People

Graduate Students

 

Stephanie Otto

Cognitive Brain Sciences

 

Education

M.S. University of Nevada, Reno, NV

Cognitive Brain Sciences (2021)

 

B.A. University of Hawaii, West Oahu, HI

Psychology

 

Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding how local and global connectivity may be altered in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). To pursue the answer to such complex questions, I use a combination of research techniques that allow me to understand what is happening both at the synaptic and brain-wide levels.

My first line of research is investigating synaptic alterations of cerebellar Purkinje cells in human post-mortem tissue. With the use of fluorescent antibodies and confocal microscopy, we can visualize the synaptic environment of these unique cells both in the ASD and neurotypical populations. My second line of research focuses on global, brain-wide connectivity by using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which allows me to estimate the white matter integrity of large white matter tracts connecting distant brain regions. My goal is that this work will help to inform researchers and society about how neuroanatomical differences might relate to the behavioral symptomatology often seen in the ASD population. My hope is for this work to establish a new trajectory towards better diagnostic and treatment practices.

 

Publications

 

Conference Presentations

  • Stephanie R Otto, Lawrence M Ray, Jolie A Travers, Isabella Bruketta, Mackenzie L Montero, Jeffrey J. Hutsler & Sarah M Haigh (2020) Abnormal Measures of White Matter Diffusion are Associated With Behavioral Symptom Severity in Children and Adults With Autism. Biological Psychiatry, 87(9), S246. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2020.02.636

  • Stephanie R Otto, Lawrence M Ray, Jolie A Travers, Isabella Bruketta, Mackenzie L Montero, Jeffrey J. Hutsler & Sarah M Haigh (October 2019). Evidence of wide spread white matter compromise in children and adults with autism: a large-scale diffusion imaging study using the ABIDE II repository. Poster presented at the Society for Neuroscience. Chicago, IL, USA.

 

 

Wendy Alfonso Torrens

Integrative Neuroscience

 

Education

B.A. Colorado State University, CO

Psychology

 

Research Interests

I am interested in studying sensory abnormalities in individuals with schizophrenia and autism, to further understand the neurobiological basis of these conditions and help guide methods for improving their perception and overall cognition. 

My current project is assisting research in The Haigh Lab that investigates schizophrenia-associated biomarkers of auditory processing and auditory working memory (WM) in individuals with subclinical traits of schizophrenia (i.e. on the schizotypy spectrum). Identifying biomarkers of schizophrenia in individuals on the schizotypy spectrum can potentially help extend treatment to those high on the spectrum. A greater understanding of the mechanism of auditory processing and auditory WM in these samples can also improve methods for diagnosis and inform future clinical therapies. My future agenda is to work as a researcher in academia: to contribute to the wealth of knowledge in my area of interest, and mentor future generations on their path to success.

 

 

Carson Smith

 

Education

B.S. Northeastern University, MA

Psychology and Neuroscience

 

Research Interests

My research interests include exploring the mechanisms behind our sensory systems that permit complex perception of the world around us. By examining the limits of our visual and auditory systems, we can begin to paint a clearer picture of how various stimuli shape our environmental perception.

Specifically, my current project investigates how sensory sensitivity changes over the migraine cycle with the aim to identify biomarkers that signal approaching migraine-onset. While there is a lot of variability across migraineurs, a common symptom is sensitivity to light (photophobia) and/or sound (phonophobia). Using electroencephalography (EEG), electroretinography (ERG), and auditory brainstem response (ABR), my research contrasts the effects of sensory stimuli on migraineurs and headache free individuals from the retina and brainstem to the visual and auditory cortices.

 

Undergraduate Researchers

 

Michelle Ruiz

 

I am a junior from Reno majoring in Psychological Science with a minor in Social Research Methods and Applied Statistics. I am also in the Honors College, and a part of the Nevada ENDURE program at UNR. My main research interests include anything involved in cognitive neuroscience, but I am excited to do any research in neuroscience in general! As of right now, I am helping Dr. Haigh with any projects the lab needs help with while learning about different research topics. In the future, I plan to pursue a PhD in cognitive neuroscience and work towards a career in academia. 

