Our Team

Michael Milham, MD, PhD

is the director of the Healthy Brain Network. He is a board-certified adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. He is a research psychiatrist at the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, an internationally recognized expert in open science and neuroimaging, and the founding director of the Center for the Developing Brain at the Child Mind Institute. Dr. Milham has been a leader in using open science to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery. Dr. Milham received his PhD in cognitive neuroscience and MD at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Milham completed his general psychiatry residency and child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at New York University. Dr. Milham is the Principal Investigator for the Healthy Brain Network, NKI Rockland Sample, and the Longitudinal Pediatric Rockland Sample.

Michelle Freund, PhD

is the director of Strategic Data Initiatives at the Child Mind Institute. Her independent research has studied the role of monoamine neurotransmitters in the action of antidepressant drugs and the interactions of stress and drug misuse. Dr. Freund has also worked in various capacities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

 

Dr. Freund earned her PhD in Neuroscience at Hahnemann University in Philadelphia and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University.

 

In her current role at the Child Mind Institute, Dr. Freund oversees multiple data and research cores, including the Healthy Brain Network, each focused on providing reproducible scientific results to transform the lives of children and their families. Dr. Freund is also the director of innovations in Clinical Assessment and Interventions, part of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Global Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. This initiative will build, test and deploy technologies to expand access to mental health care and research in low- and middle-income countries.

 

Through her work, Dr. Freund continues to champion the broad sharing of valuable data resources.

Lindsay Alexander, MPH

is the research operations director for  the Child Mind Institute.  She provides critical operations support across multiple CMI initiatives including the Healthy Brain Network and the EMR Discovery Science study. Lindsay earned her BA in Psychology from CUNY Hunter College and completed an MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the CUNY Hunter College School of Public Health. Her research interests focus on the field of psychiatric epidemiology.

Cindy Gil, MSW

is the project manager for the Healthy Brain Network. Cindy brings an extensive background in clinical operations and administrative management to her role at the Child Mind Institute, where she will ensure that projects are run efficiently and with operational excellence. Prior to this position she was the operations manager for the Healthy Brain Network. She received her Masters of Social Work degree from the Hunter College School of Social Work while working for a behavioral health agency.

Cindy has clinical experience working with adults with mental illness and substance abuse in both residential and clinic settings. Her management and oversight of an Office of Mental Health-licensed Treatment Apartment Program, where she oversaw the delivery of clinical service to consumers through a trauma-informed approach, resulted in her team and program receiving a top tier certification from the Office of Mental Health within the first year of the program’s operation.

Cindy comes to the Child Mind Institute from Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services, where she was the senior clinical applications support specialist. Her role focused on staff training and development as well as administrative oversight and implementation of the Cerner Behavioral Health electronic health record, ensuring production and maintenance of quality data and outcomes.

Maki S. Koyama, PhD

is a research scientist at the Center for the Developing Brain (CDB) and the head of the Testing, Evaluation, and Optimization Core (TEOC) at the Child Mind Institute.

 

Dr. Koyama uses scientifically rigorous approaches to test, validate and evaluate accessible, remotely deliverable digital tools generated through Child Mind Institute projects. Those projects include the Next-Generation Digital Therapeutics (NGDT) program that aims to develop, validate, and deploy digital therapeutics and biometric response monitoring tools specifically designed to support children and adolescents with mental health and learning disorders.

 

Dr. Koyama is a neuroscientist by training, and her research interests include investigating the relationship between the brain, physiology, and behavior in children with learning disorders and mental health disorders. She has extensive experience in experimental design, data collection, and data analysis.

 

Before her current position at the Child Mind Institute, Dr. Koyama was the director of research and evaluation at the CUNY Early Childhood Professional Development Institute. Her primary role was to promote evidence-based policies for early childhood care and education. Between 2013 and 2017, Dr. Koyama worked at the Child Mind Institute as a research scientist and clinical-research integration project manager.

Marijayne “Mj” Bushey

is a research marketing specialist at the Healthy Brain Network.  She does outreach to let parents know that participating in this study

  • can deliver valuable information that may help their child with behavior, development, learning and mental health disorders, and
  • allows families to play an active role in building a world where their children can be happy, healthy and reach their full potential.

