Meet our team!

Principal Investigator

Robert Leeman, Ph.D.

Robert Leeman, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and the Mary F. Lane Endowed Professor in the Department of Health Education and Behavior at the University of Florida and adjunct faculty at the Yale School of Medicine. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Clark University, followed by an M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. After his Ph.D., Dr. Leeman spent a decade at Yale School of Medicine, first as a post-doctoral fellow, then as a faculty member.

Read Dr. Leeman's complete bio here.

Graduate Students

Nioud (Neo) Gebru, MPS, MS, CHES®

Neo is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Health Education and Behavior with a concentration in Health Behavior. He is also an NIH/NIAAA F31 predoctoral fellow and NIH/NIAAA T32 trainee with the Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium. His research interests include exploring key risk factors that underlie health-related decision-making and risky behaviors, specifically unhealthy alcohol use and sexual risk behavior. Neo is particularly interested in applying behavioral economic concepts to better understand health risk behaviors and substance use among adolescents and young adults in different contexts. Neo was also an NIH/NCATS TL1 predoctoral fellow with a concentration in Clinical & Translational Science.

Neo Gebru CV

Elena Kalina, B.S.

Elena graduated from Barett, the Honors College at Arizona State University in December of 2019 with a BS in Psychology. Upon graduation, Elena joined the Social Addiction Impulse Lab (SAIL) and was quickly named Lab Manager in August of 2020. As lab manager, Elena supervises all experimental designs including ad libitum self-administration alcohol paradigms, manages a group of over 15 undergraduate research assistants, assists with poster presentation development, and she is a major contributor to more than 3 manuscripts produced from the lab in the last 9 months. Elena is dedicated to research addictions broadly and specifically within the context of alcohol abuse. To pursue this goal, Elena has accepted an offer to continue her education as a graduate student in Dr. Robert Leeman's research lab. 

Research Staff

Maria Costanza Benvenuti, M.A.

Maria Costanza is the Research Coordinator II & Lab Manager for Dr. Leeman’s EDGE Lab in the Department of Health Education and Behavior. She received her BA in Psychology, BA in Criminology, and BA in Classics in 2018, and has completed her MA in Psychology at Boston University in May of 2019. She is currently responsible for coordinating the Game Time Decision (GTD) study, as well as assisting with other studies in the lab, supervising undergraduate RAs, recruiting study participants, and collecting data. Her research interests include clinical psychology, and she aspires to attend a Clinical Psychology PhD program in the near future. 

Patricia Chauca, B.S., B.A.

Patricia is a research coordinator for the EDGE Lab in the department of Health Education and Behavior working under Dr. Robert Leeman. She received a BS in Psychology and a BA in Sociology in 2020. She started working at the EDGE lab as an undergraduate research assistant in 2019 working on the Attention Training on Smartphones (ATS) Study and started working as a research coordinator upon her graduation. She is currently coordinating the Advancing New Computer-based Health Outreach Regarding Sexual behavior (ANCHORS) study, as well as assisting with other studies, supervising undergraduate RAs, recruiting study participants, and collecting data. Patricia aspires to further her training in a Counseling or Clinical Psychology PhD program. 

Emmely Pavila, B.S., B.A.

Emmely (she/her) graduated from the University of Florida in August 2020 with a BA in Sociology and a BS in Psychology. She is currently taking a gap year to focus on gaining more experience before applying to a graduate program for sociology. Emmely’s research interests include queer theory and liberation, health disparities, substance use, stratification, deviance, and social movements.

Hannah Engle, B.S.

Hannah Engle graduated from the University of Florida in August of 2019 with a major in Psychology on the Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience track and a minor in Statistics. Since then, she has worked as a laboratory technician at UF's College of Pharmacy in the Department of Pharmacodynamics. There she investigated the effects of chronic alcohol administration on social reward value as well as angiotension's role in the brain in relation to stress-related diseases such as hypertension. Now at the EDGE lab, she is currently assisting the SEAL project to examine college student's substance use habits and sexual behavior during collegiate athletic seasons e.g. football and basketball. She hopes to obtain her PhD researching novel treatments for psychiatric disorders e.g. depression, PTSD, and addiction. 

Bailee Wilson, B.S., B.A.

Bailee (she/her/hers) graduated from the University of Florida in April 2022 with a BA in Linguistics and a BS in Psychology. Currently she is working as research assistant/co-coordinator for multiple EDGE Lab studies. She is specifically interested in mobile health (mHealth) technologies that serve as interventions for those with AUD and SUD. She is especially interested in how mHealth technology use correlates to various items predicted by alcohol use such as negative consequences and unsafe sexual activity among minority groups and the LGBTQ+ community. She hopes to attend graduate school to obtain a PhD in clinical psychology so that she may continue this research for years to come.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Adam Choss

Adam Choss is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Florida. Adam is a Health Science major and plans to attend dental school upon completion of his degree. He is from Melbourne, Florida, and enjoys sports, spending time with friends and family, and being active. 

