MEET THE TEAM

At Carlson Lab our team is dedicated to continuing and expanding our mission and are an unbelievable pool of talent.

Get to know the people at Carlson Lab. Get in touch today and speak with any one of our team members.

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

TEAM

COLLABORATORS

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DR. MICHELLE CARLSON, PHD

Principal Investigator

Dr. Carlson is a Professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (SPH) in Baltimore, MD, core faculty member in the Center on Aging and Health at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, and holds joint appointments in the Johns Hopkins SPH Department of Epidemiology and the School of Nursing’s Center on Innovative Care in Aging.  Dr. Carlson examines the relationships between modifiable lifestyle and vascular risk factors and risk for age-related cognitive and functional declines and Alzheimer’s disease.  Dr. Carlson leads these investigations using both observational studies and randomized controlled trials, serving as Johns Hopkins PI of the Women’s Health and Aging Study (WHAS) II Cognition Study, field site PI of the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) now in its 30th year, site PI of the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEMS) trial through 2010, and project leader on the Baltimore Experience Corps Trial (BECT) program project through 2013, to evaluate the impact of senior service in elementary schools on older adults’ cognitive, functional, and brain health.  Recently, this work has expanded to incorporate neighborhood geospatial data with the goal of determining how environments help and hinder physically, socially and cognitively enriching activity in daily life.  These questions are important to promoting lifestyle activities that  help buffer the brain, and to delay dementia and mobility disability.

 

TEAM

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Dana Eldreth, PhD

Dr. Eldreth joined the Carlson Lab as a Research Associate faculty member in the Department of Mental Health in 2019. During her postdoc with Dr. Carlson, she worked on fMRI data analyses in the Brain Health Substudy nested within the larger Baltimore Experience Corps Trial. Her research career has encompassed understanding the contribution of executive cognitive function and emotional regulation in psychopathology across the lifespan, and as predictors and mediators of treatment outcomes to behavioral interventions. She has employed various imaging techniques (fMRI, MRI and O-15 H2O PET) to examine the underlying neurobiological substrates of these functions, as well as neuroplasticity in response to behavioral interventions. Over the past six years, Dr. Eldreth has been an entrepreneur in her family’s pottery business, creating art and negotiating international sales with companies in Japan. While this was a great opportunity, she realized that she wanted to pursue her research interests again to make a public health impact. What she enjoys most is spending time with her husband and 2-year old.

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Breanna Crane, BS

Breanna is a second-year doctoral student who received her B.S. in Physics with a double minor in Psychology and Mathematics in 2017 from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). While at UAH, she worked with Dr. Jodi Price and studied how memory beliefs and learning strategies are influenced across the lifespan. She was previously the Research Program Coordinator for the Carlson Lab and is actively involved in the Cardiovascular Health Study as well as the Stimulation With Intricate Movements (SWIM) study featuring Bandit the Dolphin. Her key research interests involve cognitive aging and how modifiable risk factors (e.g., physical activity and early enrichment activities) can potentially delay the negative aspects of aging in older adults.

 
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Brittany Drazich, RN, MSN

Brittany is a nurse and 3rd year nursing PhD student. As a home visiting nurse for cancer patients, Brittany was was disheartened by the number of older adults with untreated mental health needs. Through her doctoral research focus on positive psychology, Brittany is hoping to explore innovative solutions to improve the mental health of community-dwelling older adults. Her professional life goal is to decrease disparities for vulnerable populations. Brittany was selected as an inaugural Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare and School of Nursing PhD Fellow, a Robert Wood Johnson Future of Nursing Scholar, and is gerontological nursing certified. Prior to PhD school, Brittany received her Masters in Public Health Nursing from Johns Hopkins University and her Honors BSN at the University of Delaware. 

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Patrick Donahue, MS

Pat is a first-year doctoral student and trainee in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics of Aging Training Program. He is interested in examining the relationships between physical activity, dementia, and cardiovascular disease. Specifically, he is interested in using wearable accelerometry in order to assess how physical activity and sedentary behavior may impact cognition and how cardiovascular health may mediate these relationships. Prior to pursuing a PhD, Pat worked as an exercise physiologist at the Brain Aging and Cognitive Health Lab at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt). He is also an alumnus of Pitt, where he earned a Master of Science in Health, Physical Activity, and Chronic Disease and a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science.

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Alyssa Kaser, BS

Alyssa recently joined the Carlson Lab as a Research Assistant. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Neuroscience from Baylor University while conducting research at the VISN 17 Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans. During this time, she explored interventions for veterans suffering from TBI and related changes in resting-state functional connectivity. Additionally, she collaborated with neuropsychologists at Baylor Scott & White to improve the clinical staging and diagnosis of pre-clinical Alzheimer’s disease through advanced statistical techniques. Her main research interests involve detecting cognitive decline in aging individuals at an earlier rate through novel interventions and refined neuropsychological assessments, and developing interventions to delay pathological changes in cognition.

