IMPACT Post-Doctoral Program

The IMPACT two-year, NIMH-funded training program matches creative and energetic post-doctoral (MD, PhD, DO, or MD, PhD) fellows in mental health-related disciplines with faculty members who provide mentorship across an array of approaches and methods, including fMRI, genetics, statistical modelling, treatment evaluation, and implementation science. In addition, we provide resources for travel, coursework, and pilot research.

The program, which has been funded continuously since 1990, aims to develop clinical scientists who can formulate original and significant research in areas such as:

  • Mechanisms of pathogenesis, persistence and treatment response
  • Translation of basic research findings into clinical interventions
  • Identification of individual differences in treatment response that leads to personalization and optimization of treatment
  • Implementation of effective interventions in community settings
  • Strategies for the dissemination of effective treatments

Fellows at Western Psychiatric Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have an opportunity to work with respected, multi-disciplinary faculty in one of the strongest child and adolescent psychiatry clinical and research programs in the United States. The majority of our graduates go on to obtain academic appointments, secure external funding, and become leading researchers themselves. 

Program Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We are committed to providing meaningful training opportunities that foster growth in trainees’ cultural competencies to improve patient care, enhance scientific research, and increase advocacy for social justice.

Training Experiences and Resources

Current Fellows

Ligia Antezana, PhD

Mentor: Carla Mazefsky, PhD

Dr. Ligia Antezana is a clinical psychologist by training. She completed her undergraduate studies at Temple University, and earned her Master of Science and Doctorate in Psychology from Virginia Tech. She completed her pre-doctoral clinical psychology internship at University of Pittsburgh/UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. As a Post-doctoral fellow in the IMPACT T32 program, Dr. Antezana is working under the mentorship of Dr. Carla Mazefsky to continue her research focus in autistic people. She is specifically interested in how salient information is processed via underlying neural mechanisms of cognitive control and emotion regulation. Additionally, Dr. Antezana is interested in how these mechanisms are linked to co-occurring symptoms, self-injurious thoughts and behaviors, and how they relate to treatment outcomes.

Safaa Eldeeb, PhD

Mentor: Carla Mazefsky, PhD

Dr. Eldeeb graduated in 2022 with her PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. Her primary field of research interest resides between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and biomedical sciences. Within AI, she is interested in problems related to probabilistic modeling, machine and deep learning, and their interdisciplinary applications to biomedical sciences.  

She is currently a post-doctoral fellow in the IMPACT T32 program under the primary mentorship of Dr. Carla Mazefsky. Her research work focus on developing machine learning techniques to investigate the common factors between emotion dysregulation and aggressive behavior. Also, explore how machine learning algorithms could predict biomarkers related to aggressive behavior in youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder using physiological data collected through imaging modalities and wearable biosensors. 

Kelsey Magee, PhD

Mentors: Alison Hipwell, PhD, PsyD and Michele Levine, PhD

Dr. Kelsey Magee earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Case Western Reserve University and completed her clinical internship at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (Northwestern Medicine). She is currently a T32 Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry working under the mentorship of Dr. Alison Hipwell and Dr. Michele Levine. Dr. Magee’s research employs longitudinal methods to identify preconception and prenatal risk factors for the onset of child psychopathology in families exposed to chronic stress.

David Brent

Andrew Seidman, PhD

Mentor: Maria Kovaks, PhD

Dr. Andrew Seidman is a T32 post-doctoral scholar in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. He completed his PhD in Counseling Psychology at Iowa State University, and a pre-doctoral internship in Clinical Psychology at the University of Kansas, School of Medicine. Dr. Seidman joined the IMPACT program in July 2021 with Dr. Maria Kovacs to study the developmental predictors, processes, and outcomes of emotional experiences and regulation across the lifespan, as well as their corresponding psychophysiology. He is also interested in how personal values (e.g., curiosity) and associated characteristics (e.g., motivation for personal growth) impact affective experience and expression, as well as help guide emotion regulation goals, strategies, and success. Dr. Seidman is especially interested in the use of ecological momentary assessment and intervention to improve the understanding of their within- and between-person differences across daily life and promote healthy processes and outcomes.

Dr. Seidman plans to ultimately merge this work with his longstanding aim to reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems and seeking psychological help. Particularly, he is interested in how stigmatizing attitudes are formed and maintained as a function of emotion regulation, and how they interfere with help-seeking behavior. Dr. Seidman’s work is both theoretical and practical, and he has demonstrated the use of a self-affirmation intervention across diverse populations—a brief, self-directed, and scalable task that improves emotion regulation capability and healthy physiological functioning and increases open-mindedness—to help achieve these goals.

Lindsay Taraban, PhD

Mentor: Nadine Melhem, PhD

Dr. Taraban graduated in 2022 with her PhD in Clinical and Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She received her undergraduate degrees in psychology and English from the University of Texas at Austin, and completed her clinical internship in Pediatric Health Psychology at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas. She is currently a T32 post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry under the primary mentorship of Dr. Nadine Melhem. Her research explores how stressors and protective factors in the family system influence early parenting behaviors, the parent-child relationship, and child social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive development.  

Recent Previous Fellows

Rosalind Butterfield, PhD

Craig Sewall, PhD

Candice Biernesser, PhD

Manivel Rengasamy, MD

Kristen Eckstrand, MD

Laura Cabral, PhD

Teague Henry, PhD

Elizabeth McGuier, PhD

Heather Joseph, DO*

*Now serve as IMPACT faculty mentors