 

Rasia Yankaway

 

I am in my third year of my undergraduate career here at UNR, majoring in Psychology with an emphasis on research along with a biology minor. My research interests include cognitive psychology and/or neuroscience. I hope to continue my research journey into graduate school or apply for medical school to specialize in psychiatry. I recently joined Dr. Haigh's lab this Fall semester of 2022 and I am excited to work with and help whoever I can!

 

Leila Paige

 

My name is Leila Paige. I am a junior Neuroscience major. I’m currently working under Sarah Haigh and we are looking at how the pitch of sounds has an effect on those with migraine and autism.

 

Wesley Chen

 

Education

B.S. Neuroscience (2022)

 

I am a recent UNR graduate in neuroscience with a minor in biology. I am interested in cognitive psychology and abnormal psychology. I hope to apply my research knowledge when working at the hospital as well as in future clinical rotations. I am currently applying to medical school for the Fall 2023 year and hope to specialize in pediatric emergency medicine in the near future!

 

Matthew Cummings

 

I am currently a senior majoring in Neuroscience at UNR, attempting to get my bachelors degree. My research interests include cognitive and behavioral psychology research as well as technological applications of clinical neurobiology. I have worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Haigh since spring of 2022 and am excited to help with more behavioral research. After graduation, I plan to either apply for Medical school or Graduate school and earn a career centered around applied neuroscience technologies. Psychology and Neuroscience are my passions and I hope to make a difference in these fields in some way!

 

Jasmine Haggerty

 

Education

B.S. Neuroscience (2022)

B.A. Psychology (2022)

 

Hi! I am a recent graduate from UNR in Neuroscience and Psychology. I am currently volunteering in Dr. Haigh's lab wherever I am needed. I plan to attend medical school in the next few years with the hopes of becoming a psychiatrist or neurologist. 

 

Laura Van Key

 

Education

B.S. Molecular Microbiology & Immunology (2022)

 

Research Interests

I am a recent UNR graduate in Molecular Microbiology & Immunology with a minor in Community Health Sciences. I am currently volunteering in Dr. Haigh's lab. I am particularly passionate about researching possible biomarkers and the pathology of schizophrenia. I am also interested in investigating the sensory abnormalities in both schizophrenia and autism and their relationship with abnormal neural mechanisms.

 

Publications

  • Sarah M Haigh, Laura Van Key, Pat Brosseau, Shaun M Eack, David I Leitman, Dean F Salisbury & Marlene Behrmann (accepted). Assessing Trial-to-Trial Variability in Auditory ERPs in Autism and Schizophrenia. S.I.: Developmental Approach and Targeted Treatment of Sensory Alterations. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

 

Conference Presentations

  • Sarah M Haigh, Laura Van Key, Shaun M Eack, David I Leitman, Dean F Salisbury, & Marlene Behrmann (April 2022). Comparison of Trial-to-Trial Variability in Autism and Schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry 91 (9), S148. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2022.02.387

 

 

Lena Kemmelmeier

 

I am a sophomore neuroscience student from Reno minoring in computer science and psychology. I primarily work in Dr. Marian Berryhill's lab and am working with Dr. Haigh for the summer on a schizotypy project.

Last spring I assisted in data collection for a project exploring the effects of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and screen time on working memory. I also supported EEG data collection for examining memory in schizotypy. I am particularly interested in cognitive neuroscience and EEG, however, I am eager to gain a wide breadth of experience and knowledge. In the future, I hope to develop my own project and later pursue graduate school for cognitive neuroscience.

 

Karina Kneeland

 

I am a Senior from Las Vegas, Nevada majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Information Systems. I primarily work in Dr. Marian Berryhill's lab and am working with Dr. Haigh for the summer on a schizotypy project.

