Former Research Staff
Mady is originally from Richmond, Virginia. She earned her BS in 2018 from Emory University, double majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology. While an undergraduate, she was a member and captain of the Emory University Volleyball team and volunteered as a research assistant in Emory’s Laboratory for Mathematical and Computational Behavior Analysis. After graduation, she interned at a small criminal defense law firm in Atlanta, GA before joining the Penn lab as a full-time Study Coordinator for PACE-Life. She hopes to go back to school in the near future and pursue a career in Forensic Psychology. In her free time, Mady enjoys watching/playing sports, cooking, and playing with her puppy.
Jess McDermott is from Westborough, Massachusetts. Growing up Jess played volleyball in high school and figure skated competitively starting at the age of six. She earned her undergraduate degree in Health and Exercise Science from Roanoke College. She has special interest in exercise physiology as related to mental health and had the opportunity to work with veterans and post-traumatic stress disorder through the Warrior Wellness program at the Durham VA under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Hall. Jess recently completed her master’s degree in Exercise Physiology under the supervision of Dr. Claudio Battaglini.
Study Coordinator: 2018- 2019
Contributing Studies: Targeting Physical Health in Schizophrenia: Physical Activity Can Enhance Life (PACE-Life)
Rachel is originally from Sacramento, California. She graduated from The University of California at Los Angeles in 2009 with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and minor in Global Studies. She worked with graduate student Arundati Nagendra before being hired as a full-time Study Coordinator for PACE-Life. In her free time, Rachel enjoys yoga, volunteering, and playing chess.
Study Coordinator: 2018- 2019
Contributing Studies: Integrative Coping Awareness Therapy (I-CAT)
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. Mahogany is currently a graduate student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign working with Dr. Tom Kwapil. Her interests include risk and resilience factors for Black people developing psychosis globally. In her free time, Mahogany enjoys going to the gym, reading, and volunteering.
Study Coordinator: 2015-2018
Contributing Studies: Social Cognition Psychometric Evaluation (SCOPE) & Integrative Coping Awareness Therapy (I-CAT)
Lana worked in the Penn lab as an undergraduate assistant for two years before graduating in 2015 with her Bachelors of Science in Psychology from UNC. After graduating, she was hired on full-time and worked on two Penn lab studies: the Social Cognition Psychometric Evaluation (SCOPE) Study and the Integrated Coping Awareness Therapy (I-CAT) Study from 2015-2018. Lana is currently working towards becoming at licensed clinical social worker at The University of Utah with the hopes of working with individuals with schizophrenia again in the future.
Study Coordinator: 2015-2017
Contributing Studies: Social Cognition Psychometric Evaluation (SCOPE)
Grace Lee hails from the Queen City in North Carolina. She graduated from Davidson College with a B.S. in psychology and a minor in music. Before joining the Penn Lab as a study coordinator for SCOPE, she worked both as a student researcher and a lab manager on the Resiliency Project at Davidson. In her free time, she enjoys reading Stephen King novels, playing the piano, running, and baking chocolate chip cookies.
Penn Lab Consulting Research Assistant Professor:
Contributing Studies: RAISE-IRT
Piper Meyer-Kalos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Meyer graduated from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis with a doctorate in Clinical Rehabilitation Psychology. She previously served as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UNC. Currently, she is a co-principal investigator on the EPINET (Early Psychosis Intervention Network) project at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Meyer is an international trainer and consultant for Individual Resiliency Training (IRT) and Illness Management and Recovery (IMR). She has trained clinicians working in outpatient, inpatient, forensic, residential, and crisis settings. She has specialized in psychiatric rehabilitation with interests in recovery, positive psychology, first episode psychosis, and psychosocial treatment for people with severe mental illness.
Contributing Studies: Oxytocin Treatment of Social Cognitive and Functional Deficits in Schizophrenia
Tonya worked as the Penn Lab a study coordinator assisting with the coordination and testing of the Oxytocin Treatment of Social Cognitive and Functional Deficits in Schizophrenia research study. She is also a research coordinator at the Schizophrenia Treatment and Evaluation Program (STEP) Research Clinic at the North Carolina Psychiatric Research Center (NCPRC) in Raleigh. At the NCPRC, she coordinates multiple studies with Dr. Fred Jarskog. She received both her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her master’s degree in lifespan developmental psychology at North Carolina State University where her research focus was on aging and memory. Prior to graduate school, she worked in multiple research settings in the triangle area with groups of psychometricians, child clinical psychologists and social workers.
