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.





Isabel Cunha, Coordinator Isabel Cunha, B.A. 

Isabel is one of the lab coordinators at the ABUSA/REHAB lab, and primarily coordinates the Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback (HRVB) for Smoking Cessation study. She also serves as a smoking cessation therapist and heart rate variability biofeedback therapist for the study. She intends on pursuing a graduate degree in the field with a primary focus on anxiety, mood, and eating disorders.







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.





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. 


Graduate Students


Mindy Kibbey, Graduate Student

Mindy Kibbey, M.S.

Mindy is a fourth-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 and/or cognitive-affective vulnerabilities. She’s exploring acceptance-based approaches that harness people’s personal values to enhance willingness to engage in the (sometimes 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. She’s also a facilitator of behavioral health and wellness groups for patients with cardiometabolic risk.



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

Jacqueline is a third-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, B.S.

Lilly is a second-year graduate student in the Rutgers University Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, under the mentorship of Dr. Farris. To date, Lilly has worked at Columbia University Medical Center’s Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health where her primary focus has been supporting the NIH Science of Behavior Change program to engage scientists on applying the experimental medicine approach to early phased, evidence-based behavioral interventions. Lilly is interested in using this method to develop interventions that target regulation tendencies and anxiety sensitivity to influence lasting health behavior change among individuals managing chronic conditions. She hopes to explore how tailored interventions that integrate patient/stakeholder input can lead to stronger treatment adherence and broader community accessibility.




Hannah Brinkman, Graduate StudentHannah Brinkman, M.S.

Hannah is a fourth-year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Rutgers University under the mentorship of Dr. Teresa Leyro. Hannah is interested in studying mechanisms related to the etiology and maintenance of comorbid substance use and psychiatric disorders with a primary focus on tobacco use and anxiety-pathology. Her research also seeks to explore how psychological and physiological stress processes interact and can increase one’s risk for engaging in maladaptive health behaviors. Her passion for this area of study stems from an array of clinical and research opportunities she pursued throughout her undergraduate career at Umass Amherst and post-baccalaureate employment experiences at Fordham University and the Trauma and Resilience Program at Mount Sinai. Hannah’s work in the REHAB lab includes providing clinical support to patients attending cardiac rehabilitation.


Danielle HoytDanielle Hoyt

Danielle is a first-year student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Rutgers University under the mentorship of Dr. Teresa Leyro in the ABUSA lab. Prior to joining the lab, she was the research coordinator of the Translational Research Program at Boston University, and received her B.A. in Applied Psychology from Bryant University and M.A. in Psychology from Boston University. Her research interests center around the etiology, prevention, and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, particularly where they intersect with substance use such as cigarette smoking. She is additionally interested in advancing the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based interventions for these disorders, with particular focus on addressing racial and ethnic inequities.



Rachel Rosen, Graduate StudentRachel Rosen, B.S.

Rachel is a fifth-year graduate student in the Rutgers University Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, under the mentorship of Dr. Marc Steinberg. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Rachel earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and subsequently worked as a Research Assistant in the Department of Addiction Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. There, she served as a coordinator on two NIAAA-funded studies investingating adaptations of alcohol behavioral couple therapy for service members and veterans. At Rutgers, in her primary research lab, Rachel is working on a NIDA-funded study looking at enhancing task persistence among smokers with schizophrenia. More broadly, Rachel is interested in understanding how different risk and protective factors (e.g. co-occuring health and mental conditions, stigma, self-efficacy, motivation) influence treatment engagement and outcome among adults with tobacco and other substance use. In the REHAB Laboratory, Rachel is taking on a clinical role in diagnostic procedures for the Smoking Health Evaluation (SHE) study.


Kathryn Coniglio, Graduate Student

Kathryn Coniglio, M.S.

