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 the cognitive and physiological markers of anxiety, and how early trauma experiences relate to later psychopathology. In her free time, Christina enjoys running, cooking, and reading.




Graduate Students


Gabi Kattan Khazanov, M.A.

Gabi is a graduate student in clinical psychology, currently on internship at the Philadelphia VA. 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 and their impact on symptoms, functioning, experiences of daily events, and treatment outcomes. Gabi uses meta-analytic, factor-analytic, experimental, and experience sampling methods to examine these questions. Gabi loves traveling, dinner parties, and exploring new areas in and around Philly.




Anna Franklin, M.A.

Anna is a third-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, M.A.

Betsy is a second-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.



Research Assistants

Amber Auslander

Amber is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania from Northeast Philadelphia, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. On campus, Amber serves on the boards of Penn Non-Cisgender and QPenn Week, is a Peer Mental Health Advocate for Project LETS, and works for PENNCAP. Amber has tentative plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. When she has free time, Amber enjoys writing pretentious poetry and prose, working on photography projects, and exploring the artsier underside of Philly.




Anika Dalvie

Anika is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania from Vestal, New York majoring in Psychology. Her research interests include cognitive processes affecting depression and anxiety, as well as treatment for mood and anxiety disorders. Anika also works with the DeRubeis lab at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as the Adolescent Mood Project at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. On campus, she is also a board member of Reach-A-Peer Helpline and Quadramics Theatre Co. In the future, she hopes to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology.




Benji Dukas

Benji is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania from Teaneck, New Jersey. He is majoring in psychology and communications with a minor in Modern Middle East Studies. He is interested in the treatment of psychological disorders, specifically anxiety disorders, and hopes to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology. Benji has previously worked with underprivileged children in Philadelphia and as a shadow for a developmentally disabled child in a first-grade class. He is a member of Penn’s Taekwondo team, and enjoys reading and running.




Brendan Lam

Alexis is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania from South Orange, New Jersey majoring in psychology. Previously, Alexis worked in the Changing Brain Lab at the University of Pennsylvania studying brain plasticity, learning, and cognitive development in young children. Alexis is particularly interested in the neurological risk factors and treatment of psychological disorders characterized by disruptive behavior and/or anxious or depressed mood. In the future, Alexis hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. On campus, she serves as a mentor in Big Brothers Big Sisters, a member of Penn Club Field Hockey, and the VP of Diversity for the Panhellenic Council. In her free time, she enjoys baking, watching films, and traveling.




Julia Rubens

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.




Josh Steinberg

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.





Lab Alumni


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.




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, 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

Max Abugov

Michael Accardo

Kelly Allred

Anna Belyavskaya

Morgan Berman

Kelsey Bogue

Sam Borislow

Brooke Boyarski

Leah Brogan

Alexis Broussard

Cindy Chang

Michael Chen

Rachel Chizkov

Danielle Citera

Danny Cohen

Maggie Covel

Dennis Dang

Jeremy Danziger

Tingting Duan

Pamela Ellerman

Krista Engle

Elisabeth Ertel

Olivia Esse

Jenna Feldman

Emma Finkel

Laura Fleszar

Shreya Ganguly

Maria Gaudio

Tracey Gemmill

Sara Ghebremariam

Amy Gilligan

Sarah Goldenberg

Sara Gormley

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

Iverson Korsen

Hannah Krinsky

Ila Kumar

Kristina Lee

Sonia Lee

Ben Lewittes

QT Lin

Sophie Litwin

Paddy Loftus

Hannah Louie

Jonah Lustig

Allison MacPhaille

Enitan Marcelle

Jenny Markell

Julia Masters

Megan McCarthy Alfano

Nate McLachlan

Connor McLaren

Miranda Meketon

Carly Miron

Jake Morse

Kate Mulvihill

Meghana Nallajerla

Ed O’Brien

John Oakley

Caroline Olt

Sophie Pan

Shailly Pandey

Charlotte Peterson

Jen Petrongolo

Jasmine Raj

Elizabeth Raposa

Eric Rawot

Jacob Reich

Allison Resnick

Jasmine Rogasner

James Rushton

Rachel Russell

Hayley Sacks

Lindsey Sankin

Alisha Saxena

Elena Schiavone

Ashley Seeleman

Nikki Seligman

Rhia Shah

Grace Shinners

Amy Smith

Nicole Snyder

Katherine Soderberg

Gabe Solomon

Julia Spandorfer

Julie Stein

Jessica Stokes

Erin Sullivan

Tiffany Sun

Kristin Szuhany

Kirstyn Taylor

Victoria Tsao

Jiahuan Wang

Erin Watson

Jenna Weingarten

Jessica Weisbrot

Ian Whittall

Philip Williams

Carolyn Winslow

Connie Wong

Joyce Wong

Kristina Woodard

Morgan Wu

Jenny Xu

Jennifer Yoo

Sophie YorkWilliams

Jeanette Zhang

Yixue Zhou

Hana Zickgraf

Emily Zuckerman