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Research Assistant Professor

CLARE MCCORMACK

Clare is a researcher whose work focuses on women's psychological health in pregnancy and the peripartum, how these are shaped by maternal stress and trauma, and the intergenerational transmission of adversity. She is also interested in the interaction between brain, biology, and the environment in shaping adaptation to parenthood. Dr. McCormack received her PhD in public health in 2016 from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, where she studied alcohol use during pregnancy and infant cognitive development. She then completed an interdisciplinary postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University as a Robert A. Burt Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience. Dr. McCormack joined the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in 2022 as a research assistant professor. 

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Postdoctoral Fellow

CASSIE HENDRIX

Cassie is a postdoctoral fellow whose work examines how our earliest experiences, as well as the experiences of our parents, shape neurobiological development and stress responsivity. She is particularly interested in biobehavioral processes that are linked to long-term psychiatric risk and resilience.

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Postdoctoral Fellow

DENISE WERCHAN

In her postdoctoral work, Denise is interested in establishing how developing neural and behavioral systems are shaped by experience and environmental factors, such as maternal health, parenting practices, stress/adversity, and socioeconomic status.

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Research Associate

HARINI SRINIVASAN

Harini is a 4th year undergraduate at Barnard College studying Neuroscience and Behavior and Science and Public Policy. Harini has been conducting research with Dr. Moriah Thomason since September 2020, and she is a member of the COPE Study's Data Acquisition and Data Processing Teams. In addition, Harini is pursuing her senior thesis studying the associations between prenatal maternal stress, fetal hippocampal functional connectivity and toddler executive functioning. After graduating in May 2022, Harini plans to conduct research before pursuing a degree in medicine, specifically in the field of psychiatry.

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Research Associate

LESLIE GAINES

Leslie Gaines is a graduate of the University of Richmond. During her studies, she worked in a psycholinguistics lab and was a summer volunteer with NYU's ISLAND Lab. Since graduating, she has been working in the field of education. She is very excited to be returning to the field of psychology and to be working with the SCAN Lab. 

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Research Associate

AVA PALOPOLI

Ava graduated from Wayne State University in 2020, where she then worked as the laboratory manager for Dr. Thomason's Perinatal Imaging of Neural Connectivity (PINC; NICHD/NIH Perinatology Research Branch) project and follow-up studies. While at WSU, Ava researched maternal mental health, the mother-child dyad, and child neurodevelopment within primary low-income, urban families. She also has prior experience in adult relationship science and neuropsychopharmacology research. In her work, Ava is passionate about improving access to resources among underprivileged communities and advocating for intersectionality within STEM fields. She intends to pursue graduate studies to further examine the role of early experience, and the social, emotional, and biological factors imbuing risk and resilience during the tender time of childhood and the beginning of life.

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Research Associate

INTEGRA FELICIANO

Integra is a recent graduate from Georgetown University mastering in Systems Medicine. Her goals include obtaining her MD and pursuing a career in Women's reproductive health.

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Research Associate

SOFIA TRAPAGA

Sofia graduated from Smith College in 2021, majoring in Neuroscience. She worked in New York as an au pair for a year before joining the SCAN lab. Sofia wants to earn a master’s degree in computer science before pursuing a career in computational neuroscience. 

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Data Analyst

MARK DUFFY

I am an Irish native who moved to New York City. I completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree at the University of Galway and following this, a Master of Neuroscience degree at Trinity College Dublin. My research interests range from neurodevelopment and autism spectrum disorders to inflammation, stress and neurodegenerative diseases. Through my work, I hope to achieve a significant impact in the field of neuroscience, increasing our understanding of human brain development and the pathogenesis of neurological disorders, ultimately contributing to the development of treatments for those who need it most.

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Research Associate

THOMAS CASTRO DYLAN OVALLE

Thomas Castro graduated from Binghamton University with a B.S. in Integrative Neuroscience in May 2022. As an undergraduate, Thomas worked as a research assistant for the Center for Transdisciplinary Research on Intimate Relationships. Thomas was the second author of a poster discussing Spanish-to-English translation best practices for psychological measures, presented at the 2022 APS convention. After graduation Thomas worked as a Research Assistant and Paraprofessional at the International Institute for the Brain (iBrain) aiding children with neuro-developmental disorders. Thomas's goal for the future is to pursue a Ph.D. program in cognitive neuroscience with a special focus on its relation to psychopathology.

