Skip to main content

Gabriel S. Dichter, PhD, Principal Investigator

Research Statement: We are dedicated to the use of neuroscience methods to better understand psychiatric disorders. Research methods include psychophysiology, functional MRI, PET-MR, 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 mechanistic endpoints in clinical trials.


Erin Walsh

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.

Melissa Walsh, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Research Statement: I am interested in using human molecular brain imaging techniques to characterize how sex hormones interact with major neurotransmitter systems to increase susceptibility to mood and stress disorders in women. Eventually, I would like to identify the neurochemical mechanisms by which certain lifestyle choices/holistic treatments enhance psychological well-being in women with hormonally mediated mood and stress conditions. Before joining the lab, I completed my PhD in Auditory and Language Neuroscience at Arizona State University.

Erin Bondy, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Research Statement: I received my PhD in clinical psychology from Washington University in St. Louis under the mentorship of Dr. Ryan Bogdan. I completed my clinical internship at UNC Chapel Hill in the Affective Neuroscience track. My research has focused on neurobiological processes that impact reward processing deficits associated with depression and anhedonia. I am interested in understanding how hormone and immune-related interactions during reproductive transitions influence neural pathways implicated in psychiatric conditions.


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).


Rachel Phillips

Rachel Phillips, Clinical Psychology Graduate Student

My research interests center around using neuroimaging methods to examine the etiology of mood and anxiety disorders and their comorbidities, with an eye towards the impact of stressful life events. I am also passionate about disseminating research findings and sharing new insights with broad communities. Prior to my graduate training, I received a B.S. in Psychology from UNC Chapel-Hill and completed a post-bacc research position at the Duke-UNC Brain Imaging and Analysis Center.


Kaitlin Cummings

Kaitlin Cummings, Clinical Psychology Graduate Student

My research interests lie in identifying the neurobiological correlates of symptom profiles in autism spectrum disorder and other neuropsychiatric conditions to inform the development of targeted therapeutic interventions. By leveraging neuroimaging techniques, I hope to contribute to our understanding of mechanisms that support risk and resilience for psychopathology in different groups and I am passionate about extending this work to include individuals from diverse backgrounds. I am currently working on a project using simultaneous PET-MRI to examine the relationship between neural inflammation, brain dynamics, and reward processing in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.


Megan Hynd, Clinical Psychology Graduate Student

Research Interests: My research interests lie at the intersection of translational research and experimental therapeutics; specifically, in determining how aberrant neuronal functioning contributes to depression symptomatology and using that information to develop novel, efficacious treatments.  I am currently working on a project combining PET-MR with hormone treatment to understand reward circuitry in perimenopausal-onset anhedonia and psychosis. Before joining this lab, I earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Iowa and completed an honors thesis under the supervision of Dr. Jan Wessel. Additionally, I completed a post-bac fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health, supervised by Dr. Sarah ‘Holly’ Lisanby.

Robin Brown, Clinical Psychology Graduate Student

Research Interests: Broadly, my research interests revolve around understanding the implications of menstrual disorders on bipolar disorder. At the moment, I am particularly interested in exploring the warning signs and risk factors of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) among those with bipolar disorder, as well as the unique challenges of having comorbid bipolar disorder and PMDD. Prior to joining this lab, I earned a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and completed a post-bac position at the UCLA Semel Institute under the supervision of Dr. Marc Weintraub and Dr. David Miklowitz.

Lab Alumni