Kathryn is a PhD candidate in the Clinical Psychology program at Rutgers, under the mentorship of Dr. Edward Selby. Her primary research interests include the development of low-weight eating disorders and specifically how positive emotion dysregulation may contribute to the development of anorexia nervosa. Kathryn's current program of research seeks to determine an empirically-derived method of defining and assessing pathological exercise by examining motivations for engaging in physical activity. Given Kathryn's research interest in exercise and health, she enjoys serving as a clinician in the REHAB lab's ongoing studies of exercise promotion for patients in cardiac rehabilitation.





Erick Fedorenko, Graduate StudentErick Fedorenko, B.A.

Erick is a PhD student in the Clinical Psychology program at Rutgers, under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Contrada. His primary interest is furthering our understanding the etiology, maintenance, and treatment of anxiety disorders by using psychophysiology. In particular, he is interested in the neural and autonomic processes that underlie dysregulated emotion in anxiety. He has experience utilizing EEG, EKG, and salivary hormone assay methods. He is currently assisting in the REHAB lab as a clinician on the ongoing studies of exercise promotion for patients in cardiac rehabilitation.






Research Assistants

Dipabali Jana, Research Assistant  Dipabali Jana

Dipabali is a third-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.


Valerie Le, Research AssistantValerie (Huong) Le

Valerie is a junior at Rutgers, majoring in Biomathematics and minoring in Psychology. After graduating, she aims to pursue further education by going to Medical School or pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. As a person who is frequently anxious with lots of things in the world: ghosts, sharks, mortality, aliens, sickness, losing loved ones, the sky falling on top of her. Valerie would personally like to understand what it's all about a little bit more; she wants to get involved in research about anxiety and health psychology. She is looking forward to learning from skilled researchers and knowing more about tobacco use, specifically the relationship between smoking and various cognitive, psychological, and physiological factors.



Jason Marum, Research Assistant Jason Marum 

Jason is a junior 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. 


Samantha Stucchi, Research AssistantSamantha Stucchi  

Samantha is a junior 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.




Isabelle Barb PictureIsabelle Barb

Isabelle is a junior 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 junior 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.



Bri RA pictureAabriah Chapman

Aabriah is currently a Sophomore majoring in Psychology with a minor in Creative Writing. After her undergraduate degree, she intends to obtain either a PsyD or a PhD in Psychology. Her dream is to open up my own private practice for the therapeutic counselling of youth suffering from mood and personality disorders. She wants to combine both her cross-cultural awareness and knowledge of both applied and traditional research in order to make a proper therapeutic environment for people from different cultures. Outside of the lab, her hobbies include studying languages like Japanese and Korean, reading novels, and keeping her plants alive.




Dakshita CheboluDakshita Chebolu

Dakshita is currently a freshman at Rutgers University planning to major in Psychology with minor in Biology. After her undergraduate degree, she intends to attend graduate school and get either a Psy.D or Ph.D in clinical psychology. She hopes that one day she can have her own practice specializing in child and adolescent psychology. She is especially interested in development and behavioral disorders. Prior to this lab, she was an intern at 7 Cups, an online therapeutic service. Outside of the lab, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and photography.



Sebastian Chung, Research AssistantSebastian Chung 

Sebastian is a junior majoring in Psychology and Human Resources. Back in his hometown, he assisted in mental health organizations. Since his freshman year of college, he has been working with the Suicide Hotline, working for grant opportunities, and he hopes to aid in mental health for other countries. His next project will be in South Korea! He loves piano, volleyball, taekwondo, reading, and puns. He is SEBpassionate to work here!





Patricia DifalcoPatricia Di Falco 

While working in architecture Patricia was exposed to the dynamics between design and environments within various communities. Patricia found herself longing to understand more about learning and social development.  She pursued a master's in education with specializations in math and science to elementary through high school levels. Her teaching experiences encouraged her interest in learning more about anxiety relative to learning and physical disabilities.  Working within organizations that foster and promote child development facilitated her plans to pursue a PsyD.  Patricia is very excited to be a part of the ABUSA REHAB Lab as an Advanced Research Assistant.  She is eager to learn more about how depression and substance abuse are linked, and methods to promote positive changes.  Patricia loves spending time with her family, two kitties, and friends.  In her spare time she loves going to the beach, baking, and the arts. 