Mj is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University. Over the last 20 plus years, she has coordinated and managed research projects at Johns Hopkins, Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Kings County Hospital/SUNY Downstate, and conducted marketing effort analysis for digital marketing gurus Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg.

Data Management and Analysis

Alexandre R. Franco, PhD

is a research scientist at the Child Mind Institute. With a strong signal processing background, he brings extensive knowledge of MRI image processing and analysis methods to support several research initiatives. Through functional and structural neuroimaging, he aims to create novel techniques to understand how mental illnesses affect neurodevelopment. He also assists clinical researchers with computational and statistical methods.

 

Dr. Franco was a pioneer in neuroimaging in southern Brazil, where he built a neuroinformatics laboratory. His lab was responsible for processing and analyzing the images of all MRI studies at the Brain Institute of Rio Grande do Sul. This generated a wide network of collaboration, which lead Dr. Franco to study a variety of neurological and psychiatric illnesses, including  multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dyslexia, microcephaly (caused by Zika virus), ,and ADHD, as well as conditions  such as use of crack cocaine, excessive use of social media, biological effects on children in violent communities, and adolescent obesity.

 

Dr. Franco was also a pioneer in teaching researchers in Brazil how to conduct neuroimaging studies. He has led an annual hands-on fMRI course in Brazil, which is taught in partnership with the Child Mind Institute. He has mentored 12 graduate students and over 20 undergraduate students, all on projects focused on neuroimaging.

Nathalia Bianchini Esper, PhD

is a Neuroimaging Data Analyst at the Child Mind Institute’s  Center for the Developing Brain. Her responsibilities include organizing and processing incoming data from several neuroimaging sites, assuring the quality and completeness of neuroimaging data, managing and improving neuroimaging pipelines, preparing data for open sharing efforts, and assisting with statistical analysis of imaging data and preparation for publication.

 

Dr. Esper’s research is focused on neuroimaging studies. She has extensive experience working in a research institute, conducting functional and structural MRI studies. During her academic career, Dr. Esper focused on developing novel fMRI processing methods. Dr. Esper completed her doctoral degree in neuroscience at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. Her dissertation focused on the structural MRI and functional connectivity in infants with congenital microcephaly associated with Zika virus infection.

 

Prior to joining the Child Mind Institute, Dr. Esper worked at Brain Institute of Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil, supporting researchers in the day-to-day operations of fMRI, fNIRS, and TMS projects and maintaining the neuroinformatics infrastructure of the institute. Her work there generated a wide collaboration network, leading Dr. Esper to study a wide range of health disorders.

Minji Kang

is as associate research program analyst for the Healthy Brain Network, where she is responsible for data analysis, development and management. She graduated cum laude from Smith College with a double major in statistics and data sciences and psychology. She has prior experience with psychological research and data science projects from her time at Smith College. Her psychological research focused on false belief understanding in children and intergroup behavior. Her data science experience includes machine learning, data wrangling and data visualization. Combining her passion for psychology and data sciences, she wants to utilize scientific, data-driven methods to make an impact on the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders.

Shaida Soroush

is a clinical data analyst with the Healthy Brain Network. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology. As an undergraduate, she worked as a research assistant at the Golshani Lab at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. This research focused on the neural dynamics of spatial learning in mice.

 

Post-graduation, Shaida began working as a research and writing associate at the Human Condition, an online mental health platform. In this role, she contributed significantly to content creation, website development, and market research. Shaida then worked as a medical scribe at the UCLA Health Department of Urology, where she developed technical skills crucial to providing optimal patient care, such as proficiency with EMR systems, data compilation, and database maintenance. Shaida hopes to pursue a master’s degree in biomedical informatics and explore a career in biotechnology.

Yao (Mike) Xiao

is a data analyst with the Healthy Brain Network who works on neuroimaging data processing and analysis under the supervision of Dr. Lei Ai. He also will work on actigraphy data as well as mobile self-assessment data collected from the Mindlogger platform. Before coming to the Child Mind Institute, Yao was a post-baccalaureate research fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health for Dr. Kathleen Merikangas. His work focused on visualization, analysis and statistical methodology for ecological momentary assessment data and actigraphy. He works primarily in R and has experience in Shiny app development. Yao has a bachelor’s degree in quantitative science with a concentration in neuroscience from Emory University, and is interested in pursuing graduate studies in the field of biostatistics. He is passionate about mental health, mobile technologies and developing better tools for understanding data and communicating results for both researchers and the general public.

