Dr. Darby Saxbe, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

       I first developed a love of academia as a kid growing up in the small town of Oberlin, Ohio, where I spent most of high school attempting to impersonate an Oberlin College student. I went east for college at Yale University, where I double-majored in English and Psychology, and then west for graduate school at UCLA. As a graduate student, I explored how everyday marital functioning shaped couples' cortisol patterns at the Center for the Everyday Lives of Families. Post-Ph.D, I completed my clinical internship at a veteran's hospital in LA, and then received an NRSA post-doctoral fellowship to work with Gayla Margolin on the USC Family Studies Project. Since coming to USC, I have studied the association between family conflict and adolescent development, including cortisol patterns and neural responses to social and emotional stimuli. I'm currently collecting data for a new study, the HATCH study, which follows couple from pregnancy to postpartum and measures their hormonal and neural responses to parenthood. My work is unified by an interest in how relationship contexts influence health, especially during critical life junctures like the transition through puberty and the transition into parenthood. In a former life, I was an aficionado of the local indie rock scene in LA. Now my most adventurous hobby is reading, and I can usually be found at home with my two kids and my husband Dan, a music producer.

Curriculum Vitae


Hannah Lyden

NEST Grad Student

          Hannah is a third year graduate student in the Clinical Science area. Hannah’s research interests focus on the impact of early life on neurological development and later developmental outcome. She is also interested in the psychobiological changes occurring in men across the transition to fatherhood. Hannah received her master’s in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology through a joint program with University College London and Yale in 2011. She also recently completed her masters at USC titled "Family Aggression Exposure and Community Violence Exposure Associated with Brain Volume in Late Adolescence: A Comparison of Automated versus Manual Segmentation." In her dissertation research she plans to investigate the psychological, biological, and neurological changes associated with becoming a father.




Sarah Stoycos

NEST Grad Student

          Sarah is a first year graduate student in the Clinical Science area. Her current research interests include the neurological and hormonal correlates of parenting, attachment, and empathy. Her interests stem directly from her prior research experiences working with Dr. Abigail Marsh in the Laboratory on Social and Affective Neuroscience at Georgetown University and with Dr. Jude Cassidy in the Maryland Child and Family Development Laboratory at University of Maryland where she studied the neurological basis of face emotion processing as it relates to empathic ability and dyadic attachment in families, respectively.





Geoff Corner

NEST Grad Student

          Geoff is a first year student in the Clinical Science program working with Drs. Darby Saxbe and Gayla Margolin. His research interests include how couples cope with and react to health-related adversity, particularly in the form of a loss. Having spent the last five years working in the Department of Psychiatry at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Geoff is also interested in psycho-oncology and end-of-life care. In particular, much of his past work has been on studies developing and testing psychotherapeutic interventions to help cancer patients and their families reconnect with or even enhance a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives.




Larissa Borofsky Del Piero

Affiliated Grad Student

          Larissa is a sixth year graduate student in the Clinical Science area. Larissa’s research explores the impact of violence exposure on cognitive processes and emotion regulation. Before coming to USC, Larissa worked at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center studying social and emotional development during early adolescence using neuropsychological assessment, hormone analysis, and neuroimaging. Her masters project examined the relationship between exposure to community violence, psychological distress, and academic performance during middle and high school. In 2010, she received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to study the relationship between violence exposure, cortisol reactivity, and performance on standardized tests of fluid intelligence. She is currently working on her dissertation, which uses functional magnetic resonance imaging and a novel experimental paradigm to explore cognitive control of emotions in youth who have been exposed to family violence.