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.
Christy Olson, Ph.D
Postdoctoral Research Associate

The focus of Christy’s research is to better understand how cognitive and neurobiological factors contribute to the etiology and maintenance of anxiety. Within this broad context, she is interested in understanding what role differences in how people think, process, and remember information plays in clinical symptoms such as anxiety, fear and persistence of doubt. She received her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Kansas, during which time she studied memory in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Following her doctoral training, she completed a one-year fellowship at Alpert Warren Medical School of Brown University. She currently works with the UW Department of Psychiatry and Youth PTSD Study, investigating changes in the brain’s fear circuitry in pediatric PTSD.
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.
Sydney Notermann, B.S.
Research Associate

Sydney earned her Bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology with a certificate in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is involved in research studying the influence of sleep on the severity of psychiatric disorders, with a current focus on depression and pediatric PTSD. Over the last few years, she has focused on research on hypersomnia and depression, been involved in clinical work, and led the Community Relations committee of UW-HOSA. She is interested in the development of effective treatment options for individuals with psychiatric and neurological disorders and in the dissemination of preventative strategies.
Taylor J. Keding, B.S.
Graduate Student

The foundation of Taylor's research is to better understand cognitive-emotional neurodevelopment in children and adolescents. Brain development during puberty is a period of extensive neuronal reorganization, providing windows of opportunity for new learning, but also windows of vulnerability to adverse experiences. As such, he aims to investigate functioning and dynamics of neural circuitry underlying cognitive-emotional control in typically-developing youth, how this circuitry is altered by early-life stress/adversity, and how we can use artificial intelligence (eg. machine learning) and network-based analysis techniques to predict neuronal signatures of successful versus unsuccessful emotion regulation and adversity-related mental illness. Taylor received his Bachelor of Science degrees in Neurobiology and Psychology and is currently a 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.
Shelby Weaver
Undergraduate Assistant

Shelby is a junior at UW-Madison studying Neurobiology and Psychology with a certificate in Criminal Justice. She is 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.
Kamden Gahr
Undergraduate Assistant

Kamden is a Junior at UW-Madison studying Neurobiology. He is interested in studying the effects of childhood trauma on amygdala activation and functional connectivity. His plans after graduation are to continue his education to eventually become a Physicians Assistant, while still being able to continue to study trauma and how it affects different regions of the brain.
Laurel Quinlan
Undergraduate Assistant

Laurel is a Psychology and Spanish major at UW-Madison. She is very active in the community and enjoys working with children that have faced adversity. Laurel is interested in the long-term effects of childhood trauma and in the familial and community support systems that can mitigate such experiences.
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 Marisa Ross
Lab Alumni Allison Blumenfeld
Erika Olsen
Ariel Sherman
Remi Patriat
Erin Long
Amanda Timek
Julian Motzkin
Rick Wolf
Shapiro Summer Medical Students Jenna Bowen
Meghan Fanta
Vy Dinh
Nate Kohlenberg