Welcome to the NEST Lab!
We study how close relationships affect health, with a particular focus on the transition to parenthood as a window of neuroplasticity and a nexus of hormonal, behavioral and psychological change. Our long-running HATCH (Hormones Across the Transition to Childrearing) study launched in 2014 to follow first-time parents from pregnancy into the first year postpartum. We collect data on couples’ behavior, mental health, and hormones such as cortisol, testosterone, oxytocin and prolactin. We also conducted MRI scanning with the fathers to examine changes to the parenting brain. In 2022, we launched a seven-year follow-up study to see how our families are faring now that the HATCH babies have reached grade school age. At the same time, we are following a second cohort of participants who transitioned to parenthood during the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns in spring 2020. We launched the CHIRP (COVID-19, Health, Isolation and Resilence in Pregnancy) study in April 2020 and have surveyed parents in pregnancy and at 3, 6, 12, 24, and 36 months postpartum. All of our studies are united by a fascination with how social connection can transform the brain, mind, and body.