People


Ryan J. Herringa, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry


The focus of Dr. Herringa’s research and clinical work is to better understand and treat trauma-related mental illness in youth. Dr. Herringa earned his M.D. and Ph.D. as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Wisconsin. He completed his Ph.D. in Neuroscience under the direction of Dr. Ned Kalin, during which time he studied the effects of stress on gene regulation in the amygdala, the brain’s fear center. Following this training, he went to the University of Pittsburgh to complete his residency in psychiatry and a fellowship in pediatric psychiatry. There he began studies using brain imaging to understand how child abuse changes brain function in adults. Clinically, he trained with Drs. Judith Cohen and Anthony Mannarino in the use of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) to treat traumatized youth and families. Since returning to the University of Wisconsin as faculty, Dr. Herringa has been conducting the Youth PTSD Study, with the aim of understanding changes in the brain’s fear circuit in pediatric PTSD. Dr. Herringa has received funding from many agencies to conduct this work, including the National Institute of Mental Health, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

Justin Russell, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow


Justin’s research is driven by his desire to improve our collective understanding how early life adversity may moderate social and emotional development, and foment the onset of severe psychological problems. Justin earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Rochester in 2010, where he conducted research into the impact of family adversity on socioemotional growth under the mentorship of Drs. Patrick Davies and Melissa Sturge-Apple. Before beginning graduate study, Justin held several positions at the Mt. Hope Family Center, working with maltreated children in both research and clinical settings. Justin completed his Ph.D. in psychology at Iowa State University in 2018, under the direction of Drs. Carl Weems and Monica Marsee. During that time, Justin began to investigate the neurological sequelae of childhood traumatic stress, the nature of post-trauma symptoms, and the course of children’s brain development. His dissertation utilized data from a large, nationally representative sample of typically developing youth to identify normative growth changes in the amygdala, an area with enormous relevance for psychopathology. Justin is currently a post-doctoral trainee in the NRSA T32 Training Program in Emotion Research.

Alyssa Braun, B.A.
Associate Research Specialist


Alyssa earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she worked as a research assistant in the Cognitive Development and Communications Lab. Following graduation, Alyssa gained clinical experience working with kids with autism and their families as a direct service provider and supervisor for play-based behavioral therapy. Alyssa then joined a UW research project looking at biological aspects of aging across midlife before joining the BRAVE Youth Lab in fall of 2018. She is passionate contributing to research that helps improve the lives of kids and their families. Outside of the lab, Alyssa likes gardening, going to the farmers’ market, and playing with her two chickens, Marshmallow and Zoey.

Gyna Meneses, M.S.
Research Associate


Gyna earned her Bachelor’s degree at William Paterson University in New Jersey and her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at the State University of New York-Buffalo. For the last 4 years she has been working as a child and family therapist in the greater Madison area with a primary focus on trauma treatment. She is interested in understanding the impact of childhood trauma, particularly interpersonal trauma, and learning about the most effective treatment options. She is responsible for recruitment and assists other staff with an array of duties within the lab.

Sophie Bailowitz
Research Assistant Coordinator


Sophie is a senior at UW-Madison studying psychology. She is interested in researching how trauma and maltreatment influence brain structure and overall mental health, particularly how males and females are affected by trauma differently. After completing her undergraduate degree, Sophie plans to attend a doctorate program in clinical psychology in the hopes of treating adults and children in a clinical setting as well as conducting clinical research. When she is not in the lab, Sophie enjoys running on the lakeshore path and exploring Madison with her friends.

Taylor J. Keding, B.S.
Ph.D. Candidate


Taylor's research looks to improve our understanding of how brain circuits mature during childhood and adolescence, as well as how exposure to interpersonal stress influences their maturation. Brain circuits are highly impressionable in youth, rapidly learning and adapting though reorganization of their networks in response to environmental demands. Unfortunately, this increased adaptability creates a window of vulnerability for adversity to alter healthy development. As such, Taylor focuses on three key areas: 1) characterizing changes in brain network organization during childhood/adolescent development, 2) understanding how developmental changes adapt to environments prone to abuse and interpersonal threat, and 3) evaluating the clinical utility of network changes in making predictions for diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. His work makes extensive use of structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), network/graph theory, and machine learning with the aim of helping youth build resilience to, and recover from, abuse and other interpersonal traumas.