Intake

Alexia Cole

is an intake coordinator and social work intern with the Healthy Brain Network at the Child Mind Institute. As an intake coordinator, she is responsible for screening potential participants for eligibility, answering any initial questions families may have about participation, and scheduling initial appointments. As a social work intern, she works closely with the Healthy Brain Network’s clinical team, helps conduct the initial clinical intake interview with parents, and is involved in identifying service and resource recommendations for families based on presenting concerns.

 

Alexia earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Columbia University where she developed an interest in the study of emotional and behavioral disorders in children. As an undergraduate, she worked as a research assistant and Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity at the Center for Justice at Columbia University, where she explored the effects of youth-adult partnership on positive youth development and community connectedness.

 

Currently, Alexia is enrolled in the Master of Social Work program at Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work. As an aspiring school social worker, she is passionate about helping children reach their full potential in school and in life.

Jared Fisse

is an intake coordinator with the Healthy Brain Network. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and marketing from Bentley University. During his time at Bentley, Jared interned at Park Avenue Psychotherapy Associates, where he first interfaced with patients in a clinical setting. Jared also pursued several research opportunities and published a paper on the topic of adverse childhood experiences and mental health outcomes in adulthood.

 

In his role at the Healthy Brain Network, Jared is responsible for screening potential participants for eligibility, maintaining records of children and families inquiring about the Healthy Brain Network, and scheduling clinical intakes. Jared especially enjoys working with children in settings that allow them to become the best version of themselves and plans to one day work in the field of child psychology.

Harlem Evaluation Center

Camille A. Gregory

is the site operations manager for the Healthy Brain Network. She is primarily responsible for overseeing the daily operations at the Harlem facility. Prior to this position she worked as both a research and data supervisor, and a research assistant with HBN for several years, and has experience in several other academic laboratories at CUNY Brooklyn College, Princeton University, and the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology. She is passionate about scientific education and outreach, and her own interests lie in elucidating the neural circuits involved in decision making and motivation across development. Following her time at CMI, Camille plans to apply to a PhD program in neuroscience so she can continue to learn more about the human brain and its development.

Rebecca Neuhaus, PsyD

is a New York State licensed clinical neuropsychologist and clinical training and assessment manager for the Healthy Brain Network. She received her bachelor’s degree from Yeshiva University and her doctorate in school psychology from St. John’s University. She holds a Bilingual Extension in which she acquired specialized training in providing culturally sensitive and evidence based psychological treatment for individuals of all backgrounds and ages. Dr. Neuhaus completed post-doctoral training in pediatric neuropsychology at the Center for Attention and Learning at Lenox Hill Hospital. There, she provided neuropsychological evaluations to over 100 low income families and worked with lawyers and the NYC Department of Education to implement services and ensure appropriate placement in the educational system.

Dr. Neuhaus worked as a school psychologist for several years in New York State, in a wide range of settings, including private, charter and public schools. Her experience and knowledge of the school system provides her with valuable insight into helping children with behavioral, emotional and learning challenges succeed. In addition to her expertise in providing comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations, she also has a strong background in educational advocacy, cognitive rehabilitation, culturally sensitive assessment and school-based mental health. As the clinical training supervisor for the study she manages the training of externs, post docs and current staff.

Spencer Morenko

is the Research Coordinator for the Healthy Brain Network. His responsibilities include supervising data collection and management, and coordinating the daily operations of the research assistant team.

Spencer graduated from Pitzer College with a bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science and Linguistics. As an undergraduate, he worked as a Research Assistant for a Cognition and Aging study, and wrote his thesis on aging and emotion cognition. During this time, he also worked as a Corps Member for Jumpstart’s early childhood literacy program.

