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Our Team

Principal Investigators

  • Alan N. Simmons, Ph.D.

    Research Scientist, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System
    Director, fMRI Research Core, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System
    Professor of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego

    Education and Professional Experience
    Dr. Simmons received his B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of California at San Diego and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology. After completing a predoctoral internship in clinical neuropsychology at Oak Forest Hospital in Illinois, he joined the laboratories of Professors Murray Stein and Martin Paulus as a postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Simmons is the Associate Chief of Functional Neuroimaging for the Center of Excellence in Stress and Mental Health at the San Diego VA Healthcare System.

    Research Focus
    Dr. Simmons' research focuses on neuroimaging of emotional systems such as anticipatory and affective appraisal. He has conducted studies on posttraumatic stress disorders, trait anxiety, neuropsychopharmacology, and depression. Dr. Simmons is collaborating with other investigators on the study of pain processing, traumatic brain injury, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and eating disorders. In addition, he is working on novel computational models for imaging analysis. Dr. Simmons has received early career funding from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders (NARSAD) and from the U.S. Department of Defense.

  • Andrea D. Spadoni, Ph.D.

    Research Scientist, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System
    Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego

    Education and Professional Experience
    Dr. Spadoni earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in neuropsychology, from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and San Diego State University Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. After completing her APA Division 40 approved predoctoral internship at the New Mexico VA Healthcare System and the University of New Mexico, she returned to UCSD as a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Alan Simmons (CESAMH Neuroscience Research Investigator) and Dr. Susan Tapert (Psychology Service Chief at VA San Diego Healthcare System; VASDHS). Dr. Spadoni is currently a Research Health Science Specialist at the VASDHS and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD.

    Research Focus
    Dr. Spadoni uses functional neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural mechanisms driving the development and maintenance of comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol use disorders and their empirically supported treatments. She is also interested in the direct and interactive effects of affective disorders and substance abuse on neurocognition and affective processing.

  • Jessica Bomyea, Ph.D.

    Research Scientist, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System
    Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego

    Education and Professional Experience
    Dr. Bomyea is a research scientist in the Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental health, working in the Stress and Neuroimaging Lab with Dr. Alan Simmons and the TBI Cognitive Rehabilitation Clinic with Dr. Amy Jak. Dr. Bomyea received her doctoral degree from the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in clinical psychology. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at the VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center and a postdoctoral fellowship at UCSD with Drs. Ariel Lang and Murray Stein.

    Research Focus
    Dr. Bomyea’s research seeks to understand the link between aspects of cognitive functioning (e.g., cognitive biases, executive functioning) and PTSD. In addition, she studies novel interventions for PTSD with the goals of translating cognitive science principles to new treatment approaches and delineating the processes of change during treatment. She is currently examining the neurobiological characteristics of individuals with PTSD and/or TBI, and the efficacy and neural substrates of cognitive interventions for PTSD.

  • Katia Harl√©, Ph.D.

    Research Scientist, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System
    Assistant Professor, University of California San Diego, Department of Psychiatry

    Education and Professional Experience
    Dr. Harlé completed her B.Sc. in Physics and Electric Engineering at the "Institut National des Sciences Appliques" in Toulouse, France. She went on to complete a Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Arizona, where she also earned her Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology under the mentorship of Drs. Alan Sanfey and John Allen. After completing her APA Division 40 approved predoctoral internship at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and VA San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS), she joined the UCSD Department of Psychiatry as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Martin Paulus. Dr. Harlé is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD.

    Research Focus
    Dr. Harlé's research uses a combination of computational modeling, brain imaging, and neuropsychological methods to study affective processing, learning, and decision-making in individuals with psychiatric illnesses such as depression, PTSD, and substance abuse. Her work includes identifying neurocomputational predictors of depression and addictive behavior, using brain imaging and Bayesian learning models. Dr. Harlé's research aims to help provide a mechanistic rationale for developing interventions aimed at improving individuals' responses to adverse emotions and to develop more precise predictors of clinical course and treatment response for these individuals. Dr. Harlé's research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

  • Daniel M. Stout, Ph.D.

