People

Anna Konova, PhD | Principal Investigator

Anna completed her PhD in Integrative Neuroscience with Rita Z. Goldstein at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Stony Brook University. She was then a postdoctoral fellow with Paul W. Glimcher at the Center for Neural Science at NYU. At Rutgers, Anna directs the ADN Lab which studies the computational and neural basis of human decision making in health and addiction.

E-mail: anna.konova@rutgers.edu | CV | Google Scholar

Julia Kong, BA | Lab Manager

Julia received her BA in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Rutgers University in 2018. Before joining the ADN Lab, her research focused on alcohol use disorder and factors that made treatment more successful. She also worked in a residential treatment facility that specializes in opioid use disorder. In her spare time, Julia enjoys jigsaw puzzles, martial arts, and exploring new food.

E-mail: j.kong@rutgers.edu

Sahar Hafezi | Clinical Research Coordinator

Sahar completed her BA in Psychology with a minor in Economics at New York University in 2021. Prior to joining the ADN Lab, she worked as a Research Assistant for Dr. Jay Van Bavel and as Lab Manager for Dr. Pascal Wallisch at NYU. Now, she is excited to apply economic decision making models to clinical populations. In her spare time she enjoys drawing and gaming.

E-mail: sh1530@ubhc.rutgers.edu

Kathryn Biernacki, PhD | Postdoctoral Associate

Kathryn completed her PhD in Psychology at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. Her research focuses on decision-making impairment in substance users with a special interest in opioid using populations. She is currently working at the ADN Lab and CMBN as a postdoctoral research associate. In her spare time, Kathryn enjoys cooking and traveling.

E-mail: kathryn.biernacki@rutgers.edu

Maëlle Gueguen, PhD | Postdoctoral Fellow

Maëlle completed her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience with Julien Bastin and Jean-Philippe Lachaux at the University Grenoble Alpes, France. She used intracerebral EEG recordings to study reinforcement learning in epileptic patients. Now a postdoctoral fellow at the ADN Lab, her research focuses on risky decision-making with special interest in populations with opioid addiction. In her spare time, Maëlle enjoys horseback riding and traveling.

E-mail: maelle.gueguen@rutgers.edu

Manny Alvarez | PhD Student | TRACC-RU Fellow

Manny is pursuing his PhD in Neuroscience at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Before joining the ADN Lab, he examined reward function in schizotypy and hypomania at Rowan University, where he received his BS in Psychology. His research interests include deciphering the role of reward dysfunction in severe psychopathology and its neural correlates. In his spare time, Manny enjoys cycling and seeking out great food.

E-mail: emmanuel.alvarez@rutgers.edu

Emma Schweitzer | PhD Student

Emma is a PhD student in Neuroscience at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Prior to joining the ADN Lab she studied decision-making behavior and the role of oxytocin in mediating social reward value in Dr. Tim Hackenberg's lab at Reed College, where she received her B.A. in Neuroscience. Her research interests encompass how value is represented in the brain and the neurobiology of decision-making in healthy and disease states. When not in lab, Emma enjoys baking and 3D printing assembly.

E-mail: ems356@gsbs.rutgers.edu

Ananya Kapoor | Graduate Research Assistant

Ananya is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Statistics with a concentration in Data Mining at Rutgers University. He is passionate about leveraging statistics, deep learning, and computer vision in ways to create lasting positive changes to society, especially for marginalized communities. Now at Konova Lab, he is excited to use advanced machine learning techniques to investigate substance use disorder’s effect on the brain’s reward circuit and to apply these research findings in clinical settings. In his free time Ananya enjoys reading, playing piano, and is a passionate animal rights activist.

E-mail: ak1376@scarletmail.rutgers.edu

Josh Zhao | Accelerated BA/MD Student

Josh is a medical student at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Before joining the ADN Lab, he studied the role of norepinephrine signaling in rat models of cocaine addiction in Dr. Gary Aston-Jones’ lab at Rutgers, where he also obtained his BA in Cell Biology and Neuroscience. Now, he is excited to investigate the clinical side of drug addiction, focusing on the impact of decision-making preferences on opioid abuse. Outside of studying and the lab, Josh enjoys playing soccer and football, watching movies, and playing piano.

E-mail: jyz6@rwjms.rutgers.edu

Michael Park | MD Student

Michael is a medical student at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Before medical school, Michael worked in the Attention and Performance Lab at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also obtained his BA in Cognitive Neuroscience. At the Konova Lab, he is excited to study how baseline differences in specific regions of the brain affect stress and craving in opioid use. In his free time Michael enjoys taking dance classes, going on walks, and playing video games.

E-mail: mcp228@rwjms.rutgers.edu

Akshita Kumar | Undergraduate Research Assistant | Project SUPER Fellow

Akshita is a junior at Rutgers University and is part of Douglass Residential College. She is on a pre-med track with a double major in Cell Biology and Neuroscience and Psychology. At the Konova Lab, she is excited to explore how alcohol use disorder affects decision-making. In her spare time, Akshita enjoys drawing, painting, DIY crafts, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family.

E-mail: ak1624@scarletmail.rutgers.edu

Dhruv Govil | Undergraduate Research Assistant

Dhruv Govil is a senior at Washington University in St. Louis. He is on the pre-med track and is majoring in computer science. At the Konova Lab, he is excited to study the role of unrealistic optimism in decision-making. He is specifically interested in designing studies to determine how this cognitive dimension is related to clinical psychopathology, and substance use in particular. Outside of the lab, Dhruv enjoys playing tennis and basketball, spending quality time with family and friends, hiking, and cooking.

E-mail: dg818@connect.rutgers.edu

Interested in joining our team? Find out more here.


Former Lab Members

Darla Bonagura | Lab Manager

Joany Xue | Undergraduate Research Assistant

Melanie Ruiz | Aresty Research Fellow

Robert Laumbach | Aresty Research Fellow

Gabriela Silguero | Undergraduate Research Assistant

Yash Nisar | Graduate Research Assistant

Adaugo Chikezie | Undergraduate Honors Student

Rhea Kanwar | Undergraduate Research Assistant

Mingwen Dong | Senior Research Assistant, Neuroscience PhD Student