Lab Director


Ayelet Meron Ruscio, Ph.D.

Ayelet Meron Ruscio is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving her B.A. in Psychology from Brandeis University, she completed post-baccalaureate research training at the Behavioral Science Division of the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, where she cultivated interests in anxiety, measurement, and classification. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Penn State, where she studied anxiety and mood disorders, focusing in particular on generalized anxiety disorder and its cardinal feature of worry. After completing her clinical internship at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem, Virginia, she took a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard, where she learned epidemiological methods for studying diagnostic boundaries and comorbidity in the community. She joined the faculty at Penn in 2006. Dr. Ruscio is a licensed clinical psychologist whose research focuses on the basic nature of anxiety and depression and on the mechanisms that contribute to their close relationship. She has published more than 50 scientific papers and is the coauthor (with John Ruscio and Nick Haslam) of a book on the taxometric method. Dr. Ruscio’s research program has been supported by a predoctoral fellowship (F31), a career development award (K01), and research project funding (R01) from the National Institute of Mental Health. In Penn’s Department of Psychology, Dr. Ruscio teaches undergraduate students in abnormal psychology (PSYC 162) and supervises independent undergraduate research in clinical psychology (PSYC 399). At the graduate level, she teaches the Psychopathology Proseminar (PSYC 600) and has taught clinical psychology seminars (PSYC 709) on Debates in Classification and on Transdiagnostic Processes in Psychopathology.

Email:; Download CV

Download syllabus for Dr. Ruscio’s Graduate Seminar on Transdiagnostic Processes in Psychopathology


Lab Manager

Christina Johnson, B.S.

Christina is a full-time lab manager at the Boundaries of Anxiety and Depression Lab. She received her B.S. in Human Science with a minor in Psychology from Georgetown University. During her time at Georgetown, she taught HIV and health education classes in DC schools and communities and was a member of the varsity Women’s Rowing team. Her research interests include psychopathology in adolescents and the intersection between physiology and psychopathology. In her free time, Christina enjoys rowing, cooking, and running.



Graduate Students


Gabi Kattan Khazanov, M.A.

Gabi is a sixth-year graduate student in clinical psychology. She received a B.A. in psychology from UCLA, after which she completed a fellowship at the Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health. Gabi is interested in positive emotional deficits in depression and anxiety: their ability to predict symptoms of these disorders, their impact on daily experiences and functional outcomes among individuals with these disorders, and their role as a mechanism of specificity for depression vs. comorbidity of depression and anxiety. Gabi uses meta-analytic, factor-analytic, experimental, and experience sampling methods to examine these questions.




Anna Franklin, B.A.

Anna is a second-year graduate student in clinical psychology. After completing her B.A. in psychology at Dartmouth College, she worked as a research coordinator for the University of Washington Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress on several studies, including on the role of patient preference and depression in treatment for chronic PTSD. Anna is interested in physiological manifestations of psychopathology, with a focus on threat sensitivity and responding in anxiety and comorbid depression. In her free time, Anna enjoys running, hiking, watching movies and discovering new coffee shops.



Betsy Wade, B.A.

Betsy is a first-year graduate student in clinical psychology. She received a B.A. in psychology and religion from Barnard College, and then worked as a clinical research coordinator at the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai on several studies, including a project investigating a treatment for anhedonia in mood and anxiety spectrum disorders. Two of Betsy’s main interests are characterizing the nature, quality, and extent of perseverative thought, and using technologies such as computer-based behavioral paradigms to measure mood and anxiety symptoms. Betsy’s hobbies include cooking, baking, running, and enjoying the mountains through hiking and skiing.



Research Assistants

Danny Cohen

Danny is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania from Short Hills, New Jersey majoring in Psychology and Communications. He is interested in the cognitive underpinnings of anxiety and depressive disorders and the media effects field in communications, especially relating to children and adolescents. Previously, Danny worked on a research project in the Neuropsychology Department at Weil Cornell Medical Center that measured the effectiveness of online Cognitive Remediation techniques for recovering neurosurgery patients. In his free time, he loves playing sports, eating good food, and being outside in warm weather.




