Christopher Trentacosta

Christopher Trentacosta

Director of Clinical Training


313-577-7636 (fax)

5057 Woodward Avenue, Room 8304

Curriculum vitae


Christopher Trentacosta

Dr. Trentacosta is a Professor and Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at Wayne State University with a joint appointment at the Merrill-Palmer Skillman Institute for Child & Family Development. 

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

Clinical Psychology, Developmental Psychopathology, and Emotional Development


Dr. Trentacosta's research examines self-regulatory skills and emotion competence among parents and their young children. He is especially interested in the roles of emotion competence and self-regulation in children's risk for behavior problems during early childhood and their adjustment to school. His research interests fall into three broad categories: (1) examinations of the correlates and outcomes of emotion competence and self-regulation from a developmental psychopathology perspective, (2) longitudinal investigations of transmission mechanisms (genetic factors, environmental exposures to toxicants, parent-child interaction patterns) that contribute to emotion regulation difficulties and behavior problems, and (3) evaluations of programs to promote emotion competence, self-regulatory skills, and school adjustment and to prevent conduct problems. He has expertise in conducting longitudinal research with low-income families and other populations that face significant life stressors.


  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of Delaware, 2006
  • M.A., Psychology, University of Delaware, 2003
  • B.A., Psychology, Loyola College (Maryland), 2000

Awards and grants

Title: From the Womb to the Classroom: Linking Perinatal Micronutrients and Toxicants to Neural and Behavioral Development In Utero and In Childhood
Funding Mechanism: NIEHS R01
Role: Multi-PI with Moriah Thomason and Christine Austin
Funding Period: 8/26/2020-5/31/2025

Title: Examining Prenatal Inflammation and Neurodevelopment in a Longitudinal Fetal-to-Age 9 Imaging Study
Funding Mechanism: NIMH R01
Role: Multi-PI with Moriah Thomason
Funding Period: 5/14/2020-2/28/2025

Title: In Utero Assessment of the Human Neural Connectome and Later Child Behavior
Funding Mechanism: NIMH BRAINS Award
Role: Co-Investigator (2016-2018) and Site PI (2018-present) (Principal Investigator: Moriah Thomason)
Funding Period: 7/15/2016-4/30/2021

Title: Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES)
Funding Mechanism: NIEHS P30 Center
Role: Community Engagement Core Co-Leader (2019-2023) (Principal Investigator: Melissa Runge-Morris)
Funding Period: 6/5/2014-3/31/2023

Title: Prenatal Temporal Dynamics in Heavy Metal Exposure and Longitudinal Fetal and Child Neurodevelopment
Funding Mechanism: CURES Pilot Project Program
Role: Principal Investigator with Moriah Thomason
Funding Period: 11/1/2017-3/31/2019

Title: Contextual Risk, Oxytocin, and Resilience in Everyday Life
Funding Mechanism: Wayne State University President’s Research Enhancement Program
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Period: 9/4/2015-9/7/2017

Title: Schools and Families Empowering Learning Intervention Project (SAFE-Learning Program)
Funding Mechanism: Detroit Public Schools/Children’s Center
Role: Co-Investigator (Principal Investigator: Douglas Barnett)
Funding Period: 2/15/2015-12/31/2016

Title: Transmission Mechanisms of Emotion Regulation and Externalizing Problems
Funding Mechanism: NIMH K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Period: 8/15/2009-04/30/2015

Title: Gene-Environment Interplay and Young Children’s Executive Functioning
Funding Mechanism: Michigan Bloodspot Environmental Epidemiology Project (BLEEP)
Role: Principal Investigator (sub-contract from University of Michigan
Funding Period: 9/8/2012-4/30/2015

Title: At-Risk Young Adult Parents
Funding Mechanism: Children’s Research Center of Michigan New Investigator Award
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding Period: 1/1/2012-12/31/2014

Selected publications

McGoron, L., Trentacosta, C. J., Wargo Aikins, J., Beeghly, M., Beatty, J. R., Domoff, S. E., Towner, E. K., & Ondersma, S. J. (in press). Risk, emotional support, child abuse potential, and parenting during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Child Maltreatment.

Hruschak, J. L., Palopoli, A. C., Thomason, M. E., & Trentacosta, C. J. (2022). Maternal-fetal attachment, parenting stress during infancy, and child outcomes at age three years. Infant Mental Health Journal, 43, 681-694.

Mulligan, D. J., Palopoli, A., van den Heuvel, M. I., Thomason, M. E., & Trentacosta, C. J. (2022). Frontal alpha asymmetry in response to stressor moderates the relation between parenting hassles and child externalizing problems. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 16, 917300.

Leach, C., Schroeck, N., Blessman, J., Rorai, V., Cooper-Sargent, M., Lichtenberg, P. A., & Trentacosta, C. J. (2022). Engaged communication of environmental health science: Processes and outcomes of urban academic-community partnerships. Applied Environmental Education & Communication, 21, 7-22.

Wilhoit, S. A., Trentacosta, C. J., Beeghly, M., Boeve, J. L., Lewis, T., & Thomason, M. E. (2021). Household chaos and early childhood behavior problems: The moderating role of parent-child reciprocity in lower-income families. Family Relations, 70, 1040-1054.

Trentacosta, C. J., & Mulligan, D. J. (2020). New directions in understanding the role of environmental contaminants in child development: Four themes. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 2020(172), 39-51. 