Prior to working for the Healthy Brain Network, Spencer worked as a counselor for an after school education program. As a counselor, he assisted students (Ages 4-12) and their families meet specific educational and behavioral goals. Additionally, he worked as an Emergency Medical Technician here in New York City. As an EMT, Spencer assessed medical and psychiatric emergencies, ensured his patients received appropriate treatment, and provided a calming and reassuring environment.

Spencer is passionate about improving therapeutic treatments for children and young adults struggling with mental illness and learning disorders. His goals include completing a doctoral degree in clinical psychology and working to increase accessibility to psychological services.

Sydney Autorino

is a participant navigator for the Healthy Brain Network. Her responsibilities include facilitating MRI visits, data collection, conducting participant interviews, and scheduling families.

Sydney graduated from Colgate University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychological science with a minor in sociology. As an undergraduate, she worked in a cognitive science lab and wrote her thesis on daydreaming and attentional control. Sydney also has experience as a volunteer teacher’s assistant to children with learning disabilities.

Sydney is passionate about improving access to mental health care, and her research interests include understanding consciousness and exploring new therapeutic approaches to treating mental health disorders. Ultimately, her goal is to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Elif Bengi

is a research assistant with the Healthy Brain Network. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from New York University with a minor in child and adolescent mental health. At NYU, she worked with Professor Selcuk Sirin and completed the psychology honors track as a Dean’s Undergraduate Research Fund recipient. Her thesis focused on the effect of parental verbal responsiveness on children’s language and social-emotional skill development. During her time at the Sirin Lab, Elif also led a project in Turkey that aimed to empower parents and children with a new library focused on stimulating babies through dialogic reading. Besides her passion for research, Elif also has experience working with both youth and adults in clinical settings including the Moodist Psychiatry and Neurology Hospital in Istanbul, where she worked with addiction and general psychiatry inpatients as a clinic assistant.

 

Elif is currently working toward becoming a child psychologist and hopes to pursue a PsyD in Clinical Psychology. At the Healthy Brain Network, she facilitates enrollment and data collection from participants and caregivers, while also providing support for clinicians by assisting with assessments and conducting interviews.

Jennifer Birchler, MS, CAS

is a school psychologist with the Healthy Brain Network. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. Jennifer also earned a master’s degree in educational psychology and methodology and a certificate of advanced study in school psychology from the University at Albany, SUNY. She is currently completing her dissertation, the final step in earning a doctorate in school psychology at the University at Albany, SUNY.

 

Jennifer has worked as a school psychologist in public schools as well as in schools for individuals with developmental disabilities. She has experience working in a child protection center, where she completed psychological evaluations of children and adults involved with the child welfare system and provided counseling services. She also led group counseling sessions in a partial hospitalization program. From these experiences, Jennifer brings knowledge of the emotional, behavioral, and learning challenges children and adolescents can encounter. She uses a trauma-informed, whole-person approach when designing interventions and making recommendations to address these difficulties.

Allegra Califano, MA

is a clinical extern in the Healthy Brain Network at the Child Mind Institute. She is a third-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at Long Island University, Brooklyn (LIU), where she also received her master’s degree in clinical psychology. Allegra has experience treating children, adolescents, and adults in various research and clinical settings. She has provided individual psychotherapy in a college setting and worked with individuals who exhibit serious mental illnesses such as prodromal psychosis, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia, as well as with mood, anxiety, and personality disorders. She has basic training in parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) and selective mutism interventions.

 

Allegra specializes in neuropsychological testing and assessment. She conducts cognitive assessment batteries for post-concussion patients and occasionally works with NFL players through a remote company based in New York and Delaware. She is also a Teaching Assistant for a Tests and Measures course for first-year students at LIU. She provides training and feedback on conducting ability, performance, and personality assessments and writing comprehensive assessment reports.

 

Before joining the Child Mind Institute, Allegra trained as an extern at Small Brooklyn Psychology,where she underwent intensive training in neuropsychological testing with individuals from 6 to 33 years old. She mainly assessed for learning, anxiety, mood, and attention disorders and wrote comprehensive reports for academic settings and the Department of Education. For her second externship, she served as a student clinician at LIU’s Psychological Services Center, providing both individual therapy and assessments for college-aged students.