Study Coordinator: 2012-2014
Contributing Studies: Social Cognition and Functioning Study (SCAF)
Colin Iwanski is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) with an expected graduation date of May 2021. Colin graduated from the University of National Champions in 2011, and worked as the study coordinator for the Social Cognition and Functioning (SCAF) study from 2012 to 2014. He currently studies the social cognition and social functioning of individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders in Chicago, working with Ellen Herbener (UIC) and Christine Hooker (Rush University Medical Center). Colin spends most of his limited free time adventuring with his fiancée and his pitbull puppy.
Study Coordinator: 2010-2012
Contributing Studies: Social Cognition and Functioning Study (SCAF)
Charles Olbert is the former Project Coordinator for the Social Cognition And Functioning Study (SCAF) and has provided research assistance for the SCIT and RAISE projects. In a former life he did astrophysics research. He received his B.A. in philosophy from UNC Chapel Hill in 2005 and received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Fordham University in 2018. He completed his pre-doctoral internship at the University of Virginia’s Counseling and Psychological Services and is currently a Fellow in Psychology at The Austen Riggs Center.
Research Assistant: 2009-2011
Contributing Studies: Social Cognition and Functioning Study (SCAF) & Social Cognition and Interaction Training (SCIT)
Betty Rupp is the former Project Manager for the Social Cognition And Functioning Study (SCAF), Social Cognition and Interaction Training (SCIT) study, and the Social Cognition & Interaction Training study for adolescents and young adults with High Functioning Autism (SCIT-A). She obtained her Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Alabama in Birmingham and has over 8 years of experience working with adults with schizophrenia. Betty completed her MPH at UNC Chapel Hill in Health Behavior in 2013 and currently works in Biostatistics at UNC as a researcher at the Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center. Her areas of interest are global health, reproductive health, HIV/STI prevention, and outreach education and advocacy for health equity and social justice.
Research Assistant/Penn Lab Consulting Research Staff
Ms. Smedley currently is the owner and founder of Waypoint Counseling and Maternal Wellness, where she works with women to navigate pregnancy, postpartum, infertility, loss, and life of children at all ages. She previously served in private practice at Bull City Counseling in Durham, NC providing individual therapy services, and before that as clinical director of outpatient services at the Carr Mill clinic. She is a board certified clinical nurse specialist in adult psychiatry and mental health. Her extensive management and clinical experience includes being nursing supervisor of a child/adolescent inpatient psychiatric unit, charge nurse at the Diagnostic Evaluation Center at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), and a nurse therapist in the early psychosis program at WPIC. At the UNC Department of Psychiatry, she managed and assisted in the development of the Center of Excellence in the Research and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder, as well as served as a crisis clinician, therapist, and coordinator for several research studies. She received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Delaware and her master’s in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh.
Research Assistant: 2008-2011
Contributing Studies: North American Prodromal Longitudinal Study (NAPLS 2), Ziprasidone in the Psychosis Prodrome (ZIP), Enhancing the Prospective Prediction of Psychosis (PREDICT)
Dr. Pelletier-Baldelli is the former study coordinator for the PREDICT, NAPLS, and ZIP studies, which investigate populations at clinical high-risk for psychosis. She received her BA in psychology and english from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her PhD in clinical psychology and neuroscience from the University of Colorado Boulder. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Department of Psychiatry. Her research interests include the study of social processes and risk for serious mental illness using fMRI and MRI.
Study Coordinator: 2006- 2008
Contributing Studies: Graduated Recovery Intervention Program (GRIP)
Dr. Thomas is the former study coordinator for the Graduated Recovery Intervention Program (GRIP) randomized trial for young adults with first episode psychosis. She obtained her B.A. in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her MA and PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is currently employed as an Assistant Professor in the College of Public Health at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Her clinical and research interests include early intervention in psychosis and peer delivered services.
Research Assistant: 2004-2005
Contributing Studies: Investigation of Group CBT for Medication-Resistant Auditory Hallucinations
Dr. Evans graduated with a BA in Psychology from UNC-CH in 2002. Following a year at UCSD doing research in the Department of Psychiatry, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, she went on to complete a Post baccalaureate Premedical Program at Bryn Mawr College. While applying to medical school, Liz worked in Dr. Penn’s lab as the project coordinator for the Investigation of Group CBT for Medication-Resistant Auditory Hallucinations study, from August 2004 to June 2005. She then went on to receive her MD degree at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, completed her psychiatry residency at Columbia University, and rounded off her education career with a fellowship in addiction psychiatry at Columbia in July 2013. She is currently employed as an Assistant Professor in Medical Psychology in Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical College, where she spends time doing both clinical work and clinical research. Her research interest is in opiate dependence in women.