    Research Health Scientist | VA San Diego Healthcare System
    Assistant Professor | Department of Psychiatry | University of California San Diego
    Education and Professional Experience
    Dr. Stout received his bachelor's and master's degree from North Dakota State University and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2016. He completed his pre-doctoral internship at the UCSD/VA Psychology Internship Program and then a post-doctoral fellowship from the Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health at the VA San Diego Healthcare System and the University of California San Diego Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Stout is currently a VA Research Health Scientist funded through a VA Career Development Award and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSD. 
    Research Focus
    Dr. Stout’s general research interest is in the cognitive and affective neuroscience of anxiety and stress-related disorders. Using a multi-modal approach (psychophysiology, ERPs, MRI, fNIRS), Dr. Stout investigates the mechanisms associated with exaggerated and prolonged threat processing, avoidance, and appetitive learning. Another aim of his work is to apply multivariate analytic techniques to integrate multi-modal measures for biotyping and treatment prediction. Dr. Stout’s goal is to apply this work to the creation of novel interventions targeting the critical mechanisms characteristic of anxiety and stress-related disorders — enhancing the development of individualized treatments and improving therapeutic outcomes.

Founding Members & Collaborators

  • Scott C. Matthews, M.D.

    Staff Psychiatrist, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System
    Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego


    After receiving his M.D. from UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Dr. Matthews completed his internship and residency in psychiatry at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), and was Chief Resident at UCSD Outpatient Psychiatric Services in his final year of residency. He then completed formal research training in functional brain imaging in UCSD’s NIH-funded Fellowship in Biological Psychiatry and Neuroscience. Dr. Matthews is currently Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in Residence at UCSD, Lead Psychiatrist on the Polytrauma Support Clinic Team at Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS), Director of the VASDHS Special Fellowship in Advanced Psychiatry, and former Chief of the Consultation-Liaison Division of the Psychiatry Service at VASDHS. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, an active member of the American Psychosomatic Society (APS), former Co-Chair of the APS Program Committee, and current member of the Editorial Board of Journal of Affective Disorders. In addition to his research and clinical duties, Dr. Matthews is actively involved in teaching residents and medical students.

    Dr. Matthews has used neuroimaging methods to increase understanding of the structural and functional neural correlates of normal and abnormal cognitive and emotional processing. He has published several papers indicating that major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with dysregulated activity of brain systems involved in processing and regulating emotion. His current research program, which is funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), focuses on using structural and functional neuroimaging in veterans exposed to combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to identify how blasts disrupt brain structure and function and increase risk of MDD.

  • I-Wei Shu, MD PhD

    Staff Psychiatrist, Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health

    Dr. Shu received his PhD in Neurosciences from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City in 2004 and his MD from University of California Davis School of Medicine in 2006. He completed his psychiatry residency at University of California San Diego (UCSD) in 2010. He is a board-certified psychiatrist with a special interest in the neurobiology of anxious and depressive symptoms, especially in patients coping with stressful or traumatic events. Dr. Shu’s current studies involve developing EEG biomarkers that can objectively monitor and predict the course of PTSD symptoms, including response to treatment.

    Before joining UC San Diego Health in 2014, Dr. Shu was a staff psychiatrist at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System and on the psychiatric consult staff for UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center and San Diego Hospice. He has also served as a member of San Diego Psychiatric Society's Ethics Committee.

  • Irina A. Strigo, Ph.D.

    Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego

    Dr. Strigo joined our faculty in 2007 after completing a joint post-doctoral fellowship with the UCSD Department of Psychiatry and the Barrow Neurological Institute Atkinson Pain Research Laboratory in Phoenix, Arizona. She received her Ph.D. and B.Sc. in Physiology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. The Canadian Institute of Health Research funded her doctoral studies, which entailed psychophysical, pharmacological and fMRI analysis of visceral and cutaneous pain in humans.

    Dr. Strigo uses psychophysical and brain imaging approaches to study experimental pain perception in various psychiatric disorders, such as Major Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Eating Disorders and Traumatic Brain Injury. The long-term goal of this research is to understand the mechanisms leading to co-morbidities between chronic pain and psychiatric conditions. Her research is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD).

Postgraduate Researchers

  • Ruth Klaming Miller, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Fellow T32 NIAAA (San Diego State University)
    University of California San Diego
    VA San Diego Healthcare System

    Dr. Klaming is a postdoctoral fellow funded by a T32 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism award, working with Dr. Andrea Spadoni and Dr. Sonya Norman. She received a doctoral degree in psychology at the Vrije University Amsterdam (Netherlands).

