will work together to carefully design your methods, develop a plan for data collection, and use various statistical techniques to analyze the data you collect!

Coding skills

R, SPSS, Matlab

Teaching experience

1) Graduate student mentor for undergraduates at UC San Diego 2) Teaching assistant for introductory psychology courses at Tufts University 3) Guest lecturer on neuroscience and mental health for elementary and middle school students in the DC Metro area 4) Math and and English tutor for elementary students through the Tufts Literacy Corps 5) Peer educator on sexual violence prevention and survivor support at Tufts University


Work experience

National Institutes of Health (2020 - 2022)
Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award Fellow
Massachusetts General Hospital Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging (2018 - 2020)
Research Assistant


Tufts University
BS Bachelor of Science (2020)
Clinical Psychology
University of California San Diego (UCSD)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Clinical Psychology

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