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 | NJ Acts TL1 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 | Rotating PhD Student

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

E-mail: fml42@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

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

David Lau | Research Assistant/Programmer

David is a senior at Rutgers University, double majoring in computer engineering and computer science and minoring in statistics and economics. He is passionate about software engineering and developing robust systems to automate processes. Here at the Konova Lab, he is excited to design intuitive interfaces for experiments and scalable pipelines for processing data. Outside of the lab, David enjoys cooking, programming, and leatherworking.

E-mail: dl885@scarletmail.rutgers.edu

Lauren Keating Reidy | Research Assistant

Lauren received her B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University. She founded a peer support group as an undergraduate and has worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings treating patients struggling with addiction and other mental health issues. Lauren is interested in exploring the neurological mechanisms underlying substance use, self-harm, and other potentially addictive behaviors through research and, ultimately, she hopes to apply this knowledge in her own clinical work. In her free time, Lauren enjoys making visual art, writing poetry and articles, and volunteering in her community.

E-mail: lkr41@rutgers.edu

Murium Whala | Research Assistant

Murium is currently a senior at Rutgers University, majoring in Psychology and double minoring in Public Health and Health and Society. Here at the Konova Lab, she is very excited to explore the various aspects of decision-making, especially in relation to addiction. Outside of the Konova Lab, Murium enjoys painting, practicing eye makeup, watching TV shows, and learning new hobbies.

E-mail: mnw44@scarletmail.rutgers.edu

Syed Sarwar | Honors Student

Syed Sarwar is a senior at Rutgers University. In addition to being a Premed, he is a Cognitive Science major with a focus on Artificial Intelligence & Decision Making. At the Konova Lab, he is excited to study the role of optimism bias and its role in decision making. Outside of the lab, Syed is an avid sports fan and spends his free time following the New England Patriots, Boston Celtics, Boston RedSox, and the Boston Bruins.

E-mail: sas738@scarletmail.rutgers.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 our team? Find out more here.


Former Lab Members

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 Student

Rhea Kanwar | Summer Undergraduate Research Assistant

Mingwen Dong | Senior Research Assistant, Neuroscience PhD Student