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Jessica Connelly

Professor of Psychology

PhD, Stony Brook University

Jess completed a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry at Richard Stockton College in 1997. As a graduate student, she had the unique experience of training with two professors, both well–established in the field of epigenetics. In 1997, she began her training in Dr. John Lucchesi’s lab, where she studied the epigenetic aspects of dosage compensation in Drosophila melanogaster. She moved to Stony Brook University in the summer of 1999 and completed her PhD in 2004 under the mentorship of a yeast epigeneticist, Dr. Rolf Sternglanz. Jess’s PhD thesis pursued her interest in the histone code by characterizing a domain (BAH domain) that resides within proteins involved in regulating transcription through chromatin compaction. Jess was a postdoc at the Duke Center for Human Genetics from 2004-2008. Her postdoctoral work allowed her to explore the fields of human genetics and genomics. She trained under Dr. Elizabeth Hauser, a human statistical geneticist, and Dr. Simon G. Gregory, a human genomicist. It was while working under the direction of Dr. Gregory that she began projects that focus on the methylation state of the oxytocin receptor.


Travis Lilliard

Lab Manager

BS, Virginia Tech

My experience as a research
technician is extensive. I’ve had the pleasure of working in multiple labs over the years and have been exposed to many types of techniques and procedures. However, my expertise currently lies in the realm of molecular biology and more specifically in the techniques required to generate DNA methylation and gene expression data. I look forward to each “day of discovery” and enjoy my role as lab manager for the Connelly Lab. I have many interests outside of the lab as well. Most notable is my passion for music and performing on stage as a singer/guitarist.

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Allison Perkeybile

Senior Scientist

PhD, University of California, Davis

My research interests are centered on exploring factors that contribute to individual differences in health and behavior across the lifespan. I study the molecular and endocrine mechanisms regulating differences in care behavior in parents and how these differences in early parental care shape developmental trajectories in offspring physiology and behavior. My current work uses an animal model to understand how the birth experience shapes epigenetic regulation of the oxytocin system in the maternal brain.

UVA Psychology Department Fall 2019 (Pho

Sam Brindley

Graduate Student

BS, University of Miami

My research involves applying a multimodal approach to better understand the neural mechanisms of social cognition and behavior. Within the field of human social neuroscience, I am particularly interested in studying individual differences and early development of social brain function. Prior to my graduate studies, I earned a B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Miami.

UVA Psychology Department Fall 2019 (Pho

Erin Kastar

Graduate Student

BA, University of Wisconsin, Madison

My main research interest is how epigenetics and the brain work together to affect complex social behaviors. My research is specifically focused on uncovering the molecular mechanisms that impact the maternal brain and behavior in the prairie vole. I received my B.A. in psychology at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, where I researched the role of vasopressin in courtship
behavior in California mice.

UVA Psychology Department Fall 2019 (Pho

Minah Kim

Graduate Student

BA, Macalaster College

My research interest is utilizing multimodal markers of individual differences to understand variability in social flexibility (i.e. the ability to flexibly adjust one's behavior to match the social context). Prior to UVa, I earned my B.A. in Psychology at Macalester College and worked at the Yale Child Study Center and Seattle Children's Research Institute researching indexes of social functioning in autism spectrum disorder (ASD).


Emma Whelan

Graduate Student

BSc, University College Dublin

My research interests include the molecular mechanism by which OXTR is regulated by environment factors through epigenetic state analysis. Prior to UVA, I earned my BSc in Genetics from University College Dublin, Ireland. I then worked at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute researching Huntington’s Disease.


Taylor Hinton

Graduate Student

BS, University of Central Arkansas

My research interests are focused on understanding how early life experiences impact the development and future social behaviors of an organism. Prior to UVA I earned my BS in Psychology at the University of Central Arkansas. I then earned 2 masters degrees, a MA in Research Methods and Statistics at the University of Denver, followed by a MRes in Human Evolution and Behavior at Newcastle University.  

Contact Us

Thanks for your interest in our research. Get in touch with us for any questions or comments regarding our work and publications. We’d love to hear from you.

Gilmer Hall, Room 368
485 McCormick Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903


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