NeuroPsychometric Research Lab

NPR Lab Members


Lab Managers


Rachael Romero

Rachael Romero

Rachael is an undergraduate pre-med student at UT Dallas studying neuroscience She is most interested in how disease-related structural changes in the brain result in loss of function and behavioral symptoms. She currently assists with the lab’s Multiple Sclerosis and aging projects. After receiving her bachelor’s, Rachael plans to attend medical school and continue her studies in neuroscience and neurology.

Lab Manager
Center for BrainHealth
UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Office: CBH 2.218
Email: [email protected]

Research Scientists


Joanna L. Hutchison

Joanna L. Hutchison, PhD

Center for BrainHealth
UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Department of Psychiatry, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Phone: 972-883-3258
Email: [email protected]

Joanna is currently working as a postdoctoral research fellow with Dr. Bart Rypma at the Center for BrainHealth and the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas and at the department of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Research Interests: Cognition and circumstances that affect cognition, such as aging, traumatic brain injury, and psychiatric illness (e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression); auditory processing; fMRI.


Binu Thomas

Binu Thomas, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Center for BrainHealth
Advanced Imaging Research Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Email: [email protected]

Binu received his PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington jointly with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in August 2014. He is currently working as senior research scientist at the Advanced Imaging Research Center at UT Southwestern and as a postdoctoral research fellow with Dr. Bart Rypma at the Center for BrainHealth.

Dr. Thomas has more than 15 years of research experience in neuroimaging, MRI data acquisition, analysis and interpretation. He is interested in studying brain function using MRI based methods to measure perfusion, cerebrovascular reactivity, and cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen consumption in young, and aging volunteers, and in diseases like Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. He has published more than 15 peer-reviewed journal publications, including papers in NeuroImage, J. Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, and JMRI, and has published over 40 conference abstracts.

Research Interests: brain function in young, aging, Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s disease; effects of exercise on brain function, functional MRI, cerebrovascular physiology, perfusion MRI.


Kathryn West

Kathryn West, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Center for BrainHealth
UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Office: CBH 2.418
Email: [email protected]

Kathryn received her PhD in biomedical engineering from Vanderbilt University in December 2016. She joined the NPR Lab in 2017 and is currently working as a postdoctoral research fellow with Dr. Bart Rypma at the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas. She is interested in understanding how non-invasive MRI metrics can better inform us about physiological changes during aging and disease. Specifically, she is currently studying how structural and functional brain changes result in a cognitive decline in Multiple Sclerosis.

Research Interests: Neuroimaging, cognition, neurodegeneration, myelin imaging.


PhD Students


Dema Abdelkarim

Dema Abdelkarim, BS

Doctoral Student
UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Email: [email protected]

Dema joined the lab as an undergraduate research intern to assist with the aging and MS projects and received a BS in neuroscience from UT Dallas in 2016. She is currently a graduate student in the cognition and neuroscience program and is primarily interested in using neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI to better understand how neural, glial, and vascular health can affect cognition.

Research interests: cerebral hemodynamics, cognition, aging, neuropathology, neuroimaging.


Lyndahl Himes

Lyndahl Himes, MS

Doctoral Student
UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Email: [email protected]

Lyndahl is a doctoral student in the cognition and neuroscience PhD program. She graduated with her master of science in applied cognition and neuroscience and bachelor of science in neuroscience at UT Dallas, where she graduated with High Honors. Lyndahl is currently working on understanding the neural relationship between mindfulness training and depressed mood by looking at structural and functional brain changes that occur as a result of mindfulness training. Lyndahl is also interested in functional brain network differences between individuals diagnosed with major depressive disorder and healthy individuals and how these network differences are related to behavioral differences.

Research Interests: Mindfulness, emotion regulation, depression, fMRI.


Gayathri Batchalli Maruthy

Gayathri Batchalli Maruthy, MS

Doctoral Student
UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Email: [email protected]

Gayathri graduated with a master’s degree in applied cognition and neuroscience program from UT Dallas in May 2017. She is currently a graduate student at the Neuropsychometric lab assisting with the Multiple Sclerosis and Mindfulness projects. With a background in Ayurveda (an alternative system of medicine practiced in India), she is interested in understanding the mechanisms involved in meditation by using neuroimaging techniques and looking at its effects on neurological disorders. Her extra-curricular interests include Indian classical music and practice of yoga.


Dinesh Keran Sivakolundu

Dinesh Keran Sivakolundu, MD

Doctoral Student
Center for BrainHealth
Department of Biological Sciences, UT Dallas
Office: CBH 2.414
Email: [email protected]

Dinesh joined the NPR Lab in 2016 as a doctoral student in cell and molecular biology at UT Dallas. He completed his medical degree from Govt. Kilpauk Medical College, Chennai in India. He is interested in understanding the pathophysiological basis of various autoimmune and degenerative neurological disorders and how it contributes to the disease progression. “The biggest challenge in clinical research is to translate basic medical research findings and vice versa. They don’t work the majority of the time,” says Dinesh. He aims to solve the problem by employing various non-invasive techniques like fMRI to study the physiological basis of the disease process directly in patients. In particular, he is now interested in determining how cognitive dysfunction occurs in multiple sclerosis.