I am interested in studying cognitive neuroscience to understand the biological processes behind cognition and how the brain functions when undergoing mental processes. I am also interested in the clinical population and how their neural networks differ from neurotypical individuals. My current research project investigates how screen time affects cognitive processes such as working memory (WM) and task switching to understands the significance of increased media usage amongst the current generation.I am also assisting in a project that investigates auditory WM in individuals in the schizotypy population. In the future, I plan to pursue a PhD in cognitive neuroscience and hope to research Alzheimer's Disease. 

 

Previous Graduate Students

 

Gregory R McIntire

 

Education

M.S. University of Nevada, Reno, NV

Integrative Neuroscience (2021)

 

B.A. University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV

Psychology & Biology

 

Research Interests

My primary research interest is understanding the mechanisms underlying visual perception in neurotypical and clinical populations such as those with migraine. Specifically, my goal is to investigate the relationship between low- and high-level vision. For example, what is the effect of uncomfortable stimuli on visual processing?

In order to accomplish this, I primarily use methods such as psychophysics and electroencephalography (EEG). By utilizing these techniques, the aim is to uncover detailed perceptual mechanisms in both clinical and neurotypical populations.

 

 

Marena Manierka

 

Education

Ph.D. University of Nevada, Reno, NV

Integrative Neuroscience (2021)

 

B.S. University of Toronto, ON, Canada

Neuroscience and Psychology

 

Research Interests

After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Toronto, close to her rural Ontario home, Marena moved to Reno to pursue her interest in autism research. Her major focus is in trying to understand the role of inflammation in the pathophysiology of autism, using a combination of methods to examine how physical changes to the brain can lead to the behavioral changes associated with autism. At the cellular level, post-mortem brain tissue from individuals with autism shows signs of active inflammation in glial cells, which may lead to changes in the health and maintenance of nearby neurons. At the whole-brain level, individuals with autism show signs of abnormal white matter structures that may be related to inflammatory damage to brain tracts. Understanding how these biological differences are related to the cognitive features of autism is key to developing new therapies and treatments for this disorder.
When she’s not in the laboratory, Marena is home walking her dogs.

 

Publications

  • Marena S Manierka, Rachel Rezaei, Samantha Palacios, Sarah M Haigh, Jeffrey J Hutsler (2021). In the mood to be social: affective state influences facial emotion recognition in healthy adults. Emotion. https://doi.org/10.1037/emo0000999

  • Drumm, B.T., Rembetski, B.E., Messersmith, K., Manierka, M.S., Baker, S.A. and Sanders, K.M. (2020), Pacemaker function and neural responsiveness of subserosal interstitial cells of Cajal in the mouse colon. J Physiol, 598: 651-681. https://doi.org/10.1113/JP279102

 

 

Lisa Lindquist

 

Education

B.S. Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA

Speech and Hearing Science

 

M.S. Rush University, Chicago, IL

Speech-Language Pathology

 

Research Interests

My clinical experiences as a Speech Pathologist instilled the desire to pursue basic research in sensory perception to improve clinical practices related to auditory processing. In my research, I would like to focus on characterizing the pathophysiologic mechanisms of auditory processing disorder researching how early auditory, sensory processing impacts higher level cognition and behavior. I hope to address some of the neurobehavioral challenges associated with auditory processing disorders by proposing clinical treatments to target skill remediation and development of compensatory strategies or environmental modifications for individuals with auditory processing disorders.

 

Publications

  • Lisa C Lindquist, Gregory R McIntire & Sarah M Haigh (2021). The effects of visual discomfort and chromaticity separation on neural processing during a visual task. Vision Research. 182, 27-35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.visres.2021.01.007

 

Conference Presentations

  • Lisa C Lindquist, Gregory R McIntire & Sarah M Haigh (May 2020). The effect of chromaticity separation on neural processing during a visual task. Journal of Vision, 20(11), 828-828. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.828

 

Previous Lab Managers

 

Caitlin Laycox

 

Education

B.S. Griffith University, Australia

Psychology

Honors - Southern Cross University, Australia

 

Research Interests

My research interests primarily focus on electrophysiological indices of sensory or emotional processing that may underpin specific psychiatric disorders. My first line of research in this field explored the relationship between emotional resilience and frontal brain asymmetry as measured by EEG, while also assessed the influence of a potential memory biases for emotionally valanced visual stimuli.

