Dr. Elissa Epel

Elissa Epel, Ph.D., is a Professor at UCSF whose research focuses on healthy aging, psychological and social stress, and resilience. She conducts clinical trials to examine how mindfulness, meditation, and healthy lifestyle modifications can affect cellular aging, weight, diet and metabolism.

Dr. Aric Prather

Aric Prather, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at UCSF. His research focuses on complex interactions between psychological processes and sleep as they relate to physical and mental illness. Much of his research involves understanding how social factors affect the immune system, especially inflammation as a key pathway in health and disease.

Dr. Rachel Radin

Dr. Rachel Radin is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the UCSF Department of Psychiatry, Center for Health and Community. Her research interests include clarifying the biopsychosocial processes that contribute to eating behavior and metabolic health in adults. Rachel aims to ultimately develop complementary and integrative health interventions to improve the health of individuals with obesity and other health-related conditions.

Study Personnel

Samantha Schilf

Samantha Schilf, B.A. is part of the Stress Free UC leadership team. She is interested in how digital applications and media can support individuals in reducing stress and developing healthy habits.

Julie Vaccaro

Julie Vaccaro, B.S. is the Clinical Research Coordinator for the Stress Free UC Study. Julie graduated in 2017 from Santa Clara University with a double major in Psychology and Spanish and a minor in Public Health Science. Her interest in meditation and mindful eating began in college when she worked for the Resilient Families Program, implementing a mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention in low-income immigrant mothers. The Stress Free UC Study is the first clinical study she has coordinated. Eventually, she wants to obtain her Master's in Public Health focusing in Nutrition so that she can further continue to carry out evidence-based change at the primary level, beginning with prevention. She is excited for this opportunity at AME to integrate her interests in nutrition, stress and how our experiences and surroundings shape our health behaviors.

Sarah Fisher

Sarah Fisher, B.A., is a Clinical Research Coordinator on the Stress Free UC Study, where she helps to oversees recruitment and, currently, the launch of the Stress Free UC +Health Study. Sarah graduated from Emory University in 2015 with a major in Psychology and minor in Predictive Health and is broadly interested in stress, obesity, and disordered eating. She hopes to obtain her PhD in Clinical Psychology in 2020.

Elena Fromer

Elena Fromer, B.S. is an Assistant Clinical Research Coordinator for the Stress Free UC Study. She graduated in 2018 with a major in Psychology and a double minor in Public Health Science and Environmental Studies at Santa Clara University. Her time there was highlighted by her role as a Valeriote Goldman Leadership Fellow with The Health Trust and First 5 California. During her fellowship, she researched the effectiveness of outdoor mindfulness programs and delivered them to low-income families with children ages five and below. Elena is passionate about reducing barriers to health and well-being using empirical evidence. She looks forward to studying how innovative digital applications can be used to lower stress and thereby prevent chronic health issues and disease.

Research Interns

Shilpa Jujjavarapu

Shilpa Jujjavarapu, M. S., is a Clinical Research Assistant for the Stress Free UC Study. She has earned a Master of Arts in Psychology from the University of St Andrews and a Master of Science in in Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Psychological Practice from the University of Edinburgh. She has worked with children in the UK and India where she has explored social development across cultures. Her interest in health began after assisting with a UNICEF Child Care for Development study in Malawi, which studied the effect of stimulation and nutrition on child development. Eventually she hopes to obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology with a focus on child development, culture and nutrition. She looks forward to working in the AME Center and exploring the field of nutrition and health psychology. 

Stephanie Huang

Stephanie Huang is a Research Assistant for the Stress Free UC Study. Stephanie is currently a sophomore attending San Francisco State University and has plans to start nursing school soon. Her interest in health began when she took a variety of science and health education classes in school. She fell in love with the complexity that the human mind and body holds. She is passionate about helping communities that are facing adversity and is very excited to be part of the AME center to gain more public health knowledge.

Justine Gill

Justine Gill, B.A. is a Research Assistant for the Stress Free UC Study, She graduated in 2018 with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Applied Psychology from University of California, Santa Barbara. Her interest in Clinical Psychology began as an intern for CARE: Campus Advocacy, Resource and Education. She helped to put on a school-wide event to increase awareness for bystander intervention. In the future, Justine plans to pursue a Clinical Psychology PhD program based in trauma prevention and mindfulness-based interventions for trauma. Justine is ecstatic to be able to learn more about the field of mindfulness intervention through the AME Center.

Alieen Kucsera

Aileen Kucsera, PA-C, is a Clinical Extern for the Stress Free UC +Health Study. She is also currently a first-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at the PGSP-Stanford PsyD Consortium. Prior to returning to graduate school, she worked as a physician assistant in primary care for 6 years, most recently at One Medical Group in San Francisco. Broadly speaking, her interests include trauma, resilience, how stress affects health and well-being across the lifespan, and how mindfulness practices can influence both physical and mental health.  

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