 

Allegra’s research interests involve early intervention practices and trauma-related and psychotic disorders. She has also worked on projects involving the relationship between family trauma and animal abuse, the relationship between violence and psychotic disorders, and understanding the impact of neurodevelopmental disorders on psychosis presentations and onset in early adolescents and adults.

Tyner Gordon, MSEd., Ed.M.

is a psychology extern at the Health Brain Network and a third-year counseling psychology doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Wesleyan University, where she discovered her love of teaching and creative exploration with children of all ages. In college, Ms. Gordon received training in psychoeducational assessments, clinical interviewing, and various treatment modalities for youth and adults, including cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, short-term therapy, and trauma-informed care.

 

Ms. Gordon has spent nearly 20 years working with children, families, and educators to cultivate critical teaching practices. Along with teaching elementary and middle school students, she has worked as a psychological counselor-in-training and provided executive functioning support for 2e high school students. After a 12-year stint at The Dalton School as a head teacher and eventually assistant middle school director and dean of students, Ms. Gordon went on to earn an Ed.M. in mental health counseling at Teachers College. She is committed to providing critical, empathic, and culturally sensitive care to children, adolescents, and young adults.

Emily Hart, PhD

is a New York State licensed clinical psychologist with the Healthy Brain Network.  Dr. Hart earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Colgate University and her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. During her clinical internship at University of Rochester Medical Center, Dr. Hart completed rotations in an outpatient clinic, an inpatient unit, and a general pediatrics clinic. Following internship, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Audrey Hepburn Children’s House of Hackensack University Medical Center, where she provided forensic evaluations and trauma-focused therapy to children and families affected by abuse and neglect. Dr. Hart has also conducted research on aggressive behavior and social cognition both in young children and emerging adults. She strives to maintain an integrative focus both in her research and clinical work.

As a clinical psychologist for the Healthy Brain Network, Dr. Hart conducts diagnostic evaluations of children, adolescents, and young adults using a combination of interviews, self-report measures, and intelligence and achievement tests. She provides comprehensive reports, feedback and referrals to participating families. Dr. Hart also assists in community outreach efforts related to the project.

Jessica Heller

is a social work intern in the Healthy Brain Network at the Child Mind Institute. She recently graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a double degree in psychology and public policy. She is currently continuing her education at the New York University Silver School of Social Work and plans to get her licensed clinical social work title.

 

During her time at the University of Maryland, Jessica worked in substance use treatment centers in Baltimore City, where she performed structured clinical interviews. She also worked with children with learning disabilities, using applied behavioral analysis (ABA) to assist with daily tasks.

 

Jessica is passionate about supporting children with mental health and learning disorders, and hopes to expand her work and education at the Child Mind Institute.

Danielle Kahn, LCSW

is a social work supervisor for the Health Brain Network. She is a board certified Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New York State. Danielle works directly with participants and their parents conducting psychosocial assessments and assisting with data collection. Danielle obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The George Washington University and a Masters of Social Work from New York University. Danielle has clinical experience working with children, adults and families with mental health disorders, trauma, substance abuse, and psychosocial stressors in both community-based and hospital settings.

Julia Keene, LMSW

is a New York State Licensed Social Worker. In her role as a social worker with the Healthy Brain Network, she assists with data collection and conducts psychosocial assessments with youth and their families. Julia received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Connecticut, followed by her Master of Social Work degree from Southern Connecticut State University. Julia has enjoyed working in several areas of the social work field including residential treatment, the school setting, outpatient clinics and in-home prevention work. Julia is certified in Functional Family Therapy and has clinical experience working with young children, adolescents and families.

Katie Kraemer, MA

is a research assistant at the Healthy Brain Network. She graduated from Colgate University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and received her master’s degree in clinical psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. While pursuing her master’s degree, Katie worked at the Developmental Affective Neuroscience Lab, which studies the effects of early caregiving adversities on brain development in children and adolescents.

Katie tutors elementary and middle school-aged children in various academic subjects and supports students in developing executive functioning skills. In her role at the Healthy Brain Network, she assists in data collection, data entry, and scoring assessments. Katie plans to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. She hopes to study and promote the mental health of children who have experienced trauma and adverse life experiences.

