I am an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego. I am trained in cognitive neuroscience and have extensive experience employing cognitive testing, neuroimaging, biomarkers, and genetic measures to study Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and aging. I received my doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley under Arthur Shimamura, where I focused on the role of the parietal cortex in memory processes using functional MRI. Following graduate school, I completed a post-doctoral position at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under William Jagust studying the effects of beta-amyloid on brain and cognition using MRI and amyloid-PET imaging. During this time, my work focused on compensatory brain mechanisms that allow individuals to maintain normal cognitive performance despite the presence of disease pathology. I then completed a post-doctoral position at UC San Diego under William Kremen investigating the genetic and environmental influences on imaging and cognitive measures with the goal of improving early identification of Alzheimer's disease.
My research program seeks to improve early identification by investigating the biological and genetic factors that contribute to heterogeneity in the development and progression of AD. I received a KL2 Career Development Award from the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute to pursue this work. I also investigate the role of the locus coeruleus in AD and have explored several measures of its structural and functional integrity for potential use as early screening tools. This work led to a pilot grant from the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and I continue to pursue this line of work through several projects with colleagues at UC San Diego. I am a member of the Center for Behavior Genetics of Aging and heavily involved in the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA). VETSA is a large-scale longitudinal study of adult male twins that collects extensive data (neuropsychological, imaging, genetic, health, and psychosocial) that can be used to study genetic and environmental influences on both healthy aging and disease.