People

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

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.

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.

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. 

Post Docs

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.

Christine St. Laurent, PhD

PhD Kinesiology (University of Massachusetts)

MPH Epidemiology (University of Massachusetts)

MS/BS Kinesiology (James Madison University)

Christine is interested in the relationships between childhood movement behaviors - sleep and physical activity - and cognitive related outcomes and how to optimize those relationships for translational health practices in home- and school-settings. She is currently examining how physical activity is related to both sleep and cognition  and how structured physical activity can affect these outcomes in preschoolers. Outside of lab she enjoys reading, drawing Disney characters, and spending time with her energetic family and puppy.

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 :)

Undergraduate Students

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)

Olivia Hanron (MD Program, UMass Med School)

Chloe Andre (PhD Program, University of Georgia)

Katrina Rodheim (PhD Program, University of Colorado)

 
 
 
 
 
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University of Massachusetts Amherst

Life Science Laboratories

240 Thatcher Road

Amherst, MA 01003

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