gabriel Gabriel S. Dichter, PhD, Director
Research Statement: We are dedicated to the use of neuroscience methods to better understand
psychiatric disorders. Research methods include psychophysiology, functional MRI, eye-tracking,
and behavioral approaches. Our strategy is to first validate methods in non-clinical contexts, then
to apply paradigms in psychiatric conditions, and finally to test our measures as potential
biomarkers of treatment response.
Kinard-150x150 Jessica Kinard, Ph.D. CCC-SLP, Postdoctoral Fellow
Research Statement: I completed my PhD in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at UNC
Chapel Hill under the mentorship of Dr. Linda Watson. During my graduate program, I studied
parent-mediated interventions for toddlers at-risk for autism, as well as for toddlers and
preschoolers from primarily Spanish-speaking families. My research in the CAN Lab focuses
on neural mechanisms of reward learning in children with autism in the context of uncertain
social and nonsocial rewards.
Erin_Walsh-260x300 Erin Walsh, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, UNC-Chapel Hill
Research Statement: My research focuses on exploring the mechanisms by which mindfulness-
based interventions alter neural, immune, and endocrine processes in persons with depression,
and how such changes affect cognitive and emotional vulnerabilities in depression. I am also
interested in examining how early life experiences predict treatment response in depression. I
received my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kentucky under mentorship of
Dr. Ruth Baer and completed a postdoctoral research position at the University of Wisconsin-
Madison under Dr. Heather Abercrombie.
Maya Mosner, Clinical Psychology Graduate Student
Research Statement: I am interested in developmental trajectories of reward processing in
typical development and in children with autism as well as neural mechanisms of reward-
based learning in autism.
Greene-150x150 Rachel Greene, Clinical Psychology Graduate Student
Research Statement: I am broadly interested in social motivation deficits in ASD, and am
working on a study of the acute effects of intransal oxytocin administration on the neural
mechanisms of social motivation in children with autism.
Paul Cernasov Paul Cernasov, Clinical Psychology Graduate Student
I’m interested in the application of neuroimaging techniques to identify predictors of treatment response and
monitor outcomes in psychiatric conditions, particularly from a transdiagnostic perspective. I am working on
a project using ultra-high field MRI to evaluate biological target engagement in a psychotherapeutic
intervention for adults with anhedonia (Behavioral Activation for Anhedonia).
Alissa Hopper Alissa Hopper, Allied Health Sciences Graduate Student and LEND trainee
Research Statements: My work focuses on the speech and language differences in young adults with
autism, with a particular emphasis on social communication differences. I am also interested in
studying the disorder from a multidisciplinary perspective, and I hope to incorporate findings
from psychology, speech-language pathology, and neuroscience into my work with this population.
Dianna Padilla Dianna Padilla, MPH Graduate Student, Department of Maternal and Child Health, LEND Trainee
Research Statement: My research interests lie in early intervention programs for children with ASD and
other developmental disabilities. More broadly, I hope to better understand the neurobiological basis
for these disorders. I am also interested in working with individuals and their families to understand
their transitional experiences and accessibility to resources for underserved populations.

Shuting Shuting Zheng, Special Education Graduate Student
Research Statement: My research interest lies in early identification and intervention for children
with ASD. I am currently pursuing my PhD degree in Special Education at UNC and I want to
integrate lab research with education settings. In the CAN lab, my focus is to use eye tracking
to investigate reward prediction error in children with ASD. I also love to advocate for those
from culturally and linguistically diverse groups and incorporate my international background
with my research interests.
Marcy McLamb Marcy McLamb, (UNC class of 2016), Research Coordinator
I am the project coordinator for the behavioral activation R61/R33 project. My roles include running
fMRI and PET scans and collecting behavioral data from study participants.
Macey Arnold Macey Arnold, UNC class of 2018
I am passionate about mental health and well-being. My specific interests lie in the neurological
components associated with sport performance and exercise, particularly burn-out and negative mental
affects linked with over-training.
David Choi David Choi, UNC class of 2018
I’m interested in the intersections of race, sexual orientation, and mental health. I am interested in
researching how different cultural factors may affect treatment for mental disorders.
Maria Cruz Maria Cruz, UNC class of 2018
I am a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill working towards a Psychology B.S with a Biology Minor. My fields of
interest include social and clinical psychology, specifically research and assessments focused on mental illness.
Kristen Armel Kristen Armel, UNC Class 2018
My interests lie in combining the study of Psychology with Neuroscience. I am passionate about
understanding chemical processes of the brain and how they relate to mental illness. I hope to
pursue Neurology in the future and combine my research experience to further the study in these
fields.

Lab Alumni