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.

 

 

 

 

Stephanie Fan, CoordinatorStephanie Fan, B.A.

Stephanie received her B.A. in Psychology and a Minor in Health, Medicine, and Society from Stony Brook University. During her time in undergrad, she worked as a research assistant in a cognitive psychology lab focused on examining eyewitness memory and completed an honors thesis expanding on the topic of weapon focus. Before joining the REHAB lab as a Research Lab Coordinator, Stephanie worked as a clinical research assistant in the Eating Disorder and Anxiety Treatment (EAT) lab at the University of Louisville and Louisville Center for Eating Disorder Clinic, a peer-support facilitator at Very Real Help at Vanderbilt University, and a clinical research coordinator at Drexel University’s Center for Weight, Eating, and Lifestyle Sciences. Stephanie is interested in examining transdiagnostic cognitive-affective risk factors that play a role in maintaining maladaptive health behaviors exhibited in internalizing disorders. She is particularly interested in investigating these factors in traditionally marginalized/minoritized populations. 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 Progress, 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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Research Assistants

Asher Hong, Research AssistantAsher Hong

I am a current senior at Rutgers University, majoring in Public Health and minoring in Psychology. With the firm belief that everyone deserves to achieve their best health outcomes, I am determined to do work that helps reduce health disparities in underrepresented populations. I am particularly interested in adolescent mental health, and through research, I hope to explore preventative and intervention methods for adverse childhood experiences, including childhood mental and developmental disorders. In my free time, I volunteer as a Crisis Counselor on Crisis Text Line so that I can help as many people feel supported.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Gabriel Brevet, Research AssistantGabriel Brevet 

Gabe is a rising sophomore in the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program with intended majors in psychology and sociology. His future goals include pursuing a PhD and/or PsyD and to pursue therapeutic and/or clinical practice. Some of his research interests lie in mental illness, substance abuse, and minority stress dynamics. Outside of the lab and classroom, Gabe really enjoys baking, hiking, gardening, reading, and music.

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

Annmarie Elgendy  

Annmarie is a rising senior in the School of Arts and Sciences with majors in Exercise Science and Psychology and minors in Health and Society, Law and History, and Nutrition. At her time here at Rutgers University, Annmarie has been a very involved student, taking part in many different organizations. Some of these organizations include the College Support Program (CSP) where she helps aid a fellow college student with autism or working at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology Clinic (GSAPP). Upon graduating, Annmarie aims to pursue a career in the medical field and will be applying to medical school in the near future. She wishes to purse a career focusing on understanding the brain and its chemical components and how it affects behavior.

 

Reilly Fitzpatrick, Research AssistantReilly Fitzpatrick 

Reilly is a current senior at Rutgers University graduating in the fall with a degree in Spanish and Psychology. She just recently got back from studying abroad in Spain where she was able to increase my Spanish fluency and travel to other parts of Europe. After graduation Reilly plans to continue her pre-med track after taking a year off to travel the world and further her language abilities in Spanish. Reilly's current research interests include mental illnesses and how they adversely affect cerebral structures and other aspects of our body's overall health. In her free time, she enjoys reading, working out, meeting new people, skiing in the winter, and of course a good Netflix binge. Fun Fact: Reilly has triple citizenship!

 

 

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

I am 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, my research interests include mental illness, substance abuse, and mental health, particularly in the context of youth. In the past, I’ve conducted research at the Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience and I am currently leading a project in the Rutgers Interdisciplinary Research Program. Outside of school and research, I love to spend my time writing for The Elysian Muse, a mental health youth literary journal I founded three years ago, and drawing greeting and holiday cards for The Arts Council of Princeton. Fun Fact: I’ve been playing the guitar for ten years!

 

 

 

Jordan Kim 

Jordan is a Senior at Rutgers University majoring in Economics and minoring in Psychology. He has a strong passion for the study of human behavior and how different environments can cause changes in the psyche of a person. During his time at this lab, he is looking forward to researching the development of novel smoking cessation interventions that will help reduce both the cognitive and physiological parameters. His hobbies include; Jiu-jitsu, Soccer, and Volleyball.

 

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.

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

Alumni

Research Laboratory Coordinators 

Anagha Babu, alumni Anagha Babu, B.A.

Anagha earned her B.A. in Applied Mathematics and Statistics from Johns Hopkins University. After spending years working in finance, Anagha decided to transition careers and plans to pursue obtaining her PhD in Clinical Psychology. Before joining The REHAB Laboratory as Lab Manager, Anagha worked in our lab as a Research Assistant primarily supporting our intervention research on patients in cardiac rehabilitation, integrating a Mind-Body perspective into improvement of mental and physical health in a clinical population. Her primary research interest is emotion dysregulation in physical illnesses and women's health.

 

Research Assistants 

Monique Bourgeois, Kayla Doodnath, Sarah Farhan, Joshua Garcia, Hun Woo Jeong, Melissa Kao, Kunj Patel, Aastha Parikh, Elizabeth Policano, Yuthikaa Raj, Neha Rao, Muhammad Razi Hussain, Olivia San-Emeterio, Anam Shamsi, Eric Quartey