Current Predocs

Shelby Bachman

Shelby Bachman is a doctoral student at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, where she works under the supervision of Dr. Mara Mather in the Emotion and Cognition Lab. Shelby’s research is focused on the role of the locus coeruleus, a small brainstem nucleus which serves as the brain’s primary source of norepinephrine, across the adult lifespan. She uses behavioral, psychophysiological, and neuroimaging methods to understand how both structure and function of the locus coeruleus relate to cognition, brain structure and function, and stress reactivity in younger and older adults.

Haley Gallo

Haley Gallo received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychobiology with a minor in Gerontology from the University of California, Los Angeles. As a Gerontology doctoral student in Dr. Kate Wilber’s Secure Old Age Lab, Haley’s research focuses on policies that promote the goals of the Age-Friendly Cities and Communities initiative. She is especially interested in the Age-Friendly domains that relate to civic participation and social inclusion. Her research focuses on using co-production to include older adults as researchers in projects that inform local policies. She is passionate about including older adults—particularly those from groups who are traditionally left out—in the development of research and policy that affects people of all ages.


Brendan Miller

Brendan Miller is a Neuroscience Graduate Program PhD student at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. Miller studies mitochondrial genetics, neurodegeneration, and mitochondrial-derived peptides in the Cohen lab. His research interests include identifying the effect of mitochondrial single nucleotide polymorphisms on novel mitochondrial-derived peptides in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.


Shai Porat

Originally from Israel, Shai Porat received his Bachelor’s in Science in Psychology at the University of Central Florida. Since then, he has worked in neuroimaging laboratories researching how memory is affected by sleep, Alzheimer’s disease, dance, and drug abuse. Shai recently joined USC’s Neuroscience Graduate Program as a PhD student in the Fall of 2017. As a Gerontology NIH Predoctoral Fellow, Shai works under the mentorship of Dr. Mara Mather in the Emotion Cognition Lab. Currently his research includes investigating how breathing, sleep, heart rate variability, aging, and music affect emotion, memory and attention throughout normal and diseased aging.


Kristi Wisniewski

Kristi Wisniewski is a third year doctoral student at the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology working under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Zelinski. Kristi graduated from The University of Alabama in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and minor in Biology. Before coming to USC, Kristi worked as a research analyst for the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center in Nashville, Tennessee and contributed to the Vanderbilt Memory and Aging Project and the NOBLE clinical trial.

Kristi’s research interests surround cognition, memory, and aging in older adults. With a focus on screening measures for cognitive impairment, specifically Alzheimer’s disease, Kristi examines personal perception of memory or cognitive decline compared to objective neuropsychological performance and health outcomes. Her current projects involve geographic variation in rates of subjective cognitive complaint, personality factors and financial decision making associated with cognitive decline, and physician-patient communication regarding brain aging.

Current Postdocs

Theresa Andrasfay, PhD

Theresa Andrasfay, PhD, received her doctorate in Demography from Princeton University. Her research broadly focuses on population health and the social determinants of health and mortality. She is also interested in assessing methodological tools used to study health and wellbeing. Her recent projects have assessed the association between physical functioning and mortality among older adults and how this relationship varies by race and ethnicity. Her current research examines occupational stratification as a contributor to inequality in health at older ages.

Yeon Jin Choi, PhD

Yeon Jin Choi, PhD, received her doctorate in Social Work from Boston College. Her research interests include environmental gerontology, determinants of health, health disparities experienced by vulnerable populations who have multiple risk factors (e.g., low socioeconomic status, racial/ethnic minorities, chronic diseases/disabilities), and supportive services/technology for community-dwelling older adults which enables older adults to stay healthy and independent (or to age-in-place). Specifically, Choi has a strong interest in conducting research on the effect of environments on older adults’ health and well-being.

Matthew (Mateo) Farina, PhD

Mateo Farina, PhD, received his doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests include life course origins of dementia risk, examining black-white disparities in health, assess in health life expectancies across demographic and geographic groups, and has recently completed some work on disease trends.

Megan Fitzhugh, PhD

Megan Fitzhugh, PhD, received her doctorate in Neuroscience from Arizona State University. Her research broadly focuses on human brain-behavior relationships in the context of typical aging using functional and structural MRI paired with measures of cognition, language ability, and other health and lifestyle factors. Her recent work explores how age-related hearing loss impacts brain structure and function in older adults, and how hearing loss may serve as a biomarker for pathological brain aging.

