Development in School Contexts

Department of Psychology

Timothy W. Curby

Tim Curby

Dr. Curby is an associate professor of psychology and director of the applied developmental psychology program. Dr. Curby’s work focuses on examining the role teacher–student interactions have in promoting children's development, particularly in regards to children's social–emotional development. His work consistently applies advanced statistical models to school-based research. His PhD in Educational Psychology is from the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education.  Prior to that, Dr. Curby earned an MA in Teaching and a BS in Biology from the University of Michigan.

Curriculum Vitae

Interested in applying to graduate school?  Email Dr. Curby (tcurby@gmu.edu)

Negar Fatahi

Negar Fatahi


Negar is a third-year PhD student in the Applied Developmental Psychology program. She received her BA in psychology and social behavior from the University of California, Irvine. She later received an MA from New York University in general psychology, with an emphasis on child development. She previously worked with the New York Department of Education to assess social and emotional readiness inside classrooms and to provide data to policy makers who were implementing an expansion of the Free Pre-K for All program. She is currently interested in social and emotional development within the school context and social-emotional teaching inside classrooms. 


Emma (Gregory) Casey

Emma Gregory

Emma is a second-year masters student in Applied Developmental Psychology at GMU. She became a Registered Dietitian after receiving a B.S in Nutrition Science and a minor in Global Health from Penn State. As a research assistant there, she studied the impact of iron and zinc supplementation on mother-infant interaction. Prior to joining the program, Emma worked in food policy and science communications for five years in Washington D.C. Regarding research, she is interested in parent and teacher promotion of social and emotional learning in young children as well as parenting/family dynamics more broadly.

Vera Hawa

Vera Hawa

Vera is a second-year doctoral student in the Applied Developmental Psychology program. She received her BA in Psychology and Master’s degree in School Psychology from the University of Cyprus. After completing her school psychology internship, she moved to the USA. Prior entering graduate school she worked as a School Psychologist at a middle school in Northern Virginia. Her research is currently focused on social-emotional development within the school context and teacher-student interactions. Early experiences and children’s development, school readiness as well as parent practices and challenging behaviors, are also among her research interests.

Haoyu Lin

Haoyu Lin

Haoyu (how-yoo) is a first-year doctoral student, from Guangzhou, China. She received her bachelor’s from the University of South Dakota and her master’s from the University of Texas at Dallas, and for her gap year between the two degrees, she assisted labs at the University of Rochester. Haoyu had some diverse research experiences, ranging from preschooler language development with tablets to goals and motivation to authenticity in couple relationships. For her doctoral education, she would be exploring young children’s social emotional development, which also aligns with her professional goal of conducting toddler’s social emotional education.

Elena Geier

Elena Geier

Elena Geier is a first-year master’s student in Applied Developmental Psychology. Her interests are in child development, preventative science, and social dynamics. She is a driven, passionate, and patient young professional who looks forward to using psychology to understand the world around us. “We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.”― Alan Watts

Kara Poorbaugh

Kara Poorbaugh

Kara Poorbaugh is a first-year master’s student in Applied Developmental Psychology at George Mason University. She was a hair stylist and salon owner prior to Attending American University where she received her B.A. in Psychology. While completing her B.A. she volunteered and interned with organizations in the mental health field. This included HOPE Multiplied which mentor and advocate for vulnerable youth in the Arlington, VA area and Capital Clubhouse Inc. working along side and in a community helping to promote health and wellness for people with mental illness. Kara is interested in social-emotional development and the interactions of children with teachers, caregivers, and parents.

Kara Watrud

Kara Watrud


Kara is a first-year master’s student in Applied Developmental Psychology at GMU. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Christopher Newport University. As a research assistant at CNU she studied memory enhancement and recall through word type and misspellings. Prior to joining the program, Kara worked as a Pre-K teacher in Denver, Colorado for several years. Kara is interested in social-emotional developmental in early childhood as well as daycare and stay at home parent care in regard to cognitive and social development.

Karla Castillo Guerra

Karla Castillo Guerra


Karla Castillo Guerra is currently a senior and Psychology major. Prior to coming to Mason, she received her Associate of Science with Specialization in Psychology from Northern Virginia Community College.  She works as a one-on-one Cognitive Skills Trainer for individuals with learning disabilities. She is interested in understanding the importance of social-emotional learning in professional development for adults working in educational settings to promote healthier learning environments and teacher-student interactions.