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Natania Crane PhD

  • Assistant Professor
  • Associate Director of the UIC Recovery Clinic
  • Department of Psychiatry, UIC
Dr. Crane is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and the Associate Director of the UIC Recovery Clinic. She is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Her research utilizes multiple methods (i.e., fMRI, EEG, cognitive, clinical, and self-report measures) to examine the brain and behavioral risk factors and consequences of Substance Use Disorders, especially Cannabis Use Disorder. An important aspect of her research is studying the relationship between clinical mental health factors and substance use, particularly between depression and cannabis use. Dr. Crane received her PhD in Clinical Psychology, completed her Clinical Internship and T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship at UIC, with an emphasis in Neuropsychology. She has received Early Career Travel Awards from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the Society of Biological Psychiatry, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the American Psychological Foundation, as well as a K23 Early Career Development Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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Phimvana Boonliam BS

  • Research Associate, REWARD Lab
  • Department of Psychiatry, UIC
Phimvana Boonliam

Cassandra Brandes PhD

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, REWARD Lab
  • Department of Psychiatry, UIC
Cassandra Brandes, PhD is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Psychology at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her clinical interests primarily involve using behavioral therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and exposure and response prevention to treat a variety of presenting problems among children and adults.

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Julia Brooks MA

  • Graduate Research Assistant
  • Clinical Neuropsychology Extern
  • Graduate Student, Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program
  • Department of Psychology, UIC
Julia Brooks is a Clinical Neuropsychology Extern in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). Julia is a 4th year student in the UIC doctoral program in Clinical Psychology, and received her Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology in 2020. Julia is interested in understanding how neuropsychological processes such as inhibitory control and executive functioning influence behavioral outcomes, and her research is focused on understanding brain-behavior relationships in the context of young adult substance use.

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Rebecca Denson BA

  • Graduate Research Volunteer, REWARD Lab
Rebecca is a student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at the University of Illinois Chicago. She is interested in researching affective and biological correlates of cannabis and nicotine use, relationships between substance use and psychopathology, and the development of substance use disorders. Her ongoing MA research project is examining the relationship between cannabis use, social context, and mood using ecological momentary assessment. Rebecca received her BA in Cognitive Neuroscience from Washington University in St. Louis and then worked at the New York State Psychiatric Institute-Columbia University researching cannabis use disorder interventions and therapeutic applications of cannabinoids.

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Zoa Glab BA, BS

  • Research Associate, REWARDS Lab
  • University of Illinois Chicago
Zoa graduated from Loyola University Chicago in Spring 2020 with degrees in Neuroscience and Philosophy. At Loyola they were awarded a Carbon Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship to study the impact of media violence exposure on emotional face processing, and presented findings at several conferences. They aim to attend graduate school in future and produce good research that can be directly applied to support communities around them.

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Victor Hernandez BS

  • Volunteer Research Associate, REWARD Lab

Victor is a Post-Baccalaureate Research and Teaching Fellow with the Psychology Department.  He completed his B.S. in Psychology in May 2023 at UIC with Minors in Sociology, History, and Business Administration.  He is currently working with both Dr. Kara Morgan-Short (COGSLA Lab) and Dr. Natania Crane (REWARD Lab).

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Emily Jones BA

  • Graduate Research Assistant, REWARD Lab
  • Department of Psychiatry, UIC

Emily is a Clinical Psychology doctoral student at UIC working under Dr. Natania Crane’s mentorship. Emily is interested in early life trauma and adversity as it relates to risk for subsequent psychopathology, especially substance use disorders.

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Ruwaida Khadeer

  • Undergraduate Research Volunteer In REWARD lab

Ruwaida Khadeer is a rising junior in the guaranteed medicine program at UIC (GPPA Medical Scholars Program). Though she is open to all specialties, she is especially excited about the fields of psychiatry and neurology.

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Anna Li BS

  • Research Volunteer

Anna is a medical student at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. They received two degrees in chemistry and math from the University of Illinois Chicago in 2021. They are interested in understanding what factors contribute to various mental health conditions, including substance use disorders and comorbid disorders.

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Shahd Smadi MA

  • Research Associate, REWARD Lab
Shahd received a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from the University of Illinois Chicago in the Spring of 2020. She recently obtained her master’s from the University of Chicago. She has been involved in the research of neuropharmacology since her time as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois Chicago. Shahd is interested in understanding the effects of brain injury and substance use on behavior.

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