We are a team of faculty, staff, graduate students and research assistants who employ MRI technology to create knowledge about parent-child relationships that benefit our communities. Read more about our backgrounds, interests and lab alumni.
Yun Xie is an incoming graduate student in the developmental psychology PhD program at the University of Denver. Xie received her undergraduate degree in clinical medicine from Fudan University and her Master’s degree in Psychology from New York University.
Xie is interested in early life stress and children’s socioemotional development, especially the development of emotion reasoning and emotion regulation. In her free time, she enjoys listening to live music and finding good boba places.
Jenna Chin is a 1st year graduate student in the Developmental Psychology PhD program at DU, specializing in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. Chin completed her Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience with a specialization in Computer Programming at the University of Southern California. After graduation, she worked as a lab coordinator and research assistant at the Laboratory for Child Development at Washington University in St. Louis.
Chin is interested in infant and early childhood brain development, particularly in using neuroimaging methodologies to study how early life experiences such as stress and adversity affect risk for psychopathology. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, running, reading graphic novels and playing video games.
Shannon Powers is a 2nd year graduate student in developmental psychology PhD program at the University of Denver. Shannon received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in psychology. After graduation she worked in two labs focusing on post-partum depression and substance use.
Powers is interested in maternal brain changes during pregnancy and their effect on mother-infant interactions. In Powers' free time, she enjoys anything that gets her outside, Tarheel basketball and experimenting in the kitchen.
Genevieve Patterson is a 1st year graduate student in the clinical child psychology PhD program at the University of Denver. She received her undergraduate degree in neuroscience and cognitive science from the University of Arizona. Following graduation, Patterson worked at UCLA in a lab focusing on brain development in autism spectrum disorders.
Patterson is interested in understanding the neural mechanisms underlying developmental trajectories in at-risk populations in order to develop better early interventions and inform public policy. In her free time, she is an amateur competitive ballroom dancer and enjoys hiking and bouldering.
Rachael Ruff completed a Bachelor of Arts in psychology at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. She is currently working toward a master’s in forensic psychology at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology. After completing her master’s, Ruff hopes to gain more clinical experience and will decide whether or not to pursue a doctorate. Ruff joined the RISE Project team this past fall, and helps prepare data for analysis. She is excited to help conduct interviews with moms and their babies. In her free time, Ruff enjoys reading, writing, hiking and baking.
Brian Bello received his bachelor's degree in psychology at Mercy College in New York. While completing his bachelor's, Brian worked at New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital as a child life assistant. Brian is pursuing his master's at the university of Denver Morgridge College of Education in research methods and statistics.
After completing his master's, Bello plans on getting his PhD in clinical psychology and a minor in neuroscience. Bello's current research interests are etiology of mood disorders and finding new non-pharmacological therapies for better brain development. In his free time Bello enjoys football, lifting weights, cooking and traveling.
Nikisha Charles-Stazzone double majored in political science and Italian language and civilization in her undergraduate studies at Hunter College before completing a master's of science in education in rehabilitation counseling.
As a member of the RISE Project team, she enjoys welcoming new moms to the study and coordinating visits. She is also a vocational rehabilitation counselor, where she gets to explore professional pathways with youth and adults with disabilities to help them meld skill, passion and ability in achieving their goals. When not at work, she enjoys traveling with her husband, indoor gardening and sunset watching.
Daisy Booker is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in psychology with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience and minors in biology and medical physics. With this degree, she hopes to attend graduate school and aims to study neural imaging as a tool for diagnosis of psychiatric disorders. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, playing guitar, singing and spending time with friends.
Isabella Jaramillo completed her bachelor of science at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in psychology. After graduating from UCF in 2015, Jaramillo worked as a behavioral therapist practicing Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) techniques with children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other special populations/children with special needs.
Jaramillo enjoys working with children and specializes in both clinical and school-based work. She is currently working on her master's degree in child, family and school psychology at the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver. Jaramillo will start to work towards her PhD in child, family and school psychology in the fall of 2019. She hopes to continue working in academia and eventually become a full-time faculty member at a university as well as continuing with research.
Her research interests include working with special populations and those with intellectual disabilities (ID) as well as working with culturally and linguistically diverse populations with ID and enforcing culturally competent and responsive practices throughout all neurological and psychological research. In her free time, Jaramillo enjoys photography, running, painting and spending time with her friends.
