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University of Wisconsin–Madison


Josh Cisler, Ph.D
Principal Investigator

Dr. Josh Cisler received a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in 2010. His research at that time focused on emotional and cognitive mechanisms that mediate anxiety disorders. He completed a clinical internship at the Medical University of South Carolina through the National Crime Victim Research and Treatment Center, where his research focused on understanding risk factors for psychopathology following trauma, with a particular focus on assaultive events (e.g., physical and sexual assault). He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Brain Imaging Research Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where he received training in fMRI methodology and advanced computational approaches to imaging analysis. He was on the faculty of the Brain Imaging Research Center from 2012-2016, and recently joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2016. Most importantly, Josh is the proud owner of two golden retrievers.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Kevin Crombie, Ph.D
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Kevin Crombie received a doctorate in kinesiology with a specialization in exercise psychology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2019. His dissertation research primarily examined: 1) psychobiological responses to aerobic exercise and stress in adults with PTSD, and 2) the role of the endocannabinoid system in exercise-induced enhancement of fear extinction in rodent models. His current research is focused on: 1) examining whether aerobic exercise in conjunction with extinction training improves cognitive, physiological, and neural indices of extinction recall, and 2) determining whether exercise influences reinforcement learning in adult women with PTSD using computational modeling and neuroimaging approaches.

Jaryd Hiser, Ph.D
Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Jaryd Hiser received a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2020. He completed a clinical internship at the Anxiety Disorders Center at The Institute of Living in Hartford, CT. His dissertation research primarily examined psychological and neurobiological mechanisms of mood and anxiety disorders in order to facilitate individualization of treatment based on clinical presentation and/or biological markers. His current research is focused on using computational and network imaging approaches to better understand and refine treatments for PTSD, such as exposure therapy. He is also currently working toward clinical psychology licensure by seeing clients at the UW-Madison Psychology Research and Training Clinic. 

Graduate Students

Marisa Ross, M.P.A
PhD Candidate, Neuroscience and Public Policy Program


Marisa earned her Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Psychology from Duquesne University in 2016 and joined the Cisler lab as a graduate student in April 2017. She completed her Masters of Public Affairs in 2019 through UW-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs. Marisa’s thesis work focuses on characterizing novel functional network models of PTSD and early life trauma exposure in women. Marisa hopes to use her training in the Neuroscience and Public Policy Program to work at the intersection of science and policy and translate her research into evidence-based policy interventions to protect and improve mental health outcomes for vulnerable populations. Marisa recently received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the NIMH to complete her doctoral training. Curriculum Vitae

Shelby Weaver, M.S.
PhD Candidate, Department of Psychology, Individualized Graduate Major


Shelby is a third year IGM Student in the Department of Psychology. Shelby graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology and Psychology with a certificate in Criminal Justice. She is especially interested in studying the influence of trauma on psychopathology and criminal behavior in the prison population. Shelby is co-mentored by Dr. Michael Koenigs. Curriculum Vitae

Research Staff

Sierra Lee, B.S.
Research Specialist

Sierra earned her Bacherlor’s of Science in Psychology from UC San Diego with a minor in Law and Society. She was a research assistant in a developmental neuroscience lab and an ABA Therapist for children with autism before joining the Cisler Lab in 2019. Sierra is interested in PTSD in mothers and the effect of their trauma on their children. She would like to pursue a graduate degree in applied psychology.

Rachel Ahrenholtz, B.S.
Research Specialist

Rachel graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2018 as valedictorian with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Business Administration. She is interested in the prevention, treatment, and early detection of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military populations. Rachel hopes to earn her PhD in clinical psychology and one day help the military develop and study new ways to assess early signs of PTSD. 

Mickela Heilicher, B.A.
Research Specialist

Mickela earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from the University of Puget Sound with a minor in Neuroscience. She was a research assistant in Tor Wager’s cognitive neuroscience laboratory prior to joining the Cisler lab in October 2020. Mickela is interested in the neural correlates of psychopathy and trauma in violent offenders. She hopes to earn her PhD in Psychology/Cognitive Neuroscience in order to teach and conduct research at a University, as well as contribute to the emerging field of ‘neurolaw’.

Undergraduate Students

Delaney Dvorak

Delaney is a junior at UW Madison majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies and Molecular Biology. Her interests center on the impact of sexual trauma on overall women’s health, as well as the impact of intersectional identities on trauma responses. She hopes to earn her Master’s or PhD and work as a therapist after graduating.

Lab Alumni

Anneliis Sartin-tarm, B.A.
Anneliis was a Research Specialist in the NeuroTap Lab, and is currently a Clinical Psychology PhD Student in the WISH Lab at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Kyrie Sellnow, B.S.
Kyrie was a Research Specialist in the NeuroTap Lab, and is currently a Psychology PhD student in the Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

Ian Cogswell, B.S.
Ian was an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the NeuroTap Lab, and is currently a Bost-Bachelor Fellow at The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Megan Matalamaki, B.S.
Megan was a Research Specialist in the NeuroTap Lab. She is currently working as a Genetic Counseling Assistant with InformedDNA.

Olivia Putnam Olivia was a Summer Intern in the NeuroTap Lab.

Penda Smith Penda was an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the NeuroTap Lab.

Chloe Botsford Chloe was an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the NeuroTap Lab.

Honorary Lab Members:

Abby & Max