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At the Center for the Developing Adolescent, we promote equitable, science-based innovations and policies that support the positive development of all young people.


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    Andrew Fuligni, PhD

    Co-Executive Director

    Andrew is a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA. He is also Senior Scientist at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and Director of the Adolescent Development Lab at UCLA. Andrew’s research examines the extent to which the cultural beliefs and values of adolescents are shaped by family relationships, peer relationships, educational adjustments, and psychological and physical health.

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    Adriana Galván, PhD

    Co-Executive Director

    Adriana is the Dean of Undergraduate Education at UCLA. She is also a Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory at UCLA. Adriana’s work examines how neurobiological changes impact behavioral development during adolescence—particularly in the areas of decision-making, risk-taking, and emotional health.

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    Meghan Lynch Forder, MA

    Communications Director

    Meghan Lynch Forder is responsible for the Center’s content development and media relations. She works closely with the National Scientific Council on Adolescence to communicate the latest advances in the science of adolescent development to those who support adolescents. She also produces UCLA CDA’s podcast, Adaptivity: The Science of Adolescence.

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    Ann Nguyen


    Ann Nguyen provides administrative support to the Center, including financial management, personnel administration, and event planning. She works closely with the Center Co-Executive Directors, staff, and the National Scientific Council on Adolescence to support their activities. Ann brings many years of experience at UCLA in grant administration, faculty and staff support, and conference and seminar organization.

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    Elise Brumbach, JD, MPP

    Policy and Practice Director

    Elise facilitates the Center’s relationships with policymakers and practitioners that serve or work with adolescents. On behalf of UCLA CDA, Elise connects key decision makers with the science of adolescent development to improve policy and practice and advance equity. Elise has worked across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in legal and policy roles, including as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer.

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    Allyson Nesmith

    Digital Content Contributor

    Allyson Nesmith is a recent graduate of Vanderbilt University, and was previously the Digital Communications and Social Media Intern for UCLA CDA. She is passionate about social justice, which persuaded her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She works closely with the Communications Director, Meghan Forder, to produce digital content for the Center.

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    Carrie Masten, PhD

    Science Writer

    Carrie is professional science writer who works with the Center to produce council reports, briefs, and other written communications focused on adolescence. She was a professor of developmental psychology at Vanderbilt University before leaving academia to pursue writing full time. Carrie is passionate about promoting the unique voices and experiences of adolescents and making the science of adolescence more accessible to all.

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    Xochitl Arlene Smola, MA

    YNSCA Facilitator

    Arlene is a doctoral student of developmental psychology at UCLA. Her research focuses on the intersection of disparities and cultural values in adolescent psychological and physiological health, family relationships, and educational outcomes. She brings her experience working with youth spanning from middle school to college to assist with the Center’s youth engagement initiatives, including the YNSCA and the Summer Research Boot Camp on Adolescent Development.

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    Randhara Kotuwelle

    Research Project Coordinator

    Randhara recently graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Brain Behavioral Health. She works closely with the UCLA CDA team to plan and coordinate events for the Center. She also assists in leading a study on adolescent prosocial behavior at UCLA’s Adolescent Development Lab. Her research interests are in adolescent development and public health/medicine.

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    Amanda Baker, PhD

    Research Communications Specialist

    Amanda received her PhD in Psychology from UCLA in 2022 with Dr. Galván studying brain development, anxiety, and sleep in adolescents. At UCLA CDA, Amanda works closely with the communications team to use her relevant expertise to identify and communicate important new research in the field of adolescent development. The goal of Amanda’s work is to highlight the unique opportunity of adolescence and engage with the community to promote healthy development for all youth.


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    Ron Dahl, MD

    Chair of the Advisory Board

    Ron is chair of UCLA CDA’s advisory board and was the founding director of CDA. He is the Director of the Institute of Human Development and a professor in the Community Health Sciences and Joint Medical Program at UC Berkeley. Ron has dedicated his career to interdisciplinary team research focused on improving the lives and trajectories of children and adolescents.

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    Chris Plutte

    Advisory Board Member

    Chris is a Managing Director at Bezos Family Foundation (BFF), leading the Foundation’s adolescent programs and grantmaking strategy. Prior to joining BFF, Chris co-founded and served as Executive Director of Global Nomads Group (GNG), an international educational organization focused on increasing access to global learning for youth. Chris previously served as Country Director and Regional Chief of Party for Search for Common Ground in Rwanda.

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    Karen Pittman, MA

    Advisory Board Member

    Karen is the co-founder, president, and CEO of the Forum for Youth Investment, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan “action tank” that combines thought leadership on youth development and policy, developmental youth practice, and on-the-ground training, technical assistance, and supports. She currently leads The Readiness Projects, a joint effort between the Forum, The National Urban League, and The American Institutes for Research, which works to upend inequities, embrace science-informed strategies, and accelerate progress for youth.

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    Margarita Alegría, PhD

    Advisory Board Member

    Dr. Margarita Alegría is Chief of the Disparities Research Unit, part of the Mongan Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is also The Harry G. Lehnert, Jr. and Lucille F. Cyr Lehnert Endowed MGH Research Institute Chair and a Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. In October 2011, she was elected as a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

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    Zoë Stemm-Calderon, EdLD

    Advisory Board Member

    Zoë is the Director of Education at the Raikes Foundation. She served as a resident at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation while completing her doctorate in education leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She wrote her dissertation on philanthropic strategy for incubating and scaling personalized learning.

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