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Matteo Giletta founded the Phase Lab in 2020 after taking up his position as an associate professor at the Department of Developmental, Personality, and Social Psychology at Ghent University. Matteo's broader research interests centre around the study of peer relations during adolescence, with a particular focus on the role of biological processes (e.g., inflammation) in the interplay between peer experiences (dyadic and social networks) and youth mental and physical health. In 2017, Matteo was awarded the APS Rising Star Award - a research recognition for outstanding early-career scientists. He currently holds an ERC Starting Grant for a longitudinal project aimed at identifying the psychological and biological mechanisms underlying the consequences of bullying victimisation.

To connect with Prof. Dr. Matteo Giletta via his LinkedIn account, click here

Lab Direcor
Post-Doctoral fellows

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Nathalie Michels joined the Phase Lab in 2021 as a senior researcher. Due to her background in biomedical medicine, her main research interests lie in the link between psychosocial and biological factors. During her PhD at Ghent University's Public Health Nutrition unit in 2009-2013, she examined the longitudinal relation between stress and obesity in children, hypothesising about possible behavioural (emotional eating) as well as physiological (cortisol, heart rate variability, appetite) pathways. During her postdoc, Nathalie continued exploring this stress-health relation by probing the influence of emotion regulation, inflammation, gut microbiota, metabolomics and green/blue nature. She has published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles. At the Phase Lab, Nathalie works on the Outside-In project and focuses on examining adolescents' physiological and biological activity, including their cortisol levels, heart rate variability, and inflammation. 

To connect with Dr. Nathalie Michels via her LinkedIn account, click here

PhD Students

PhD Student


Tamara Lorenz has a background in developmental psychology and joined the Phase Lab as a PhD student in 2020. Under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Giletta, she works on the Outside-In project and analyses previously collected data to investigate the biological mechanisms underlying the impact of peer adversity on adolescents' health. Her research looks at 1) how and for whom peer adversity may, over time, impact physiological stress response systems (i.e., autonomic nervous system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis), and 2) whether the effects of peer victimisation on immune system activity (i.e., inflammation), and in turn health outcomes, are moderated by parasympathetic regulation. The research aims to elucidate key pathways through which peer adversity may confer risk for health problems, as well as identify factors that may promote resilience in the face of adversity.  

PhD Student


Gillian Debra joined the Phase lab in 2021 as a PhD student after completing his education in both experimental psychology and health promotion. Although Gillian enjoys various scientific areas, his current professional interests include both the study of emotional and cognitive processes, and more technical aspects of research such as the analysis of various types of behavioral data. In the Outside-In project, he investigates how adolescents’ emotion regulation in daily life is related to their mental well-being. For example, he wants to examine how peer adversity (and other factors) influence these day-to-day dynamics. With his work, Gillian aims to spark new ideas, potentially provoking new avenues of research, and provide results that are relevant beyond mere academic curiosity.

PhD Student

Jolien Braet joined the Phase lab in the fall of 2020 as a PHD student. She graduated from Ghent University in 2019 as a theoretical and experimental psychologist. In 2020, she received her master’s degree in clinical psychology from KU Leuven. Currently, Jolien is working on her own BOF-funded project. She is investigating the effect of different emotion regulation strategies (e.g., rumination, distraction) on adolescents (aged 12-15). More specifically, she wants to study how emotion regulation affects adolescents and when certain strategies are effective in changing someone’s mood. She is also interested in all possible processes linking emotion regulation to mental health. Jolien is also involved in the Outside-In project, as this project also studies emotion regulation. Jolien is particularly interested in methods such as psychophysiology and the experience-sampling method.

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