Erin Levy

is a research assistant with the Healthy Brain Network at the Child Mind Institute. She graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and human development. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Erin worked alongside professors researching pediatric HIV in the United States.

 

Before coming to the Healthy Brain Network, Erin worked in Tel Aviv at a school for asylum-seeking children, where she oversaw developmental and educational programs and was trained in trauma-informed care.

 

At the Healthy Brain Network, Erin supports the clinical research team by enrolling participants, facilitating data entry and collection, and conducting interviews and research activities with study participants.

 

Ultimately, Erin hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. She is passionate about promoting mental health and is eager to gain more clinical experience so she can continue helping children and families impacted by trauma and other adverse life experiences.

Amanda Lewis, M.A., M.S., NCSP

is a school psychologist for the Healthy Brain Network. Amanda earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Texas Christian University, a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Golden Gate University and a master’s degree in school psychology from St. John’s University. Amanda did a postgraduate internship at the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center, where she provided psychotherapy, crisis intervention and case management. As part of her third year at St. John’s University, Amanda completed an internship with the Ardsley Union Free School District. During her internship, Amanda conducted comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations, Functional Behavioral Assessments, and Behavioral Intervention Plans, as well as facilitated both group and individual research-based counseling.

As an associate school psychologist, Amanda administers, scores and interprets psychoeducational assessments in collaboration with the team at HBN. Amanda is passionate about family dynamics and understanding parent-child and parent-school interactions. She is also interested in research on how those interactions contribute to a child’s social-emotional functioning and academic success.

Luke Norena

is a research assistant at The Healthy Brain Network. He studied behavioral neuroscience at Connecticut College and then went on to spend time conducting research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and at Columbia University Medical Center. In these labs, he studied DREADDS technology as well as the molecular biology and neurophysiology of striatal structures associated with goal-oriented behaviors and substance abuse.

 

As a research assistant, Luke will work with other members of the Healthy Brain Network clinical research team to complete interviews and activities for study participants. Luke’s specific interests include the diagnoses and treatment of mental health disorders associated with trauma. He hopes to pursue a doctoral degree with the intention of becoming a licensed clinician.

Mindy Quiroz

is a research assistant for the Healthy Brain Network. She is responsible for enrolling participants, administering and scoring assessments, and collecting and entering data.

Mindy graduated from Arizona State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. During her time there, Mindy worked as a research assistant in a developmental psychology lab, studying the neural responses of adolescent romantic couples to help inform prevention and intervention strategies to promote healthy relationships. Mindy also worked as an English teacher in Japan for one year to interact with and learn about children from a different cultural background.

Mindy is currently earning her master’s degree in neuroscience and education at Teachers College at Columbia University. Her research interests include identifying the neural correlates of neurodevelopmental disorders. Mindy plans to pursue a doctoral degree in cognitive neuroscience to better understand the processing networks in children with mental health disorders.

Olivia Schneider

is a research assistant for the Healthy Brain Network at the Child Mind Institute. She supports the study team by conducting participant interviews and facilitating data entry and collection.

Olivia holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Emory University. During her time as an undergraduate student, Olivia worked as a research assistant at the Marcus Autism Center on a study assessing quality of life parameters in children on the autism spectrum. She is the first of eleven authors of a research poster titled A Preliminary Study of Food Selectivity and Mealtime Behaviors for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Quality of Life. She also served as a first responder and director of recruitment and outreach for Emory’s student-run crisis warm-line.

Olivia enjoys participating in various research endeavors to expand her knowledge base and incite positive change. Ultimately, she wishes to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology and to help youth affected by mental health and learning disorders.

Anna Smith, LCSW

is a social work supervisor with the Healthy Brain Network. She is a a New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She obtained a bachelor degree from Marist College and a graduate degree from Adelphi University, both in social work. Anna has clinical experience working with adults, children and families affected by mental health disorders, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, homelessness and medical conditions across a variety of health care settings. In her role at the Healthy Brain Network, Anna assists with data collection and providing feedback on findings to the participants.

Yuanyue Sun

is a social work intern in the Healthy Brain Network at the Child Mind Institute. She’s fluent in English and Mandarin, and conversational in Cantonese.

