Principal Investigator

Rebecca Spencer, PhD

Professor, Psychological & Brain Sciences (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Post-doctoral fellow, Neuroscience (University of California, Berkeley)

PhD, Neuroscience (Purdue University)

BA, Biology & Kinesiology (Hope College)


Rebecca runs the show – at least when there’s enough coffee to keep her going. She also teaches Science of Sleep (Psych 391), Behavioral Neuroscience (Psych 330) and Neurobiology of Disease (NS&B 891) to name a few.  An ultra-marathoner, she applies her skills as a scholar-athlete herself to her role as Faculty Athletic Representative for UMass. 

Lab Staff

Chloe Andre

BS Psychology & Criminal Justice (Northeastern University)


A recent graduate from Northeastern University, Chloe is particularly interested in how sleep differs based on environmental factors such as SES and single vs two parent households. When she has free time she can be found hiking, playing soccer, or petting other peoples' dogs.

Jen Holmes, EdM

EdM Educational Psychology & Neuroscience (Harvard Graduate School of Education)

BA Psychology (Boston University)


As project coordinator for the Preschool Nap Study, Jen is interested in how sleep impacts early childhood development and learning, as well as what social and environmental factors can affect our ability to get good quality sleep. When she's not helping kids nap, she can be found tending to her houseplants, reading anything from Dostoevsky to Vogue, and taking photos of her cats.

Katrina Rodheim

BA Cognitive Science (University of California, Merced)


Katrina is interested in the role of sleep on memory consolidation and cognitive functioning in early childhood development. She is also looking at the effects of napping on memory decay. If she isn’t in the lab, you might find her hanging from a large slab of granite or consuming ‘moo’cho helado at the local dairy farm, Flayvors.

Claire Sawyer

BA Legal Studies (University of California, Berkeley)


Claire helps keep the lab organized and running smoothly. When she's not making spreadsheets, sending emails, and running around campus, you can usually find her reading, playing video games, or having one-sided conversations with her cat. 

Olivia Hanron

BS Biology (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

A recent graduate from UMass, Olivia is interested in how napping affects preschoolers’ emotional memory consolidation. In her spare time, she enjoys running, pestering her dog, and comparing her Fitbit sleep tracker to the Actiwatches.

Sukh Kaur

BS Psychology (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Sukh is a recent graduate from UMass. She's most interested in the role sleep plays in memory consolidation as well as the mechanisms of consciousness. Her future plans include medical school and hopefully working with how the brain works when consciousness is impaired due to epileptic seizures.

Post Docs

Bethany Jones, PhD

PhD Neuroscience (University of Arizona)

BA  Psychology (Ohio University)


Bethany is interested in the neural processes by which sleep changes memory representations and how factors such as aging and emotional salience affect these processes. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, playing with her dogs, and spending time outdoors.

Ahren Fitzroy, PhD

Post-doctoral fellow, Communication Sciences & Disorders (Northwestern University)

PhD Neuroscience (University of Massachusetts)

BS Psychology/Neuroscience (University of Massachusetts)


Ahren is primarily interested in rhythms - auditory, neural, attentional, and the intersection thereof across the lifespan. The neural rhythms of sleep have recently piqued his interest, and he is currently investigating the relationships between cortical oscillations and white matter integrity in older adults. In his spare time he sings with a toddler that shares half his genetics, and makes noise with various stringed things.

Gina Mason, PhD

PhD Psychology (Cornell University)

BS Molecular-Cellular Biology and Psychology (University of Arizona)


Gina is interested in the social and physiological underpinnings of early attention and memory development. Along these lines, her work in the lab focuses on how midday napping in preschool-aged children may assist with attention and memory consolidation, and how specific aspects of sleep architecture within midday napping and overnight sleep may correspond to improved emotional memory. In her spare time, Gina enjoys volunteering, growing succulents, various outdoor activities, and spending time with friends and family.

Graduate Students

Sanna Lokhandwala

PhD-track Developmental Science

BS Neuroscience (Baylor University)


Sanna is interested in the role of sleep on memory consolidation and development in young children. In particular, she is interested in the relationship between nap development and nap-dependent memory consolidation in early childhood. When she’s not spending time with children, you’ll find her trying out new Pinterest recipes, exploring the New England area, or just cuddled up with a good book.  

Kyle Kainec

PhD-track Neuroscience & Behavior

BA Cognitive/Computational Neuroscience (Ohio State University)


Kyle is interested in sleep and its importance in memory consolidation, and how this relates to consciousness. Using fMRI, EEG, and behavioral tasks, Kyle is currently investigating the effects of sleep and aging on procedural memory consolidation. In his spare time he enjoys movies, camping, and eating good food :)


Sophia Hwang

Sophia is a senior biochemistry major and minoring in linguistics. She is interested in clinical psychology, social psychology, and the effect of sleep on memory consolidation. After college, she plans on attending medical school. In her spare time, she enjoys playing badminton, 

traveling, and reading.

