Our Team

Laboratory Director

Samantha Farris, Ph.D.

Samantha Farris, Director

Dr. Farris is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and is the Director of The Rutgers Emotion, Health and Behavior (REHAB) Laboratory. Dr. Farris received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at The University of Houston, and completed her psychology internship at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University. She completed fellowships in cancer prevention at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and in cardiovascular behavioral medicine at The Miriam Hospital/Alpert Medical School at Brown University. Dr. Farris has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications and has received continuous funding for her research from the National Institutes of Health for the past ten years. Dr. Farris’ research focuses on understanding how and why anxiety and fear affect physical health and risk behaviors. Psychological determinants of chronic disease and risk behaviors have been studied for decades, focused primarily on depression and personality, however comparatively less research has focused on anxiety which is distinguished uniquely by hyperarousal and fear-avoidance behavior. Dr. Farris and the REHAB lab utilize a translational research approach to: (a) identify biopsychological fear mechanisms that contribute to health behavior and physical disease, (b) isolate how these mechanistic factors influence health behaviors “in real time” through use of experimental methodologies, and in turn (c) develop tailored interventions that target these mechanisms to promote health behavior change and prevent the onset or progression of chronic disease.  The importance of this work stems from its ability to inform our knowledge of disease prevention and ultimately reduce the burden of illness in vulnerable members of our community. .

Dr. Farris is a licensed clinical psychologist and specializes in cognitive-behavioral therapy for the treatment of anxiety and related disorders.


Post-Doctoral Research Associate

Brianna Altman, Post DocBrianna Altman, Ph.D.

Dr. Altman is a post-doctoral research associate in the REHAB/ABUSA labs working under the mentorship of Drs. Samantha Farris and Teresa Leyro. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY) and completed her predoctoral internship at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Dr. Altman’s research thus far has focused on co-occurring substance use and internalizing disorders, health behaviors, and related correlates, with a focus on examining underlying transdiagnostic mechanisms, including distress tolerance and emotion dysregulation. She is also interested in conducting psychometric evaluations of measures of substance use problems, as accurate assessment is key to better understanding and treating substance use disorders. In her role in the REHAB/ABUSA labs, Dr. Altman serves as a study clinician for several ongoing studies, helps to interpret data and prepare manuscripts, and provides supervision and mentorship to graduate students and research coordinators.

Research Coordinators

Dana Steinberg, Lab Coordinator Dana Steinberg, B.A. 

Dana earned her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Women & Gender Studies at Rutgers University. As an undergraduate, she worked as a Research Assistant in the REHAB Lab where she primarily worked on the Smoking Health Evaluation (SHE) Study to understand how natural daily fluctuations in ovarian hormones influence emotions and smoking behavior. She wrote her senior honors thesis on understanding depression as a predictor of health care utilization in a population of women with endometriosis. Dana is particularly interested in understanding the transdiagnostic mechanisms that contribute to alcohol and substance use disorders. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.





Brittany Keller, CoordinatorBrittany Keller, B.S. 

Brittany earned her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Health Science at Northeastern University. As an undergraduate, she worked as a Research Assistant at the Center for Cognitive and Brain Health, where she studied the effects of exercise on cognitive functioning and brain health among children and older adults. She also worked as a Research Assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory, where she studied the impact of social support on affect and memory. Her research interests include the emotional/affective and cognitive processes that underly disordered eating behaviors and compulsive exercise, especially among athletes. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, with the goal of becoming a Clinical Sport Psychologist. 




Sayaka Carpenter, CoordinatorSayaka Carpenter, B.S.

Sayaka is one of the lab coordinators for the REHAB Lab, and primarily works with cardiac rehabilitation patients for the the Behavioral Exposure for Interoceptive Tolerance (BEFIT) study. She has a background in kinesiology and intends on furthering her studies on physiology and the intricacies of the mind-body connection. 






Gabriela Rivera, CoordinatorGabriela Rivera, B.A.