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Research Assistant

JENNA JOHN

Jenna is a freshman at Macaulay at Hunter College currently looking to study neuroscience and biology.

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Research Assistant

MAX FU

Max is a junior at the Gallatin School of Inidividualized Study (New York University) studying Multidisciplinary Healthcare Studies, concentrating primarily in the topics of clinical and medical ethics, behavioral and mental healthcare, hearing and communicative disorders, and healthcare practices compliance law. His scientific research interests pertain to the contemporary impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic on aggregate and inidividual mental health, physical health, and child development, as well as biofeedback technology systems for speech and hearing rehabilitation. He is also pursuing a Master of Public Health at the NYU School of Global Public Health, focusing on Social and Behavioral Health.

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Research Assistant

NATALIE BECKER

I am a rising senior attending New York University majoring in Neural Science. I have been passionate about undergraduate research and have developed a deep interest in childhood trauma. My research interests include gaining a deeper understanding of how trauma affects the developing brain, starting before birth. "The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog" by Bruce Perry changed my outlook on childhood trauma and is the reason I am pursuing it today. I joined the Thomason Lab in the summer of 2022 and am a part of the COPE Study on the MRI team. Upon my graduation, I intend to continue childhood trauma research and ultimately serve underrepresented minority communities.

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Research Assistant

ODETTE RODRIGUEZ GARCES

I am 19 years old (about to turn 20 on June 30) and I am an undergraduate at NYU, majoring in Biology and planning to minor in CAMS. I was born in Cuba and moved to the U.S. when I was 9 years old. I love animals and I have a tabby cat named Juliette. I currently live in New York City with my family and we all love going sightseeing around the city. I have traveled to Spain and Italy, but I plan to travel the world as much as I can.

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Research Assistant

ANUSHKA GUPTA

Anushka Gupta is a sophomore at NYU majoring in Psychology and minoring in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies (CAMS). She is very passionate about mental health advocacy and is involved in many organizations both on an off campus that support student mental health. In her free time, Anushka enjoys cafe hopping and going for long walks while listening to her favorite music. 

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Project Coordinator, Social Worker

TESSA VATALARO

Tessa specializes in working with children, adolescents, and families, and her clinical interests are in providing evidenced based, trauma informed interventions to underserved populations. Tessa is committed to the engagement of diverse and under represented groups in research in order to facilitate culturally competent services and inform future interventions.

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Post-Doctoral Fellow

CASSIE HENDRIX

In her postdoctoral work, Cassie aims to understand the mechanisms underlying the transmission of adversity from mothers to their children and the aspects of brain development that confer resilience in fetuses and infants.

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Research Associate

AUTUMN
AUSTIN

Autumn is recent graduate from New York University mastering in Psychology with a clinical concentration. Autumn’s thesis focused on sex differences in fetal MRI amygdala connectivity in toddlers with ASD traits. In the next year she plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology. 

Team Bios
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Postdoctoral Fellow

BRYAN YOON

Bryan is a postdoctoral fellow with a background in biomedical engineering and medicine (psychiatry). Bryan is interested in exploring the development of disorder origins and how environmental factors contribute to the development of illnesses. He examines these questions using neuroimaging tools.

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Postdoctoral Fellow

IRIS MENU

Iris' research aims at articulating different data modalities (cerebral, genetic, behavioral and environmental) using statistical tools derived from applied mathematics (network analysis, structural equation modeling, machine learning) to better characterize cognitive development and learning. She is particularly interested in the early factors that may play a role in neurocognitive development. In her postdoctoral work, she is focusing on the effect of fetal inflammation and prematurity on both cognitive and cerebral development.

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Postdoctoral Fellow

LANXIN JI

Lanxin Ji is a postdoctoral fellow with a background in biomedical engineering. Her interest is to understand fetal and infant brains with cutting-edge fMRI analysis models and tools, such as interactions between key functional networks and the brain connectivity dynamics. Lanxin is also interested in developing denoising methods and optimizing pre-processing pipelines to manage the unique challenges in baby brain imaging.

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Clinical PhD Student

ELLYN KENNELLY

Ellyn is a current Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student at Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan. She is interested in early life mechanisms that promote adaptive neural and behavioral development in order to better understand risk and resilience in historically underserved youth. 