Crespo, L. M., Trentacosta, C. J., Udo-Inyang, I., Northerner, L., Chaudhry, K., & Williams, A. (2019). Self-regulation mitigates the association between household chaos and children’s behavior problems. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 60, 56-64.

Thomason, M., Hect, J. L., Rauh, V. A., Trentacosta, C., Wheelock, M. D., Eggebrecht, A. T., Espinoza-Heredia, C., & Burt, S. A. (2019). Prenatal lead exposure impacts cross-hemispheric and long-range connectivity in the human fetal brain. NeuroImage, 191, 186-192.

Trentacosta, C. J., Waller, R., Neiderhiser, J.M., Shaw, D. S., Natsuaki, M. N., Ganiban, J. M., Reiss, D., Leve, L. D., & Hyde, L. W. (2019). Callous-unemotional behaviors and harsh parenting: Reciprocal associations across early childhood and moderation by inherited risk. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 47, 811-823.

Sparks, L. A., Trentacosta, C. J., Owusu, E., McLear, C., & Smith-Darden, J. (2018). Family cumulative risk and at-risk kindergarteners’ social competence: The mediating role of parent representations of the attachment relationship. Attachment and Human Development, 20, 406-422.

Crespo, L. M., Trentacosta, C. J., Aikins, D., & Wargo-Aikins, J. (2017). Maternal emotion regulation and children's behavior problems: The mediating role of child emotion regulation. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26, 2797-2809. 

Goodlett, B. D., Trentacosta, C. J., McLear, C., Crespo, L., Wheeler, R., Williams, A., Chaudhry, K., & Smith-Darden J. (2017). Maternal depressive symptoms and at-risk young children's internalizing problems: The moderating role of mothers' positivity. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 63, 77-104. 

Trentacosta, C. J., Davis-Kean, P., Mitchell, C., Hyde, L., & Dolinoy, D. (2016). Environmental contaminants and child development. Child Development Perspectives, 10, 228-233. 

Trentacosta, C. J., Harper, F. W. K., Albrecht, T. L., Taub, J. W., Phipps, S., & Penner, L. A. (2016). Pediatric cancer patients' treatment-related distress and longer-term anxiety: An individual differences perspective. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 37, 753-761. 

Trentacosta, C. J., McLear, C. M., Ziadni, M. S., Lumley, M. A., & Arfken, C. L.. (2016). Potentially traumatic events and mental health problems among children of Iraqi refugees: The roles of relationships with parents and feelings about school. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 86, 384-392. 

McLear, C. M., Trentacosta, C. J., & Smith-Darden, J. (2016). Child self-regulation, parental secure base scripts, and at-risk kindergarteners' academic achievement. Early Education and Development, 27, 440-456.

Northerner, L. M., Trentacosta, C. J., & McLear, C. M. (2016). Negative affectivity moderates associations between cumulative risk and at-risk toddlers’ behavior problems. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25, 691-699.

Trentacosta, C. J., Hyde, L. W., Goodlett, B. D., & Shaw, D. S. (2013). Longitudinal prediction of disruptive behavior disorders in adolescent males from multiple risk domains. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 44, 561-572.

Slatcher, R. B., & Trentacosta, C. J. (2012). Influences of parent and child negative emotionality on young children’s everyday behaviors. Emotion, 12, 932-942.

Trentacosta, C. J., Criss, M.M., Shaw, D. S., Lacourse, E., Hyde, L. W., & Dishion, T. J. (2011). Antecedents and outcomes of joint trajectories of mother-son conflict and warmth during middle childhood and adolescence. Child Development, 82, 1676-1690.

Trentacosta, C. J., Neppl, T. K., Donnellan, M. B., Scaramella, L. V., Shaw, D. S., & Conger, R. D. (2010). Adolescent personality as a prospective predictor of parenting: An interactionist perspective. Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 721-730.

Trentacosta, C. J. & Fine, S. E. (2010). Emotion knowledge, social competence, and behavior problems in childhood and adolescence: A meta-analytic review. Social Development, 19, 1-29.

Trentacosta, C. J., Hyde, L. W., Shaw, D. S., & Cheong, J. (2009). Adolescent dispositions for antisocial behavior in context: The roles of neighborhood dangerousness and parental knowledge. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118, 564-575.

Trentacosta, C. J. & Shaw, D. S. (2009). Emotional self-regulation, peer rejection, and antisocial behavior: Associations from early childhood to early adolescence. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30, 356-365.

Izard, C. E., King, K. A., Trentacosta, C. J., Morgan, J. K., Laurenceau, J. P., Krauthamer-Ewing, E. S., & Finlon, K. J. (2008). Accelerating the development of emotion competence in Head Start children: Effects on adaptive and maladaptive behavior. Development and Psychopathology, 20, 369-397.

Trentacosta, C. J., Hyde, L. W., Shaw, D. S., Dishion, T. J., Gardner, F., & Wilson, M. (2008). The relations among cumulative risk, parenting, and behavior problems during early childhood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 1211-1219.

Trentacosta, C. J., & Izard, C. E. (2007). Kindergarten children’s emotion competence as a predictor of their academic competence in first grade. Emotion, 7, 77-88.

Citation index

Courses taught by Christopher Trentacosta

Fall Term 2024 (future)

Winter Term 2024

Fall Term 2023

Winter Term 2023

Fall Term 2022