Rylie Hansen is a second-year undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor of science in psychology and biological sciences with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience. She will also receive minors in chemistry and film. She plans to attend medical school and pursue a career in pediatric surgery. Hansen is particularly interested in studying the neurological activity and behaviors of younger children. Through the RISE project, she has primarily focused on mother-child interactions. In her free time, Hansen loves volunteering through programs like Service for Sight and the DU COVID-19 SPIT Lab. She is passionate about travel, film, playing guitar and singing. She will be studying abroad at the University of Glasgow in the fall.
Jacqueline Martinez, Project Assistant for the RISE Project
Jacqueline Martinez holds a master of science as a marriage and family therapist from Carlos Albizu University (Miami Campus). After graduating, she worked as a therapist with families, and once in Colorado she worked with the traumatized teens in a residential facility.
Martinez is bilingual (English/Spanish) and is committed to helping the lab reach the Latino/Hispanic community as well as coordinating the RISE project. In her free time, she loves to spending time with her family and dreams of owning a beach house!
Research Assistants and Project Assistants
Madeline Caruso, Research Assistant
Madeline Caruso recently completed her bachelor of arts at the University of Denver with majors in psychology and biology. She joined the Family and Child Neuroscience Lab this spring, and works on the RISE Project collecting data and conducting interviews.
She hopes to continue working with mothers and their infants in the future, whether that be in research, health care or education. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, making pottery and enjoying the outdoors.
Claire Jeske, Research Assistant
Claire Jeske pursued majors in psychology and biology with a focus on neuroscience at the University of Denver. She hopes to go to medical school and eventually do research on music as it relates to neurology and the efficacy of music therapy. In her spare time, she likes to compete in rodeo, play video games, sing and snowboard.
Asiyah Shabazz, Research Assistant
Asiyah Shabazz pursued a major in psychology with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience and minors in biology, leadership studies and sociology at the University of Denver. She hopes to obtain a PhD in clinical psychology or international psychology. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, baking, hiking and traveling.
Melissa Hansen, Project Assistant for the RISE Project
Melissa Hansen holds a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling and completed her BA in psychology from Baylor University. She spends time as a play therapist, working clinically with early childhood trauma when she is not in the lab. In her free time, you can find her hiking, mountain biking or snowboarding in the beautiful Colorado mountains!
Collette Hong, Research Assistant
Collette Hong is a biology and French major with a minor in chemistry at the University of Denver. She plans on going to medical school where she will pursue becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. In her free time, she loves running and spending time with her friends and family.
Akram Ibrahim, Research Assistant
Akram Ibrahim received his bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Following graduation, he spent a year in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, helping build a volunteer program for their school district. He completed his master's in clinical mental health counseling at the University of Denver with a specialization in adolescence and addictions. In his free time, he enjoys boxing, watching basketball games and playing video games.
Samantha Buxbaum, Research Assistant
Samantha Buxbaum completed her BA at Colorado College with a major in psychology and a minor in feminist and gender studies. Following graduation, she taught outdoor education to middle school children and received her yoga teacher certification. She completed her master's degree in sport and performance psychology at the University of Denver and hopes to pursue working with adolescents in the field of performance psychology. In her free time, she likes to ski, cook and do yoga!
Chhorda Vuth, Research Assistant
Chhorda Vuth graduated from the University of Denver. She majored in biology with minors in psychology and sociology. She hopes to go to physician assistant school and work with immigrant populations. In her free time, she likes to travel, read, journal and spend time with friends and family.
Hana Gulli, Research Assistant
Hana Gulli completed her bachelor's degree at the University of Denver. She earned a major in psychology with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience and minors in marketing, biology and Spanish. She is from Minnesota and loves the lake life there, but loves to ski in Colorado. She also loves dogs and you can usually find her walking around campus with her housemate's dog.
Ximena Calderon, Research Assistant
Ximena Calderon completed her bachelor's degree at the University of Denver. Outside of her interest in research and clinical psychology, Calderon is a classical violinist. In her free time she enjoys hiking, rowing, skiing and going to the movies. She is from Costa Rica and in the future she hopes to be a clinical psychologist to be able to work with kids from cultures and backgrounds like her own.
Miriam Nowrouzi, Research Assistant
Miriam Nowrouzi received her master's in forensic psychology at the University of Denver, with a concentration in neuropsychology. Miriam attended Indiana University Bloomington where she earned her bachelor of science in psychology with a concentration in biology and neuroscience. Miriam is passionate about the intersection of forensic psychology, neuropsychology, public service and the environment. For two years prior to joining the forensic psychology master's program at the University of Denver, Miriam worked for City Year Little Rock as a first-year corps member and then as a Team Leader. It was there that Miriam grew and developed her passion for community service that she carries with her today. Outside of school, Miriam enjoys art, spending time in the mountains and traveling.
