Dr. Stefania Vacaru has been awarded the Academy Van der Gaag Grant to conduct a research project at the Social Environment & Stress Lab, UC Davis in 2022, in collaboration with Prof. Camelia Hostinar. In this 3-months project, Stefania will gather new understanding concerning childhood psychoneuroendocrine processes (i.e. HPA axis regulation and its end-product cortisol), crucial for the healthy body and brain functioning. To understand the basics of how the early environment becomes biologically embedded and determines human stress reactivity and behaviour, it is pivotal to consider the “developmental niche” framework, which highlights the cultural impact (i.e. all settings inhabited by the developing child) on child development. In addition to basal stress reactivity differences, she will also investigate adolescents’ stress reactivity, through hair cortisol, during the COVID-19 in NL and USA.