Chrystal Vergara-Lopez, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a research scientist in the Centers for Behavioral and Preventative Medicine at The Miriam Hospital. She earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University at Buffalo, completed her clinical residency at Rutgers University, and secured an NIH funded post-doctoral fellowship at Brown University.
Dr. Vergara-Lopez’s program of research focuses on identifying neurobiological mechanisms that underlie psychopathology and related problems (e.g., substance use). Her laboratory takes a developmental perspective and examines the role of cognition (e.g., cognitive control, memory associations, cognitive biases, repetitive negative thinking), stress and contextual factors (e.g., prenatal insults, parenting influences, neuroendocrine function, number and types of stressors experienced, and perceived stress), and sex/gender differences (e.g., sex hormones, menstrual cycle). Methodologically, Dr. Vergara-Lopez’s laboratory capitalizes on the systematic pairing of experimentally-controlled human laboratory paradigms with intensive longitudinal methods. The ultimate goal of her work is to identify early markers of risk for psychopathology and related problems (e.g., substance use) to help deter the drastic increase in rates of psychopathology and substance involvement observed by the time individuals reach young adulthood.
Currently, Dr. Vergara-Lopez is focusing on two projects. One focused on attentional and neuroendocrine mechanisms of depression among adolescent girls (funded by an Advance Clinical and Translational Research Mentored Research Award part of a U54 grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and a NARSAD young investigator award from the Brain and Behavior Foundation). A second project is focused on identifying shared mechanisms underlying substance use and depression among emerging adults (funded by a Mentored Clinical Scientists Research Career Development Award-K08 from NIDA).
Dr. Vergara-Lopez is also a licensed staff psychologist at the Women’s Medicine Collaborative, where she provides evidence-based psychological treatment. Additionally, she is a supervisor for the Brown Clinical Psychology Internship program’s Women’s Primary Care rotation.