Mallory Kruse, Research Assistant
Mallory Kruse received her master's degree in counseling psychology from the University of Denver. She previously attended the University of New Mexico where she received her BA in psychology with a minor in sociology. She intends to pursue a PhD in developmental psychology and would like to study the interaction between biological, psychological and environmental factors that contribute to the development of psychopathology in order to inform community intervention programs for at-risk youth. Aside from school, her interests include cooking, Pilates and traveling.
Mathias Smrekar, Research Assistant
Mathias Smrekar received his BA in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his master's in research methods and statistics at the University of Denver. His research interests include early childhood development, specifically how early-life environmental factors impact educational attainment in elementary school and evolutionary psychology. In his free time, Mathias enjoys playing basketball, cooking and exploring the Colorado mountains.
Nanxi Xu, Research Assistant
Nanxi Xu is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in developmental psychology at the University of Missouri. She obtained her master's degree in counseling psychology at the University of Denver and holds an undergraduate BA degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on children's social emotional development and intervention strategies. Outside of work, Nanxi enjoys reading and traveling.
Cassie Sorrells, Research Assistant
Cassie Sorrells obtained her master's degree in education and human development through University of Colorado Denver and received her BA in multidisciplinary studies, with concentrations in biology, anthropology and linguistics, from West Virginia University. Cassie works as an early childhood educator at Boulder Journey School. Outside of work and school, Cassie enjoys reading, yoga and hiking with her border collie pup.
Rachel Schiff, Research Assistant
Rachel Schiff obtained her master's degree in early childhood special education at the University of Denver. She holds a bachelor's degree in liberal studies with an emphasis on early childhood education from California State University Northridge. She is passionate about her work with infants with special needs and their families. When not teaching infants, Rachel enjoys the arts, cooking and spending time with her family.
Lindsay Blanton, Research Assistant
Lindsay Blanton is currently working as a behavior consultant at GoldStar Learning Options Inc., as well as working on an EdS in school psychology with an emphasis in ABA from the University of Northern Colorado. Lindsay has tremendous enthusiasm for everything outdoors and you can usually find her skiing on the slopes or hiking with her favorite canine companion, Dexter.
Sarah Terrell, Research Assistant
Sarah Terrell holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Virginia Tech. She was formerly a research assistant at Virginia Tech's Child Study Center and a data reductionist at Virginia Tech's Transportation Institute. Her research interests are centered on emotional and neurological development in childhood, as well as aggressive and violent behaviors across the lifespan. In her spare time she enjoys backpacking, kayaking and spending time with her border collie.
Emma Rosenblum, Research Assistant
Emma Rosenblum received a BA from University of Denver, majoring in psychology with minors in marketing and business administration. She plans on pursuing her PsyD in clinical psychology with a focus in pediatrics. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, cooking and hiking around Colorado.
Tanisha Crosby-Attipoe, Research Assistant
Tanisha Crosby-Attipoe completed her BS degree from the University of Denver in biology with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience and specialized minors in chemistry and psychology. She plans on pursuing a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree in hopes of becoming a pediatrician. In her spare time, she enjoys painting, dancing, traveling to new places and learning new languages.
Naomi Wallace, Research Assistant
Naomi Wallace graduated from the University of Denver, earning a major in psychology with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience. She is currently a PhD student at Washington State University. She plans to pursue research and her interests include sleep and its relationship with emotional development and experience. In her free time, Naomi enjoys cooking and playing the saxophone.
Laura Jeske, Research Assistant
Laura Jeske graduated from the University of Denver with a double major in psychology and international studies. She plans to work in the nonprofit field, specifically with nonprofits that empower women and children in need. In her free time she enjoys skiing, reading and hiking.
Raza Sagarwala, Research Assistant
Raza Sagarwala is a University of Denver graduate with a degree in psychology. He is a current MD candidate at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. In his free time, he loves to work out and stay active.
Andrew Erhart, Graduate Student
Andrew Erhart graduated from developmental psychology PhD program at the University of Denver. He has a master's in psychology from Brandeis University where he studied event related potentials related to motor control. He has an undergraduate degree in psychology, neuroscience and philosophy from Washington University in St Louis.
His current research interests include cognitive development, social cognition and statistical modeling, especially in a neuroimaging context. In his spare time, he likes to produce electronic music and play fighting games competitively.
Leah Grande, Graduate Student
Leah Grande graduated from the clinical child psychology PhD program at DU, specializing in developmental cognitive neuroscience. Leah received her undergraduate degree in psychology and cognitive science at the University of Virginia. Following graduation, she worked as a project coordinator for Joseph Allen's (PhD) KLIFF/VIDA longitudinal study.
