Undergraduate Research Assistants

Aditi Jain

Aditi is a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Neuroscience. She is most excited about learning about how deprivation in terms of low socioeconomic status and poverty can affect brain structures during early childhood, contributing to less adequate stress responses to traumatic experiences in adulthood. After earning her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend medical school with an interest in Emergency Medicine. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, cooking, hiking, and spending time with friends and family! (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Alina Bejenari

Alina is a junior Psychology major with a minor in Health and Society. Alina has a passion for mental health and helping others as well as getting involved in groups or outreach programs that promote these values. When not in school, Alina enjoys spending time with pets, exercising, and volunteering. Alina’s ultimate goal is to become a clinical psychologist.

Amoli Kothari

Amoli Kothari is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is majoring in psychology with a minor in biology. Amoli is interested in learning about the development of cognitive function in children. She is excited to further her research experience with the CIRCLE lab and hopes to use this experience in her post-grad plans. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Annette Varghese 

Annette is a first-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Neuroscience with minors in Chemistry and Medical Anthropology. She is interested in the biological aspect of cognitive behaviors with a focus on child development and psychopathology. At the CIRCLE lab, she is excited to gain hands-on experience with research techniques and learn more about neuroimaging. After graduating from UNC, she plans to attend medical school to specialize in psychiatry. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Courtney Medina

Courtney Medina is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is double majoring in Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Latina/o Studies. She plans to attend graduate school in a mental health related field and is particularly interested in working with adolescents. She is excited to work on the WHALE study and learn more about the relationship between brain function and one’s early childhood experiences. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Emily Ballsieper

Emily is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel hill pursuing a psychology major and minors in statistics and chemistry. As a member of the CIRCLE Lab, she is excited to further her interest in pediatric brain development further her experience in undergraduate research. After graduation, she hopes to continue doing research and one day attend medical school. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Jackie de Melo

Jackie is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Psychology with minors in Latina/o studies and Education. As someone who has worked with children in educational and social settings, she is interested in investigating the ways in which a child’s neurodevelopment is impacted by their environment and preexisting neurobiology. She is excited to gain further experience in modern scientific methods to expand upon her knowledge of how early life experiences affect the development of brain and behavior in children. After ungrad, she plans to obtain a P.h.D in Clinical Psychology and work as a Clinical Psychologist as well as a researcher. (Pronouns: she/they)

Jennifer Rubin

Jenny is a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying neuroscience and history with a minor in education. She is excited to gain hands-on research experience working with children and looks forward to studying the effect of threatening experiences on brain development. Jenny hopes to use what she learns in the CIRCLE lab as she moves forward to medical school and beyond! (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Katie Baich

Katie is a sophomore at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pursing majors in Psychology and Linguistics with a minor in Speech and Hearing Sciences.  She is interested in learning the impact life experiences can have on cognitive function.  Through the WHALE study, Katie is looking forward to gaining research experience.  After completing her undergraduate degree, Katie plans to get her masters in Speech Language Pathology with a focus on children with disabilities.  (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Kayla Simone Brown

Kayla Brown is a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill dedicating her studies to Psychology. Kayla is enthusiastic to learn and have a hands on experience while working in a research environment as a member of The Circle Lab. She has the passion to expand her understanding of the adolescent cognition and the development of behavior and emotion. She plans to pursue graduate school in hopes of earning a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology and expand the idea of researching. Outside of studying, Kayla enjoys singing in UNC Gospel Choir, engaging in community service and organizations such as the Black Student Movement.  She also loves spending time with her family and peers on her free time.  (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Kelly Real

Kelly Real is a third year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience. She is very interested in learning more about how varying factors such as socioeconomic status and ethnicity across youths can affect their emotional processes and potentially trigger risk behaviors. In the future, she hopes to continue research and later pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology to help underrepresented communities and break down the language barrier that so often impedes people from seeking help. In her free time, she likes weightlifting, watching Netflix, working on her bullet journal, and spending time with her friends! (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Lexi Baird

Lexi is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in both Neuroscience and Film Studies. She has a special interest in the neural processes of perception and is excited to gain experience with neuroimaging technology. After graduation, Lexi plans to continue working in research prior to attending Optometry school. Outside of her studies, she enjoys working as a freelance photographer, DJing at WXYC and collecting vinyl records. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Lynn Zhou

Lynn is a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Neuroscience on the pre-med track. She is excited to dive deep into the significance of childhood brain development and to work with peers and mentors who she can learn from. She also loves working with children and is looking forward to doing so as a part of the CIRCLE lab. After undergrad, she hopes to attend medical school. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Morgan Macia