Sara Gormley

Sara is a juniorat the University of Pennsylvania from Bensalem, Pennsylvania. She is majoring in psychology and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. Previously, she has worked at the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research and the Women’s Campaign International. Sara is particularly interested in the intersectionality between affective disorders, women’s heath, and global feminism. On campus, you can find her working tech for Bloomers, the nation’s first collegiate all-female musical sketch comedy troupe at Penn, chairing Active Mind’s literary magazine to promote mental health awareness, and discussing all things feminism with the F-word and ASAP. In her free time Sara enjoys exploring Philadelphia’s art scene, spending time with friends, and going to live music venues.



Shreya Ganguly

Shreya is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania from Metuchen, New Jersey, majoring in Biological Basis of Behavior. Shreya currently works at the Mahoney Institute for Neuroscience at Penn Medicine, where she researches the neural basis of memory. On campus, Shreya is a singer and board member for Penn Sirens, Penn’s premier female ensemble. She also plays violin in a Penn Chamber group and volunteers for the Penn Music Mentoring Program, where she teaches vocal lessons to West Philadelphia children. Shreya hopes to pursue medicine in the future.




Ben Lewittes

Ben is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania from Boca Raton, Florida. He is majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) with a concentration in Globalization and a minor in Economics. Ben spent last summer interning for a startup in Israel through the TAMID Fellowship Program. In addition, he spent a semester abroad studying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and traveled extensively throughout Asia. Ben is particularly interested in how cultural differences affect mental health in varying populations. In his free time, Ben enjoys scuba diving, playing basketball, working out, and traveling.




Paddy Loftus

Paddy is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania from North Salem, NY. Studying psychology, he is especially interested in the underpinnings and treatment of both Depression and PTSD. Accordingly, Paddy hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology after he graduates from Penn. On campus, Paddy is active in Penn’s theatre community both as an actor and as a board member for Quadramics Theatre Co. In his free time, Paddy enjoys cooking, attending various performances, and visiting both friends and family.



Carly Miron

Carly is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania originally from Los Angeles, California. She is currently pursuing a Psychology major with a Consumer Psychology minor. Carly is fascinated by many aspects of psychology and has a specific interest in the relationship between societal influences and psychopathology. She looks forward to a career working with children in a clinical setting. At Penn, Carly is the Business Manager of the Pennsylvania Players, a student-run, professionally directed theater group. She is also on the executive board of Psi Chi and a member of Sigma Delta Tau Sorority.




Megha Nagaswami

Megha is a junior from Havertown, Pennsylvania majoring in psychology with a minor in statistics. Previously, she has worked in the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research, and the Positive Psychology Center. Megha is particularly interested in the interactions between environmental and biological factors that lead to psychological disorders. In the future, Megha hopes to pursue clinical psychology. On campus, she is involved with Active Minds Penn, Penn Flutes, and Alpha Delta Pi. In her free time, she enjoys singing, cooking, and exploring Philadelphia.




Meghana Nallajerla

Meghana is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, double majoring in Psychology and Gender Studies with a minor in South Asia Studies. Previously, Meghana has interned with both the Indian government and the Penn Center for Advanced Study of India, researching the intersections of mental health, gender, and abuse. Meghana is interested in further studying common mental disorders in first and second generation South Asian immigrant populations. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. On campus, Meghana chairs the Penn Association for Gender Equity and is the co-founder and co-facilitator for The Spice Collective.



Temitope (Aisha) Oshilaja

Temitope Oshilaja, also known as Aisha, is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania from Ewing, New Jersey. Aisha plans to major in Psychology with minors in Africana studies and Chemistry. Aisha is particularly interested in the methodological underpinnings of psychological research. She hopes to pursue a degree in dentistry in the future. On campus, she is involved in Students Organizing for Unity and Liberation (S.O.U.L), Peer advisors, and the DuBois House Council. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends and traveling.



Jasmine Raj

Jasmine is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania from Philadelphia. She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in South Asia Studies. She is particularly interested in studying mental disorders among children and adolescents from a cultural perspective. Outside of class, Jasmine is the marketing chair and member of PENNaach, the nation’s first and oldest South Asian fusion dance troupe. She is also a campaigns committee member of GlobeMed, a community which serves to open dialogue about global health and social justice issues. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano, brunching, and exploring new places.



Jacob Reich

Jacob is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania from Atlanta, GA. He is majoring in Political Science with a concentration in American Politics and minoring in Psychology. Jacob aspires to be an employment attorney and plans to attend law school after he graduates. This past summer, Jacob interned at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C. He has also interned for the International Rescue Committee and the ACLU. In his free time, Jacob enjoys exploring Philadelphia’s nightlife and watching the newest season of American Horror Story.




