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 3-year old.

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Breanna Crane, BS

​Breanna Crane is a 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Mental Health and a trainee in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics of Aging Training Program. She received her B.S. in Physics with a double minor in Psychology and Mathematics in 2017 from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Her key research interests involve cognitive aging and the role of modifiable risk factors (e.g., engagement in lifestyle activities, physical activity, air pollution) in potentially delaying or preventing age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. She is also interested in using geospatial data from wearable technology to explore the role of the built environment and its association with older adults’ cognitive and functional health.

 
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Brittany Drazich, PhD, RN, MSN

Brittany is a nurse and a 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 second-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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Michelle Low

Michelle Low is a senior at Johns Hopkins University studying Neuroscience and Psychology. Michelle joined the Carlson Lab in 2021 in order to pursue her longstanding interests in healthcare and educational equity through research as well as her existing community work. Her key research interests include behavioral interventions to mitigate risk factors for cognitive decline, as well as interventions to improve learning in low income schools. Hailing from the Bay Area in California, Michelle enjoys hiking, running, reading fantasy novels, and drinking copious amount of tea in her spare time.

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Prasanna Varadhan

Prasanna is a second-year undergraduate student at Drexel University, studying psychology and neuroscience. She is interested in understanding the cognitive deterioration that comes with aging, and how to improve the health and quality of life for older individuals. Consequently, she would like to pursue a career in geriatric psychology.

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Maggie Olaya

Maggie is a junior at Johns Hopkins University majoring in Psychology. Her research interests include the study of cognitive brain functions and how they are affected by aging. She also studies Computer Science and is excited to explore the intersection between these two fields. Maggie joined the Carlson Lab for the OCEANS-TBI study and Baltimore Experience Corp Trial. She is excited to be a part of research aimed at investigating and improving the lives of older adults and those with cognitive impairments.

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.

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

 

CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH STUDY- NEIGHBORHOODS, COGNITIVE AGING, AND MODIFIABLE RISK FACTORS  

Frank Curriero, PhD

Professor, Epidemiology

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Timothy Shields, MA

Associate Scientist, Epidemiology

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

 

Anne Corrigan, PhD

Senior Research Data Analyst

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Anne B. Newman, MD, MPH

Department Chair, Epidemiology

Director, Center for Aging and Population Health

University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health 

Gina Lovasi, PhD, MPH

Dornsife Associate Professor of Urban Health

Co-Director, Urban Health Collaborative

Drexel University

Andrea L. Rosso, PhD

Associate Professor, Epidemiology

University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Healt

Michelle Odden, PhD

Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Population Health

Stanford University

Gregory Burke, PhD

Professor, Public Health Sciences

Wake Forest School of Medicine

Mary Lou Biggs, PhD

Project Director and Epidemiologist

University of Washington

Oscar Lopez, PhD

Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Clinical and Translational Sciences

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Lewis Kuller, MD, DrPH

Professor, Epidemiology

University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health 

OCEANS-TBI STUDY (FUNDED BY DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE) 

John Krakauer, MD

Director, the Center for the Study of Motor Learning and Brain Repair

Professor of Neurology

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Matthew Peters, MD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Omar Ahmad, PhD

Director and Chief Creative Engineer, Kata Design Studio

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Promit Roy, PhD

Lead Game Engine, Infrastructure, and Multi-Platform Developer

M²H

Jarreau Wimberly

Illustrator and Designer

M²H's Lead Artist and Animator

Brain, Learning, Animation, and Movement (BLAM) Lab and Kata Design Studio Team  

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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