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.
Stephanie G. Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Scientist

Stephanie’s research is broadly focused on understanding the role sleep plays in cognitive and emotional function in children with psychiatric disorders. Given the central role sleep plays in affective regulation and memory consolidation, she is particularly interested in elucidating how specific features of sleep might serve to re-enforce daytime symptomatology in pediatric PTSD. A more thorough understanding of sleep in this population may aid in the development of sleep-focused interventions to augment current treatment protocols. Stephanie earned her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her graduate work focused on the question of whether or not the function(s) of sleep is conserved across phylogenetic class. To accomplish this, she studied sleep in a wild-caught migratory songbird, (Zonotrichia leucophrys), using a combination of molecular, cellular, electrophysiological tools. She returned to the UW in 2010 and serves as an Associate Scientist and Assistant Director for the Wisconsin Center for Sleep Medicine and Research.

Rachael Meline, B.A.
Research Coordinator

Rachael earned her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and is responsible for an array of duties affiliated with this study. She screens potential participants over the phone, schedules study visits, and assists with the visits. She is also responsible for managing the logistics of the study and serves as the main point of contact for those interested. Rachael has over 15 years of experience working with children, from infancy to adolescence, and focused her education on sociological, psychological, emotional, and physical development.

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.

Taylor J. Keding, B.S.
Graduate Student

Taylor's research interests broadly focus on computational approaches to understand the neurodevelopment of cognitive-emotion regulation in children and adolescents. Brain development during puberty is a period of extensive neural circuit reorganization, providing windows of opportunity for healthy learning, but also windows of vulnerability to adverse experiences. Adverse experiences in childhood are also strongly associated with emotion dysregulation and the expression of mental illness. As such, he aims to use computational models implementing machine learning (and other artificial intelligence techniques) to investigate the neural circuitry underlying cognitive-emotion regulation in typically-developing youth, how this circuitry is altered by early-life adversity, and predict neuronal signatures of successful emotion regulation and adversity-related mental illness (eg. depression, anxiety, PTSD). Taylor received his Bachelor of Science degrees in Neurobiology and Psychology and is currently a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and Ph.D. candidate in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Neuroscience Training Program.

Sara Heyn, B.S., M.S., J.D.
Graduate Student

Sara is interested in how exposure to trauma during childhood is related to differential brain structure and connectivity, how these relationships can change throughout childhood development, and ways in which a child can extinguish fear associations to improve adverse symptoms. Her overall goal is to determine potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets that may soon be employed in tandem with traditional therapy to improve fear regulation in adolescents diagnosed with PTSD and other related disorders. Sara received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Biomedical Science from Colorado State University. She currently is a student in the Neuroscience and Public Policy Program in the JD/PhD degree track and is continually looking for ways in which current advancements in neuroscience can help the criminal justice system take better care of adolescents currently in the system and to reduce these adolescents from returning to the system as adults.

Claire Kirk, M.S.
Clinical Psychology Intern

Claire earned her Bachelor of Science in psychology from Texas Christian University, her Master of Science in clinical psychology from Mississippi State University, and is currently a PhD candidate in clinical psychology at Auburn University. Claire is completing her pre-doctoral internship at the University of Wisconsin, Department of Psychiatry. She is particularly interested in the assessment, treatment, and study of children and adolescents who have experienced trauma, or are struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Claire is involved with the initial assessment of study participants and administers structured diagnostic interviews to determine study eligibility.

Shelby Weaver, B.S.
Research Assistant

Shelby recently graduated from UW-Madison studying Neurobiology and Psychology with a certificate in Criminal Justice. She was a member of the Undergraduate Neuroscience Society and the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Student Association, and is especially interested in studying the interaction between neurobiology and the criminal justice system. She works for Dr. Herringa, Dr. Koenigs, and Dr. Cisler

Collin Schmit
Undergraduate Assistant

Collin is a sophomore 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.

Caroline Risdon
Undergraduate Assistant

Caroline is a Junior at UW-Madison studying Neurobiology. She is interested in studying how childhood trauma affects overall brain development. She plans to become a psychologist and treat adolescents in a clinical setting as well as conduct her own research in neurobiology. When she's not in the lab, she likes to hang out by the Memorial Terrace with her friends.

Kate Willeford
Undergraduate Assistant

Kate is a sophomore 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
Undergraduate Assistant

Ann is a sophomore 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.
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 Rachel Puralewski
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
Shapiro Summer Medical Students Jenna Bowen
Meghan Fanta
Vy Dinh
Nate Kohlenberg
Ryan Benoy