Kate McLaughlin

University of Washington
Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Stress and Development Lab

Katie McLaughlin is a clinical psychologist with interests in the effects of the social environment on brain and behavioral development in children and adolescents. She has a joint Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and Chronic Disease Epidemiology from Yale University and is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington. Her research examines how environmental experience shapes emotional, cognitive, and neurobiological development throughout childhood and adolescence. Specifically, McLaughlin investigates how adverse environments alter developmental processes in ways that increase risk for psychopathology. Her research uncovers specific developmental processes that are disrupted by adverse environmental experiences early in life and determines how those disruptions increase risk for mental health problems in children and adolescents.

McLaughlin has identified multiple neurodevelopmental mechanisms linking experiences of abuse, neglect, and poverty to the onset of youth mental disorders, including heightened amygdala reactivity, altered functional connectivity of the prefrontal cortex with the amgydala and hippocampus, and accelerated cortical thinning. Understanding these mechanisms is critical for the development of interventions to prevent the onset of psychopathology in children who experience adversity. Her overarching goal is to contribute to greater understanding of the role of environmental experience in shaping children’s development, so as to inform the creation of interventions, practices, and policies to promote adaptive development in society’s most vulnerable members.

McLaughlin has published more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles on these topics. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Jacobs Foundation, among others. She has received early career awards from the Society for the Science of Clinical Psychology, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the Jacobs Foundation as well as the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology from the American Psychological Association.

Recent Posts by Kate McLaughlin