LGS Student Spotlight | Chaela Nutor

By Kia Lisby

Chaela Nutor

Psychology PhD candidate Chaela Nutor has a heart and mind for helping others, whether through her clinical research work or mentorship of the next generation.  

As an undergraduate student, Nutor found the field of psychology in a “somewhat serendipitous way,” she says. 

“I tried a couple majors before landing on psychology. Once I landed on psychology and figured out it was my passion and what I really wanted to do, I realized that the best way to pursue those goals would be by getting a PhD. 

In high school, Nutor initially applied exclusively to engineering schools. However, the University of Pennsylvania, where she received her undergraduate degree, encouraged Nutor to pursue her degree in a different program of study. 

Taking heed of the advisement, Nutor began pursuing cognitive science instead. Her journey was short-lived after the first semester of her freshman year. 

Needing to figure out her next move, Nutor decided to try neuroscience the following semester. She enjoyed the class but realized she didn't want to pursue medicine. Nutor followed her intuition into psychology in the fall semester of her sophomore year, which “felt like the perfect balance of everything” for her. 

Gaining some research experience confirmed that psychology was a good fit for Nutor. 

“I ended up in psychology so that I could help people, and my hope is that my research informs that.” 

As part of the psychology clinical program, Nutor splits her studies between clinical work and research. For research, Nutor is currently distilling dissertation topics.  

“I'm thinking about researching maternal depression during pregnancy or SSRIs [Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors] use during pregnancy, focusing on if and how it affects child development.” 

Previously, she studied intergenerational transmission of risk and how mothers may be influencing their child's development while they're pregnant. 

For her master's thesis, Nutor studied if and how prenatal cannabis exposure affects child autism symptoms. 

Presently, Nutor is in the midst of her internship as a requirement of the Clinical PhD program before her 2025 graduation goal.  

Internships in the clinical program are typically full-time for one year. Nutor is taking advantage of the Emory Child and Adolescent Mood Program(CAMP)to complete her internship. 

“Emory has a cool program that allows us to do a 1/2-time internship for two years instead of the full-time internship for one year. I do therapy with kids and young adults struggling with anything from depression and anxiety to OCD, autism, and PTSD. It's been really rewarding.” 

Nutor appreciates the collaboration in her field and says it is one of the reasons she chose to pursue her studies at Emory. 

“People are very collaborative. When I go to conferences and meet people who are open to collaborating and passionate about their work, it's very invigorating to have the feeling that your work can make a difference.” 
In addition to collaboration, Nutor finds providing mentorship and therapy to children most rewarding during her Emory experience.  

“I enjoy teaching—and in my clinical work providing therapy to children and seeing results.” 

Nutor is also involved in EDGE, which is Emory’s Diversifying Graduate Education initiative led by Dr. Amanda Marie James, Laney Chief Diversity Officer & Associate Dean, Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement. 

This year, Nutor became an EDGE Fellow, where she is involved in attending EDGE events, assisting with the planning of program events, and helping with program recruitment. 
“The EDGE work has been rewarding for me. I've personally benefited so much from being involved in the program. It reminds me that I'm not alone in this process.”