 

Prior to working for the Child Mind Institute, Yuanyue was a family child specialist in the Early Head Start program at University Settlement. There, she conducted weekly home visits to clients, organized socialization group activities, and provided comprehensive child development and family support services. In her current role, Yuanyue works closely with the Healthy Brain Network’s clinical team to assist with conducting interviews and assessments.

 

Upon completion of her social work degree, Yuanyue hopes to commit to supporting and nurturing the well-being and development of children and families. She believes that early intervention and compassionate guidance can profoundly shape their futures for the better.

Nicholas Vitaro, MA

is a school psychologist for the Healthy Brain Network. He is a certified school psychologist in New Jersey and New York. He obtained a master’s degree from Montclair State University in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Child/Adolescent Psychology. He comes to the Healthy Brain Network with several years of experience working for a large New Jersey school district as a school psychologist and as a member of the preschool intervention and referral team (PIRT). Nicholas brings an extensive knowledge of special education classification and services and an understanding of how common disorders impact children in academic settings. He has specialized in working with children with significant trauma-related symptoms, ADHD, and anxiety-related disorders. He has experience conducting individual and group therapy for children in outpatient and school settings.

Alexandra Vizents

is a research assistant for the Healthy Brain Network, where she assists in the collection and entering of data and scoring assessments. Alexandra graduated from New York University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and child and adolescent mental health studies. At NYU, she was a research assistant at a social psychology lab, where she studied racial differences in the susceptibility of adolescents to social media advertisements for junk food versus non-food advertising. She was also a research volunteer at a clinical anxiety and depression lab, where she studied the effect of childhood trauma on NEO-Five Factor personality traits in individuals with primary anxiety disorders.

Alexandra is passionate about individualized psychological treatments to meet the needs of each specific child and address the psychological effects of childhood trauma. She is eager to gain clinical and research experience as a research assistant and hopes to later obtain a doctoral degree in clinical psychology to further improve mental health outcomes for children and adolescents.

Noel Xie

is a Participant Navigator for the Healthy Brain Network. She is responsible for guiding participants through visits, scheduling families, conducting interviews, and collecting data.

Noel earned her bachelor’s degree in international affairs with a concentration in sociocultural anthropology at George Washington University. She is currently completing her master’s in clinical psychology with a concentration in spirituality, mind, and body medicine at Columbia University. Noel is certified in social-emotional learning from Emory University’s Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics. She previously assisted with grades K–8 at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart and was a teacher at the Hollingworth Center preschool at Teachers College.

Noel’s experience in educational research supporting multicultural, multilingual, and neurodiverse children with various developmental and learning profiles inspired a passion for pediatric psychiatry. She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in biomedical humanities.

Staten Island Evaluation Center

Victoria Castagna, MS

is an associate clinical evaluator for the Healthy Brain Network office in Staten Island. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s in neuroscience from the College of Staten Island. During her graduate studies, Victoria worked in a neuroscience research lab that focused on understanding the uniqueness of the naked mole-rat. She helped create a novel imaging approach by rendering whole brain samples optically transparent with the addition of a Golgi stain in order to compare the neurons of naked mole-rats to other species.  She is responsible for enrolling participants, conducting and scoring assessments, and assisting in the coordination of daily protocol operations. Victoria is passionate about working with children and pursuing research in order to help those with neurological and mental illnesses.

Seda Yaman, MSEd 

is a school psychologist at the Child Mind Institute’s Healthy Brain Network. She received her master’s degree and advanced certification in school psychology from Brooklyn College. She is currently enrolled in the school psychology doctoral program at St. John’s University. Seda has experience working within New York City’s special education system, as well as the planning, development, and implementation of IEPs in school settings.

As a school psychologist, Seda has worked with students to succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally.  She values a collaborative approach with educators, parents, and other professionals to provide a supportive learning environment that strengthens connections between home, school, and the community for all students. In addition, she has experience with providing psychoeducational assessments, counseling support, and consultation with teachers and administrators. She has also conducted interventions for students who needed additional support.

Seda is passionate about working effectively with diverse populations through the application of cultural knowledge. She is committed to advocating for children and empowering their families to give them the support they need.

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