Chiemeka Ezie · Our fearless former lab manager is now a medical student at NYU
Aaron S Heller, PhD
Aaron is a clinical psychologist and affective neuroscientist who received his BA from UC Berkeley, his PhD from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and postdoctoral training at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is interested in better understanding the temporal dynamics of emotion and how they relate to individual differences in risk for psychopathology. He uses a variety of methods including brain imaging (fMRI), psychophysiological (facial EMG, skin conductance) and mobile Health to better understand these relationships.
Lara Baez, M.S.
Prior to attending UM, Lara pursued her undergraduate studies in Behavioral Biology, Psychology and French at Johns Hopkins University, and completed a post baccalaureate fellowship in the Genetic Epidemiology Branch at the National Institutes of Health. She is interested in integrating neuroimaging and Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) to discover how changes in the brain affect real-time emotional fluctuations in individuals with mood disorders.
Brittany Jaso, M.S.
Brittany graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in Psychology. She then spent two years as a research fellow in the Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health. Her primary research interests lie in using Ecological Momentary Assessment to explore short- and long-term emotion dynamics. She uses a variety of methods (fMRI, skin conductance, heart rate variability, self-report measures) to further elucidate the relationship between emotion dynamics and transdiagnostic behavioral and neurobiological risk factors for psychopathology.
Nikki Puccetti, M.S.
Nikki Puccetti is a 5th year graduate student in the adult-track clinical psychology doctoral program. She earned her B.A. in Psychology with Research Distinction from The Ohio State University. Nikki is broadly interested in better understanding cognitive and affective risk factors for mood and anxiety disorders. In particular, she uses both lab-based tasks and ecological momentary assessment to examine the temporal dynamics of affect and related cognitive styles (i.e. repetitive negative thinking). Nikki’s research programs aims to link individual differences in neurobiological processes, measured by fMRI, with real-world cognitive and affective experiences that leave one vulnerable to developing psychopathology. Ultimately, she hopes this work can help direct preventative and early interventions for those most at risk for experiencing mood and anxiety disorders. Nikki will complete her predoctoral clinical internship in 2022-2023.
Bill is interested in affective dynamics, and how individual differences in the features of our emotional lives predict risk and resilience in psychopathology. A goal of Bill's research is to use computational modeling to uncover the factors that compel our emotional lives, and to identify the sources of aberrant affective experiences in clinical populations. As a member of the MANATEE Lab, Bill is involved in the preprocessing and analysis of neuroimaging data, and Ecological Momentary Analysis (EMA) programming and data analysis. In his spare time, Bill practices the trumpet and plays jazz music.
Noah is a recent graduate from the University of Miami, where he earned his B.S. in Neuroscience. Originally from Clearwater, FL, Noah's primary interests are how Ecological Momentary Assessments (EMA) can improve our understanding of psychopathology in the real-world. Noah's goals are to understand how emotional responses to everyday life predict changes in mood, how EMA can improve care for parents of preterm babies while in the NICU, and how emotional dynamics are translated in the brain. Outside of the lab, Noah enjoys playing volleyball and song leading at his local synagogue.
Bri Astorino is an energetic, passionate, and disciplined worker whose research interests lie in the connections between human physiology and upper echelon athletic performance with how people perceive and interact with the world. She majors in Exercise Physiology with minors in Entrepreneurship, Psychology, and Sports Medicine. In the lab, she greatly enjoys analyzing psychophysiology data from wearable technologies and brain scans to uncover new information and prove debated phenomena. In spare time, find her cycling outdoors and lifting weights, enjoying nature with friends, and reading. After graduation, Bri hopes to combine her interests of entrepreneurship, human factors, data analysis, and studying the mind and human physiology to help others and add value to the world.
Lauren is a senior double majoring in biology/psychology from Tampa, FL. She is intrigued by the exploration of disorders such as depression and anxiety and how enlarged or underactive/overactive structures in the brain can affect the severity of these disorders. Relatedly, she would like to learn potential effective treatments that would help to reduce the intensity of these disorders. She is also extremely passionate about public health and hopes to aid in medical policymaking one day. In her spare time she enjoys playing the piano, strategy video games, and public speaking.
Noelle is a third year Neuroscience and Criminology double major from Long Island, New York. Her future interests in research revolve around mental health illnesses as well as memory and emotion. In her free time, she enjoys trying new foods and exploring all that Miami has to offer.
Clara Meyerfreund Lavrador
Clara is a third year Neuroscience major with minors in Chemistry, Criminology, and German. She is interested in the biological aspect of psychological disorders, especially personality disorders. While she does not know specifically what she wants to do yet as a career, she will be applying to graduate school and plans to follow a career in neuroscience research. During her free time, Clara enjoys making music, writing, and practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with the UM recreational club.
Emily is a psychology student from Miami, FL. She is interested in exploring what conditions are most helpful in reducing the effects of depression and anxiety, as well as further understanding the disorders themselves. In her free time she enjoys hiking, listening to podcasts, and reading.
Paula Santi Jost
Paula is a senior majoring in Neuroscience and Philosophy from Manaus, Brazil. Her research interests include investigating the underlying biological factors that influence mental health. In the Manatee lab, Paula is mainly involved with data analysis. In her spare time, she is an avid reader and a mug connoisseur.
Isaac Tacher is a Biology major from Miami, Florida. He is interested in the causes and development of mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He is on the pre-medical track with hopes of going to medical school. In his free time, he enjoys playing baseball, listening to podcasts, and playing the piano.
Cate's research focuses on characterizing the development and dynamics of the learning, memory, and decision-making processes that shape our behavior. She uses a broad array of methodological approaches to examine the cognitive, computational, and neural processes that inform our choices and actions.
Ross Otto is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at McGill University. Ross’s work relies on a combination of computational, behavioral, and psychophysiological, and (more recently) “big data” techniques to understand how people make decisions both in the laboratory and in the real world.
Kiara's primary focus lies in researching factors that play a role in the etiology, comorbidity, and maintenance of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders. She is particularly interested in translational factors and integrative risk models, including the role of stress, self-regulatory deficits, and emotional tolerance.
MANATEE Lab Alumni
Jackie Yang · Jackie is currently a medical student at NYU
Ariel Gonzalez · Ariel is currently a graduate student with Dr. Angela Laird at FIU
Betelhem Yimer · Betelhem is currently pursuing a Master's in International Health at Georgetown University
Andrew Boateng-Poku · Andrew is currently pursuing a Master's in Clinical Psychology
Evelyn Menkes · Evelyn is currently a medical Student at New York Institute College of Osteopathic Medicine
Claudia DeLorenzo · Claudia is currently working at Cato Institute
Anuj Shah · Anuj is currently a medical student at University of Florida
Lauren Thomas · Lauren is currently a research assistant with Dr. Christian Grillon at NIH
Travis (Rick) Reneau · Rick is currently a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis
Conor Gibbons · Conor is currently a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania
Gillian Mitchell · Gillian is currently a research associate in Dr. Philip Harvey's lab at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Vilet Torrez · Vilet is currently an engineer at Florida Power & Light Company