Morgan is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Medical Anthropology. She is excited to combine her interest in brain development and her love for working with children. Morgan has a passion for promoting equity and representation in research and medicine. After graduation, Morgan hopes to attend medical school and become a specialized pediatrician. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Olivia Thomas

I am a sophomore at the University of North Carolina pursing a degree in neuroscience with a minor in chemistry. I am excited to start my journey in research by participating in the WHALE Study. I am particularly interested in neuroimaging and learning more about brain development in children and adolescence. After graduation, I hope to continue conducting research and attend graduate school. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Oriana Cardarelli

Oriana Cardarelli is a Junior here at UNC studying Psychology and Exercise and Sports Science with a minor in Spanish for the Professions Medical Track! Her research interests are how nutrition and physical activity relate to the development of abnormal psychopathology in adolescents! She hopes to further her education get her Ph.D in Clinical Psychology. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Riley Hatcher

Riley is a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with intentions to double major in Psychology and Exercise and Sport Science, as well as minor in Neuroscience. She is extremely interested in both the positive and negative reinforcements that can affect child brain development. Riley is ready to gain both hands-on research experience and community presence for the WHALE Study. After she graduates, she hopes to be a contributor in the biomedical community, working in either pharmaceutical marketing or psychological research and development. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Ross Doyle

Ross is a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pursuing a B.S. in Psychology. He is thrilled to be a part of the CIRCLE Lab and is excited to be gaining hands on experience learning about early brain development. He is planning on pursuing graduate school and hopes to continue research post-graduation. In his free time, Ross loves playing basketball as well as playing the piano. (Pronouns: he/him/his)

Sarah Kim

Sarah is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pursuing a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Social & Economic Justice. She is interested in investigating how socioeconomic status can affect brain development in children and is excited to gain psychological research experience as a member of the CIRCLE Lab. After graduation, Sarah hopes to continue doing research and attend graduate school one day. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Shreya Patnaik

Shreya is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Psychology (BA) and Statistics and Analytics (BS). After college, she hopes to become a pediatric psychiatrist or a pediatrician. Shreya enjoys spending time with friends, painting, running, and playing with dogs. She loves to work with children and is interested in utilizing both of her majors through research, so she is extremely excited to do both of those things with the CIRCLE lab! (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Sydney Cohen

Sydney is a junior at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, double majoring in Psychology and Sports Administration and minoring in Neuroscience. Her research interests focus on adolescent experiences and how those effect neurobiological and behavioral development. With the intention of pursuing an accelerated nursing degree post-graduation, Sydney hopes to become a pediatric nurse practitioner and increase underserved populations access to healthcare. If you cannot find her in class or the lab, she can be found watching sports and creating new music playlists. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Tekla Maisashvili

Tekla is a first-year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in neuroscience with a minor in chemistry. Her interests are centered around how differences in environment are reflected in the brain and comparisons of thinking styles of people with various backgrounds and experiences. Whether through research or medicine, in the future, Tekla wants to spend time understanding people around her, so she is excited to help out with the WHALE study. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Thalia Rivero

Thalia Rivero is a transfer Junior coming from Miami Dade Honors College. She is majoring in Psychology and she plans to continue to graduate school and focus on Clinical studies with a specialization on child development and family therapy. In the future, Thalia would like to continue research and after she gain enough experience, she would like to begin her career as a therapist. She is excited to gain new perspectives by assisting in this lab and bring new ideas to the team and the study. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Tianyi Li

Tianyi is a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill double majoring in Psychology and Statistics. She has a great passion for any topics related to children and adolescents. At the CIRCLE lab, she is enthusiastic to learn about the effects of parents and family relationships on children’s brain development. After graduation, she aims to apply for graduate program in child and adolescent clinical psychology or family therapy. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Victoria Banks

Victoria Banks is a sophomore at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill double majoring in Neuroscience and Exercise and Sports Science and minoring in Spanish for the Medical Professions. She is excited to learn more about how environmental factors affect child development and to work with the families and researchers of the CIRCLE Lab. After graduating from UNC, Victoria plans to obtain a graduate degree in Occupational Therapy, specializing in pediatrics. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Vivienne Knul

Vivienne is a junior at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pursuing a major in Psychology and minor in Neuroscience. Viv is interested in studying children’s cognitive development and learning, and the influences of internal and external factors on child development. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school in a clinical psychology program or optometry school and specialize in pediatric vision therapy. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)

Zoe Priddy

Zoe is a sophomore at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a double major in Biology and Psychology and a Spanish for the Medical Professions minor. Zoe is interested in learning about the adolescent brain and the brain’s development and she is excited to learn more about the process of research.  After undergrad, she plans to attend medical school to become a Pediatrician. (Pronouns: she/her/hers)