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Washington State University

Sara Waters

Sara Waters

Associate Professor 360-546-9272 McClaskey 226, Vancouver 14204 NE SALMON CREEK AVE

Curriculum Vitae (pdf)


  • Ph.D. Human Development, University of California, Davis, 2011
  • M.S. Child Development, University of California, Davis, 2008
  • B.A. Psychology; English, University of California, Berkeley, 2003

Professional Experience

January 2015-Present
Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development, Washington State University

September 2014-December 2014
Visiting Research Scientist, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of the Pacific

Research Interests

  • Children’s emotional and physiological self-regulation
  • Child-caregiver attachment bond
  • Biological mechanisms linking early adversity to health outcomes
  • Preventive interventions for trauma-exposed families

Current Funding

  • The What’s in Your Heart? Program: Feasibility, Development, and Pilot Study. Frontiers of Innovation, Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child. $13,375 Role: Co-Investigator (3/2019-5/2020)
  • Using Native Knowledge and Intervention Science to Heal Intergenerational Trauma in a NW Tribe. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Leaders Program. $350,000. Role: Principle Investigator (9/2018-9/2021)
  • Promoting health equity and resilience in disadvantaged populations. Washington State University Grand Challenges Grant. ($4,127,320) PI: Paul Whitney. Role: Co-Investigator. (August 2016-December 2021).
  • Developmental origins of health and disease: Identifying potential mechanisms for intergenerational transmission of risk and resilience. Washington State University Grand Challenges Seed Grant. ($74,305) Role: Principal Investigator. (July 2016-December 2017).
  • Building caregiver capacities through psychoeducation on early childhood development: Attachment vitamins. Harvard University Center for the Developing Child. ($10,000) PI: Alicia Lieberman. Role: Co-Investigator. (June 2016-December 2017).
  • Assessing children’s physiological reactivity in the field. Washington State University, Vancouver Mini Grant. ($8,000) Role: Principal Investigator. (May 2016-May 2017).

Selected Publications

Waters, S. F., Hulette, A., Davis, M., Bernstein, R., & Lieberman, A. (2018).Evidence for Attachment Vitamins: A trauma-informed universal prevention program for parents of young children. Early Child Development and Care. doi:10.1080/03004430.2-18.1516650

Karnilowicz, H. R.,Waters, S. F., & Mendes, W. B. (2018). Not in front of the kids: Effects of parental suppression on socialization behaviors during parent-child interaction. Emotion. doi:10.1037/emo0000527

Waters, S. F., West, T. V., Karnilowicz, H. R., & Mendes, W. B. (2017). Affect contagion between mothers and infants: Exploring the role of valence and touch. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 146, 1043-1051.

Waters, S.F., & Mendes, W.B. (2016). Physiological and relational predictors of mother-infant behavioral coordination. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 2(4), 298-310.

Waters, S.F., & Thompson, R.A. (2016). Children’s perceptions of emotion regulation strategy effectiveness: Links with attachment security. Attachment & Human Development, 18(4), 354-372.

Waters, S.F., Boyce, T., Eskenazi, B., & Alkon, A. (2016). The impacts of maternal depression and overcrowding housing on associations between physiological reactivity and behavior problems in impoverished Latino children. Psychophysiology, 53(1), 97-104.

Alkon, A., Waters, S.F., Boyce, T., & Eskenazi, B. (2016). Latino children’s autonomic nervous system reactivity moderates the relations between cumulative socioeconomic adversity in the first five years and externalizing behavior problems at seven years. Advances in Pediatric Research, 3(6), 1-16.

Waters, S.F., Hagan, M.J., Rivera, L., & Lieberman, A. (2015). Improvements in the child-rearing attitudes of Latina mothers exposed to interpersonal trauma predict greater maternal sensitivity toward their 6-month-old infants. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 28(5), 426-433.

Waters, S.F., West, T.V., & Mendes, W.B. (2014). Stress contagion: Physiological covariation in mothers and babies. Psychological Science, 25(4), 934-942.

Waters, S.F., & Thompson, R.A. (2014). Children’s perceptions of the effectiveness of strategies for regulating anger and sadness. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 38(2), 139-141.

Meyer, S.C., Raikes, H.A., Virmani, E.A., Waters, S.F., & Thompson, R.A. (2014). Parent emotion representations and the socialization of emotion regulation in the family. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 38(2), 164-173.

Waters, S.F., Virmani, E.A., Thompson, R.A., Meyer, S.C., Raikes, H.A., & Jochem, R. (2010). Emotion regulation and attachment: Unpacking two constructs and their association. Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 32(1), 37-47.

Goodlin-Jones, B., Waters, S.F., & Anders, T.F. (2009). Objective sleep measure in typically and atypically developing children with ADHD-like profiles. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 40(2), 257-268.