Study Staff


Lisa Starr, Principal Investigator
Dr. Starr is an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Rochester and the director of the Starr Lab. Her research has been published in numerous prestigious peer-reviewed journals, and she also frequently authors book chapters and presents in professional presentations. She received her Ph.D. from Stony Brook University and completed additional predoctoral and postdoctoral training at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School and the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research has previously been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, and she has received national awards from the American Psychological Association, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Her research interests include emotional adjustment in adolescence and adulthood. In addition to directing her research lab, Dr. Starr teaches undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Rochester.


Fanny Mlawer, Lab Manager
Fanny graduated from Williams College in 2014 with a major in Psychology. Her research interests include child and adolescent depression, PTSD, and peer relations, and she plans to continue her education by pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Outside of the lab, Fanny enjoys baking and photography.

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Irina Li, Graduate Student
Irina is a second year graduate student in the clinical program. She obtained her BA from the University of California, Berkeley in 2011 with a major in psychology. Irina’s research interest is broadly focused on transactional models that incorporate biological and cognitive factors in predicting the development of internalizing symptoms. Areas of particular interest include the influence of emotion regulation on functioning and comorbidity between depression and anxiety.

Zoey Shaw, Graduate Student
Zoey is a first year graduate student in the clinical program. She received her BA from Tufts University with a double major in Clinical Psychology and Child Development. Zoey’s research interests include the role of anxiety as a predictor of other disorders, and the specific mechanisms that contribute to the extensive co-occurrence of internalizing symptoms. Additionally, she is interested in biological, cognitive, and interpersonal risk factors that influence the intergenerational transmission and maintenance of depression.


Annie Burke, Graduate Project Interviewer
Annie Burke is a fourth year graduate student in the clinical psychology program. She obtained her BS from Cornell University. She studies how psychological processes inform and are informed by immune and nervous system functioning. Additionally, her research focuses on mental, environmental, and physical health factors that impact the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic and pharmacological treatments. Clinical experiences include placements at inpatient and outpatient hospitals as well as the university counseling center.

Jaci Rolffs

Jaci Rolffs, Graduate Project Interviewer
Jaci is a third year graduate student in the clinical program. She obtained her BA in psychology from the University of Iowa in 2012. Jaci’s research focuses on how the model of psychological flexibility (e.g., present moment awareness, acceptance, contact with values, committed action) influences developmental psychopathology within the family system. More specifically, Jaci’s focus is on how psychological rigidity in parents predicts psychological rigidity in their children and subsequent psychological disorders.


David Weissman, Head Research Assistant
David is a junior majoring in Psychology. His research interests range from depression and anxiety to social influence and self identity. Still in the process of figuring out exactly what he wants to pursue, David enjoys unicycling, cooking, and listening to and playing music in his spare time.


Matthew Braiman, Head Research Assistant
Matt is a junior double majoring in Psychology and Brain and Cognitive Sciences. His interests lie in the treatment of mental disorders, particularly autism and anxiety-related disorders, especially obsessive-compulsive disorder, and he is interested in pursuing a Ph.D in Clinical Neuropsychology after he graduates from the University of Rochester. Outside of academics, he is a part of the University’s Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT), and enjoys playing ultimate frisbee and soccer.


Abbi Bruce, Research Assistant
Abbi is a sophomore double majoring in Brain and Cognitive Science and Economics, with a minor in Spanish. She’s especially interested in studying the neurological, psychological and environmental causes of anxiety disorders as well as their physiological manifestations. After U of R, she plans to pursue a graduate degree or Ph.D. Outside of academics, she is a member of the Ballet Performance Group and loves traveling.


Lydia Dake, Research Assistant
Lydia is a sophomore majoring in Psychology and Brain and Cognitive Sciences with a focus in psycholinguistics. Her academic interests include human sexual behavior as well as affective and anxiety disorders. After graduating from the University of Rochester, Lydia plans to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology. In her free time Lydia sings in a number of music groups on campus ranging from musical theatre to rock and pop. She also enjoys traveling and playing guitar and ukulele.


