Principal Investigator: Claudia B. Padula, Ph.D.

Dr. Padula is the head of the BRAVE lab. She is a neuropsychologist at the at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (MIRECC) and an Assistant Professor at Stanford School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, but her passion for science goes beyond this role. She ultimately wants to improve treatment outcomes for Veterans suffering from addiction by leveraging the power of where neuroscience and clinical psychology intersect. Dr. Padula completed her undergraduate work and research assistant positions at the University of California San Diego and received her masters and doctorate degrees at the University of Cincinnati in psychology with an emphasis in neuropsychology. She fulfilled her APA-accredited clinical internship in neuropsychology at Patton State Hospital and is an alumni of the APA-accredited Sierra Pacific MIRECC postdoctoral fellowship with an emphasis in geropsychology. Claudia enjoys traveling the world, cooking, spending time with her husband and fulfilling her role of academic mama to two kids.

Postdoctoral Scholar

Daniel McCalley, Ph.D.

Dan McCalley, Ph.D. (he/him) is a postdoctoral fellow in in Dr. Claudia Padula’s lab within the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences department. Dan completed his graduate training in neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) under the direction of Dr. Colleen Hanlon. His research aims to further the development of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) as a therapeutic tool for individuals with Alcohol Use Disorder. He is particularly interested in leveraging patient-level, multimodal neuroimaging (functional MRI, structural MRI, diffusion weighted imaging) to optimize TMS parameters for AUD and improve treatment outcomes. He is committed to developing an impactful research portfolio, developing skills to excel as a mentor, and increasing LGBTQIA+ visibility/representation in academia. Outside of research, Dan enjoys traveling, hiking, tending to his plants, binge watching survivor, and spending time with friends and family.

Will Craft, Ph.D.

Will Craft, Ph.D. (he/him) is a data science postdoctoral fellow at the Palo Alto VA (MIRECC) and in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Willcompleted his doctoral training in health science at Virginia Tech under the direction of Dr. Warren Bickel. Prior to joining the BRAVE lab, Will’s research focused on substance use disorder recovery broadly, with an emphasis on investigating how pain affects multidimensional health outcomes in opioid use disorder. He is excited to work with Dr. Padula and her team in helping veterans suffering from substance use disorder, particularly in utilizing neuroimaging and neuromodulation to develop precision medicine approaches to understanding and treating alcohol use. In his spare time, Will enjoys martials arts, trading card games, traveling & eating, and spending time with friends and family.

Lab Manager

Eileen “Grace” Fischer, B.S.

Eileen “Grace” received her Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas.  She serves as the Clinical Coordinator and Admin Associate for the BRAVE Lab and  CoPsyNSleep Lab.   For the last 14 years, she has worked in the same position with the Exploratory Therapeutics Laboratory and with the Bipolar and Depression Research Program, also at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System/Stanford School of Medicine.   Grace has worked in the mental health field for many years focusing on persons with severe chronic mental illnesses and for the last 25 years worked specifically in the coordination of clinical research trials in mood disorders and PTSD.  Before moving to the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in September, 2008, Grace was the lead Clinical Research Coordinator of the Bipolar and Depression Research Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.  She has coauthored several papers on the treatment of Bipolar and Major Depression Disorders with Dr. Trisha Suppes and her team.

Research Coordinators

Samantha Ward, B.S.

Samantha “Sam” Ward is a Clinical and Neuroimaging Research Coordinator for the BRAVE lab. She received her B.S. in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in Women and Gender Studies from Virginia Tech in 2022. While there, she enjoyed the spectrum of curricula she received that spanned from the neuroscience of drug addiction to the sociology of race, gender, age, and sexuality, which formed her research interests. After graduating, she worked at the Addiction Recovery Research Center under Warren Bickel on a range of neuroscience studies that focused on substance use disorder(s) and behavioral economics. She became the study coordinator for the multi-site study the Experimental Tobacco Marketplace, which looked at tax proposals and their effect on decision making around purchases of tobacco products. With her background in neuroscience and passion for translational research, she aims to contribute to studies that improve patient outcomes and inform evidence-based practices with the BRAVE lab. In the future, she would like to pursue her Ph.D. and continue to explore the interplay between neuroscience, sociology, and drugs. Outside of research, Sam enjoys weightlifting, trying new food in the Bay Area, and snuggling with her fluffy cat Cashew! 

