|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.
|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, 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.
|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, 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, 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, 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 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, (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, 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, 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, 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, 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