Nidhi Gourabathuni, Research AssistantNidhi Gourabathuni  

Nidhi is a sophomore 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. 





Sravya Kari, Research Assistant Sravya Kari

I am sophomore at Rutgers University majoring in Psychology and Human Resource Management. I also currently am interning, at Immi Care which is non-profit organization, helping undocumented immigrants get affordable healthcare. I am very interested and excited to be taking a part in the studies here at the ABUSA and REHAB lab. I hope to grow my experience and learn more about the mind. After graduating, I plan to go to graduate school to either earn my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology or Psy.D.





Lori Khadse, Research AssistantLori Khadse

Lori is a sophomore at Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Psychology and Public Health. As a Crisis Text Line Counselor and an EMT, her research interests include mental illness, substance abuse, and mental health, particularly in the context of youth. In the past, she has conducted research at the Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience and she is currently leading a project in the Rutgers Interdisciplinary Research Program. Outside of school and research, she loves to spend her time writing for The Elysian Muse, a mental health youth literary journal she founded three years ago, and drawing greeting and holiday cards for The Arts Council of Princeton. Fun Fact: she has been playing the guitar for ten years!




Srujana MallemSrujana Mallem

Srujana is a junior majoring in Psychology and Information Technology and Informatics. Prior to joining the lab, she was a psychiatric intern at the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. Seeing patients with different psychological and mental illnesses and observing how treatment plans are curated made her interested in pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology. She is interested in learning more about mood, especially stress disorders as well as addiction and prevention. She also hopes to understand how to make mental healthcare more accessible to those who need it. Outside of the lab, she enjoys spending time on art, music, and community service.





Shriya MandavaShriya Mandava

Shriya is a current undergraduate student at Rutgers University in her junior year. She is double majoring in Psychology and 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.





Rutu Patel, Research AssistantRutu Patel  

Rutu is a sophomore at Rutgers on the pre-med track, pursuing a major in Cell Biology and Neuroscience and a minor in Computer Science. Her long term goal is to become a surgeon. The main focus of her major is neuroscience, opening up her research and work opportunities to both mental and physiological health. Rutu's specific interests include how drugs can affect cognition and physiology, neuron regeneration, and neuroplasticity. Her hobbies are drawing, painting, dancing, and reading.



Penta DivyaDivya Penta

Divya is a 3rd 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 sophomore 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!





Marcus Shipp, Research AssistantMarcus Shipp 

Marcus is a rising senior in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University. He is pursuing a major in Psychology and minors in Sociology, Criminology, and Health and Society. Marcus has always had an interest in the relationship between the brain and behavior, and after his recent experience as an undergraduate intern for a clinical neuropsychologist, his interest has significantly grown. He is excited to gain lab experience and further study the mind-body relationship, anxiety, stress, substance use disorder and more. After graduating, Marcus plans to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology or Neuropsychology. 




Luke Stanton

Luke is a freshman 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 graduate school in psychology, biology, or neuroscience to explore my research interests. He also enjoys playing guitar, piano, drums, and loves to write and produce music.


Komal VakadkarKomal Vakadkar

Komal is a senior at Rutgers University pursuing a major in Biological Sciences and a minor in Psychology. She has always been fascinated by the link shared between physiology and psychology even though the mind and body are often perceived as separate. After graduating, she 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 lab, she enjoys hiking, reading, and dancing!



Goldy Zazon RA Website PictureGoldy Zazon

Goldy is a first-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.

Sonali Singal, B.A.

Stephanie Fan, B.A. 



Research Assistants 

Monique Bourgeois, Gabriel Brevet, Kayla Doodnath, Annmarie Elgendy, Sarah Farhan, Reilly Fitzpatrick, Joshua Garcia, Asher Hong, Hun Woo Jeong, Melissa Kao, Jordan Kim, Kunj Patel, Aastha Parikh, Elizabeth Policano, Yuthikaa Raj, Neha Rao, Muhammad Razi Hussain, Olivia San-Emeterio, Anam Shamsi, Eric Quartey