Archita Tharanipathy, B.S.

Archita is a Clinical and Neuroimaging Research Coordinator for the INDICAS Study. Archita received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a minor in Applied Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2022. During her time at UCSB, Archita researched the white matter tracts in the brain used for spatial navigation. She additionally worked to develop a bionic eye implant for those who lose their vision later in life. Finally, she mentored students with autism and ADHD to improve their daily functioning and success. Archita's research interests lie within the intersection of neuroscience, the idea of self, neurodivergence, community, and gender and sexuality. She hopes to further explore the relationships between these after pursuing a Ph.D. in the upcoming years. Archita also has a tuxedo cat named Sourdough that she adopted in the middle of the pandemic! 

Ariel Grayson, B.A. 

Ariel Grayson graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Education in 2020. After graduating, she worked as the Psych One course administrator at Stanford and as a research assistant in the Stanford Culture and Emotion Lab, studying the relationship between ideal affect, romantic ideals, and relationship satisfaction cross culturally. Ariel hopes to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology and continue studying substance use disorders in the future. In particular, she is interested in researching the relationship between learning and substance use from a biopsychosocial framework with the hopes of advancing our current understanding of substance use disorder and its treatment. Outside of research, Ariel enjoys listening to music, spoiling her cat, and exploring the Bay Area. 

Donovan Edward, B.S.

Donovan Edward (All Pronouns) is in the Doctor of Clinical Psychology Program, Psy.D., at Georgia Southern University. Their clinical and research interests are in queer communities. Specifically, treatment preferences for sexual and gender minority clients, barriers to treatment, and trauma and minority stress in LGBTQIA+ communities. In their free time they enjoy reading, with their favorite book being The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.


Jairelisse Morales, B.S.

Jairelisse received her B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao. Prior to joining the Padula BRAVE Lab, Jairelisse researched the impact of prenatal maternal stress onto the mental health of the baby, as well as its epigenetic and microbial profiles. Meanwhile, she also conducted personal research to further our understanding of the impact of ammonium production from salivary bacteria on cardiometabolic diseases and oral health. She is interested in using translational science with TMS therapies to develop more effective treatments to improve the neurological circuits affected by alcohol use disorder (AUD), to allieviate addiction cravings, and to prevent relapse. Jaireliesse plans to pursure either an MD or PhD in the upcoming future. Jairelisse's further projections include educating Puerto Rican communites on AUD and creating accessible treatments and therapies for them. Jairelisse have 4 babies (dogs) and a bunny. 

Mia Gonzalez, B.S. 

Mia Gonzalez is a Clinical Research Assistant for both the BRAVE and NEAT labs. She recently graduated from San Jose State University with a B.S. in Justice Studies/Criminology and a minor in Psychology. Mia is most interested in the study of human behavior, specifically researching the psychological factors that contribute to criminal actions and understanding the impact of trauma on individuals and communities. Mia previously worked at the Elmwood Correctional Facility, where she was able to provide incarcerated individuals with adequate counseling, academic and life skills, and career exploration. Overall, she hopes to apply learned psychological principles in assessing, diagnosing, and providing expert testimony on matters related to criminal behavior and mental health. In her free time, Mia enjoys taking her dog Tater Tot on hikes and to the beach.

Practicum Students

Lexie Thomas, M.A., LMFT  

Lexie is pursuing a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on neuropsychological assessment at the Wright Institute. Prior to joining the lab, Lexie provided treatment at the intersection of trauma, addiction, and mental health with historically vulnerable and underserved communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. She aspires to provide culturally proficient neuropsychological services in both clinical and forensic practice to the adult and older adult populations. She is particularly interested in multicultural neuropsychology, non-pharmacological interventions for neuropsychiatric symptoms, and legal issues related to the aging brain and brain injury.