My current PhD project aims to assess psychophysiological and psychosocial predictors of postpartum depression, with a primary focus on psychophysiological indices that may further identify mothers at risk during antenatal care. My longitudinal research will follow pregnant woman from pregnancy to six months postpartum tracking EEG ERP responses to auditory odd-ball tone stimuli, heart rate variability, as well as self-report measures of interoceptive awareness and appraisal style to assess their relationship to postpartum distress. Under Dr. Haigh’s lab with UNR, we investigated visual and auditory processing to explore sensory processing differences in individuals that suffer from migraines as compared to individuals who do not. This was assessed using a visual reading test under varying light exposures, and electrophysiological responses to auditory stimuli to further understand the neurological basis of sensory processing in migraines.

 

 

Mackenzie Montero

 

Education

M.B.A University of Nevada, Reno, NV

Business (2021)

 

B.S. University of Nevada, Reno, NV

Neuroscience (2020)

 

Research Interests

I recently graduated from UNR with a bachelors degree in Neuroscience and an MBA degree. As of Fall 2021, I am attending medical school at UNR. I believe it is important to be able to integrate various fields of study as it allows a more comprehensive understanding of the task at hand.  

I am very interested in a large variety of research topics with a large emphasis on neurophysiology. I am interested in the study of speech pathology and how various sounds are transcribed in the brain. Additionally, I am interested in the formation of emotionally valiant memories that appear to be resilient to decay as seen in PTSD. Lastly, I am interested in the understanding of clinical disorders such as dementia, autism, and Parkinson's disease and their impacts on neuroanatomy.

 

Alexandrea Kilgore-Gomez

 

Education

B.S. University of Nevada, Reno

Neuroscience (2020)

 

Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding how working memory and sensory memory impairments are related to high schizotypy. My goal is to investigate the processing deficits in schizotypy that contribute to abnormal cognitive functioning. Additionally, I am interested in examining changes in working memory in special populations, including young adults with a history of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and healthy older adults. In order to investigate questions within these populations, I primarily use behavioral measures and electroencephalography (EEG).

I recently graduated from UNR with a BS in Neuroscience. I plan to attend medical school in the near future. My ultimate career goal is to conduct clinical and translational research as a physician.

 

 

Previous Undergraduate Researchers

 

Tabatha Walford

 

Education

B.A. Psychology (Honors College; 2022)

 

I am Tabatha Walford and I recently graduated from UNR as a psychology major. I have an interest in psychological research, especially in the field of abnormal psychology as well as criminal behaviour and the origins and treatments of mental disorders.

 

Publications

  • Sarah M Haigh, Tabatha P Walford, & Patricia Brosseau (2021). Heart rate variability in schizophrenia and autism. Frontiers in Psychiatry: Schizophrenia. 12, 2129. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.760396

 

Conference Presentations

  • Tabatha P Walford & Sarah M Haigh (Nov 2021). Empathy and sociability across the subclinical autism spectrum. Poster presented at the virtual Society for Neuroscience conference.

  • Sarah M Haigh & Tabatha Walford (May 2021). Feeling Lonely and Heart Rate Variability in Autism and Schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry, 89(9), S385-6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2021.02.958

 

Anna Haugland

 

Education

B.A. Psychology (2022)

 

I was born and raised here in Reno. I recently graduated from UNR majoring in psychology. I took my first psychology class in high school and fell in love with exploring the functions of the mind and people. I am interested in cognitive psychology as well as clinical psychology. I have always wanted to find a way to make a difference in the world whether it be one person or many and I think that psychology is a marvelous start.