    Dr. Klaming's research interest is in neuroimaging of alcohol use disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. Her aim is to understand structural and functional brain abnormalities underlying these commonly co-morbid conditions. Dr. Klaming also focuses her research on utilizing novel neuromodulation techniques to probe and perturb neural circuits of alcohol addiction, and to develop new treatment approaches for this condition.

Predoctoral Fellows

  • Christopher Fong, M.A.

    SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology
    Predoctoral Fellow T32 NIAAA

    Mr. Fong is a predoctoral student in the SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology in the neuropsychology track. He is funded by a T32 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism award, mentored by Dr. Andrea Spadoni.

    Mr. Fong's research interest are in neuroimaging of alcohol use disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder. Specifically, his work is focused on investigating the neural substrates of alcohol cue reactivity in treatment seeking veterans with concurrent alcohol and trauma-related diagnoses. Additionally, Mr. Fong is interested in the development of computerized behavioral and neuropsychological tasks.

Research Associates

  • Steven Arias

    Research Psychology Technician, VA San Diego Healthcare System
    858-552-8585

    Steven received his Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Physiology & Neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego in 2019. He is a psychology technician for the Veterans Medical Research Foundation and VA Hospital. Steven has previously worked as a research assistant focused on learning more about disparities in language concordance and cancer treatment within the latino population. He plans to, eventually, go on to pursue a medical degree and practice medicine in underserved communities. However, for now, his focus is on the study of conditions that include: anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse and traumatic brain injuries and their effects on the brain and overall behavior.

  • Nathalie Dugas

    Research Psychology Technician, VA San Diego Healthcare System
    858-552-8585 x2511

    Nathalie received her Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego in 2021. As an undergraduate, she volunteered in the Stress and Neuroimaging Lab, focusing on a project that examined public speaking anxiety and working memory. She is now a Psychology Technician for the lab, studying anxiety, depression, and learning models using both EEG and MRI. She plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

  • Danielle Dun

    Research Psychology Technician, VA San Diego Healthcare System
    858-552-8585

    Danielle received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from University of California, San Diego in 2020. During undergrad, she worked as a research assistant focused on investigating whether biases in social perceptions emerge from rational inference of a complex, ambiguous world. Danielle recently worked with the Morrison Research Lab at California State University, Sacramento on a project exploring whether cognitive deficits that accompany aging can be attributed to declining hearing levels. Currently, she is a Psychology Technician for the Stress and Neuroimaging Lab at the San Diego VA, studying the effects of PTSD, depression, and anxiety on the brain and behavior.

  • Svein Gonzalez

    Research Psychology Technician, VA San Diego Healthcare System
    858-552-8585 x2635

    Svein received his Bachelors of Science in Social Psychology from University of California, San Diego. Before arriving at the VA, Svein explored eating disorders and related comorbidities at the Eating Disorders Research Center using neuroimaging. Now, in affiliation with Veterans Affairs Hospital, Svein works as a research coordinator for the Stress & Neuroimaging Lab to study the impacts of clinical disorders (PTSD, MDD, Anxiety, SUD) in the veteran population and investigate potential treatment solutions. Future prospects include attending graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

  • Morgan Marvin

    Research Psychology Technician, VA San Diego Healthcare System
    858-552-8585 x2509

    Morgan Marvin received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from San Diego State University, in 2018. She is a psychology technician for the Veterans Medical Research Foundation and Veteran Affairs Hospital in La Jolla, California. Her research interests include neuroimaging and treatment of PTSD, substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. Previously she worked as a research assistant with a focus on utilizing EEG to study cognitive control and emotional processing in the Spatiotemporal Brain Imaging Lab. She plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.

  • Krupali Patel

    Research Psychology Technician, VA San Diego Healthcare System
    858-552-8585

    Krupali received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Central Florida in 2021. While she was there, she was the manager of the Adult Development and Decision Making Lab conducting research on healthy aging and cognition in older adults. Currently, Krupali is a Psychology Technician for the Stress and Neuroimaging Lab at the San Diego VA.

  • Alex Skupny

    Research Psychology Technician, VA San Diego Healthcare System
    858-552-8585 x2872

    Alex Skupny received her Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience & Cognitive Science at the University of Arizona in 2019. In her time at the University of Arizona, she was a member of the Neuroscience of Reinforcement Learning and Decision-Making Lab doing research focused on the effects of aging on decision-making and cognition. Alex currently works as a Psychology Technician for the Stress and Neuroimaging Lab at the VA in San Diego, CA.