He enjoys teaching and is a teaching assistant for human anatomy and physiology. His hobbies include playing table-tennis and piano.

Research Interests: Autoimmune neurology, neurodegeneration, neurometabolism, neuroimaging, cognition.


Monroe Turner

Monroe Turner, BA

Doctoral Candidate
Center for BrainHealth
UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Office: CBH 2.302 and GR 2.706
Email: [email protected]

Monroe is a PhD candidate in cognition and neuroscience and a teaching assistant at UT Dallas. He is currently the most senior doctoral student in the NPR Lab, having successfully defended his dissertation proposal on April 15, 2019. Prior to coming to UT Dallas, Monroe received his bachelor of arts degree in linguistics from The University of Texas at Austin. While at UT Austin, his research focused on the developmental and comparative linguistics of signed languages. His work focuses on analysis of the hemodynamic response function, the temporal signature of brain blood-flow changes, and he is currently engaged in projects investigating separate physiological components of the BOLD signal in aging adults. Monroe hopes to further refine existing metrics used to characterize the hemodynamic response function in healthy controls and Multiple Sclerosis patients and to develop new metrics in search of better predictors of brain health.

Research Interests: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging methodology, variability of the hemodynamic response function, relationships between aging and cognition, effects of neurodegenerative diseases on cognition.


Yuguang 'Irene' Zhao

Yuguang ‘Irene’ Zhao, MS

Doctoral Student
UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Email: [email protected]

Irene is a PhD student in cognition and neuroscience. She earned a bachelor’s degree in finance at Shandong University of Finance and Economics, and a master’s degree in applied cognition and neuroscience at The University of Texas at Dallas. She aims to use imaging techniques such as fMRI and EEG as well as advanced statistical methods to investigate the neuroscience of human cognition. She is also interested in how aging and neurodegenerative diseases affect brain function and cognition.

Research Interests: The neuroscience of human information processing, especially the interaction between online goal processing, the representation of information, and the fate of information.


Mark Zuppichini

Mark Zuppichini, MA

Doctoral Student
Center for BrainHealth
UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Email: [email protected]

Mark Zuppichini received his BS in neuroscience from the University of Delaware, his master of arts in psychology from Montclair State University, and is currently a PhD student in cognition and neuroscience at UT Dallas. Mark is interested in using neuroimaging techniques to elucidate the neural underpinnings associated with healthy and impaired cognitive functioning; his master’s thesis was one of the first studies to use neuroimaging techniques to assess pattern separation abilities in multiple sclerosis.

Research Interests: Neuroimaging, cognition, learning & memory, neuropathology.


Undergraduate and Post-Baccalaureate Students


Rahma Ahmed

Rahma Ahmed

Rahma is a junior at UTD studying neuroscience. She is interested in autoimmune disorders- especially the cognitive changes that come with them and their underlying causes. She currently assists with the lab’s Multiple Sclerosis project. After graduating this December, she plans to get her masters in healthcare management and then pursue her PhD in neuroscience.


Rahul Anand

Rahul Anand

Rahul Anand is an incoming sophomore neuroscience major at The University of Texas at Dallas, and a member of the Collegium V Honors Program. He started research in his 10th-grade year in high school, where he began with the construction of artificial vascular structures for transplantations. Subsequently, he independently worked on an in vitro diagnostic test for Multiple Sclerosis by understanding the C-Peptide binding feature. Upon matriculation into The University of Texas at Dallas, Rahul joined Dr. Schmidtke’s lab as a Clark Research Scholar and designed a means of understanding how cells behave under pulsatile conditions. Following this experience, Rahul joined Dr. Romero’s lab to understand how immunostaining is performed, learned various imaging techniques, and assisted in 2 Vagus Nerve Surgeries. As part of the NPR lab, Rahul hopes to build on his understanding of Multiple Sclerosis to ultimately pursue an MD/PhD and become a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist specializing in neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis. In his free time, Rahul enjoys helping out his local and global community through his non-profit GlobeIntern, playing the violin, & serving as a martial arts assistant instructor.


Marjorie Balaguer

Marjorie Balaguer

Marjorie Balaguer is an undergraduate pre-medical student majoring in neuroscience at The University of Texas at Dallas. After spending three years in pursuit of a business degree, and six years in the field of marketing, Marjorie realized that advertising could not fulfill her inherent desire to continuously learn and grow as an individual. More importantly, however, she recognized that her life need not be focused on solely her own education and development but on others’ as well. As an EMT and volunteer in numerous hospitals across the country, the experiences of suffering, loss, joy, and gratitude further solidified that this was the path to where she wanted to be all along. Today, Marjorie has interest in neuropsychometric research because she believes that there is nothing more interesting than studying the magnificent machines that we all are.


Fernanda Cossio

Fernanda Cossio

Fernanda is a senior undergraduate majoring in psychology and minoring in neuroscience. Her interests include healthy structural age-related changes in the brain as well as those brought on by neurodegenerative diseases and TBIs and how those changes manifest functionally and behaviorally. After graduating with her bachelor’s, Fernanda plans to move on to her master’s and PhD with the ultimate goal of becoming a neuropsychologist to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of various brain injuries and diseases.