FORMER STUDENTS & TRAINEES

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KYLE MOORED, BS, PHD

Postdoctoral Scholar at University of Pittsburgh Center for Population Health and Aging

Dr. Moored completed his PhD in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar with the Epidemiology Training Program at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Population Health and Aging. He is interested in how physical, cognitive, and social engagement can be used to prevent pathological cognitive declines in older age. He is also interested how we can use ecological measures (e.g. GPS enabled devices) in conjunction with other lab-based measures (e.g. cognitive assessment) to better inform how and when to intervene, as well as the complex processes by which environment influences the health of older adults. His background is in cognitive and experimental psychology, and he received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Prior to attending Johns Hopkins, he researched the neural correlates of working memory training in both younger and older populations.

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RYAN ANDREWS, BS, PHD

Dr. Andrews completed his PhD from the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His substantive research interests include how to understand better the aging process (with a focus on cognitive aging) and how various interventions may delay or prevent negative consequences of aging, like dementia or physical frailty. He also works on methodological problems related to causal inference and how to estimate treatment effects properly in the context of non-randomized or missing data. Prior to coming to Johns Hopkins and the Carlson lab, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

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THOMAS CHAN, PHD

Assistant Professor at California State University, Northridge

Dr. Thomas Chan received his PhD in Positive Developmental Psychology at Claremont Graduate University and is currently an Epidemiology & Biostatistics of Aging Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.Thomas is a developmental psychologist who investigates the factors that lead people to live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. Concurrently as a positive psychologist, he scientifically inquiries what goes right with life (e.g., human strengths, resiliency, and growth), alongside with, what goes wrong (e.g., psychopathologies, deficits, and traumas). Specifically, he examines the activities, supports, and interventions that promote psychosocial development and cognitive health. He uses a mixed methods approach (e.g., interviews, latent class analyses, observations) to evaluate—“For whom do these activities, supports, and interventions work for and under what conditions do they work?” He has worked with policymakers, municipal programs, work organizations, social entrepreneurs, and technology startups to provide a greater understanding to this overarching research question.

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VIJAY VARMA, PHD

Postdoctoral IRTA Fellow at Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, National Institute of Aging

Dr. Varma is a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institute of Aging. He received his PhD at Johns Hopkins Department of Mental Health with Dr. Carlson, and has worked with the entire study team on all aspects of the BECT and BHS including recruitment, evaluations, and data analysis. He is interested in exploring the relationship between physical activity and cognitive decline, and using novel devices (e.g. accelerometers, GPS, and Smartphones) to capture physical activity within urban environments. Vijay has extensive experience piloting and testing physical activity devices in community-dwelling older adults. Vjay received his Bachelor's degree in English and African American Studies from Duke University in 2005, and Master of Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2010.

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YI-FANG CHUANG, MD PHD

Faculty, Department of Psychiatry & Cognitive Science, National Yang Ming University, Taipei

Yi-Fang received her MD from the National Taiwanese University and completed her residency in Psychiatry. She received her PhD in the Mental Health Department of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in September 2012. Her work with the Brain Health Study has focused primarily on the imaging analysis related to the MRI data obtained over the participants' annual visits. Yi-Fang has contributed greatly to our understanding of the existing relationships between changes in the brain, and presenting physical functioning, activity, and cognitive outcomes. She is currently serving as a post-doctoral fellow at the Hopkins Bayview Medical campus.

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SARAH KHASAWINAH, PHD

Professional Staff Member Senator Susan M. Collins, Chairman U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging

Sarah Khasawinah earned her Doctoral and Masters of Health Science degrees in Mental Health and Biostatistics, respectively from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in December 2014. In her doctoral dissertation, “Brain Networks and Neurocognitive Health in Older Adults: The Baltimore Experience Corps Brain Health Study,” she found that Experience Corps, a model of senior volunteer service, improves certain dementia-linked cognitive functions and brain networks in older adults. Dr. Khasawinah’s research illustrates the potential of high impact community engagement to promote neurocognitive health and prevent cognitive decline. Sarah is currently a Health Policy Fellow in Washington DC.

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ABHIMANYU MAHAJAN, MBBS, MD

Neurology resident, Henry Ford Hospital, Michigan

Dr. Mahajan is a neurologist in Detroit, Michigan and is affiliated with Henry Ford Hospital. Abhimanyu compldted a Masters in Health Sciences, with a concentration in the Epidemiology of Aging. He received his Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree from T.N. Medical College in Mumbai, India, with career interest that lie in carrying out research in clinical neurology, movement disorders, aging, sleep, neurodenegeration and cognition.

