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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.

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 is interested in studying how trauma exposure in adolescence and early adulthood is related to changes in functional connectivity between brain regions and networks. She is particularly interested in exploring connections amongst trauma exposure, economic poverty, and long-term psychiatric and neurodevelopmental outcomes. 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.

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

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 started in the lab in January of 2017, and is continuing as a graduate student in the UW Psychology Individualized Graduate Major Program. She is especially interested in studying the influence of trauma on psychopathology and criminal behavior in the prison population.

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.

Megan Matalamaki, B.S.
Research Specialist

Megan graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2019, earning her Bachelor’s degree in genetics and psychology. She is interested in the biological markers of mental illness and their transmission across generations. With NeuroTaP, she is studying the effects of trauma on learning and decision-making. Megan hopes to pursue a graduate degree in genetic counseling.

Undergraduate Students

Chloe Botsford

Chloe is currently a senior at UW-Madison majoring in Neurobiology. She is fascinated by neurofeedback mechanisms that regulate brain and behavioral responses. Chloe plans to attend medical school to earn her M.D. after her undergraduate career.

Delaney Dvorak

Delaney Dvorak is currently a sophomore at UW-Madison majoring in Molecular Biology with a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies. Her interests center on the impact of trauma, especially sexual trauma, on overall women’s health. She hopes to attend medical school after graduating with her bachelors degree and is considering becoming an OB-GYN or a psychiatrist.

Penda Smith

Penda Smith is a senior First Wave Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison double majoring in Neurobiology and Afro-American studies. Her passions lie at the intersection spoken word poetry, social justice, and science. Penda aspires to pursue a masters of public health and attend medical school to become a cultural psychiatrist that specializes in OB/GYN and a leader in addressing health inequities that disparately affects communities of color.

Hermione Wang

Hermione is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in psychology. She is interested in how psychological diseases can lead to brain structure alternation and how psychology can play a role in game development. She plans to pursue a PhD in social psychology or cognitive psychology to later work in the field of game development.

Summer interns

Olivia Putnam

Olivia is Freshman at Northwestern University who spends her summers working at the NeuroTap lab. She plans to major in Neuroscience and is particularly interested in the way early-life trauma influences brain functioning. Additionally, she would like to understand how shame surrounding traumatic experiences impacts psychopathology following trauma.

Lab Alumni

Anneliis Sartin-tarm, B.A.

Anneliis earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a certificate in German at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017. She is interested in biochemical, genetic, and psychosocial risk factors for psychopathology following traumatic experiences. She hopes to eventually earn her PhD in clinical psychology and conduct research investigating novel medication-assisted therapies for anxiety disorders.

Kyrie Sellnow

Kyrie is a recent graduate from UW-Madison in neurobiology and psychology, and also is a graduate of the Biocore Honors Program. She is interested in the underlying causes of mental illness, specifically how trauma exposure can shape the development of psychopathology. Within the scope of NeuroTaP, she is interested in understanding the biological markers of PTSD and how trauma can have long-lasting effects across generations. Additionally, she would like to understand how early life adversity can contribute to suicidality. Kyrie hopes to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology.

Ian Cogswell

Ian Cogswell is currently a senior majoring in Psychology and Biology at UW-Madison. His interests include treatment of anxiety and mood disorders as well as mathematical modeling of human behavior. After completing his B.S., he hopes to attend medical school to earn his M.D. or M.D./Ph.D. and specialize in Infectious Disease or Emergency Medicine.

Honorary Lab Members:

Abby and Taylor Cisler

Abby is 3 years old, very energetic and loves everything.
Taylor is 11 years old, very intelligent and loves meeting new people.