Gabriela is the Recruitment Coordinator for the ABUSA/REHAB lab, a therapist for the Quit Smoking Study, and a post-baccalaureate student. She plans on pursuing a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. Gabriela is interested in exploring the relation between emotion regulation and anxiety. More specifically, she is interested in studying how people with anxiety might emotionally regulate themselves differently than others.







Graduate Students


Mindy Kibbey, Graduate Student

Mindy Kibbey, M.S.

Mindy is a fifth-year graduate student in the Rutgers University Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, under the mentorship of Dr. Farris. Mindy is interested in developing and testing interventions to support meaningful living and positive behavior change in people with chronic medical illness. She’s exploring acceptance-based approaches that harness people’s personal values to enhance willingness to engage in exposure interventions and the hard work of getting healthier. Mindy serves as a clinician in the Behavioral Exposure for Interoceptive Tolerance (BE-FIT) intervention study promoting physical activity in patients engaged in cardiac rehabilitation. 



 Jacqueline Smith, M.S.Jacqueline Smith, Graduate Student

Jacqueline is a fourth-year graduate student in the Rutgers University Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, under the mentorship of Dr. Farris. She earned her master's degree in behavioral and social health sciences from Brown University and her bachelor's degree in psychology with a clinical concentration from Boston College. Her work thus far has primarily focused on biopsychosocial predictors of chronic pain in young women with endometriosis as well as emotion dysregulation in cigarette smoking and marijuana vaping. Her primary interests are women's health, emotion regulation, and health behaviors. Jacqueline plans to continue to research emotion dysregulation and maladaptive health behaviors to better inform future intervention approaches. 






Lilly Derby, Graduate Student

Lilly Derby, M.S.

Lilly is a third-year graduate student in the Rutgers University Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, under the mentorship of Dr. Farris. Broadly, Lilly is actively involved in initiatives built upon rigorous and reproducible behavioral science that bring together disparate ideas, often from different disciplines and with key stakeholders, to answer important questions about behavioral and clinical science. Lilly is interested in novel approaches that enhance engagement in cognitive-behavioral interventions (eg., exposure and behavioral activation) by targeting transdiagnostic mechanisms of action (eg., anxiety sensitivity, distress tolerance) to help increase positive healh behaviors (eg., physical activity) and chronic disease management in support of healthy aging. 





Melissa Hatch, Graduate Student

Melissa Hatch, M.S.

Melissa Hatch is a third-year graduate student in the Rutgers University Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, under the mentorship of Dr. Farris and Dr. DiBello. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in psychology from the University of New Mexico. Her work thus far has primarily focused on examining mechanisms of behavior change in high-risk individuals with alcohol or substance use disorder and working with community organizations to improve the uptake of evidence-based practices.





Hannah Brinkman, Graduate StudentHannah Brinkman, M.S.

Hannah is a fifth-year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Rutgers University under the mentorship of Dr. Teresa Leyro. Hannah's research interests involve identifying biological mechanisms that underlie substance use risk and contribute to anxiety and stress-related comorbidities. She is particularly interested in leveraging psychophysiological methods to study the acute and chronic effects of substance use on centeral and peripheral stress repsonse systems. Hannah was recently awared a two-year Ruth L. Kirschtein Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The project aims to characterize the effects of cigarette use on physiological processes that support body-brain communication and how smoking-related impairments in these processes increase anxiety risk. The project includes a mentoring team comprised of Drs. Teresa Leyro, Samantha Farris, Jennifer Buckman (SAS/CAS), and Anthony Pawlak (SAS/CAS) along with additional faculty from Boston University and the University of Vermont. With this all-star mentoring team, Hannah will receive training in mechanism-focused experimental design, translational models of addiction and anxiety, and psychophysiological data analysis.



Melissa Hatch, Graduate Student

Danielle Hoyt, M.A.

