Research Team

The UCSF Research Team


Wendy Berry Mendes, PhD - Principal Investigator; Sarlo/Ekman Endowed Professor, Department of Psychiatry; Co-Director Stress Measurement Network

Dr. Mendes’ research focuses on how emotion and stress are manifested in brain and body responses using a variety of physiologic methods.  


Amie Gordon, PhD - Research Scientist

Dr. Gordon’s research draws upon social, personality, and health psychology to investigate the processes that influence interpersonal relationships and well-being. She is particularly interested in how these processes play out in daily life.


Aric Prather, PhD - Assistant Professor; Associate Director of the Stress Measurement Network

Dr. Prather’s research focuses on the inter-relationship between psychological stress and sleep as dynamic predictors of physical and mental health, utilizing epidemiologic, naturalistic, and laboratory based methods.


Elissa Epel, PhD - Professor; Director of the Aging, Metabolism, and Eating Lab; Co-Director Stress Network

Dr. Epel’s research aims to elucidate mechanisms of healthy aging, and to apply this basic science to scalable interventions that can reach vulnerable populations.


Alexandra Crosswell, PhD - Assistant Professor; Executive Director of the Stress Network

Dr. Crosswell studies the influence of stress across the lifespan on health outcomes in adulthood such as self-reported health, acute stress reactivity, and inflammation.


Lauren Whitehurst, PhD - Post-Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Lauren Whitehurst’s research interests broadly entail exploring processes during sleep that are important for health and cognitive function. Her research explores how autonomic and central nervous system factors interact to produce regulatory effects on sleep-dependent health and cognitive outcomes.


Katherine Ross - Lab Manager

Katherine manages laboratory operations, oversees research studies, and ensures that the laboratory is running smoothly. She is interested in how sleep and other physical health behaviors affect psychological and emotional processes. 


Sierra Semko - Project Director

Sierra oversees various studies in the laboratory and plays a key role in data collection and processing. She is interested in the embodiment of social experiences, such as racial discrimination, and the downstream effects on health and well-being.


Erin Nakahara - Study Coordinator

Erin manages subject recruitment. She is interested in the biological factors behind emotion, cognition, and behavior and how these mechanisms impact relationships as well as mental and physical health.