Francesca Weijerman, M.S. 

Francesca is a graduate student in Neurobiology from the University of Amsterdam. She received her BSc in Human Movement Sciences from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands and subsequently decided to pursue a master's degree in Brain and Cognition at the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, which further sparked her interest in Neuroscience. During her education, she studied the relationship between dementia and motor performance. She has analyzed new biomarkers in fMRI data of stroke patients. In addition, she worked with neuromelanin MRI sequences and Parkinson's patients investigating how useful the NMMRI sequence is in a clinical setting. She is particularly interested in clinical neuropsychology and how to improve the different treatments for neurological disorders. Outside of research, Francesca loves going to concerts, being outside (in good weather), and getting coffee or drinks with friends.

Research Consultant

Lea-Tereza Tenekedjieva, B.S.

Lea was the Research Lab Manager and research coordinator at the BRAVE lab for three years (2020-23), where she managed projects aiming to identify novel brain-based targets for treatment of alcohol use disorder. Prior to that, she received a B.S. in Human Biology with a concentration in Brain Science and Psychopathology from Stanford University. Lea is particularly interested in the interplay between trauma, substance use, and affective disorders and their underlying neural mechanisms. Lea’s ultimate goal is to contribute to precision psychiatry efforts and inform novel brain-based treatments and policies for individuals with trauma and substance use disorders. Lea is now a PhD student in Clinical Psychology at Oregon Health Science University, where she uses developmental neuroimaging to understand how traumatic stress impacts the development of addiction and transdiagnostic psychopathology throughout the lifespan. Lea is currently part-time consulting with the BRAVE lab, primarily on management and implementation of deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) projects. 

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Danielle Cabrera

Danielle (she/her) is a sophomore at Stanford University on the Pre-Med track pursuing a B.S. in Human Biology with a concentration in Genetics, Bioethics, and Disability Studies. She also plans to minor in either Music or Theatre and Performance Studies. Her research interests include clinical neuroscience and the genetic bases of psychiatric disorders. In her free time, Danielle likes to sing, crochet, and get matcha lattes with her friends.

Nageena Singh

Nageena Singh is an undergraduate student at Stanford University. Her major is currently undeclared, but she is leaning towards majoring in psychology under the neuroscience path. With the BRAVE lab, she hopes to learn a lot more about this field and hopes to find her passion within neuroscience. 


Andrea Goldstein-Piekarski, Ph.D.

Dr. Goldstein-Piekarski currently directs the Computational Psychiatry, Neuroscience, and Sleep Laboratory (CoPsyN Sleep Lab) as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and as a PI within the Sierra-Pacific Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) at the Palo Alto VA. Dr. Goldstein-Piekarski’s research program aims to harness findings from trans-disciplinary clinical research that leverage her unique background in human brain imaging, computational methods, clinical psychology, and sleep research to improve the way we diagnosis and treat psychiatric disorders. The themes of her work include (a) examining the role of sleep physiology in the development, maintenance, and treatment of psychopathology across the life span, (b) identifying transdiagnostic subtypes of dysfunction that are linked to brain function, and (c) identifying objective biomarkers that predict general and medication-specific responses to pharmacological and psychosocial treatments for insomnia, anxiety, and depression. She currently is the acting PI of two ongoing clinical trials investigating moderators and mediators of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia.

Michelle Madore, Ph.D.

Dr. Madore works as a Clinical Neuropsychologist at VA Palo Alto Healthcare System (VAPAHCS) in the Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC).  She serves as the Director of the National Clinical Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Program whose mission is to: (1) increase the availability of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for treatment-resistant depression in Veterans and (2) gain a greater understanding of the treatment efficacy of TMS in our complex Veteran population. She is also the Co-Director of the Sierra Pacific MIRECC Advanced Fellowship at VAPAHCS. Dr. Madore is the site PI on two multi-site funded studies looking at neuroimaging biomarkers of treatment response to TMS in treatment-resistant depression. Dr. Madore is also a Clinical Assistant Professor (Affiliated) at Stanford University School of Medicine’s Department in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Margaret Windy McNerney, Ph.D. 