 

Janea Santiago

 

Education

B.S. Neuroscience (2022)

 

Hello! I recently graduated from UNR in Neuroscience and minoring in Addiction Treatment. I hope to become a psychiatrist that specializes in working with those with co-occurring disorders (mental illness and substance abuse). I'm interested in understanding how mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders manifest themselves in the brain and comparing them. Ultimately, I want to research further the mechanisms underlying substance-induced psychotic symptoms.

 

Ana Chevychalova

 

Education

B.S. Neuroscience (2022)

 

Hello! My name is Ana Chevychalova and I have recently graduated from UNR in Neuroscience and a minor in Communication Studies. My interests in research span a wide variety of subject areas; in particular psychology, neuroscience, and organic chemistry. More specifically, I am interested in exploring the various sensory systems that help us navigate the world and how these sensory systems are affected in certain mental disorders such as anxiety. There are several disorders that I am especially interested in such as ADHD, Parkinson's disease, Schizophrenia, and co-morbid anxiety/depression. In the Haigh lab, I worked on a project that involves measuring and analyzing sensory responses in individuals that struggle with migraines in hopes to find a predictable marker for an oncoming migraine. My long term goals involve becoming a physician, continuing research related to my field, and spreading awareness on mental health in America. 

 

Xortia Ross

 

Education

B.S. Behavioral Analysis (2021)

 

I worked with Dr. Haigh in her research studying the connections between discomfort and chromaticity. When I am not doing research tasks you can find me in nature, hiking, camping and reading about conditioned behaviors, cognitive deterioration, and skill acquisition.

 

Publications

  • Olivier Penacchio, Sarah M Haigh, Xortia Ross, Rebecca Ferguson, & Arnold J Wilkins (2021). Local differences in chromaticity and visual discomfort from natural scenes and worked of art. Frontiers in Neuroscience: Perception Science. 15, 1706. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2021.711064

 

Conference Presentations

  • Sarah M Haigh & Xortia Ross (May 2022). Sensitivity to chromaticity separation – Is it helpful? Poster presented at the Vision Sciences Society conference. St Petersburg, FL, USA.

  • Xortia Ross, Sarah M Haigh, Arnold J Wilkins & Olivier Penacchio (May 2021). Discomfort form Contemporary Art. Poster presented at the Virtual Vision Sciences Society (V-VSS) conference – undergraduate poster session. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.9.2959

  • Xortia Ross, Sarah M Haigh, Arnold J Wilkins & Olivier Penacchio (2021). Discomfort from Contemporary Art: Contribution of Color. Talk presented virtually at the European Conference on Visual Perception. Journal of Vision, 21, 2959. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.9.2959

  • Olivier Penacchio, Sarah Haigh, Xortia Ross, Rebecca Ferguson & Arnold Wilkins (December, 2020). Predicting visual discomfort from images. Talk presented virtually at the Applied Vision Association conference, London, UK.

 

Lourdes (Lulu) Mendoza

 

Education

B.S. Psychology (2021)

 

I was born and raised in Las Vegas and moved to Reno in 2017. I graduated from UNR with a major in psychology and a minor in music. I have played violin since high school and used to play in a mariachi band for a few years. I am interested in understanding sounds, pitches, and vibrations and their effect on the human brain. In the future I hope to go to grad school and get my Masters in Social Work. 

 

Becca Ferguson

 

Education

B.S. Behavioral Analysis (2021)

 

My name is Rebecca Ferguson and I was born and raised in Reno, NV. I am studying to become a behavior specialist to work with children.

 

 Publications

  • Olivier Penacchio, Sarah M Haigh, Xortia Ross, Rebecca Ferguson, & Arnold J Wilkins (2021). Local differences in chromaticity and visual discomfort from natural scenes and worked of art. Frontiers in Neuroscience: Perception Science. 15, 1706. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2021.711064

 

Zoë Slaughter

 

Education

B.A. Psychology (Honors College; 2020)

 

Zoë Slaughter graduated from UNR in psychology with a research specialization. She plans on attending medical school to become a psychiatrist, connecting two of her major interests: mental health and the physiology of the brain. She is particularly fascinated by the chemical origins of schizophrenia and how it manifests itself.