Lindsey Cox

Lindsey Cox

Lindsey is a junior undergraduate student majoring in psychology and minoring in criminology. Lindsey plans to continue her education by earning her masters, as well as her PhD, to one day collect and analyze data pertaining to mental illnesses and criminal activity. She is also very interested in dissociative identity disorder (DID) since the diagnosis is so controversial and research is underfunded for that reason. She hopes that working in Dr. Rypma’s lab will equip her with the knowledge and experience necessary to work towards her goals in her own research. In her free time, she organizes philanthropy events for her sorority, Delta Delta Delta that benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.


Leigh Dubcak

Leigh Dubcak

Leigh Dubcak is a senior undergraduate at The University of Texas at Dallas studying neuroscience and biochemistry. Her central focus is the integration and combination of various neuroimaging methods such as magnetic resonance for clinical populations of various ages in the hopes to better understand the roles of neurodegenerative disorders and to provide insight to their prevention and treatment.


Miranda Dunn

Miranda Dunn

Miranda is a senior undergraduate neuroscience and psychology major. She’s currently in the fast track program and hopes to eventually get her master’s and PhD Her goal is to study neurodegenerative diseases such as MS and Alzheimer’s and potentially contribute to future treatments/cures. She is a member of the Chi Alpha Iota diaternity and has many hobbies, such as playing the violin and acting. This is her first internship at a lab, and she’s very glad to have this opportunity.


Yasaman Hooshmandi

Yasaman Hooshmandi

Yasaman is an undergraduate pre-med student at The University of Texas at Dallas studying neuroscience. She currently assists with lab Multiple Sclerosis and Aging project at UTD. She is highly interested in research about stroke and imaging diagnosis of acute stroke. She is currently working at Neuro/spine floor at Texas Health hospital to see different types of neurological issues closely and to understand how the brain deals with neurological deficits. After she is receiving her bachelor’s degree, she plans to become a MD-PhD by getting her medical degree in neurology and PhD in cognitive neuroscience. She has a black belt of Taekwondo and she is preparing for international competitions and championships. She enjoys classical music and plays guitar in her free time.


Hong Nguyen

Hong Nguyen

Hong is a senior on the premed track majoring in biology and minoring in business administration. She is interested in doing research with the working memory and to see if it has any connections with athletic performance. Her goal is to make a change in the sports medicine field through the research she conducts. She hopes that this lab could give her the foundation that she needs in order for her to start on her own research. Outside of the lab, she is part of Alpha Gamma Delta and serves as Vice President of Public Relations for the College Panhellenic Council. Along with that, she is a member of Doctors Without Borders and Club Volleyball. During her free time, she enjoys to cook and workout.


Iman Popal

Iman Popal

Iman is a junior undergraduate neuroscience major with growing interests in neuroimaging, neural plasticity, and cognitive neuroscience. She is especially fascinated by the principles that underly structural and functional imaging tools in order to understand how human brain networks transform throughout adulthood. Iman joined Dr. Rypma’s lab in hopes of learning more about the effects of neurocognitive aging and working-memory over time, and the methods used to obtain this information. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Iman plans on using the knowledge and experience she’s gained during her academia to a career in the medical field.


Bar Forte Reznik

Bar Forte Reznik

Bar Forte Reznik is a sophomore majoring in biochemistry. As a pre-med student, Bar is interested in learning how the brain functions and how each structure controls human actions. She has always been interested in learning about cognitive development and MS research. Additionally, Bar hopes that by participating in the NPR lab she can learn of ways to get closer to finding a cure to cognitive illnesses. After receiving her degree, she looks forward to attending medical school and studying different cognitive diseases. Currently, she is a Peer Advisor at UTD and mentors freshman students to have a better experience on campus.


Sheeva Jasmin Shahinfar

Sheeva Jasmin Shahinfar

Sheeva is a pre-med post-baccalaureate student at UT Dallas. She graduated with a bachelor of science & arts in biology at The University of Texas at Austin in 2017. During her time at UT Dallas, she has been increasingly involved in the neuroscience department, focusing particularly on neuroanatomy and neuropathology, while critically evaluating the underlying processes of neural disease. In her free time, she enjoys running, traveling, and spending time with friends & family.


Victoria Rose Sunderman

Victoria Rose Sunderman

Victoria is an undergraduate neuroscience major with a psychology minor. She has been interested in both neurodegenerative diseases and research since a young age and hopes to study the functional and physiological changes that accompany such diseases. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she plans on pursuing a PhD and entering the field of research.


Shreya Vakil

Shreya Vakil

Shreya Vakil is an undergraduate neuroscience major. She is interested in learning about neurodegenerative diseases and neuroimaging techniques. Shreya is especially interested in understanding how these diseases impact cognitive functions. She currently assists with the lab’s Aging project. After getting her bachelor’s degree, she plans on attending medical school to continue her studies in neuroscience and neurology.