Dr. McNerney is a Research Health Specialist in the MIRECC the VA Palo Alto, and a Clinical Assistant Professor (Affiliated) at Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford School of Medicine. She earned her PhD from the University of Notre Dame. She is primarily interested in the neurophysiology and biochemistry of brain and mental health diseases, especially degenerative diseases, depression, TBI, PTSD, and addiction. Also, she is collaborating with researchers to integrate brain imaging and biochemical markers in hopes to better understand these diseases. She is also taking a lead role in investigating the biochemistry of magnetic brain stimulation. Dr. McNerney is currently teaching at Stanford as Associate Professor (Affiliated).

Brian Knutson, Ph.D. 

Brian Knutson is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Stanford University. His research focuses on the neural basis of emotional experience and expression. He investigates the topic with a number of methods including self-report, measurement of nonverbal behavior, comparative ethology, psychopharmacology, and neuroimaging. His long-term goal is to understand the neurochemical and neuroanatomical mechanisms responsible for emotional experience, and to explore the implications of these findings for the assessment and treatment of clinical disorders as well as for economic behavior. He received BAs in experimental psychology and comparative religion from Trinity University, a PhD in experimental psychology from Stanford University, and has conducted postdoctoral research in affective neuroscience at UC-San Francisco and at the National Institutes of Health. He is a fellow of the Academy for Behavioral Medicine Research and the Association for Psychological Science, and his research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and numerous private foundations

Timothy C. Durazzo, Ph.D.

Timothy C. Durazzo, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and a Research Scientist at the Veterans Affairs Health Care Administration, Palo Alto Divison. Dr. Durazzo obtained his BA in Psychology from San Diego State University in 1988, and he received his PhD in Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma in 1996. Dr. Durazzo completed a one-year internship in Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology from the Palo Alto VA Medical Center, California in 1996, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology and Neuroscience from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, Washington in 1998.


Leanne M. Williams, Ph.D.

Dr. Williams directs the PanLab for Precision Psychiatry and Translational Neuroscience. She has developed a new way to understand and treat mental disorders, anchored in a neuroscience-informed model for precision mental health. She integrates brain imaging, genetics, wearables and clinical information in the context of each person’s life experience. This model guides more precise diagnoses and treatment choices, and is being translated from lab to real-world settings. Her experience is that a neuroscience-informed model empowers each person with an understanding of their own brain function and can reduce barriers to equity. 


Lab Babies


Daniella was the first lab baby, introduced in 2016. She often requests lab visits because of the high likelihood she will obtain a treat during said visit. She enjoyed drawing in mom’s outdated textbooks and snuggling with stuffed “mommy neuron and baby neuron.” She is currently pursing her pronunciation of neuroanatomical regions per the PIs request.


The youngest member for the BRAVE lab, Darrien enjoys sitting on the PIs couch mostly. He is content to play on the floor with above mentioned neurons but prefers to interact with all research personnel on the 4th floor. His main focus is on his own basic neurodevelopment at this time.

Lab Alumni

Nathanael Cadicamo

Nate is a current undergraduate student at Stanford University. He is studying to receive a B.S. in Symbolic Systems––Stanford's equivalent to cognitive science––with a possible concentration in neuroscience or animal cognition. His research interests include language and meaning, theoretical models of mind, cross-species intelligence, sleep and dream neuroscience, and the intersection of contemplative practice with modern psychology. Nate likes to practice Zen and is also deeply fascinated by Orcas.

Rachel Hughes, M.S.

Rachel received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from California State University, Stanislaus, and her Master's of Science in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Neuropsychology at Palo Alto University. Her clinical experience includes providing individual therapy in a community mental health setting, as well as conducting neuropsychological and psychodiagnostic evaluations in a medical setting and substance use rehabilitation setting. Rachel is a practicum student in the BRAVE lab who assists with co-facilitating a psychoeducational group, along with providing feedback sessions and cognitive remediation therapy. She is interested in understanding the impact of neurocognitive functioning on treatment outcomes.

