Welcome to our two new ADP faculty members!

Dr. Thalia Goldstein

Thalia

Tell us a little bit about yourself

 I’m thrilled to join the psychology department at George Mason! I grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, but left many years ago for college, a few years as a professional actress and dancer in New York City and on tour, and then Boston for grad school, postdoc-ing in Connecticut, and most recently five years back in New York City as assistant professor at Pace University. The DC/NoVA area has changed so much since I was a teenager, and I’m looking forward to re-learning and re-experiencing it as an adult!

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy?

I love going to see live theatre and dance, cooking, and I also do flying trapeze as my exercise! Always looking for people to come fly with me, so if you’re feeling brave, email me!

Have you always been interested in studying psychology and what initially sparked your interest?

I actually was an actress and dancer first, and when I started learning about psychology (in high school and then college), I was struck by the way it was another method of knowing about humans. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized that the topics people researched in psychology are as broad as the human experience.

What will you be working on in the psychology department?

My research focuses on how children can gain social skills through involvement in pretend play, role play and acting. In the next few years, I’ll be working on how different types of embodiment affect children’s learning from pretend play, how a musical theatre program may help social communication skills for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and what kinds of implicit and explicit teaching strategies teachers of high school drama classes use to teach adolescent actors social and emotional skills. 

What is your favorite part about working at a university?

The exchange of ideas between students and professors, among lab groups, between departments and colleges. There’s always someone around the corner doing fascinating research, and students with brilliant ideas to transform the way you think about your own field and work.

What are your research goals?

My ultimate goal is really to find out why we love imagination and fiction so much, and what that intrinsic interest can do for kids—how we can harness it to help with skills such as emotional regulation and empathy.

Dr. Olga Kornienko

olga

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I was born and raised in Obninsk, Russia (60 miles from Moscow), which was founded as one of many science towns back in the Soviet Union days. I moved to Moscow to pursue my undergraduate education in Psychology and Psychophysiology from M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University. In 2000, I moved to the United States to continue my education and lived in Maryland, Nebraska, and Arizona, where I did my graduate training at Arizona State University and worked as an assistant research professor for seven years.

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy?

When I am not working on my research or teaching, I enjoy traveling, hiking with my dogs, yoga, pilates, cycling, and spending quality time with my friendship networks.

Have you always been interested in studying psychology? What initially sparked your interest?

Early on, I was interested in biology and endocrinology, and these interests evolved into my pursuit of undergraduate education in psychophysiology and psychology. In Russia, the field of psychology is largely theoretical and empirical due to the lack of funding. So, when I moved to the United States, I was eager to pursue training and research in human development from an interdisciplinary perspective drawing on theories and methods from developmental psychology, human development and family science, network science, and behavioral endocrinology. 

What will you be working on in the psychology department?

In the near future, my work will focus on understanding the dark and bright sides of peer networks for youth development and health. I am particularly interested in (a) examining the mechanisms of peer influence in networks, (b) disentangling contributions of positive (i.e., friendship) and negative (i.e., conflict, rejection) types of relationships for youth development, and (c) understanding how peer networks are associated with hormones mediating social behavior and stress.

What is your favorite part about working at a university?

My favorite part of working at a university is being a part of and engaged with a diverse and interdisciplinary community of scholars and students. I am excited about developing new collaborations with colleagues and students as well as building partnerships with local youth organizations and schools to foster and promote positive development among diverse youth.

What are your research goals?

My research seeks to expand contemporary understanding of social context to include peer social networks, their structure and dynamics, and examine their role in developmental and biobehavioral processes. This work has implications for promoting health and addressing challenging social problems (e.g., mitigating negative and leveraging salubrious peer influences in social groups).