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.
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.
Taylor J. Keding, B.S.
Research Associate


Taylor's research interests broadly focus on the neurobiological changes associated with psychological trauma. More specifically, he is interested in how trauma alters emotion-related neuroepigenetic systems, leading to abnormalities in brain circuit structure, function, and behavior. A better understanding of changes in gene regulation at the level of functional networks may lead to new and improved interventions for trauma-related psychopathology. He currently works with the UW School of Medicine & Public Health, Department of Psychiatry. Taylor is also passionate about political science, especially electoral politics and using neuroscience to inform public policy. Starting Fall 2016, he will be attending the University of Wisconsin as a Neuroscience Training Program Ph.D. student.
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.
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 effects 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.
Rotating Graduate Students Andrew Merluzzi
Josh Cruz
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