Current Lab Members

Penn Lab – Spring 2018

Graduate Students


Arundati Nagendra, MA

Arun grew up in Hong Kong then moved in 2006 to Illinois, where she majored in psychology at Northwestern University. After graduation she worked for two years at her alma mater, coordinating psychophysiological studies of human sexuality with Dr. Michael Bailey. While Arun loved her job, she cared much more about research on schizophrenia – a passion she’d developed after interning as a caseworker for people with serious mental illnesses. From 2009-2012 she volunteered with Dr. Dror Ben-Zeev, first at the Illinois Institute of Technology and then at the Thresholds-Dartmouth Research Center. At both these places, she learned about psychosocial treatments and technological interventions for people with schizophrenia. Her current research is on African Americans with schizophrenia, with a particular focus on within-race variation – for example, how perceived racism affects social cognition. Outside of psychology, Arun hangs out with her two cats, volunteers at the Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge, and is slowly inching her way up the ranks of a martial arts gym.


Kelsey Ludwig, BS

Kelsey Ludwig is originally from the midwest, but has officially adopted North Carolina as her home. She graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May of 2012 with a B.S. in Psychology, a B.A. in Spanish and a minor in Medical Anthropology. She volunteered in the Penn Lab as an undergraduate assistant for three years and formerly served as the Project Coordinator for the Social Cognition Psychometrics Evaluation (SCOPE) study before starting graduate studies. Between graduation and employment, Kelsey enjoyed 6 months in South America interviewing Latina women about parenting, breastfeeding and childbirthing practices. She is fascinated by the origins and treatment of mental illness, psychosocial interventions geared toward first episode psychosis, and the impact of loneliness on recovery and resiliency in schizophrenia. In general, she loves people, traveling, cooking, languages and any/all things related to other cultures.


Tate Halverson, BState

Tate grew up in the Twin Cities, MN. She graduated from Hamline University (St. Paul, MN) in 2011 with a degree in psychology. Following graduation, Tate worked with Dr. Scott Sponheim at the Minneapolis VA on projects investigating traumatic brain injury and PTSD in returning veterans and family studies of schizophrenia. She also worked with Dr. Snezana Urosevic at the University of Minnesota on a project investigating adolescent bipolar disorders. Her current research interests include first episode psychosis, social cognition in schizophrenia, and predictors of illness onset. In her free time, you can find Tate exploring the outdoors with her dog Arthur.


makuMaku Orleans-Pobee, BS

Maku was born in New Zealand but grew up in Northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C. She attended the College of William and Mary, where she majored in psychology and also studied computer science. As an undergraduate, she worked as a research assistant in a multiple different labs, working on various studies involving both human and animal subjects. She completed an honors thesis investigating fear conditioning and personality pathology. However, after assisting with a project examining cognitive functioning in schizotypy, she realized that her research interests relate primarily to schizophrenia spectrum disorders. She is excited to join the Penn lab and to begin researching psychosocial interventions for schizophrenia, potentially focusing on treatments for first episode psychosis, or on early intervention. In her free time, she enjoys dance, traveling, and finding new places to eat good food.


carringtonmerritt_picCarrington Merritt

Carrington was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a major in psychology and minors in neuroscience and social and economic justice. As an undergraduate, she served as an RA in the Penn Lab while also working in the Social Neuroscience and Health Lab of Dr. Keely Muscatell. As an RA in the Penn Lab, Carrington assisted with projects investigating how contextual factors such as experimenter race interact with physiological mechanisms to contribute to racial disparities in performance on neuro- and social cognitive batteries that are highly predictive of functional outcomes in schizophrenia. She also worked on a study designed to improve physical health and fitness among individuals with schizophrenia by leading weekly walking groups with study participants. Carrington’s research interests are focused on how social conditions influence neural, physiological, and psychological functioning, and thus contribute to the onset, course, and treatment of severe mental illness, specifically schizophrenia.  For fun, Carrington enjoys running, teaching group fitness classes at UNC Campus Rec, and having movie nights with her roommates.


Research Coordinators

Mahogany Monette, BA

Mahogany is originally from Los Angeles, California. She graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018 with a B.A. in Psychology and B.A. in African, African American, and Diaspora Studies. She worked in the Penn Lab as an undergraduate assistant for one year before being hired as a full-time Study Coordinator for ICAT. In her free time, Mahogany enjoys going to the gym, reading, and volunteering.


Undergraduate Research Assistants


Bethany Garrison

Bethany is currently a junior at UNC majoring in psychology with minors in creative writing and medical anthropology. She has been in the lab for three semesters now, working on SCOPE data entry, NET transcriptions, and most recently RAISE therapeutic alliance ratings. In her free time she enjoys riding horses, spending time outdoors, and writing poetry. After spending this past fall studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, she is very excited to jump back into the Penn Lab for the spring 2018 semester!


janellyJanelly Durr

Janelly Durr is a junior at UNC, majoring in biology and double minoring in chemistry and neuroscience. From the time she joined the lab in the summer of 2016, Janelly has assisted with SCOPE data entry, NET transcriptions, and a menagerie of other tasks. She is currently more involved with analyzing how race (primarily that of African Americans) affects people with schizophrenia. In addition to that research, she also assists with ICAT, working towards being certified for heartbeat error checking. In her spare time, Janelly enjoys drawing, playing the violin, kayaking, boxing with the UNC boxing club, and volunteering in the neuroscience department of UNC hospitals.


Ali Wiggins

Ali grew up in a small, rural community in East Texas, then moved to Seattle, WA in 2014. In 2015, she began her formal education studying Humanities at Seattle Central College, and developed an interest in public health and biosocial health systems. In the Fall of 2017, Ali transferred to UNC to double major in Psychology and Public Health, and minor in Neuroscience. Since arriving on campus, she has enjoyed researching in the Penn Lab. She’s engaged in projects on Schizophrenia and racial relationships, walking treatments, and supporting students on campus with mental illness. In the future, she looks forward to researching stress and socialization in vulnerable communities and outcomes in Schizophrenia. Ali will be applying to clinical psychology graduate school in December of 2018. In her spare time, she loves yoga, spending time with her cat, Oliver, and making music with her friends.


Sydney Howie

Sydney Howie is a junior majoring in psychology with a minor in statistics. Sydney plans to continue doing research in the mental health field and hopes to eventually attend clinical psychology graduate school. In the Penn lab, Sydney assists in running participants for ICAT. For fun, Sydney enjoys hanging out with her friends, reading, and writing.


Andreamarie Efthymiou

Andreamarie Efthymiou is a freshman at UNC majoring in Comparative Literature, and pursing minors in Chemistry and Hispanic Culture. Andrea is currently involved in the ICAT study and helping with data collection. For fun, Andrea enjoys reading, playing piano, singing, and exploring campus.