Grande is interested in the intergenerational transmission of parenting, the maternal brain and oxytocin system, and the influence of early life experience on health and brain development. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, yoga and going to farmers markets.
Alex Dufford, Graduate Student
Alex Dufford graduated with a BS degree in psychology with a focus in neuroscience from Penn State University in 2013. Following graduation, he became the lab manager for the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at CUNY Queens College and the Lab of Neuroimaging at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Alex graduated from in the developmental area at DU specializing in developmental cognitive neuroscience. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Scheinost Lab at the Yale School of Medicine, as well as a T32 postdoc at the Yale Child Study Center. He is interested in studying early brain development, building predictive models of developmental outcomes and understanding markers of psychiatric disorders early in development. In his spare time, he enjoys playing bluegrass music and exploring the live music scene.
Amy Anderson, Graduate Student
Amy Anderson completed her doctoral degree in developmental psychology with a minor in developmental cognitive neuroscience at the University of Denver. She completed an MS in cognitive neuroscience at University College London in London and her BA at Stony Brook University in New York with a major in psychology. Amy is interested in exploring how early life experiences—prenatal through childhood—may influence developmental outcomes, and how brain structure and function may be altered in response to such experiences or an early indicator of developmental disorders. Outside her studies, Amy enjoys cycling, outdoor adventures and traveling to new places!
Christian G. Capistrano, Graduate Student
Christian G. Capistrano is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in developmental psychology with a minor in developmental cognitive neuroscience at the University of Denver. Her research interests include cognitive development and emotion regulation. Outside of work, Chris likes to ski, try new restaurants and just relax.
Hannah Bianco, Graduate Student
Hannah Bianco is a psychologist resident at the Children's Program in Portland, OR. Hannah enjoys working with parents and children both in research and clinical settings. Outside of work, Hannah likes gardening, photography, woodworking and traveling.
Aviva Olsavsky, Postdoctoral Fellow
Aviva Olsavsky completed her BA at Harvard College in Russian studies. She subsequently had a prior career before transitioning to medicine, graduating from UCLA School of Medicine in 2012. She completed a Clinical Research Training Program Fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health where she studied mood disorders in children, followed by work focused on affiliative processes in children with a history of institutional rearing. After completing her Adult Psychiatry Residency at UCLA and her Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship at CU Anschutz, she finished her Postdoctoral Research Fellowship with a focus on mothers with stressful life experiences and the way in which mothers process salience of infant-related cues, engage in motivated maternal approach behaviors and experience reinforcement learning in the context of the parent-child relationship. Aviva is currently a senior instructor at CU Anschutz School of Medicine/Children's Hospital Colorado. Aviva enjoys RV camping with her husband and pets, as well as downhill skiing and scuba diving, which she recently learned how to do as an adult.
Research Coordinators and Lab Coordinators
Rebekah Tribble, Research Coordinator
Rebekah Tribble completed her BA in integrative physiology (IPHY) at the University of Colorado Boulder. She continued on in the IPHY department to obtain a master of science degree, where she studied physiological and behavioral factors underlying the regulation of sleep and wakefulness across early childhood in the University of Colorado Sleep and Development Laboratory. Her research efforts were dedicated to better understanding how sleep and circadian rhythms impact young children's emotional, cognitive and brain development. Specifically, her project focused on the effect of napping on the diurnal pattern of cortisol secretion in toddlers. During her graduate studies, she worked as a teaching assistant for undergraduate classes, an experience that became one of her favorite parts of graduate school.
Christina Congleton, Lab Coordinator
Christina Congleton holds a master's degree in human development & psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an undergraduate degree from Oberlin College, where she studied biopsychology and creative writing. She was formerly a research assistant in the Cognitive-Behavioral Neurology Unit and the Lazar Lab for Meditation Research at Massachusetts General Hospital. She has also worked as a teacher and daycare provider for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Christina is the former research coordinator for the IDEA project.
Daniel Mason, Lab Coordinator
Daniel Mason holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Denver in international studies with a concentration in health and development, including minors in biology and chemistry. His interest in health, both physical and mental, are what drew him to the Family and Child Neuroscience Lab. He is currently a MD candidate at Harvard Medical School and aspires to become a physician in family medicine or pediatrics. A fun fact about Daniel is that he speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and basic Chinese. He hopes to work in other countries in the future. In his free time, Daniel enjoys Latin dancing, singing and watching or quoting Disney movies.