M. Kaur, B.S.

M. Kaur received a B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Davis. M. previously worked in a mental health clinic to study the efficacy of group therapy and medication management in treating comorbid psychiatric illnesses. They are interested in gaining translational neuroscience research experience in the hopes of using these skills to facilitate effective treatment outcomes for various mental illnesses. They are especially interested in studying the effects of trauma on the brain and the implications in recovery from PTSD and substance use disorders. M. plans to pursue either an MD/PhD or a PhD in neuroscience and continue their work in mental health advocacy. They also love cats and are the proud parent of two grey tabbies, Laila and Joon. 

Linh-Chi Nguyen, B.S.

Linh-Chi received a B.S. in Cognitive Science with a concentration in Neuroscience from the University of California, Davis in 2016. Linh-Chi previously worked in a neuropsychiatric clinic, where she worked with adults and children with various psychiatric conditions. In the near future, Linh-Chi hopes to pursue graduate study in the field of cognitive neuroscience.

Candice Dwyer, M.A. 

Candice received her M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University, where she specialized in Spirituality and Mind-Body Practices.  Prior to joining the lab, Candice gained research experience in the areas of addiction, trauma, emotion regulation and coping, cognitive neuroscience, women’s health, and mindfulness. Candice hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in neuropsychology. She is broadly interested in examining the neural correlates of long-term recovery from substance use disorders. Outside of the lab she can undoubtedly be found with her beloved chocolate lab, Harley. In the fall of 2020, Candice will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Virginia Tech.

Andrew Rauch, B.S. 

Andrew received his B.S. in management science and psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology from the University of California, San Diego in 2016. Prior to joining the lab, Andrew worked in clinical aging research at UCSD, and specialized in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease research. Andrew will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Loyola University Chicago beginning in the fall of 2019.

Roshni Lulla, B.S.

Roshni is an NYU graduate who majored in Neuroscience with a Pre-Medical Concentration and graduated one year early. She was a Clinical Research Coordinator for the BRAVE Study. Roshni is hoping to pursue either a PhD or MD/PhD in the future, and would love to understand how emotion affects complex decision-making processes in the brain, such as moral dilemmas.

Kate Maslowski, M.S.

Kate received a Bachelor of Science degree in Oceanography from the United States Naval Academy. Following 8 years as a Surface Warfare Officer in the United States Navy, Kate resigned her active duty commission to pursue a career in clinical psychology. After leaving active duty, Kate received her M.A. in Psychology from Pepperdine University. Currently, she is conducting her internship at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven, CT with an affiliation at Yale University. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology with an emphasis on Neuropsychology at Palo Alto University. Kate was a practicum student in the lab who performed cognitive screens for participants with mild cognitive impairments as well as providing cognitive remediation for residential patients using psychotherapy techniques such as CBT. Additionally, Kate is currently a LCDR in the Navy Reserves.

Beate Davis, M.S.

Beate received her Bachelor of Arts from Le Moyne College in Psychology, along with a Dean's Scholarship, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with emphasis on Neuropsychology at Palo Alto University. She has experience as a therapist through the Gronowski Center and previously worked at UCSF as a Research Assistant. She was a practicum student in the BRAVE Lab who assisted with cognitive remediation therapy and focused on traumatic brain injuries along with different types of drinking (relief/reward).

Haley Cook, M.S.

Haley received her Bachelor of Arts from Texas State University in Psychology and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with emphases on Neuropsychology and LGBT at Palo Alto University. She has experience as a therapist through the Gronowski Center and previously worked at a Living Community as an intern. She was a practicum student in the BRAVE Lab who assisted with Feedback reports, clinical evaluations, and medical chart reviews.

Alicia Vanden-Bussche, Ph.D.

Alicia received her Bachelor's from Michigan State University in psychology and recently earned her doctoral degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in neuropsychology from Palo Alto University. She was the very first member of the BRAVE Lab, and was a pivotal component of the pilot study. She has experience through the Gronowski Center, UCSF, and Santa Rosa Kaiser. Her profession interests include the impact of PTSD symptomatology on neurocognitive functioning.