Johnna Swartz

Johnna Swartz

Position Title
Assistant Professor

Human Ecology


Swartz, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Ecology, specializes in developmental neuroscience and developmental psychopathology. She completed her Ph.D. in developmental psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a postdoc at Duke University before joining the UC Davis faculty in 2016.

Research interests:

Adolescent development, affective neuroscience, developmental psychopathology, genetic and brain markers, stress, anxiety, depression

Brief overview:

Adolescents differ in the degree to which they are vulnerable to the negative effects of stress.  Some adolescents are at high risk for developing major depression or anxiety disorders when they experience high levels of stress, whereas others can face similar levels without developing these problems. I work to understand the neurobiological and environmental factors contributing to these differences in susceptibility and risk for anxiety and depression.

I use functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain function that predicts the future emergence of depression or anxiety symptoms in response to stress. I also examine how genetic and environmental factors interact to influence brain function and the subsequent emergence of psychopathology. My goal is to help develop more effective and personalized approaches to treating, and ultimately preventing, these disorders.

Current projects:

  • Modeling changes in brain function across adolescence
  • Examining genetic and environmental influences on brain function
  • Identifying patterns of brain function that predict the development of anxiety and depression symptoms