Mary Kate Deighan

Mary Kate is an undergraduate research assistant pursuing a dual degree in Psychology (Neuroscience Track) and Spanish. She is completing her honors thesis with the Preschool Nap Study, which involves using PSG to understand the physiology of emotional memory consolidation during napping. She is interested in pursuing a career involving medicine, law, public policy, or some combination thereof. In her spare time, Mary Kate enjoys listening to podcasts, traveling, and cuddling with her cats.

Nicholas Georgette

Nicholas is an undergraduate research assistant majoring in Biology. He is on the pre-med track for his degree, and he is interested in exploring the relationship between Alzheimer's and retrieval induced forgetting. In his spare time Nicholas can usually be found running or spending time with his family. 

Salma Ali

Salma is an undergraduate research assistant majoring in Psychology and minoring in Middle Eastern Studies. In the sleep lab, she works on novel word memory consolidation with older adults. After graduation she plans on attending graduate school to further pursue her studies and interest in psychology. In her spare time she enjoys singing, playing guitar or piano, and hanging out with friends.

Abdul Wasay Paracha

Abdul is an undergraduate research assistant majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology on the pre-med track. In the sleep lab he works under Kyle Kaniec to study word memory consolidation with sleep/no sleep in older adults. After graduation he plans on attending medical school to further pursue his studies and interest in medicine and helping people live a better life. In his spare time he enjoys hanging out with friends and playing and watching sports like basketball, football and soccer.

Nora Roscoe

Nora is an undergraduate research assistant visiting from Skidmore College. As a neuroscience major, she enjoys the time she gets to spend in the lab studying and analyzing sleep patterns in preschool aged children. She hopes that sleep will play a role in her professional life after college (and her personal life tonight).

Jeanelle Abou-Ezzi

Jeanelle is a freshman undergraduate research assistant majoring in psychology on the pre-dental track. In the lab, she studies the effects of sleep on memory decay by conducting experiments on the declarative and procedural memories of younger and older adults. After college, she plans on attending dental school to pursue her passion of helping others. When she’s not volunteering or spending time with her family and friends, you can always find Jeanelle watching sports or at the gym in her spare time.

Jamie Caccavaro

Jamie is a senior and a biology major at UMass. She is currently conducting her honors thesis on the ability of consumer-grade, sleep-tracking devices to accurately measure sleep. Jamie spent Spring 2019 studying abroad in Florence, and then she spent the summer working on a Phase III clinical trial at a front-running biotech company. After graduation, she will be working at a life sciences consulting firm in Boston. In her free time, Jamie enjoys cooking, working out, and spending time with her family.

Ellie Monger

Ellie is a Sophomore biology major on the pre med track. She is an undergraduate research assist on the Pre-School Nap Study, focusing on the effect of mid-day naps on the activity levels of young children. In her spare time, Ellie enjoys going to the gym, spending time with friends, and exploring new places. 

Sophia Struzziero

Sophia is an undergraduate research assistant majoring in Biochemistry and Psychology (Neuroscience Track). She works on the Preschool Nap Study, looking at how napping affects memory consolidation. She is planning on attending medical school after her undergraduate career and wants to work with children. In her free time, Sophia enjoys trying new restaurants, traveling, and spending time with friends. 

Bhani Sethi

Bhani Sethi is an undergraduate research assistant majoring in Marketing at the Isenberg School of Management. She is a part of the Preschool Nap Study, which aims to investigate memory cognition in preschoolers. She is interested in sleep spindles in naps and how they affect preschoolers' performance in learning and recall. In her spare time, Bhani enjoys reading, writing, and exercising.

Lab Alum

Lauri Kurdziel  (Assistant Professor, Merrimack College)
Ed Pace-Schott (Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School)
Phil Desrochers (Post-doc, Boston University)
Lauren Szymula (PhD Program, University of Maine)
Wilbeth Lugo (PhD Program, Iowa State)
Rebecca Brossoit (PhD Program, Colorado State University)
Rebecca Owen (Monterey Institute of International Studies)
Jessica Kent (Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Southern California)
Caitlin Dillon (Research Associate, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine)
Keenan Mehan (MD program, Harvard Medical School)
Kurt Schultz (MD Program, UMass Medical School)
Katherine Dempsey (Research Scientist, Baystate Hospital)
Enma Pardilla-Delgado (PhD Program, University of Notre Dame)
Billy Anderson (Research Scientist, SUNY Stony Brook)
Mike Brickhouse (Research Scientist, Harvard/MGH)
Michelle Sunm (PhD Program, SUNY Buffalo)
Jessica Wilson (PhD Program, Duke)

Bengi Baran (Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital)

Caroline Norton (MD Program, UMass Medical School)

Helen Root (PhD Program, University of Alabama)

Sam McHugh (PhD Program, University of California)

Ashkata Sonni (Broad Research Communication Lab Manager, MIT)

Amanda Cremone-Ciara (Visiting Assistant Professor, Holy Cross)


University of Massachusetts Amherst

Life Science Laboratories

240 Thatcher Road

Amherst, MA 01003

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