Grad Students

Pamela Acero

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Pamela earned a B.S in Biology and a minor in Psychology at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. Throughout her undergraduate career, she served as a Resident Advisor and pursued her passion for service as Community Service Chair and later Vice President of her Service and Leadership Sorority, a leader/site captain for GWU FDoS, a mentor at local public and charter schools, and through service trips to Detroit and Baltimore. She assisted with research in the Applied Social Psychology Lab at GW in health behaviors surrounding obesity and weight status including diet, physical activity, and sleep.

Currently, she is pursuing her Master's in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences. Her interests are in stress, sleep, and the social/biobehavioral determinants of health. In the lab, she works with Jonah, Lianne, Zixi, and Patrick examining the differential effects of FA and OM on sleep in individuals on anti-depressants and is also independently exploring the effects of stress on PSG sleep in depressed and non-depressed individuals. Outside of the lab, she is examining the longitudinal association of lifecourse neighborhood access to green space with stress. In her spare time, she enjoys running/working out, reading, and photography.

Research Assistants:

 Jonah Lipsky


Jonah Lipsky received his BA in Psychology and Drama from Bennington College in 2013. He joined the lab in the fall of 2013 and has been working in the lab in multiple different capacities since then. In the fall of 2014, he became the lab manager, a position which he continues to hold. He has worked on the Dismantling Mindfulness clinical trial as well as the SOBC systematic review and meta-analysis project, which the lab is conducting along with researchers at several other institutions. He practices Vipassana meditation in the tradition of S.N. Goenka. 

Brendan Cullen

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Brendan joined the Clinical and Affective Neuroscience Lab in 2015 after completing his B.A. in neuroscience at Middlebury College, where his research focused on the relationship between meditation experience and narrative sense of self using EEG methods. Brendan primarily served as data manager for the lab, coordinating analyses related to the “Dismantling Mindfulness” study. His main projects have included (1) comparing differential clinical trajectories of 8-week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Focused Attention and Open Monitoring interventions; (2) assessing the mediating and moderating roles of social relationship factors with respect to changes in depression, affect, and well-being during mindfulness-based interventions;  (3) exploring the effects of mindfulness training upon EEG and behavioral measures of self-referential processing and (4) analyzing the impact of teacher competence on clinical outcomes in school-based mindfulness interventions. Brendan has absolutely loved his  experience in the Britton Lab and is forever grateful for all he has learned from this amazing community of people. Beginning fall 2017, he will pursue a PhD in psychology at the University of Oregon, where he will explore translational neuroscience methods for studying neural mechanisms and individual differences related to self-regulation and behavior change.

Travis Dumais


Travis received a B.A. and M.A. in Psychology from Rhode Island College. As a master’s student, he explored the differential effects of Focused Attention and Open Monitoring meditation on self-report sleep outcomes. The topic of his master’s thesis reflects his broader interest in how mindfulness interventions promote self-awareness and healthy living. To that end, Travis is assisting with data extraction for a systematic review/meta-analysis which aims to identify how mindfulness interventions promote self-regulation and medical regiment adherence. Travis is also an intern for a novel, 8-week mindfulness intervention (PI, Dr. Eric Loucks) designed to treat hypertension. As an undergrad, he spent his time researching the psychology of religious belief, moral decision making, and analogical thinking. In his free time, Travis enjoys improvising on the piano and guitar, reading, meditating, running, and writing stream of consciousness journal entries.

Lianne Cho


Lianne is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience (Honors) at Brown University. Since joining the Clinical and Affective Neuroscience lab, Lianne has contributed to multiple projects within the "Dismantling Mindfulness” study. Right now, she is focussing on the effect of mindfulness on sleep, as well as the EEG correlates of emotional processing and self-referential activity. As an aspiring physician-neuroscientist, she is interested in exploring the use of computational methods to better understand the brain and subsequently neurological and/or psychiatric disorders. In her spare time, Lianne likes to spend time with loved ones, make music, and keep up with current events.

Ana Alejandre-Lara

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Ana is working towards her B.A. in Contemplative Studies at Brown University in Providence, RI. She contributed to the Variety of Contemplative Experiences project by helping with audio transcriptions and the development of the influencing factors codebook. She also worked on data collection and analysis for the K23 study. Ana is finishing up her thesis, which uses data from the K23 study, to look at memory- and self-biases in subclinical populations. After graduation, Ana will be teaching Special Education in Southern Massachusetts as a Teach for America corps member. When not working in the lab or on school-work, Ana enjoys hiking, rollerblading, and playing ultimate frisbee. 

Aya Cheaito

Aya earned her B.S in Neuroscience and B.A. in Psychology from New York University in Manhattan. She worked as a Health Leader at NYU raising awareness on mental health on campus for three years and pursued her Honors thesis on the psycho-physiological reactions in inter-racial interactions in the social psychology department.  Aya also volunteered internationally at the neurology department at a hospital in Beirut and worked individually with children with difficulties in London. She worked with special needs teens at a high school in Newark developing psychological interventions and evaluations before moving to Brown. At the Clinical Affective Neuroscience lab, she focuses on how early sexual abuse moderates the response to clinical interventions and how trauma history can affect the nervous system and the brain.