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Program Associate

MAYA RUIZ

Maya Ruiz is the Program Associate in The Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department. She works closely with the Vice Chair to manage and maintain a conducive workflow. While Program Associate is her primary job function by day, she also has a love for the arts! Maya has earned her degree in Recorded Music from New York University Tisch School Of the Arts.

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Research Associate

BRADLEY SUSSKIND

Bradley Susskind graduated with high honors from Lehigh University in 2022 where he studied Psychology and minored in Biology and Health, Medicine and Society. Bradley has prior research experience working at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia within their Center for Autism Research, and has also studied within the family and integrative medicine realm at St. Luke’s University Health Network. Following his time as a Research Associate working with Dr. Moriah Thomason at NYU Langone, Bradley plans to pursue a degree in medicine and has a particular interest in child and adolescent psychiatry.

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Project Manager

MELISSA RENEE CLARK

Melissa Renee Clark, MA, received her undergraduate training at New York University and received her graduate training in Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her work has centered around access to care for vulnerable populations, and her research has granted her access to work with a variety of institutions including the United Nations, the Veterans Affairs Hospital (Bronx location) in association with the New York State Governors Challenge, and New York City’s Department of Homeless Services. Throughout her training, her primary research interest has been Postpartum Depression prevention and maternal mental health care.

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Research Associate

MADISON FORDE

Madison graduated from Amherst College in 2020. There, she earned her BA in Psychology while completing the Pre-Medical track. Following graduation, Madison served as a Research Assistant in the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital. While at the Brigham, she worked on various studies focused on optimizing the neurodevelopmental outcomes of at-risk newborns and parental mental health by altering the environment of a Level III NICU. Madison plans on pursuing her Ph.D. in clinical psychology, specifically in the field of child and adolescent psychology.

 
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Research Associate

SARWAT SIDDIQUI

Sarwat graduated with her bachelors from New York University in 2021. Her goals include obtaining a medical degree and pursuing a career in developmental pediatrics.

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Data Analyst

TANYA BHATIA

Tanya graduated with a degree in Biopsychology and a minor in statistical science from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Spring 2022. She is part of the data management and processing team of the HBCD Study at NYU Langone. While in college, she researched retinal implant devices, the needs of blind people with activities of daily living, memory and decision-making in neuroscience labs. She also led a program to teach tennis to kids with autism. She is interested in leveraging neuroscience and data science to improve healthcare outcomes, especially of vulnerable populations. 

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Research Assistant

KAELYN KOHLASCH

Kaelyn graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2018, majoring in Psychology. Following graduation, Kaelyn taught English in Madrid, Spain before serving as a Research Associate at the University of Vermont and NYU Langone. She has worked on multiple projects examining child brain development and psychological health, and is currently focused on understanding the biopsychosocial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and families.

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Research Assistant

AMBER ARIF

Amber is a sophomore at Hunter College studying Biology and Public Health. She has an interest in scientific research and medicine and is excited to be working with the LEGACI team!

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Research Assistant

ANGELA YANG

Angela is a junior at NYU, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Chemistry. She's interested in interminority relations and plans to apply to medical school after graduation.

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Research Assistant

DANI BENGOA

I am an upcoming junior at Tulane University studying Cell and Molecular Biology and Economics. I love to go to the gym and love being outdoors.

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Research Assistant

BROOKE BENNETT

Brooke is a senior studying biology at New York University. After graduating she plans to take a gap year before pursuing a medical degree. She has enjoyed volunteer work helping children on dialysis and enjoys work related to mental health and vulnerable populations. She helps run the Medical Dialogue Review Club at NYU and is excited to be working with the HBCD study. 

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Research Assistant

Madeline Nelkin

Madeline graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College in May 2021, where she majored in psychology and minored in art history. While at Barnard, she studied mother-infant attachment bonds in large families and became passionate about translatable research, equitable healthcare, and early intervention. Following graduation, Madeline served as a Clinical Assistant & Medical Scribe in a high volume fertility practice in NYC where she had the privilege of advocating for patients throughout their entire fertility journey. Now, she looks forward to diving back into the psychology field as a member of the SCAN research team before pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology and a career as a child psychologist.

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