Haena Lee, PhD

Haena Lee, PhD, researches the role of social and physical environment in determining health over the life course. Her work examines contextual risk factors associated with health in older adults including neighborhood crime, fear, and segregation. Current projects include research on the impact of early-life factors on cognitive decline, gender differences in social participation and mental health, and social determinants of oral health disparities. She received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago and postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

Max Thorwald, PhD

Max Thorwald, PhD, received his doctorate in Quantitative Systems Biology from the University of California Merced with an emphasis on redox biochemistry and physiology. His previous projects examined the consequences of glucose challenges on endogenous antioxidant defense in the diabetic heart. Currently his research focuses on elucidating the differences apolipoprotein E allele status confers on antioxidant cycles and inflammation in a context of Alzheimer’s disease and air pollution.

Past Predocs

Dawn Alley, PhD
Director, Prevention and Population HealthGroup
Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation

Joe Angelelli, PhD
Senior Advisor, Alternative Payment Models
UPMC Health Plan

Jessica Brommelhoff, MPH, PhD
Principal Clinician, MedAvante, Bedford Massachusetts
Licensed Clinical Psychologist/Neuropsychologist, Specialized in Geropsychology

Lauren Brown
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Population Studies Department, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

Elisabeth Burgess, PhD
Director and Professor, Sociology and Gerontology
Georgia State University

Hans Dalton, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Utah

Marti DeLiema, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford Univ. Center on Longevity, Financial Fraud Research Center

Carrie Donoho, PhD
Chief of Behavioral Epidemiology
Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

Charlotte Dunham, PhD
Associate Professor of Sociology
Director, Texas Tech Center for Women Studies
Texas Tech University

Kelly Durbin
F31 PhD Student

Stephen Frochen
VA Health Services Research and Development Fellow
VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare

Nicole Gatto, PhD
Associate Professor of Public Health
Director, Doctorate in Public Health Program
Claremont Graduate University

Scott Hofer, PhD
Professor, Harald Mohr, M.D. and Wilhelma Mohr, M.D. Research Chair in Adult Development and Aging
Director, Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health Psychology
University of Victoria

Dom Grisafe
Postdoctoral Researcher
University of Southern California

Molli Grossman, PhD
Senior Specialist, Enrichment Programming
WISE & Healthy Aging

Amy Hammerquist
PhD Student

Dominique Ingegneri, PhD
Vice President, Health Care Economics
Medical Informatics at UnitedHealth Group

Chandra Ghosh Ippen, PhD
Psychologist, University of California, San Francisco
Dissemination Director, Child Trauma Research Program
Early Trauma Treatment Network of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)

Ross Jacobucci, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology
University of Notre Dame

Brian Kaskie, PhD
Associate Professor
MPH in Policy Program, Health Management and Policy,
College of Public Health,
University of Iowa

Morgan Levine, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pathology
Yale University School of Medicine

Nichole Lighthall, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology
University of Central Florida

Gerardo Marti, PhD
L. Richardson King Professor of Sociology
Department Chair
Davidson College

Teheran (Terry) Mills, PhD
Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion
John Carroll University

Todd McCallum, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Psychological Sciences,
Case Western Reserve University

Kaoru Nashiro, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California

James Nhan
Doctoral Student
Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California

Christy Nishita, PhD
Associate Specialist, University of Hawaii Center of Aging and Center on Disability Studies
Researcher and Gerontologist

Catherine Pérez
PhD Student
R36 Dissertation Grant

Norella Putney, PhD
Lecturer, Sociology
California State University, Los Angeles

Amber Watts, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,
The University of Kansas

Nicholas Woodward, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Keck School of Medicine,
University of Southern California

Yuan Zhang, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Carolina Population Center

Linda Ann Wray, PhD
Associate Professor of Biobehavioral Health
The Pennsylvania State University

Past Postdocs

Jennifer Ailshire, PhD
Associate Professor of Gerontology,
Leonard Davis School of Gerontology,
University of Southern California

Sarah Barber, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Georgia State University

Christopher Beam, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology
University of Southern California

Ryon Cobb, PhD
Department of Sociology, University of Texas at Arlington

Kevin Feeney, PhD
Associate at Analysis Group in Boston, MA.

Robert F. Kennison, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology
California State University, Los Angeles

Uchechi Mitchell, PhD
Assistant Professor
Community Health Sciences
University of Illinois, Chicago

Joseph Saenz, PhD
Assistant Professor
Leonard Davis School of Gerontology,

Anna Rahman, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Leonard Davis School of Gerontology,
University of Southern California

Chandra A. Reynolds, PhD
Professor of Psychology
University of California, Riverside

Sandra L. Reynolds, PhD
Emeritus Faculty
School of Aging Studies,
University of South Florida

Jennifer Robinette, PhD
Assistant Professor
Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences; Psychology
Chapman University

Hiram Beltran-Sanchez, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Community Health Sciences, UCLA

Connor Sheehan, PhD
Assistant Professor,
Arizona State University