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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.


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.


Erin Nakahara

Erin Nakahara, B.A. is an Assistant Clinical Coordinator for the STARS study. Broadly, she is interested in how culture influences emotion processes and how this relationship can impact mental and physical health.


Olivia Shin

Olivia Shin, B.A. is an Assistant Clinical Coordinator for the STARS study. Her research interests involve exploring the mind-body connection and elucidating biopsychosocial pathways by which chronic stress can influence health and well-being across the lifespan. 


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. 

Robyn Rowell

Robyn Rowell, B.S, M.S Medical Student is interested in researching the ways stress resilience and emotional well being affect physiological health. With a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between mind and body, she hopes to attain a stronger understanding of patient care. 

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

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.