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-taking. Neo is particularly interested in applying behavioral economic concepts to better understand risky health 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

Andrea Vásquez Ferreiro, B.S.

Andrea is a Graduate Student Fellow in her second year of the Ph.D. Program in the Department of Health Education and Behavior. She is doing a co-mentorship with Dr. Robert Leeman and Dr. Meredith Berry.  Her research interests include impaired control, chronic pain, understanding abuse liability using behavioral economics, and eradicating the stigma around substance use disorders. She is currently helping Dr. Leeman finish the Attention Training Study. This study aims at people currently enrolled in Opioid Maintenance Treatment (OMT) to help retrain attentional bias using a smartphone app over two weeks. The goal is to reduce attentional bias and therefore help lower drug cravings and relapses. In Dr. Berry's lab, she is working on a couple of Amazon MTurk studies. One study exploring the possibility of using supervising aerobic exercise as a potential adjunct treatment to individuals in OMT. The other is examining and understanding the co-use of opioids and medical cannabis in patients with chronic pain.

A Ferreiro Vasquez CV

Hannah Lavoie, B.A.

Hannah is a first-year Ph.D. Student in the Department of Health Education and Behavior. She graduated magna cum laude from Wheaton College in Norton, MA with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Studio Arts. Hannah is from Northern New Hampshire. Before coming to UF, she spent almost 2 years as a Research Assistant at Dartmouth College working on an NIH-funded project using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to measure momentary self-regulation and identify potential underlying mechanisms of self-regulation in order to target problematic health behaviors as well as motivate behavior change (smoking cessation and reduced binge eating). Her interest in research began on an NIH-funded study at Rhode Island Hospital Department of Psychiatry and Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University on sexual and gender-based violence prevention among middle school and high school students, school-based intervention programming, and rigorous program evaluation. Her current research interests include underlying mechanisms of behavior change and risky health behaviors, behavioral weight management, mHealth, and digital health interventions, sexual risk-taking, impaired control, food choice, health disparities, and inequities, as well as physical activity and its application in substance use treatment. She is currently the Research Coordinator under Dr. Leeman on the Alcohol and Athletics Study (AAS): A Quasi-experimental Examination of Alcohol use on Game and Non-game Days over Time. This study is conducting an etiologic evaluation of heavy drinking and risk factors among undergraduates in the context of sporting events.

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 a Research Coordinator I 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.

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. 

Tajay Coote

Tajay (he/him) is currently a fourth-year undergraduate student studying Health Science at the University of Florida. After graduation, he plans on attending graduate school to pursue a Master's in Public Health. He then plans on attending medical school in hopes of becoming a physician.

Dina Desai

Dina is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in health science at the University of Florida. She is also pursuing a minor in health disparities in society and enjoys working with underserved populations. Dina started working with the EDGE Lab in January 2019. Outside of the lab, she enjoys fostering animals, cooking, and embroidering. She hopes to attend dental school in the near future.

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.

Haley Mainwaring

Haley is a third year undergraduate student dual majoring in behavioral and congitive neuroscience and nutritional sciences at the University of Florida. She hopes to attend medical school and become a psychiatrist. In addition to psychology, Haley is passionate about Dance Marathon, music, and the Gators. 

Emily Maio

Emily is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in psychology and economics at the University of Florida. She started working with the EDGE Lab in August 2019 and has enjoyed gaining hands-on experience with psychology-related research studies. Emily is from West Palm Beach, Florida, and is passionate about music, movies, and traveling.

Juliana Ortiz

Juliana is a fourth-year Psychology major on the Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience track. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuropsychology. She would like to conduct research and work with people who struggle with neurological illnesses or who have suffered brain trauma. Outside of the EDGE Lab, Juliana enjoys reading, baking, rollerblading, and traveling the world.

Asmi Patel

Asmi is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Florida. She is currently studying Health Education and Behavior with a specialization in Health Studies. She plans on becoming a physician with a goal in mind of becoming a dermatologist. Some of her interests includes traveling and spending time with friends and family.

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 second-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.

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. 

Bailee Wilson

Bailee is a third-year undergraduate Psychology and Linguistics major with an emphasis in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. Upon graduating, she hopes to attend graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in psycholinguistics or language science. She is originally from Lakeland, Florida, and enjoys music, traveling, and learning new languages (especially ASL).

Lab Alumni

Graduate Students

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


Amber Dellich, M.S.

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

Chloe Herring, M.S.

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

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

Adriana Reynolds - Physical Therapy Intern at Gainesville Health & Fitness

Maria Sobrino - Received internship with United Nations office in Vienna 

Trevor Poppe - Ophthalmologist Technician with Retina Care Consultants

Naji Williams - Doctor of Chiropractic Student at Life University