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

Joshua Stuckey | Research Assistant | NIDA Diversity Fellow

Josh received his BA in Cell Biology and Neuroscience from Rutgers University. Prior to joining the ADN Lab, he studied the relationship between psychosocial stressors, PTSD, and schizophrenia in humans using biomarkers identified in buccal cells with Dr. Bonnie Firestein's lab at Rutgers. He is eager to continue investigating how environmental risk factors affect mental health in a new clinical population here in the Konova Lab. In his free time, Josh enjoys going to the gym, producing music, and playing guitar.

E-mail: js2907@scarletmail.rutgers.edu 

Hana Thamer | Research Coordinator

Hana received her BA in Psychology from Case Western Reserve University in 2024. Prior to joining the ADN Lab, her research focused on risk and resilience factors for PTSD and addressing stressor-related psychopathology. In her spare time, she enjoys dancing, painting, and reading.

E-mail: hana.thamer@rutgers.edu 

Helena Mattar | Research Coordinator

Helena recently graduated from Rutgers University where she pursued a BA in Cognitive Science, on the Cognitive Neuroscience track, with a minor in Biological Sciences. Her academic interests focus on the clinical applications of cognitive and computational neuroscience. Helena Is enthusiastic to further develop her understanding of decision making as a member of the ADN lab. In her free time, Helena enjoys attending concerts and crocheting. 

E-mail:  hm536@scarletmail.rutgers.edu

Zahra Barakchian, PhD | Postdoctoral Scholar 

Zahra completed her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences (IPM). Following this, she was a postdoctoral fellow under Dr. Sonia Bishop at UC Berkeley, where she focused on computational modeling of decision-making in individuals with high anxiety levels. She then was a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, collaborating with Dr. Vankee Lin on studies using computational modeling of risky decision-making in older adults. 

Currently in the ADN lab, Zahra is investigating different computational topics on decision making and addiction, like how cravings can change value representation in the brain, and is working on computational models of risky decision-making. Outside the lab, Zahra enjoys her time learning drawing and staying connected with family and friends.

E-mail: sb2566@ubhc.rutgers.edu 

Manny Alvarez | PhD Student | NIDA F31 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 | NIDA F31 Fellow

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 

Francesca LoFaro | PhD Student | NIDA T32 TARP Fellow

Francesca received her BS in Computational Neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound. Prior to joining the Konova lab, she did resting state fMRI research using data from the Human Connectome Project and worked with Dr. Read Montague on modeling sub-second neurotransmitter signaling in humans during decision making. When not researching, she enjoys watching every TV show and movie she can while eating anything sugary.

E-mail: fml42@gsbs.rutgers.edu 

Sergej Grunevski | PhD Student

Sergej received his BS in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Kansas in 2019. Prior to starting his PhD in Cognitive Psychology, he worked with Drs. Tim Pleskac and Richard Yi on decision-making studies in participants with addiction and in healthy controls. Outside of work, Sergej enjoys learning to play the piano and staying in touch with family in Macedonia.

E-mail: sergej.grunevski@rutgers.edu 

Jalen Nicely | Undergraduate Honors Thesis Student

Jalen is currently an undergraduate at Princeton University, where she is pursuing a BA in Neuroscience. Her academic interests include computational modeling of neural networks in order to quantify the mechanisms that drive psychiatric disorders, particularly, opioid use disorder. Jalen is eager to further explore the cognitive and biological processes that motivate behavior alongside the members of the ADN Lab! Outside of the lab, you can find Jalen playing soccer, running, or event planning on campus! 

E-mail: jn6664@princeton.edu

Gabriella Cardoza | Undergraduate Research Assistant

Gabi is currently an undergraduate student at Stevens Institute of Technology, where she is pursuing a BS in Chemical Biology with Philosophy Minor. Her academic interests lie in the clinical and computational measurements of reasoning, with a particular focus on decision-making and psychiatric factors. Gabi is incredibly excited to be working with the ADN Lab, and hopes to further learn relevant computational/practical skills required for neuroscience research! In her free time, Gabi enjoys listening to new music, crafting, and doing nail art.

E-mail: gcardoza@stevens.edu

Errol | Seeing-Eye Puppy-in-training

Errol is a black Lab cross (75% Labrador Retriever/25% Golden Retriever). He is excited to become a guide dog for his future person. Here in the Konova lab, Errol is learning basic obedience while being socialized to a variety of new experiences. In his spare time, Errol enjoys playing fetch, going on walks, and eating lots of kibble.

Interested in joining the lab? Find out more here.

Former Lab Members

Julia Kong | Project Manager

Alina Smirnova | Undergraduate Research Assistant

Luisa Echeverry | Undergraduate Research Assistant

Syed Sarwar | Undergraduate Honors Thesis Student

Richard Goyette | Undergraduate NeuroSURP Summer Student

Sahar Hafezi | Clinical Research Coordinator

Lindsay Ahn | High School Intern

Maëlle Gueguen | Postdoctoral Fellow

Lauren Keating Reidy | Research Assistant

Hyeonjin Cathy Kim | Visiting PhD Student

Murium Whala | Undergraduate Research Assistant

Kathryn Biernacki | Postdoctoral Associate

Ananya Kapoor | Graduate Research Assistant

David Lau | Undergraduate Research Assistant/Programmer

Akshita Kumar | Undergraduate Research Assistant/Project SUPER Fellow

Dhruv Govil | Summer Undergraduate Research Assistant

Josh Zhao | Accelerated BA/MD Student

Michael Park | MD Student

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/Programmer

Adaugo Chikezie | Undergraduate Honors Thesis Student

Rhea Kanwar | Summer Undergraduate Research Assistant

Mingwen Dong | Senior Research Assistant, Neuroscience PhD Student