Danielle is a fourth-year student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Rutgers University under the mentorshi of Dr. Teresa Leyro in the ABUSA lab. Prior to joining the lab, she received her B.A. in Applied Psychology from Bryant University and M.A. in Psychology from Boston University. Her research interests center on the etiology, prevention, and treatment of mood, anxiety and substance use disorders from a translational science perspective, with a specialized focus on their shared transdiagnostic cogntitive-affective mechanisms (eg. anxiety sensitivity). She is additionally interested in advancing the dissemination and implementation of evidence based interventions for these disorders, with particular focus on addressing inequities in treatment access and use. In 2023, Danielle was awared a two-year Ruth L. Kirchstein NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (F31-Diversity) from NIMH. One phase of her project investigates the relations among anxiety sensitivity, mental health, and the workplace functioning of direwct-care nurses. The second phase gathers perspectives and feedback from nursing managers as well as direct-care nurses regarding factors that may affect the svaled dissemination of a brief health anxiety sensitivity reduction intervention (the CAST intervention) in direct-care nurses. 



Melissa Hatch, Graduate Student

Kathleen Kildosher, B.A.

Kathleen is a second-year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Rutgers University under the mentorship of Dr. Teresa Leyro. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University while working at the ABUSA lab. Kathleen is interested in understanding the etiology and treatment of addictive and anxiety disorders, particularly within the military/veteran population, inspired by her past service in the U.S. Army. Specifically, Kathleen hopes to further research nicotine and alcohol use and dependence in this population. 




Research Assistants

Dipabali Jana, Research Assistant  Dipabali Jana

Dipabali is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Rutgers University. She is interested in conducting various therapeutic techniques to help people who suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. She is also interested in research regarding the association between women’s health and mood disorders. This year, Dipabali will be completing a Senior Honors Thesis under the supervision of Dr. Theresa Leyro!


Jason Marum, Research Assistant Jason Marum 

Jason is a senior at Rutgers University majoring in Psychology with a minor in Criminology. He is also a current volunteer Crisis Counselor for the Crisis Text Line and helps those in tense moments understand effective coping techniques that work for them. His future career goal is to attend graduate school to earn his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Jason's current research interests relate to learning more about anxiety, mood disorders, OCD, and their individual comorbidities. He also would love to explore the involvement of the diathesis stress model within the onset of these disorders. This year, Jason will be completing a Senior Honors Thesis under the supervision of Dr.Theresa Leyro!


Samantha Stucchi, Research AssistantSamantha Stucchi  

Samantha is a senior at Rutgers University majoring in psychology and minoring in cognitive science and criminology. Her goal is to go to graduate school and complete the full Ph.D. route, and eventually become a neuropsychologist. Samantha is thinking about potentially working as a trauma specialist for a large organization such as the FBI. While she is still finding her path regarding what she wants to do with her future neuropsychology degree, she is keeping multiple doors open.  Samantha is looking forward to working with the team and conducting research. Some of her hobbies include hiking, pottery, photography, and working out. This year, Samantha will be completing a Senior Honors Thesis under the supervision of Dr. Samantha Farris!



Isabelle Barb PictureIsabelle Barb

Isabelle is a senior in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in Psychology and minoring in Creative Writing. She loves studying Psychology and is particularly interested in the field of sex therapy. After finishing her undergrad, she intends to pursue a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology and become a sex therapist with a concentration in helping survivors of sexual abuse.





Helena Beshay, Research AssistantHelena Beshay 

Helena is a senior at the School of Arts and Sciences, pursuing a pre-medical track. With her passion for psychology, she is interested in studying the relationship of substance abuse on physiological and psychological health. Helena looks forward to working with the ABUSA and REHAB labs to better help those struggling with substance abuse. Some of her current hobbies include reading, hiking, and exploring new restaurants.



Nidhi Gourabathuni, Research AssistantNidhi Gourabathuni  

Nidhi is a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University with an intent to major in Cell Biology & Neuroscience and a minor in Health Administration. In the future, she plans to go into the medical field to become a physician and continue doing research as well. Her current research interests include neuropsychopathy, and brain-related disorders. In her free time she enjoys, reading, hiking, and painting. 





