Past Graduate Students

Vanessa Meyer, PhD: Vanessa’s dissertation research focused on the interactive effects of illicit drug use and HIV serostatus on cognitive function. Her project encompassed two studies: a large-scale analysis of data collected in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) as well as a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study. Vanessa successfully defended her dissertation in 2013. She has accepted a postdoctoral position at the University of New Orleans


Leah H. Rubin, PhD , Research Assistant Professor


Erin Sundermann, PhD:Erin recently began a postdoc fellowship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. She is part of a team, the Einstein Aging Study, that studies the ageing brain and risk factors for dementia using longitudinal data from over 2,000 elderly Bronx residents. Erin’s focus is to investigate genetic predictors of cognitive impairment and to examine the underlying mechanisms that lead to a greater risk of Alzheimer's disease in women.

Lauren Drogos, M.A.:Lauren’s general research interest focuses on how interrelationships between hormones, physiology and the brain produce changes in cognition in humans. She has two focuses within this theme. The first is looking at how fluctuations in endogenous hormones and neuropeptides can influence memory, attention and verbal abilities. Her second research focus is on how menopausal symptoms, specifically hot flashes and sleep disturbances, may underlie changes in memory and other mental abilities typically seen during the menopausal transition.


Rachel Gerson, M.A:Rachel is a fourth year graduate student in the doctoral program in clinical psychology. She joined the Maki lab in Fall of 2012 because of her interest in perinatal depression and anxiety. Prior to coming to the Maki lab, her research focused on the relationship between parental anti-smoking socialization and adolescent smoking patterns. Rachel completed her undergraduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis in 2006, majoring in psychology and marketing, after which she spent 4 years working in the financial products industry. Rachel hopes to continue learning about perinatal mental health through both her research and clinical training here at UIC.