Jessica Masur

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Jessie is a rising senior at Brown University studying Cognitive Neuroscience. She transferred to Brown in January of 2016, and joined the Clinical and Affective Neuroscience Lab in the Fall of 2016. Before joining the Clinical and Affective Neuroscience Lab, she was a research assistant in the Social Cognition Lab at the George Washington University exploring imitation and innovation in young children. In the Summer of 2016, Jessie received a LINK award from Brown University to intern in the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital where she did research on pharmacogenetic testing for psychotropic medication. Currently, she is working on several projects in the lab, including the investigation of trauma and heart rate variability as moderators of meditation outcomes. Her research interests include areas surrounding the mind-body connection, cultural neuroscience, social psychology, and development of or changes in sense of self.

Zixi Zhu

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Zixi (Jessica) is currently a first-year undergraduate student at Brown, potentially concentrating in cognitive science. In high school, through working with people on the autism spectrum and children with cerebral palsy, she discovered a passion for brain science and the study of mental health. In winter 2016, she worked as a research assistant at Social and Affective Neuro-Pharmacology (SANP) Lab at Beijing Normal University, participating in a research on oxytocin’s effects on stress-coping. She joined the Clinical Affective Neuroscience lab in February 2017 and is currently working on the Z-machine project, studying meditation’s effects on sleep. Outside of the lab, she plays table tennis for the Brown Table Tennis Team. She is interested in train trips, art, and cultural exchange. 

Fadwa Ahmed


Fadwa is an undergraduate student at Brown University, double concentrating in Cognitive Neuroscience and Comparative Literature. She is a volunteer at the Samaritans of Rhode Island and the President of the Students for Samaritans club at Brown, which works in coordination with the Samaritans towards suicide prevention, mental health awareness, and stigma erasure. In the Clinical Affective Neuroscience lab, which she has been a part of since her freshman year in 2015, Fadwa investigates how comorbid depression and anxiety affects response to mindfulness-based clinical intervention. Outside of school and lab, Fadwa enjoys acting, cuddling with her cats, eating eggplants, writing little poems, and participating in small dance parties.

Dorothy Yam


Dorothy is an undergraduate student at Brown University, pursuing a ScB in Neuroscience and expecting to graduate in 2019. Her research interests in neuroscience include aging, neurodegenerative disease (specifically Alzheimer's), neurodevelopment, and of course mindfulness and meditation. She joined the Clinical Affective Neuroscience lab as a freshman, with an interest in participating in the dialogues about mindfulness which she learned about in high school when looking into the philosophy and science of happiness. She is now looking into how age as a moderator may impact outcomes of clinical trials completed by the lab in the large-scale K23 study. She is also looking into heart rate variability data taken with an EKG, specifically to study polyvagal theory and its validity. Outside of academics, she is involved with homeless outreach work and advocacy, is a leader of a neuroscience educational outreach program called Brain Bee, volunteers at a nearby hospice, and also works as a peer academic advisor and introductory neuroscience teaching assistant. In her down time she enjoys talking to people about language and translations, playing badminton or squash, going on walks, and traveling whenever feasible. 

Gloria Essien


Gloria is currently an undergraduate at Brown University, class of 2017, concentrating in Contemplative Studies with a focus on cognitive neuroscience. As a prospective medical school student, she joined the lab in the summer of 2015 in hopes of directly exploring the effects of alternative medicine on mental health – in a more tangible way than she is able to do in a classroom setting. In the past summer, she worked under the direction of Dr. Judson Brewer, evaluating the role of mindfulness in eating behavior and addiction. Within the Clinical and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, Gloria has spent the majority of her time analyzing which active ingredients of the K23 study that have contributed to the success of the clinical interventions.

Beth Cosby

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Beth graduated from Brown University in 2017 with a Sc.B. in Neuroscience.  She wore many hats at the Clinical and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, coordinating recruitment and administering clinical interviews during the Dismantling Mindfulness trial.  Her senior thesis investigated childhood maltreatment as a moderator of MBCT treatment outcome and meditation-related adverse effects, especially trauma-related symptoms including hyperarousal and dissociation.  She was also a leader of Team Spirit and planned many lab social events.  She is currently a clinical research assistant at the Child and Adolescent Mood Disorders Laboratory at McLean Hospital and hopes to pursue either a degree in medicine specializing in psychiatry or a clinical psychology Ph.D.  Outside of research, Beth enjoys watching movies, eating nachos, and going on road trips.

Jameson Snead


Jameson earned his ScB in Neuroscience from Brown University in 2016. During his tenure at the Clinical Affective Neuroscience lab he studied the connection between heart rate and vagal tone, and various aspects of a mindfulness curriculum and practice. Additionally, throughout his undergraduate career he volunteered at the local Miriam Hospital. Jameson departed the Britton Lab to complete his medical degree with the Alpert Medical School at Brown University, where he hopes to specialize in psychiatry or neurology.