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CHARLES JONASSAINT, PHD

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Social Work and Clinical and Translational Science

Charles Jonassaint is a health psychologist interested in the psychological, social and behavioral factors affecting patients living with sickle cell disease. Charles received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from Duke University and is currently a fellow in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has a background in health disparities research and psychological complications in sickle cell disease. Charles' research in the Brain Health Study focused on helping understand the impact of anemia, or low hemoglobin, on cognitive function and brain integrity.

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JUAN LUIS MIRANDA JR.

Grants Coordinator

Juan completed his Master’s in Health Sciences student in the Department of Mental Health. He received his Bachelors of Science degree in Public Health from the University of California, Irvine. He has worked in laboratories researching questions using a mouse model of Multiple Sclerosis and in investigations regarding DNA re-replication in yeast cells. Juan’s current research interests are in cognitive health, aging, and sleep.

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REGINA SHIH

Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist at RAND

Regina Shih conducts research in three areas: aging policy, environmental health, and behavioral health. She is currently leading an NIMHD R01 to test the effectiveness of a long-term services and supports program to improve access to home- and community-based services for dual-eligible beneficiaries, and its effects on health disparities. She is also co-leading a CDC project to help improve public health systems’ ability to increase resilience and emergency preparedness among older adults. Her behavioral health work focuses on understanding peer, family, school, and neighborhood contributors to disparities in adolescent substance use. Her environmental health and aging work has intersected with an NIA R01 to develop a national database of neighborhood environment indicators and to examine whether demographic, social, economic, and physical characteristics of neighborhoods influence cognitive aging and dementia risk. Dr. Shih has led a variety of other environmental health projects for both domestic and international clients including a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health-funded community-based participatory research study to examine dispersion of chemicals following Hurricane Sandy and the resulting chemical exposures and health effects experienced by individuals.

COLLABORATORS

 

MOBILE TECHNOLOGY

Ciprian Crainiceanu, PhD
        Professor, Department of Biostatistics
         Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


Vadim Zipunnikov, PhD
        Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics
         Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


SMART Group     
        Department of Biostatistics
         Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

CLINICAL NEUROIMAGING

Marilyn Albert, PhD 
        Director, JHU Alz. Disease Research Center; Professor,
        Division of Cognitive Neuroscience (Dept. Neurology)
         Johns Hopkins School of Medicine


Jacinda Dariotis, PhD
        Assistant Professor, Department of Population Family
        and Reproductive Health
         Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


Kirk Erickson, PhD
        Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
        University of Pittsburgh


Arthur Kramer, PhD 
        Director, Beckman Institute; Swanlund Chair and
        Professor, Department of Psychology
        University of Illinois


Michelle M. Mielke, PhD
        Associate Professor, Department of Health Sciences
        Research
        Mayo Clinic


Corinne Pettigrew, PhD
        Post-Doctoral Fellow, Division of Cognitive
        Neuroscience (Dept. Neurology)
         Johns Hopkins School of Medicine


Anja Soldan, PhD
        Assistant Professor, Division of Cognitive Neuroscience
         (Dept. Neurology)
         Johns Hopkins School of Medicine


Kyrana Tsapkini, PhD
        Instructor and Research Scientist, Department of
        Neurology
         Johns Hopkins School of Medicine        


Sevil Yasar, MD PhD 
        Assistant Professor, Division of Geriatric Medicine and
        Gerontology, Department of Neurology
         Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

BALTIMORE EXPERIENCE CORPS TRIAL INVESTIGATORS

Jeremy Barron, MD    
        Director, Ambulatory Care Services; Assistant Professor,
        Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology
        Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Constantine Frangakis, PhD    
        Professor, Department of Biostatistics
        Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Kevin Frick, PhD
        Professor and Vice Dean for Education
        Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

Linda P. Fried, MD MPH
        Dean, Mailman School of Public Health; Senior Vice President,
        Columbia University Medical Center
        Columbia University

Alexander Glogowski  
        Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

Alden Gross, PhD    
        Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology
        Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Tara Gruenewald, PhD    
        Assistant Professor
        USC School of Gerontology

Sylvia McGill
        Greater Homewood Community Corporation

Jeanine Parisi, PhD
        Assistant Scientist, Department of Mental Health
        Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

George Rebok, PhD
        Professor, Department of Mental Health
        Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Teresa Seeman, PhD
        Professor, Department of Medicine & Epidemiology
        UCLA School of Medicine

Erwin Tan, MD
        Director, Senior Corps
        Corporation for National & Community Service

Elizabeth Tanner, PhD    
        Associate Professor, Department of Community-Public Health
        Johns Hopkins School of Nursing
        Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Qian-Li Xue, PhD
        Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Biostatistics
        & Epidemiology
        Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
        Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health