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.
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Download syllabus for Dr. Ruscio’s Graduate Seminar on Transdiagnostic Processes in Psychopathology
Auburn Stephenson, B.A.
Auburn is the full-time lab manager of the Boundaries of Anxiety and Depression Lab. She received her B.A. in psychology from Boston College, where she studied children’s developing temporal abilities in relation to scholastic achievement for her honors thesis. Her research interests include identifying the psychophysiological manifestations of anxiety to improve treatment methods, as well as the impact of early childhood trauma on later psychopathology. In her free time, Auburn enjoys running, listening to podcasts, and exploring new restaurants with her family and friends.
Rivka Cohen, M.A.
Rivka is a fourth-year graduate student in clinical psychology and completed her A.B. at Princeton University in near eastern studies. In her research, Rivka is interested in how thoughts and memories about stressful events can unintentionally pop into people’s heads, and why some people find it harder than others to stop thinking about them. Outside of lab, Rivka enjoys food with friends (yum!), playing the ukulele, and adventuring with her dog.
Anna Franklin, M.A.
Anna is a fourth-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. Anna is interested in threat sensitivity as a transdiagnostic risk factor for anxiety and how this manifests in daily life. She is also interested in mental health and well-being during emerging adulthood. In her free time, Anna enjoys running, hiking, watching movies, and discovering new coffee shops.
Betsy Wade, M.A.
Betsy is a third-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. Betsy’s research interests are focused on characterizing the nature, quality, and extent of perseverative thought, as well as using technology to measure mood and anxiety symptoms more broadly. Betsy’s hobbies include cooking, baking, running, and enjoying the mountains through hiking and skiing.
Chris Capron is from Los Angeles, CA and graduated from Swarthmore College where he studied developmental and clinical psychology. He works to support high school and community college students find, apply to and afford university and college. His research interests include internalizing disorders and their connection with childhood trauma and adversity and the effects of chronic illness on mental wellness. He is planning to pursue a degree in clinical psychology and in his free time volunteers with Crisis Text Line.
Tanya is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania from Los Angeles, California, majoring in Health & Societies with a concentration in Gender & Health. She is interested in women’s access to healthcare and psychological responses to harm such as sexual or domestic violence. On campus she serves as the chair of Penn Association for Gender Equity, the umbrella organization for gender and social justice organizations. She plans on pursuing a medical degree and possibly a Masters in Public Health. Tanya enjoys collecting plants, writing poetry, and talking about politics.
Gina is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania from Philadelphia majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Chemistry. She is interested in comorbid anxiety and depression and the physiological effects that result from chronic diagnoses of one or both of these disorders. She hopes to become a physician and a pharmaceutical researcher. She is a research peer advisor for CURF at Penn, an undergraduate tutor, as well as a volunteer for HUP and Holy Redeemer. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her friends and family.
Julia is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania from New York City majoring in Psychology. She is interested in the ways in which anxiety and depression affect individuals’ everyday lives and aspires to be a clinical psychologist. Julia is particularly interested in abnormal psychology and developmental psychology and spends her free time volunteering with children at West Philadelphia’s Lea Elementary School. She is also a part of Step-Up, CSSP, and Swipe Out Hunger on Penn’s campus. In her free time, Julia enjoys exploring Philadelphia, relaxing with friends, and biking.
Tiffany is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania from San Diego, CA, majoring in Psychology with minors in Mathematics and Urban Education. Her research interests include the developmental course of mood and personality disorders. Ultimately, she hopes to investigate how education might be used to reduce stigma around mental disorders and to incorporate psychological research findings into secondary school teaching. She is also a Benjamin Franklin Scholar involved in the Penn Undergraduate Math Society, an environmental fraternity called Epsilon Eta, and the Penn Baroque Ensemble.
Josh is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania from Needham, Massachusetts, planning to major in psychology with a minor in Biological Basis of Behavior and Health Services Management. His research interests include the transdiagnostic treatment of anxiety and depression, as well as the policy implications of mental illness classifications in the context of American healthcare. In the past, Josh worked as a research assistant in the McNally Laboratory at Harvard University where he helped conduct a study investigating disgust in participants with OCD. In the future, Josh hopes to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, eating with friends, and tutoring elementary school students in the community.
Elizabeth Coleman, M.Ed., Ph.D.
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 received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education in 2017. During graduate school Liz worked with Dr. Ann Loper studying the impact of parental incarceration on children and families. Liz completed her predoctoral clinical internship at the Lexington Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Lexington, KY and a postdoctoral fellowship in the Couples and Family Clinic at the Ralph H Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, SC. 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 Ph.D. 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.
Christina worked as lab manager in the Ruscio lab from 2017-2019, after graduating with a B.S. in Human Science with a minor in psychology from Georgetown University. Christina now works as a clinical research coordinator in the Accelerating Research-to-Practice in Community Health (ARCH) Lab within the Center for Mental Health at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. Christina is interested in issues of access to mental healthcare and the delivery of evidence-based treatments in low-resource and nontraditional settings. In her free time, Christina enjoys running, cooking, and trying out new restaurants around Philly.
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.
Gabi Kattan Khazanov, Ph.D.
Gabi graduated from the lab in 2019, after completing her clinical internship at Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center at the Philadelphia VA, working with Drs. Michael Thase and Greg Brown on refining treatments for depression and suicide. She received her 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 how positive emotional deficits impact daily impact daily experiences, functioning, and treatment outcomes for individuals with emotional disorders, and in finding ways to better address these deficits in treatment.
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, M.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
Jae Ho Hur
Megan McCarthy Alfano