Shriya MandavaShriya Mandava

Shriya is a current undergraduate student at Rutgers University in her senior year. She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Science. After graduating, she plans on pursuing a Psy.D. or Ph. D. in Clinical Psychology. Prior to this lab, she was an intern at University Behavioral Health Care in the Adult In-Patient unit. Her experience there boosted her interest in clinical psychology with a focus on etiology and prevention. Her current research interests are mood disorders, PTSD, and the psychological effects of addiction and withdrawl. Outside of the lab, she enjoys working out, watching movies/tv shows, and playing video games.




Penta DivyaDivya Penta

Divya is a 4th year undergraduate student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick majoring in Psychology and minoring in Government and Business and Italian! After graduation, she will further pursue her goals by attending Medical School. Prior to working at the AHBC lab, she has worked on Dr. Shors' latest lab, and she has also worked with the American Red Cross as a Lead Supervisor. She is very interested in the physiological aspects of addiction and seeing the effects on both the body and the mind. By combining both psychology and medicine, she will gain an insight to new information and skills by working here. Outside of the lab, her other hobbies include cooking, photography, music and entertainment. She is looking forward to joining the team and helping out on the valuable research conducted here at the AHBC lab. 



Anirudh SateeshAnirudh Sateesh

Anirudh is a junior at Rutgers majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. He plans on attending medical school and becoming a doctor and eventually becoming a teacher. Through his research, he hopes to find new types of preventative measures for common illnesses. Most importantly, he would like to combine psychology and medicine to achieve a healthier patient. Fun fact about him: he has been playing the piano since 1st grade!





Anirudh Sateesh

Luke Stanton

Luke is a sophomore at Rutgers University planning on majoring in Psychology and Cognitive science with a minor in biology. He is interested in the intersection between human physiology and psychology and more specifically, the possible physiological/genetic causes for psychological disorders. He plans on eventually pursuing a Ph.D in clinical psychology or neuroscience to explore his research interests. He also enjoys playing guitar, piano, drums, and loves to write and produce music.




Anirudh Sateesh

Komal Vakadkar

Komal is a senior at Rutgers University pursuing a major in Biological Sciences and a minor in Psychology. Komal has always been facinated by the link shared between physiology and psychology even though the mind and body are often perceived as separate. After graduating, Komal plans on attending medical school to gain knowledge on a deeper level and be able to create treatment plans for patients presenting symptoms of wide range from psychiatric to physiological. Outside of the lab, Komal enjoys hiking, reading, and dancing!




Goldy Zazon RA Website PictureGoldy Zazon

Goldy is a second-year planning on majoring in psychology and minoring in cognitive science in the school of arts and sciences. She hopes to obtain a Ph.D. in psychology and specialize in addiction and rehabilitation. She currently volunteers as a crisis counselor and a campus advocate for Crisis Textline, which is what originally spiked her curiosity in addiction. Some hobbies of hers include reading, journaling, exploring nature, art, and baking.


Research Laboratory Coordinators 

Anagha Babu, B.A.

Isabel Cunha, B.A.

Sonali Singal, B.A.

Stephanie Fan, B.A. 

Graduate Research Assistants

Rachel Rosen, B.S.

Kathryn Coniglio, M.S.

Erick Fedorenko, B.S.

Undergraduate Research Assistants 

Monique Bourgeois, Gabriel Brevet, Aabriah Chapman, Dakshita Chebolu, Sebastian Chung, Patricia Difalco, Kayla Doodnath, Annmarie Elgendy, Sarah Farhan, Reilly Fitzpatrick, Joshua Garcia, Asher Hong, Hun Woo Jeong, Melissa Kao, Sravya Kari, Lori Khadse, Jordan Kim, Valerie (Huong) Le, Srujana Mallem, Kunj Patel, Rutu Patel, Aastha Parikh, Elizabeth Policano, Yuthikaa Raj, Neha Rao, Muhammad Razi Hussain, Olivia San-Emeterio, Anam Shamsi, Marcus Shipp, Eric Quartey