Carrie Bearden Carrie Bearden, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator/Associate Professor

Carrie E. Bearden, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Psychology at UCLA. Her research focus is on the identification of underlying genetic and biological vulnerability markers, or endophenotypes, for psychosis and mood disorder. Dr. Bearden has been using converging methodologies to study clinical high-risk samples and highly penetrant ‘genetic subtypes’ of these diseases (e.g, population isolates). She joined the UCLA faculty in 2003, and in 2005 obtained a K23 Career Development Award to obtain specialized training in genetic methodologies. Currently she co-directs the Neurogenetics track for the Neuroscience Interdepartmental PhD program and also serves as Director of the Prodromal Core in the Staglin Music Festival Center for the Assessment and Prevention of Prodromal States (CAPPS).





Peter Bachman Peter Bachman, Ph.D.
Research Psychologist

Peter Bachman, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, and along with Dr. Bearden, co-directs the Adolescent Brain and Behavior Research Clinic, which conducts assessment, treatment, and research with adolescents who meet diagnostic criteria for a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia. Dr. Bachman also researches how changes that occur in the brain during adolescence may increase a young person’s vulnerability to developing a psychotic disorder. This work involves EEG assessment while participants perform cognitive tests as a probe of the brain’s complex circuitry. Dr. Bachman received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from UCLA in 2007, and in 2009, completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA studying physiological markers of stress in people with schizophrenia.

Sarah McEwen Sarah McEwen, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Psychologist

Sarah McEwen, Ph.D. is a cognitive psychologist and functional neuroimager in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. Her graduate and postdoctoral training has been specifically focused on exploring the neurobiological mechanisms contributing to the putative risk for conversion to psychosis. As a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA she was the Scientific Project Coordinator of the fMRI component of the North American Prodrome Longitudinal Study (NAPLS). More recently, she has become interested in interventions during the earliest phases of the illness onset which offers the opportunity to target impaired cognitive functioning before the effects chronic illness and psychotropic medications adversely impact the brain. She is currently the PI of an NIMH K01 Award which is a translational neuroscience research project that uses cutting-edge MRI and neurochemical assays to elucidate the mechanisms of enhanced neuroplasticity and cognition in first-episode schizophrenia patients who are undergoing an innovative combined exercise and cognitive training intervention. This multi-disciplinary area of research will be crucial for identifying underlying neural substrates that contribute to improved cognition in schizophrenia patients to aid in the development of effective cognitive neurotheraputic treatments in schizophrenia.

Caroline Montojo Caroline Montojo, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Caroline Montojo is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychology at UCLA and works in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.  Dr. Montojo received her B.A. in Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.  She has been the recipient of several awards for her research, including a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the George E. Owen Fellowship from Johns Hopkins University’s Office of the Dean, and a recent NIMH T32 Postdoctoral Training Fellowship at UCLA. Research interests include the study of higher-order cognitive function, such as working memory and attention, as a risk factor for neuropsychiatric disorder, utilizing behavioral, neuroimaging, and genetics approaches.

Maria Jalbrzikowski Maria Jalbrzikowski, M.A.
Post Doctoral Fellow

Maria Jalbrzikowski recently completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at UCLA.  She is currently the Adolescent Serious Mental Illness psychology intern at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human behavior at UCLA.  In July 2013, she will be a postdoctoral fellow on a T32 Neurogenetics Training Grant in Neurobehavioral Genetics.  Maria’s work with Dr. Carrie Bearden involves studying individuals at clinical-high risk for developing psychosis, adolescents with a psychotic disorder, and a neurogenetic syndrome, 22q11.2 Microdeletion Syndrome (22qDS). Her dissertation focused on how behavioral measures of social cognition and neuroanatomic regions associated with social cognition may serve as risk factors for psychotic symptoms in 22qDS.   In the future, she plans to use a bioinformatics approach to examine the relationships between genetic contributors, biological processes, and behavioral phenotypes in psychosis and autism in individuals with 22qDS.

Rachel Jonas, B.S. Rachel Jonas, B.S.
Neuroscience Graduate Student

Rachel is pursuing her PhD in the Neuroscience Interdepartmental Graduate Program. She attended Lehigh University for her undergraduate education, obtaining a BS in Behavioral Neuroscience, and then worked with Dr. Mark Gluck at Rutgers University before joining the Bearden Lab. She is interested in dopaminergic dysregulation in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, and how this may manifest in behavioral and neuroanatomic abnormalities within this population.  Specifically, she is using a combination of behavioral, structural MRI, functional MRI, and genetic methods to approach this idea.  After completing her PhD, she plans to pursue a post-doc and a career in academia.

Matt Schreiner
Neuroscience Graduate Student

Matt is a PhD Candidate in the Neuroscience Interdepartmental Graduate Program.  He earned his BS in Physics from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2009.  During his undergraduate tenure at UCSB, he performed research in the fields of Fluid Dynamics and Behavioral Pharmacology, in the labs of Dr. Guenter Ahlers and Dr. Aaron Ettenberg respectively.  His current research within the Bearden Lab involves utililzing resting state fMRI to investigate intrinsic neural connectivity in individuals with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome and Neurofibromatosis-1, and exploring how abberant network connectivity may lead to the specific cognitive deficits witnessed in these populations.

Ariel Schvarcz Ariel Schvarcz, M.A., B.S.
Clinical Psychology Graduate Student & Clinical/Neuropsychological Extern

Ariel Schvarcz graduated summa cum laude from Emory University with degrees in Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology and Psychology. She is currently a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program,  a 2012 NeuroImaging Training Program Fellow, and a 2013 NSF Graduate Research Fellow. Her research focuses on the developmental trajectories of changes in structural connectivity as they relate to the maturation of functional networks relevant for working memory and social-affective processing within severe psychopathology. In particular, she is interested in investigating behavioral and physiological correlates of changes in structural connectivity in individuals at risk for psychosis and those with adolescent-onset psychosis. She hopes to discover endophenotypes that can inform future intervention and prevention efforts for those at risk for schizophrenia.

Nicole Enrique Nicole Enrique, B.A.
NF1 Study Coordinator

Nicole Enrique is the study coordinator for the NF1-Lovastatin Clinical Trial and the NF1 Brain Imaging and Functioning Study. She received her B.A. in Psychology from UCLA, during which she assisted in research under Dr. Nim Tottenham and Dr. Carrie Bearden. She has worked as a study coordinator in Bearden Lab since graduating in 2011. Her research interests include clinical and health psychology, and she plans to pursue doctoral training in clinical psychology.

Leila Kushan-Wells Leila Kushan-Wells
22q Study Coordinator

Leila Kushan-Wells is the study coordinator for the UCLA 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Study. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from UCLA and her Master’s degree in Neuroscience and Cognition from the University of Utrecht in Holland. She has worked as part of research teams investigating brain function in various patient populations. Leila is the main contact for participants and their families and she’d be happy to provide you with more information about our study.