Holly Pham’s interest in developmental psychopathology and psychophysiology began while she attended the University of California, Los Angeles as an undergraduate. Her first research experiences included working with Drs. Julienne Bower and Michelle Craske studying stress responsivity, as well as studying autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities through an internship at the UCLA Fernald Child Study Center. After graduating with a degree in Psychobiology, Holly worked as a lab manager for Dr. Ian Gotlib’s lab at Stanford University. She coordinated a longitudinal study on the effects of early adversity on adolescent development and conducted independent research on biological mechanisms underlying adolescent emotional and behavioral problems.
Holly was drawn to the methodological training opportunities, collaborative environment, and developmental focus at Penn State, where she works with Dr. Martha Wadsworth. Her research focuses on adolescent risk and protective factors and their interactions with puberty. While at Penn State, Holly’s projects have included identification of stress responses in adolescents exposed to poverty-related stress and factors that predict effective coping styles. She has worked with Dr. Wadsworth’s group to examine the effects of individual/collaborative coping skills and development of personal identity on stress responsivity. She has also studied factors that contribute to academic and psychosocial outcomes in first-generation undergraduate students with Drs. Wadsworth and Jarl Ahlkvist. Collaborating with Dr. Sheri Berenbaum, Holly has completed several published projects exploring early social environmental influences on pubertal timing and emotional/behavioral outcomes.
Building upon this work, Holly’s current projects include: delineating differences in psychophysiological responses to acute stress; studying biological mechanisms underlying chronic stress effects; identifying neighborhood- and family-level protective factors in youth exposed to poverty-related stress; and examining pubertal timing effects on adolescent psychopathology using a twin study design. Holly was awarded a 2022 Prevention and Methodology Training Program (PAMT) pre-doctoral fellowship from the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center at Penn State. She will conduct longitudinal projects investigating psychosocial and biological pathways through which risk and resilience to substance use and other adolescent-emergent mental health problems occur. Following her graduate career, Holly plans to pursue a university faculty position to continue her research.