Christy Louis

Christy is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Florida, majoring in Psychology with an emphasis in Behavior Analysis and minoring in Anthropology. Upon graduation, she would like to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology where she hopes to research harmful behaviors, such as those seen in behavioral disorders and addiction, and their impact on quality of life. Christy is from Davenport, Florida, and enjoys going to the beach, working out, and discovering new music/artists.

Alexia Obrochta

Alexia is a second-year Psychology and Public Health major. She intends on completing her master's degree in public health then pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology. She has a special interest in substance use disorders and addiction, and would like to research alternative therapies for anxiety, depression, and PTSD. In her free time, she is often at the gym, hiking, or exploring restaurants and cafes in Gainesville.

Julianna Romano

Julianna is a third-year undergraduate Psychology major at the University of Florida. She plans on attending medical school and becoming a physician with the hopes of owning her own practice someday. In her free time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her friends and family, and going line dancing.

Brianna Rosner

Brianna Rosner is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Florida. She is currently studying chemistry as well as leadership skills in hopes of becoming a surgeon one day. Brianna is from South Florida and enjoys traveling, music, and spending time with friends and family

Sage Schaefer

Sage is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Florida pursuing a major in psychology with an emphasis on cognitive and behavioral neuroscience and a minor in health disparities. After graduating, she plans to continue on to grad school where she would like to get her Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Beyond psychology, she is passionate about cooking, hot yoga, and Dungeons & Dragons.

Aubrey Schnars

Aubrey is a third-year student studying Statistics at the University of Florida. Upon graduation, she plans on working in the field of Data Science and Analytics. She is from Boca Raton, Florida and enjoys volunteering, playing sports, and cooking in her free time.

Ethan Smith

Ethan is a 3rd year undergraduate student studying Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Florida with a special interest in clinical disorders and psychiatric medicine. He hopes to continue his studies in medical school to become a psychiatrist. He is from Deerfield Beach, Florida and enjoys music and art.

Bruce Steinberg

Bruce is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Florida. He is currently studying Applied Physiology and Kinesiology with a specialization in Exercise Physiology. He plans on attending medical school to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a physician. Outside of the lab, Bruce enjoys running, cooking, and playing pickleball. 

Odelia Tiutyama

Odelia is a first-year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology with an emphasis in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. Upon graduating, she hopes to attend medical school to pursue a career in psychiatry. She is originally from Sarasota, Florida, and enjoys spending time with her friends and family, going to the beach, and working out.

Danielle Tribbitt

Danielle is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Florida, majoring in Psychology with an emphasis in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. She is from Sebring, FL and enjoys traveling and trying new experiences. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school to pursue her interest in neuropharmacology. 

Katie Usrey

Katherine "Katie" Usrey is a third year Psychology major with a concentration in Behavioral & Cognitive Neuroscience and minors in Classical Studies, Health Disparities in Society, & Anthropology. Her interests after graduation include pursuing a PhD in Psychology and determining her ultimate career trajectory in a way that involves the psychological impact of health disparities. Outside of the EDGE Lab, her interests include travelling, visiting museums, paddleboarding, and mentoring fellow first generation students. 

Saman Valiani

Saman is a third-year undergraduate student here at UF. She is majoring in both psychology with an emphasis in behavior analysis, and criminology. Upon graduating, she would like to attend graduate school for psychology in hopes to become either a counseling or clinical psychologist. She is from Coral Springs, FL, and in her free time, she enjoys painting, spending time with her loved ones, going on road trips, and reading fictional novels!

Leslie Zepeda

Leslie is a third-year Psychology major on the Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience track. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans on going to medical school and pursuing a career in surgery. She would love to work with underserved populations in healthcare, which is why she's completing a certificate for Spanish in Health Professions. Outside of the EDGE Lab, Leslie enjoys volunteering with shelter animals, music, make-up, and fashion!

Lab Alumni

Graduate Students

Ben Berey, Ph.D. - Received a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brown University


Amber Dellich, M.S.

Andrea Vasquez Ferreiro, B.S. - Researching opioids

Tessa Frohe, Ph.D. - Received a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Washington 

Chloe Herring, M.S.

Hannah Lavoie, B.A. - Researching physical activity

Myles Reader, M.P.H. - State DOH Public Health Research Unit as Survey Statistician

Denis Schulz, M.S.

Research Staff

Taylor Kersetter, B.S.-Clinical Research Coordinator/Investigational Product Research Coordinator with Meridian Clinical

Bonnie Rowland, M.A. - Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Student at Boston University

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Vanessa Acebal

Sofia Barajas 

Brett Berkowitz - Intern at the UF Health Rehab Center - Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Institute

Dina Desai - Dental Student at UF College of Dentistry

Meher Kalkat - Student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Cassidy LoParco - Ph.D. Student at the University of North Texas Health Science Center

Leah McMahon - Doctoral student in clinical psychology at the University of Texas-Austin

Juliana Ortiz

Adriana Reynolds - Physical Therapy Intern at Gainesville Health & Fitness

Maria Sobrino - Received internship with United Nations office in Vienna 

Asmi Patel

Trevor Poppe - Ophthalmologist Technician with Retina Care Consultants

Naji Williams - Doctor of Chiropractic Student at Life University