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.
Katie D’Aunno, B.S.:Katie joined the lab in 2013 as a research coordinator. Before joining the lab, she received a B.S. from Loyola University Chicago in Psychology. At Loyola, she was an undergraduate research assistant in the Cognitive Affective Neuroscience lab working on an Aging study using EEG and the Activity Matters lab where she completed an Honor’s thesis studying BMI and negative body image in friendship networks among low-income ethnic minority girls. Katie is currently working as a coordinator on the RISE study
Jessica Oakley, B.S.:Jessica joined the lab in 2013 as a research received a B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan. Jessica was an undergraduate research assistant and lab manager at the Cognition and Aging Lab at U of M, working primarily on a cognitive genetics project, which examined the correlation between an acetylcholine transporter mutation and attentional difficulties. After graduation, Jessica joined the Department of Psychiatry at UIC, where she contributed to a variety of studies of pediatric mood disorders. In the Maki lab, Jessica is currently involved in the lab management, HIV and RISE studies
Lacey Wisslead, B.S.:Lacey joined the Maki Lab in 2010 as an undergraduate research assistant. During that time, she completed her Honor’s Capstone project entitled, “Effect of Oral Contraceptive Use on Heart Rate Variability during Laboratory-Induced Stress.” In 2012, she received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and her role shifted to a full-time research coordinator in the Maki Lab. Lacey is currently involved with the RISE study as well as the lab’s perinatal mental health research.
Emily Close, LCSW :Emily joined the lab in 2013 as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. In addition to working in the lab, Emily also provides individual and group psychotherapy to patients in the Women’s Mental Health Program. Emily received an MSW from Loyola University Chicago with a concentration in mental health. Prior to joining the lab, Emily worked as a perinatal social worker at University of Chicago Medicine. Clinical interests include perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, perinatal loss and bereavement and reproductive health access among historically disadvantaged populations.
Alana Aziz-Bradley, MPH :Alana joined the Maki Lab in 2014 as a Research Coordinator. Prior to joining the lab, she received a B.A. in Cultural and Urban Anthropology in 2006. She then went on to complete a Master’s of Public Health focusing on Community Health Sciences and Gerontology at UIC. She has worked on community health and research programs at the Hines VA Hospital, American Cancer Society, and Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Her academic interests are aging, HIV/AIDS, health disparities, and sexual minorities.