William Wooten, M.S.
Graduate Student


William's research interests involve emotion regulation with respect to trauma and stress, with an emphasis on positive emotions. He has experience working with a wide range of ages, including newborn infants, children, and older adults. William received his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and his Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Marquette University. He has clinical experience working with individuals suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and substance use disorders. William is a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Claire Laubacher, B.A.
Graduate Student


Claire hopes that her research will help to understand why two children with the same diagnosis may not respond to the same medications or therapies. Her research focuses on characterizing emotion regulation circuits that might be targeted by different kinds of treatment. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Neuroscience at Pomona College in California with minors in Psychology and French. Then she spent a few years in Washington, D.C. working for the National Institutes of Health. Now she is back home in the midwest working towards her M.D./Ph.D at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Grace George, B.S.
Graduate Student


Grace graduated with her Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience in 2017 at UW-Madison where she studied behavioral and neurological mechanisms of fraction learning in children. During her gap year, she worked as a lab manager in the Educational Neuroscience Lab here at UW. She is currently a graduate student in the Neuroscience and Public Policy program undertaking a Master's in Public Affairs as well as her Ph.D. in Neuroscience. She is interested in the developmental trajectories of different groups of children, including children who remit from PTSD compared to those who don't and different trajectories of racial and SES groups. She hopes to use the knowledge learned from the lab to translate into policy solutions. Her goals including bridging neuroscience and public policy to help children recover from mental illness. In addition to science, Grace enjoys playing volleyball, soccer, knitting, and hiking, and pretending she can paint.

Emily Hamm, B.A.
Graduate Student


Emily earned her Bachelor’s degree at Lawrence University, where she focused her research on adolescent depression, rumination, and nonsuicidal self-injury. Since graduating she has continued to work with teens with depression, OCD, anxiety, and autism spectrum disorders—both in research and clinical settings (residential treatment). Her most recent research position was with the Human Connectome Project at Washington University in St. Louis, a study interested in the changes in brain connectivity as people age. In the fall, Emily will be starting the UW-Madison Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program, where she plans to study therapy process and outcomes. Emily enjoys art, playing the piano, Shakespeare, doing crosswords, and spending time with her adopted Border Collie mix, Abby.

Collin Schmit
Senior Undergraduate Assistant


Collin is a junior neurobiology major at UW-Madison. He is interested in the physical and psychological changes that occur during the development of children diagnosed with PTSD in comparison to children without PTSD. He plans to attend medical school after graduation in hopes of practicing as a psychiatrist or neurologist, and conducting clinical research.

Kate Willeford
Senior Undergraduate Assistant


Kate is a junior at UW-Madison studying Psychology with a certificate in Global Health. She is interested in researching how childhood trauma can affect brain structure and child development. Her career goal is to become a physician assistant with a specialty in psychiatry. When Kate is not at the lab, she enjoys attending UW sporting events and running on the Lakeshore Path.

Ann Richey
Senior Undergraduate Assistant


Ann is a junior at UW-Madison studying Psychology and Legal Studies with a certificate in Criminal Justice. She is interested in researching child development and how trauma impacts a person's mental health in various ways. This research ultimately drives Ann to find a career path working with mental health patients in the juvenile justice system. She hopes to incorporate her psychology background by working to find more productive rehabilitative methods for children.

Quinten Frederick
Senior Undergraduate Assistant


Quinten is a sophomore at UW-Madison studying psychology and neurobiology. He is interested in learning how trauma, maltreatment, and affectional disorders impact development in youth, particularly in brain structure/function and also aspects of cognition. After graduation, Quinten plans to attend medical school with aspirations of practicing psychiatry or neurosurgery. In his free time, Quinten loves to explore Madison, spend time with friends and his dog, Stanley, and watch Netflix.
Honorary Lab Members
Winston Meline and Paco Herringa

Winston and Paco are hiking buddies and enjoy sniffing things, chasing squirrels, getting muddy, and sitting nicely for treats.
Rotating Graduate Students None at this time
Lab Alumni Allison Blumenfeld
Erika Olsen
Ariel Sherman
Remi Patriat, PhD
Erin Long
Amanda Timek
Julian Motzkin, MD PhD
Rick Wolf, PhD
Christy Olson, PhD
Sydney Notermann
Kamden Gahr
Laurel Quinlan
Claire Kirk, PhD
Shelby Weaver
Rachael Meline
Cory Burghy, Ph.D.
Eric Lonergan
Shapiro Summer Medical Students Jenna Bowen
Meghan Fanta
Vy Dinh
Nate Kohlenberg
Ryan Benoy
Julia Harari