About Us

Rebecca Thurston

Rebecca Thurston

Director

Dr. Rebecca Thurston is Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds additional appointments in the Departments of Psychology and Epidemiology and at the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Dr. Thurston received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University, her PhD from Duke University, and was a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at Harvard University. Dr. Thurston is the Principal Investigator of several National Institutes of Health research studies focused on midlife women’s reproductive and cardiovascular health. Dr. Thurston is recipient of the International Menopause Society’s Henry Burger Prize, the North American Menopause Society’s Vasomotor Symptoms Research Award, and is an elected fellow of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research.

Yuefang Chang

Yue-Fang Chang, PhD

Research Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery

Yue-Fang Chang, Ph.D, is a research assistant professor at the Department of Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh. She holds a doctoral degree in statistics and a master degree in epidemiology. She has worked in a variety of areas, such as women’s health, diabetes, health outcome, image study and injury epidemiology. In addition to the MSHeart study, she also serves as the statistician in several epidemiological studies including Cardiovascular Health Study, Women’s Health Initiative and Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation.

Carey Mittermierer

Carey Mittermeier, MID, MPH

Research Project Coordinator

Carey has been with the lab since the fall of 2015. She holds a Master of Public Health and a Master of International Development from the University of Pittsburgh. She has over three years of experience working with various research projects.

Diana Buck

Diana Buck, BA

Research Project Assistant

Diana joins the Women’s Bio-Behavioral Health Lab after working with multiple research projects at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh over the past 30 years.  She earned her Bachelor’s degree at Chatham College and pursued graduate training in Counseling Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. Diana has applied her training and experience to studies of women’s health including The  Healthy Women Study and the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation.

Diana Buck

Carly Reidmann

Research Project Assistant

Carly joined the Women’s Bio-Behavioral Health Lab in September of 2019. She received her Bachelor’s degree in both Psychology and Philosophy with a concentration in Neuroscience from Slippery Rock University. Her research experience began during her undergraduate education.

Holly Thomas

Holly Thomas,MD, MS

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Dr. Thomas seeks to conduct innovative, interdisciplinary, patient-centered clinical research that will improve the health and quality of life of women as they age. In particular, she is interested in understanding the physical and psychosocial factors that contribute to sexual dysfunction in midlife and older women. She uses this understanding to develop behavioral treatment options to improve the sexual health of midlife women.

Carolyn Gibson, Ph.D.

Mary Carson, B.S

Predoctoral Scholar

Mary Carson received her Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology from the Ohio State University. Mary is currently pursuing a PhD in clinical and bio-health psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and her research focuses on investigating how adverse early life experiences relate to women’s health at midlife. 

Carolyn Gibson, Ph.D.

Karen Jakubowski, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scholar

email: jakubowskik@upmc.edu

Dr. Jakubowski received her PhD in Clinical-Health Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently a postdoctoral trainee in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, working with Dr. Thurston on her studies of midlife women’s cardiovascular health. Dr. Jakubowski’s research focuses on understanding how stress and trauma, including adverse childhood experiences and intimate partner violence, impact women’s sleep and cardiovascular health.

Carolyn Gibson, Ph.D.

Megan M. Fritz, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scholar

Dr. Fritz received her PhD in social/personality psychology from the University of California, Riverside. She is currently a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. As a cardiovascular behavioral medicine trainee, Dr. Fritz works with Dr. Thurston on her studies of cardiovascular health in midlife women. Dr. Fritz’s research focuses on the relationship between psychological well-being (e.g., positive emotions), cardiovascular health, and inflammation.

Carolyn Gibson, Ph.D.

Rachel Koffer

Postdoctoral Scholar

Rachel studies the processes that link stressors at multiple time scales (e.g., daily: interpersonal disagreements, deadlines; life event: death of a loved one, end of relationship) to long-term health and well-being across adulthood and aging. She earned her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State, with concentrations in individual development and quantitative methodology. There, she undertook pre-doctoral training from an NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) on Big Data Social Science and an NIA Pathways to Successful Aging T32 program. She is currently a postdoctoral scholar in the Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine T32 Training program co-mentored by Drs. Rebecca Thurston, Karen Matthews, and Thomas Kamarck.

Sara Nowakowski, PhD

Sara Nowakowski, PhD

Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas

Dr. Nowakowski received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of California, San Diego and completed postdoctoral training at Stanford University. She is a faculty member at University of Texas Medical Branch in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She specializes in Behavioral Sleep Medicine with a focus on women’s health. Dr. Nowakowski is Principal Investigator of an NIH career development (K23) award evaluating a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia tailored for menopausal women experiencing insomnia and nocturnal hot flashes.

Affliatied Collaborators and Trainees

Elissa Gretz, MD, Assistant Professor

Elissa Gretz, MD,

Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Rhoda J. Conant, MD

Rhoda J. Conant, MD

Medical resident, Oklahoma University Medical Center, Department of obstetrics and gynecology

Natalie Suder, PhD

Natalie Suder, PhD

PhD candidate epidemiology

Carolyn Gibson, Ph.D.

Carolyn Gibson, Ph.D.

PhD (UCSF)

Past Laboratory Members

Matthew Garcia

Matthew Garcia, BA. Database Manager

Ruhiyyih Degeberg Research Specialist

Will Fisher, PhD Researcher

Jane Owens Research Program Administrator

Maya Lambaise, PhD Research Specialist

Dana Schreiber Research Associate

Xiao-Hui Wang, PhD Research Coordinator

Jill (Currey) Boyd, MPH Research Specialist

Rachel Dahlborg Research Specialist

Kat Wonjas
Research Assistant