Our Team


Bruce J. Ellis, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology and Anthropology at the University of Utah. His research seeks to leverage knowledge from both evolutionary biology and developmental science to advance understanding of adaptive and maladaptive patterns of biobehavioral development. Dr. Ellis’ theoretical and empirical work examines how our biobehavioral systems (e.g., biological stress responses, timing of puberty, risky adolescent behavior, social-cognitive skills) develop in relation to specific features of family environments and the larger ecological context.


Willem Frankenhuis, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology at Radboud University in the Netherlands. His theoretical work uses mathematical modeling to examine how natural selection shapes plasticity mechanisms, across generations, depending on environmental conditions. His empirical work examines how, within generations, these mechanisms use experience to adaptively tailor cognition and behavior to local environmental conditions.

Postdoctoral and Graduate Student Collaborators:

Ethan Young, Ph.D., is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Behavioral Science Institute at Radboud University in The Netherlands. His main research interest is developmental plasticity, or the capacity for the individual to detect and adapt the phenotype to various ecological conditions across development. More specifically, his work explores if and how various cognitive functions, such as executive functions, working memory, learning, and attention, might be shaped and potentially enhanced by growing up in harsh and unpredictable environments.

Susan Brener is a first-year PhD student in the Developmental Psychology program at the University of Utah. She graduated from the University of Arizona in 2018 with a BA in Psychology. She is interested in evolutionary psychology and developmental psychopathology, and hopes to better understand how early exposure to stress affects individuals on both a biological and behavioral level, with a particular emphasis on how these outcomes may represent adaptive responses to one's environment.

Project Director:

Allison Gerrard is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BS in Psychology. She loves being involved in research that aims to understand the skills that youth develop while growing up in harsh environments. She hopes to see this work shape how we view, and ultimately support people of all ages with diverse skill sets.

Research Assistants

Hannah Herbertson is an undergraduate student at the University of Utah who is double majoring in Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies. She is excited to be working in the Hidden Talents lab as she is particularly interested in developmental psychology. Once she graduates with her Bachelor's, she plans to continue on to graduate school, where she hopes to continue pursuing developmental psychology. In her free time, Hannah enjoys playing video games, and reading books.

Brandon Moncur graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in psychology and criminology. He has a specific interest in cognitive psychology and working with adolescents. Brandon’s hobbies and interests include traveling, reading, martial arts, mechanics, and spending time with his family.

Madisen Jones is a graduate of the University of Utah, who holds a degree in Human Development and Family Studies with an emphasis on Early Childhood. Her passion involves working with children and seeing them grow and succeed in both academics and in their community. Madisen says that it is both an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Hidden Talents Project. She is excited to be working towards making a positive impact on children and families lives. She is also planning to continue her education by attending graduate school. Aside from her focus on education, Madisen also enjoys being outdoors, going to the gym, and spending time with her family.

Monika Kowalski has a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Utah. Her immediate plans include research at the Hidden Talents Lab and work in programs development at a non-profit. Both positions engage with improving educational outcomes for at-risk youth, a topic she is passionate about. In her free time, she enjoys reading books and authentic Japanese food.


Danielle DelPriore, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Penn State Altoona, where she teaches Introduction to Developmental Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology, and Biosocial Development. She is interested in the ways that early childhood environments, particularly experiences within the family, shape adolescent and adult development, decision-making, and behavior. Her recent research examines the effects of fathers on daughters’ sexual behavior and risk taking.