Meet Our Experts

Our Leadership

Claire Coles, PhD

Claire Coles, PhD is Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics at Emory University, Director of the Maternal Substance Abuse and Child Development Laboratory, and Director of MotherToBaby Georgia. Her expertise is in the developmental and behavioral effects of prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol and the interaction of these effects with the postnatal environment. She was among the first to describe the behavioral effects of prenatal alcohol exposure and to investigate the effects of cocaine exposure on child development. Dr. Coles established the only multidisciplinary clinic in the Southeastern United States that provides specialized services to individuals prenatally exposed to drugs and alcohol. Her team also designed interventions for those affected, including the Math Interactive Learning Experience and the GoFAR intervention.

Mary Ellen Lynch, PhD

Mary Ellen Lynch, PhD is a developmental psychologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University. She is involved in research on the effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol and cocaine on development, especially during adolescence and adulthood, and the developmental outcomes in children with Duarte galactosemia, an inherited metabolic disorder. For MotherToBaby, she has worked on outreach efforts to increase awareness of our service among vulnerable and under-served populations, community groups, and students in health care fields.

Karen Howell, PhD

Karen Howell, PhD is an Assistant Professor with Emory University School of Medicine’s Center for Maternal Substance Abuse and Child Development. Dr. Howell is responsible for coordinating Center for MSACD prevention efforts regarding the multiple, negative consequences of maternal substance abuse. She routinely conducts information sessions and training on the developmental outcomes of prenatal exposure to substances of abuse including marijuana and opiates.

Our Teratogen Information Specialist (or the people you’ll talk to if you call/email/live chat with a question!)

Bethany Kotlar

Bethany Kotlar is a bilingual (Spanish/English) Teratogen Information Specialist with MotherToBaby Georgia. Along with answering women’s and health professionals’ questions regarding exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding via phone, email, and texts, she provides educational talks in the community regarding pregnancy health. Bethany completed her undergraduate degree at Boston University and her masters in public health from Emory University. She is happily married and currently has two fur babies.