Graduate Students

Michelle Rattinger is a 7th-year PhD student with a focus in clinical neuropsychology. She is currently completing her internship at the James A. Haley VAMC in Tampa, Florida. Michelle is originally from Palm Beach, FL and graduated from George Washington University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Her research interests include the cognitive components that underlie or maintain anxiety, such as heightened attention for threat cues in the environment. One of her recent projects examines the the ways in which additional facial features, such as race signifiers, may interact with emotional expression to convey threat in those with varying levels of intergroup anxiety.

Khalil Thompson is a 7th-year PhD student whose research focuses on social, cognitive, and affective neuroscience. Khalil is originally from Sacramento, CA and graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology and a minor in Chemistry. His research interests specifically pertains to the use of interactive, economic-exchange tasks as models of social interaction to uncover neural networks involved in social cognition and behavior. His most recent project examines how the Prisoner’s Dilemma paradigm can capture and isolate some of the maladaptive cognitive biases linked to social anxiety in undiagnosed populations and how these biases could be linked to functional abnormalities in sociocognitive neural networks.

Mary Fernandes is a 6th-year doctoral student who is completing her internship at the Washington, D.C. VAMC in 2021-2022. Mary earned two B.S. degrees, in Psychology and Animal Sciences, from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2016. As an undergraduate, she worked in Dr. Edward Bernat’s Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory (CCNLab), where she received training in advanced time-frequency decomposition techniques and functional connectivity measures of EEG processing, examining brain networks underlying cognitive and affective processing, and developing simultaneous EEG/fMRI measures to assess these networks. Combining the interests of both her degrees, she also worked as a research assistant for Dr. Andrea Spence-Aizenberg, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she assisted in the examination of neuropeptide and hormonal correlates of pair-bonds and paternal behavior among socially monogamous owl monkeys. Mary began the Clinical Neuropsychology Ph.D. program at Georgia State University in 2016. Broadly, her research interests involve assessing the neurobiological correlates of anxiety and depression. Specifically, she studies brain mechanisms associated with social behavior in anxious/depressed people and how these mechanisms change as a result of clinical interventions.

Melany Love is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Cognitive Sciences program. She graduated from Georgia Gwinnett College in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Her research interests include prospective memory and individual differences in attention. Melany recently investigated the idea that a free writing activity could liberate cognitive capacity by reducing competition from endogenous sources of distraction. Her dissertation expands this work to encompass a comparison of multiple activities (e.g., free writing, prayer, meditation) as means for reducing competition from external distractors.

Katie Murphy is a 2nd year doctoral student who previously served as the manager for the L-STAR lab while working as a part-time healthcare consultant. She is originally from Atlanta, GA and graduated from Georgia Tech in 2015 with a B.S. in Business Administration, and a minor in Biology. Her research interests include internalizing disorders, particularly anxiety and its relationship to interpersonal functioning. In her free time Katie enjoys playing with her puppy, attempting gymnastics, traveling, and laughing with friends.

Anne Werkheiser is a 2nd-year graduate student in the clinical psychology PhD program. Anne grew up outside of Philadelphia and earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and Spanish from Goucher College. There, she worked on studies of stress and coping as well as visual attention. After graduation, she worked as a research assistant at University of Maryland, Baltimore studying innovative treatments for schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Her research interests include anxiety and emotion regulation, and at this time she is specifically focused on mechanisms of worry such as mood-regulation expectancies and attentional biases.