Tiffany Sun

Tiffany is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania from Roslyn, New York. She is majoring in Biological Basis of Behavior with a minor in Consumer Psychology. Previously, she has interned at U.C. Berkeley in a behavioral lab focused on psychology’s influence on business decisions and conducted a number of her own studies regarding societal biases on decisions like in the trolley problem. She is interested in the intersection of plasticity and neurological disorders, specifically neurodegenerative diseases. At Penn, Tiffany is on the diversity committee of Theta and loves being part of Wharton Undergraduate Healthcare Club, Penn Neuroscience Society, and Wharton Retail Club. She loves all things food and walks downtown.



Vicki Tsao

Vicki is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania from Great Neck, New York. Hoping to pursue medicine, she is majoring in psychology and minoring in biology and chemistry. Vicki is especially interested in cultural effects on the development of mental disorders as well as the idea that distinctions between various mental disorders may actually be artificial or constructed. At Penn, she is the co-founder and co-president of ProjectHEAL, a club that serves to spread eating disorder awareness and body positivity. Vicki is also on the philanthropy committee of Zeta Tau Alpha and loves being involved in Student Hospice Organization of Penn and Club Badminton. During her free time, she enjoys singing, brunching, and traveling.



Lab Alumni


Elizabeth Coleman, M.Ed.

Liz started as lab manager in 2010 after graduating with a B.A. in Psychology from Bryn Mawr College. During her undergraduate career she conducted research with Dr. Marc Schulz on the mechanisms mediating the relationship between adult attachment style and emotion recognition. Liz is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education where she works with Dr. Ann Loper studying the impact of parental incarceration on children and families. Liz is also an avid scuba diver.



Courtney Forbes, M.Ed.

After graduating with a B.A. in Psychology from American University (Go Eagles!) and teaching elementary school for two years as a Teach for America teacher in St. Louis, Missouri, Courtney worked as Dr. Ruscio’s lab manager from 2015 to 2017. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Toledo under the mentorship of Dr. Matt Tull. She is interested in studying the role of emotion dysregulation in the association between trauma and health risk behaviors such as substance use and self-harm. In her free time, Courtney enjoys running, reading, and taking road trips.




Emily Gentes, Ph.D.

Emily graduated from the lab in 2012 and completed her internship in clinical psychology at the Durham VA Medical Center in Durham, NC, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center, which is housed within the Durham VA. Emily now lives in Rhode Island and works as a Staff Psychologist at Butler Hospital seeing patients and doing program evaluation for a women’s partial hospital program.  She also supervises predoctoral interns from the Brown University psychology internship program. Emily’s research interests include cognitive-behavioral processes (e.g., repetitive negative thought) that may operate across distinct disorders to differentiate normal from abnormal experiences or increase risk for the development of anxiety or mood symptoms. Emily is originally from the Boston area and received her B.A. in psychology from Skidmore College.




Lauren Hallion, Ph.D.

Lauren graduated from the lab in 2014 after completing her clinical internship at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School (CBT track), followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Anxiety Disorders Center/Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at the Institute of Living. She is currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on cognition-emotion interactions in the context of worry and anxiety.




Jason Jones, Ph.D.

Jason worked as Dr. Ruscio’s lab manager from 2008 to 2010. Jason received his BA in Psychology from Penn State University, Schreyer Honors College. He completed his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park where his dissertation work was supported by a predoctoral NRSA from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Jason is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on adolescent development, with a particular emphasis on the causes and consequences of adolescent substance use.




Danielle Mathersul, Ph.D.

Danielle Mathersul was a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab at the University of Pennsylvania from 2014 to 2016.  She received her BSc (Hons I) in Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Sydney, and her Masters and PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of New South Wales.  She is fully licensed and endorsed as a Clinical Psychologist in Australia and has extensive experience working in public health settings, with a focus on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).  Danielle is currently a postdoctoral clinical research fellow on the WRIISC CAMS team at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto and Stanford University investigating treatments for PTSD and chronic pain.  She is particularly interested in utilising psychophysiological measures (SCR, EMG, EEG, actigraphy) to investigate disruptions in affective processing in clinical populations (PTSD, depression, anxiety, autism) and to inform development of effective treatment interventions.  Danielle misses Philly but is loving being close to the ocean again in SF!




