Melanie Vandersluis

ABCD Study Team

What is your name? Where were you born? Where did you go to college?

My name is Melanie Vandersluis and I was born in Ypsilanti, MI and grew up in Pinckney, MI. I went to Michigan State University for undergrad and graduated with my BS in Psychology and a minor in Cognitive Sciences – go green! 

What interests you about the ABCD Study/research?

When I was at MSU, I loved my developmental psychology classes, so I knew that I wanted to go into research that was focused on adolescent development. I love that ABCD follows kids throughout their late childhood/adolescence and tracks their brain changes. It’s so interesting to see how these kids change due to their environments and experiences.

How long have you worked in the department and what does your work focus on / what area do you work in?

I started working with ABCD in May 2023 but have worked at U of M in the Psychiatry department since May 2022! I primarily work on studies related to adolescent brain development, mental health, and substance use. I also work on a genetics study that recruits participants with rare genetic variants that may predict substance use across their lifetime.

What are your plans after ABCD (grad school, etc.)

My goal is to attend a developmental psychology PhD program starting in the fall of 2024. I’m mainly interested in risk and resilience in adolescence and the etiology of anxiety and depression. My dream is to be a professor in psychology at a big university!

Fun fact about yourself! What are your hobbies?

I love to travel! My favorite places I’ve been lucky enough to travel to are the Cotswolds, England and Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii. I also love baking anything pumpkin related, as well as reading fun romance books. I’ve started hiking a lot more recently as well and that’s a very rewarding hobby!

Do you have any pets?

I have a cat named Zing that my roommates and I rescued from the streets of East Lansing, MI when we were in college. He has a heart condition and was supposed to leave us in early 2022 but he is still going strong! We all love him very much.

What’s your favorite food or restaurant?

My favorite food is Italian. I love chicken parmesan and really any pasta dish ever. Pizza is always a good idea too! NYPD in Ann Arbor has great slices.