Christina Feller, Research Assistant
Christina Feller is a freshman planning on majoring in Neuroscience with a major or minor in Psychology. Her interests in the academic setting include diagnosing and treating patients with mental disorders, as well as genetics. She loves working with people with all types of mental disorders, from traumatic brain injuries to autism and schizophrenia. Outside of academia, she participates on the University of Rochester’s varsity soccer team and is involved in the GR Soccer Club. Christina eventually hopes to complete medical school and earn a MD or MD-PhD.


Brian Ho, Research Assistant
Brian is a senior majoring in both Psychology and Brain and Cognitive Science. He is interested in the neurobiological underpinnings of psychopathological processes and how treatment from one end could affect the other. Although treatment of mental disorders is fascinating to him, he is also curious how brain structures and their functioning mediate normal behavior in healthy individuals; experiences ranging from social interactions to emotional regulation all captivate him. Ultimately, Brian will pursue a Ph. D in clinical psychology with a concentration in neuropsychology. He can be found traveling, exercising, cooking exotic meals, or fine-tuning his tennis game with his spare time.


Eva Jones, Research Assistant
Eva is a junior, double majoring in Psychology, with a concentration in Clinical Psychology, and Women’s Studies. She intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology, eventually leading to private practice. Eva’s research interests include how socioeconomic status and gender interact with the development and treatment of anxiety and depression, primarily in young adults. She enjoys biking, hiking, dancing and reading in her free time. She is constantly listening to music of all genres and hopes that you will show her something new! When Eva is not feeding her caffeine addiction with Pura Vida coffee as a barista, she can be found manning the Q&I desk at Rush Rhees.


Leah Kesselman, Research Assistant
Leah is a Junior, double majoring in Psychology and Public Health. Her academic interest include Health Policy, especially in regards to children and families, Child and Adolescent Development, and American Sign Language. She hopes to someday peruse a career in Child Advocacy. Outside of academics, Leah is an active member of TOOP and the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, and enjoys reading and cooking.


Mahir Khan, Research Assistant
Mahir Khan is a sophomore majoring in neuroscience and minoring in Public Health. His research interests include cognitive and social development as well as neuronal gene expression. Outside of the classroom, Mahir dedicates much of his time to GlobeMed, a social justice organization. Mahir also enjoys participating in events and performances with ADITI, a South Asian interest student organization, and he’s often playing pick-up basketball games with friends. After completing his undergrad at Rochester, he plans to pursue either an MD or an MD-Ph.D.


Herman Li, Research Assistant
Herman Li is a sophomore double majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology. His interests include everything having to do with the brain with a touch of genetics. Outside of academia he practices taekwondo, is involved in Spoon University as part of the marketing committee, and loves to cook British Food. Herman eventually hopes to attend medical school and earn a MD or MD-PhD.


Emily Scarpulla, Research Assistant
Emily is a sophomore majoring in Psychology and minoring in Brain and Cognitive Science. She is particularly interested in major depressive disorder and PTSD outside of a military context. Emily hopes to pursue a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology after graduating from the University of Rochester. Outside of academics, Emily is involved in her sorority, Chi Omega, and enjoys dancing and cooking.


Allison Friske, Head Research Assistant
Allison is a junior Psychology and Brain and Cognitive Sciences double major, with a creative writing minor. She hopes to go to graduate school after her time at the UofR. Eventually, she hopes to do some kind of therapy, possibly with children and adolescents.


Megan Kibler, Head Research Assistant
Megan is a junior majoring in Psychology and Music and minoring in Creative Writing. She loves to sing, and performs in multiple genres, including classical, rock, pop, and a cappella. She is also a staff writer for the Campus Times in the Arts and Entertainment section. She enjoys running and playing the piano and guitar in her spare time. Her research interests include exploring the therapeutic benefits of music and its potential to improve certain behavioral skills, particularly in populations affected by Autism and Alzheimer’s Disease. Another area of interest to her is the idea of using music therapy to combat negative reoccurring emotions present in anxiety disorders and in OCD. She hopes to become a music therapist and eventually obtain her Ph.D in this field.