Kalsea Koss

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Human Development and Family Science

Assistant Professor


Degree Field of Study Institution Graduation
Ph.D. Developmental Psychology University of Notre Dame 2012
M.A. Developmental Psychology University of Notre Dame 2009
B.S. Human Development and Family Science; Psychology University of Wisconsin - Madison 2006


The central focus of my work is to understand the interplay between social environments and biology to answer the question of how adversity ‘gets under the skin’ to shape mental health during childhood and adolescence. My research examines interplay across multiple levels of responses including emotional, behavioral, genetic, and biological contributions to understanding stress and development. My current work focuses on the stress response system (e.g., the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) and the epigenome.

My research broadly focuses on risky family environments for understanding how early adversity shapes developmental trajectories of health and wellbeing across the life course. My work has examined a diverse range of stressors for families and children including, conflict, harsh parenting, neglect, and poverty. I am also interested in the role of family protective factors that buffer against chronic stress and promote more optimal development.


HDFS 4080/6080 Advanced Child Development; HDFS 8710 Principles of Lifespan Human Development; HDFS 8860 Advanced Longitudinal Data Analysis

Prior Professional Positions

Organization Title Years of Service
Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, Princeton University Associate Research Scholar 2
Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University Postdoctoral Fellow 1
Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota Research Associate; Postdoctoral Fellow 3

Editorial Appointments

Position Name of Journal Year(s)
Consulting Editor Journal of Family Psychology 2016 - Current

Areas of Expertise

Stress and Development; Early Life Adversity; Stress Biology and Epigenetics; Developmental Psychopathology

Journal Articles

Select Publications:

Koss, K. J., Schneper, L. M., Brooks-Gunn, J., McLanahan, S., Mitchell, C. & Notterman, D. A. (2020). Early puberty and telomere length in preadolescent girls and mothers. Journal of Pediatrics, 222, 193-199.e5. 

Koss, K. J., Lawler, J. M., & Gunnar, M. R. (2020). Early adversity and children’s regulatory deficits: Does post-adoption parenting facilitate recovery in post-institutionalized children? Development and Psychopathology, 32, 879-896. 

Koss, K. J., & Gunnar, M. R. (2018). Annual research review: Early adversity, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis, and child psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 59, 327-346.

Koss, K. J., Cummings, E. M., Davies, P. T., Hetzel, S., & Cicchetti, D. (2018). Harsh parenting and serotonin transporter and BDNF polymorphisms as predictors of adolescent depressive symptoms. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 47, S205-S218.

Koss, K. J., Cummings, E. M., Davies, P. T., & Cicchetti, D. (2017). Patterns of adolescent regulatory responses during family conflict and mental health trajectories. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 27, 229-245.  

Koss, K. J., Mliner, S. B., Donzella, B., & Gunnar, M. R. (2016). Early adversity, hypocortisolism, and behavior problems at school entry: A study of internationally adopted children. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 66, 31-38.  

Koss, K. J., Hostinar, C. E., Donzella, B., & Gunnar, M. R. (2014). Social deprivation and the HPA axis in early development. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 50, 1-13.

Koss, K. J., George, M. R. W., Cummings, E. M., Davies, P. T., El-Sheikh, M., & Cicchetti, D. (2014). Asymmetry in children’s salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase in the context of marital conflict: Links to children’s emotional security and adjustment. Developmental Psychobiology, 56, 836-849.

Koss, K. J., George, M. R. W., Davies, P. T., Cicchetti, D., Cummings, E. M., & Sturge-Apple, M. L. (2013). Patterns of children’s adrenocortical reactivity to interparental conflict and associations with child adjustment: A growth mixture modeling approach. Developmental Psychology, 49, 317-326.

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