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The Team

The Team

Elissa Epel, Ph.D., is a Professor at UCSF whose research focuses on healthy aging, psychological and social stress, and resilience. She conducts clinical trials to examine how mindfulness, meditation, and healthy lifestyle modifications can affect cellular aging, weight, diet and metabolism.

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Wendy Berry Mendes, Ph.D., is the Sarlo/Ekman Professor of Emotion at UCSF. Her research questions sit at the intersection of social, personality, and biological psychology and primarily concern questions regarding embodiment: how emotions, thoughts, and intentions are experienced in the body and how bodily responses shape and influence thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.


Aric Prather, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at UCSF. His research focuses on complex interactions between psychological processes and sleep as they relate to physical and mental illness. Much of his research involves understanding how social factors affect the immune system, especially inflammation as a key pathway in health and disease.


Dr. Stefanie Mayer

Stefanie Mayer, PhD is a clinical psychologist whose research focuses on the ways that stress  – throughout the lifespan – can get “under the skin” and increase risk for disease. She has a particular interest in examining stress and adversity during the early years of life as these can produce lifelong effects in in psychological and physical health, shaping responses to stress later in life.


Samantha Schilf

Samantha Schilf, B.A. is part of the STARS leadership team. She is interested in how digital applications and media can support individuals in reducing stress and developing healthy habits.


Ashley Mason, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at UCSF, who researches eating behaviors and develops treatment for individuals with problematic eating. She is also interested in studying the psychosocial factors that shape metabolic risk among individuals who are caregivers for a loved one. These individuals are at increased risk for physical and psychological health problems and are a growing sector of the U.S. population.

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Elena Fromer

Elena Fromer, B.S. is Co-Program Director for the STARS study and a Lab Manager for the UCSF AME Center. She graduated in 2018 with a major in Psychology and a double minor in Public Health Science and Environmental Studies at Santa Clara University. Elena is broadly interested in how we can better understand and improve stress resilience in vulnerable populations in relation to major stressors such as climate change and early life trauma. 


Katherine Ross

Katie Ross is the Lab Manager for the Emotion, Health, and Psychophysiology Lab. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University in May 2016, where she obtained a B.S. in Applied Math and Statistics and B.A. in Psychology. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Health Psychology, and is particularly interested in how sleep and other physical health behaviors affect psychological and emotional processes. 


Sierra Semko

Sierra Semko, B.A. is a Clinical Research Coordinator at UCSF and a member of the STARS research team. Her research interests relate to the embodiment of social experiences, such as racial discrimination, and the downstream consequences for health and well-being.


Catie Ryan

Catie Ryan, B.A., is a volunteer research assistant for the STARS study and a yoga instructor in San Francisco. She is interested in researching the ways mindful lifestyle choices affect overall health and wellbeing from a psychobiological perspective, and integrating them into her yoga practice. 


Lindsey Fox

Lindsey Fox has worked in the health and fitness profession for over a decade. For the past 8 years, Lindsey has trained  individuals and groups ranging from 9 to 80 years old, from the experienced athlete to people with more sedentary lifestyles, as well as those with with physical and/or mental limitations. Lindsey has a deep understanding about mind and body connection. She has worked on previous UCSF research studies and continues to seek out higher levels of understanding in the health psychology field. 

Ivy Mckee

Ivy graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Psychology and is currently attending UC Berkeley Extension's Post-Baccalaureate Program to complete prerequisites for medical school. Her interest in psychiatry stems from my previous work as a behavior technician for children with developmental disabilities, where I learned a great deal about stress interventions and coping via meditation and mindfulness. She looks forward to learning more about the effects of meditation and breathing techniques on stress in a research setting with UCSF's AME Center. Outside of work, I enjoy sailing, yoga, exploring new places, and coffee.


Robin Blades

Robin Blades is a graduate of UCLA with a double major in Cognitive Science and Comparative Literature. She worked as a preschool teaching assistant and yoga teacher through college. She was very interested in the impact of yoga on mental health and used two independent research grants to explore the effect of mindfulness practices on the student body. After graduation, she trained as a clinical research coordinator at a clinic in Los Angeles treating patients with neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. For the past year, she has lived in Lima, Peru on a Fulbright Research Scholarship. Her project focuses on how long-term stress can alter disease outcomes in patients with neurocysticercosis, a parasitic brain disease that causes epilepsy. She has recently returned to the Bay Area, where she grew up, to continue exploring the mental and physiological impact of different stressors and the effect of mind-body interventions.

Regan Fair

Regan is a sophomore in college currently living in the Bay Area. She attends New York University and is majoring in neural sciences.


Interested in joining our team? We are actively recruiting research assistant interns. Click here to learn more about the position and to apply.

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