Laura Romanowski, B.A.

Laura served as the full-time lab manager at the Boundaries of Anxiety and Depression Lab from 2014 to 2015. Prior to her work at Penn, she received her B.A. in Psychology from Smith College, where she completed her honors thesis on self-ambivalence and contingent self-worth as risk factors for obsessive-compulsive disorder. She is interested broadly in transdiagnostic processes and protective factors, with a particular interest in the processes of perfectionism and intolerance of uncertainty. In her free time, Laura enjoys being outdoors, listening to live music, and spending time with friends and family.




Allison Seitchik, Ph.D.

Allison was Dr. Ruscio’s lab manager from 2006 to 2008. Allison received her Ph.D. in Psychology at Northeastern University in 2013 under Dr. Steve Harkins and was a College Fellow at Harvard University working with Dr. Mahzarin Banaji from 2013-2015. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Merrimack College. Her research interests are motivation and performance, especially in relation to athletics and social threats. Allison also examines how implicit biases influence jurors’ decisions and what motivates them to overcome biased decisions. In her “spare time,” she likes to read fiction or relax with family and friends.




Haijing Wu, B.A.

After graduating with a B.A. in Psychology from Vanderbilt University, Haijing worked as Dr. Ruscio’s lab manager from 2012 to 2014. Haijing is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis under the mentorship of Dr. Renee Thompson. She is interested in studying the roles of positive emotion and reward responsiveness in decision-making, particularly for people with depression. Although Haijing is excited about the adventures ahead, she misses the Ruscio Lab and all the good eats in Philadelphia!




Sarah Wyckoff, Ph.D.

Sarah Wyckoff was a post-doctoral fellow in the lab from 2012 to 2014. She received her doctorate from University of Tübingen and M.A and B.S. in Psychology from Northern Arizona University. Dr. Wyckoff’s research interests focus on the investigation of neuropsychophysiological markers of psychopathology in children and adults and the development of bio/neurofeedback treatment applications.



            Undergraduate Research Assistants: Alumni

 Syed Taswar Aajmain

Max Abugov

Michael Accardo

Kelly Allred

Anna Belyavskaya

Morgan Berman

Kelsey Bogue

Brooke Boyarski

Leah Brogan

Cindy Chang

Michael Chen

Rachel Chizkov

Danielle Citera

Maggie Covel

Dennis Dang

Jeremy Danziger

Pamela Ellerman

Krista Engle

Elisabeth Ertel

Olivia Esse

Jenna Feldman

Emma Finkel

Laura Fleszar

Maria Gaudio

Tracey Gemmill

Sara Ghebremariam

Sarah Goldenberg

Hengyi Guo

Ana Gutierez-Colina

Michael Haas

Christina Hadzitheodorou

Julie Helinek

Kendall Hoechst

Elizabeth Hyde

Jae Ho Hur

Sara Jones

Elizabeth Joseph

Hollis Karoly

Joanna Kass

Jenna Katz

Peyton Katz

Kelly Kennedy

Nathan Korsen

Hannah Krinsky

Ila Kumar

Kristina Lee

Sonia Lee

QT Lin

Sophie Litwin

Hannah Louie

Jonah Lustig

Allison MacPhaille

Enitan Marcelle

Jenny Markell

Julia Masters

Megan McCarthy Alfano

Connor McLaren

Miranda Meketon

Jake Morse

Kate Mulvihill

Ed O’Brien

John Oakley

Caroline Olt

Sophie Pan

Shailly Pandey

Charlotte Peterson

Jen Petrongolo

Elizabeth Raposa

Allison Resnick

Jasmine Rogasner

James Rushton

Rachel Russell

Hayley Sacks

Lindsey Sankin

Alisha Saxena

Elena Schiavone

Ashley Seeleman

Nikki Seligman

Rhia Shah

Amy Smith

Nicole Snyder

Katherine Soderberg

Gabe Solomon

Julia Spandorfer

Julie Stein

Jessica Stokes

Erin Sullivan

Kristin Szuhany

Kirstyn Taylor

Jiahuan Wang

Erin Watson

Jessica Weisbrot

Ian Whittall

Philip Williams

Carolyn Winslow

Connie Wong

Joyce Wong

Kristina Woodard

Morgan Wu

Jennifer Yoo

Sophie YorkWilliams

Jeanette Zhang

Yixue Zhou

Hana Zickgraf

Jenny Xu