About Us

Rebecca Thurston, PhD

Rebecca Thurston, PhD

Director

Dr. Rebecca Thurston is Pittsburgh Foundation Chair of Women’s Health and Dementia, 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 reproductive, cardiovascular, and neurocognitive 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. Dr. Thurston is a Trustee of and Past President of the North American Menopause Society.

Yuefang Chang, PhD

Yue-Fang Chang, PhD

Research Associate Professor of Neurosurgery

Yue-Fang Chang, Ph.D, is a research associate 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.

Karen Jakubowski, PhD

Karen Jakubowski, PhD

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry

Dr. Jakubowski received her PhD in Clinical-Health Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently an assistant professor 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.

Holly Thomas, MD, MS

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.

Monica Winkelman, BA

Monica Winkelman, BA

Program Coordinator Sr.

Monica Winkelman joined the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Laboratory in August 2021. She received her BA in Psychology from La Roche College located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has over 17 years of research experience, running the gamut to encompass almost every facet of a research study from the clinical research perspective to supervisory roles.

Alexa Packard, MPH

Research Coordinator

Alexa joined the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Laboratory in July of 2021. She received her BS in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and her Master’s in Public Health from Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio. Her experience with research began during her undergraduate career and has spanned many years and various areas of research, most prominently with underrepresented populations.

Molly Tanner, BS

Research Specialist

Molly Tanner joined the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Lab in August of 2021. Molly received her BS from the University of Pittsburgh in Natural Sciences with a concentration in Psychology and a Certificate in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. Her experience in research began during her undergraduate career and she continues to be enthusiastic about researching the fields of cognitive and neuropsychology.

Mary Carson, BS

Mary Carson, BS

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. 

Alana Castle, BS

Research Specialist

Alana joined the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Lab in February 2022. Alana received her BS from the University of Pittsburgh in Psychology with certificates in Global Health and the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. Her experience in research began during her undergraduate career and she continues to be interested in research relevant to women’s health and improving quality of life for midlife and aging populations.

Mollie Bandy

Mollie Bandy

Administrative Coordinator

Mollie Bandy joined the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Laboratory in September 2020 and has been part of the Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Research program since August 2008.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Marshall University in Huntington, WV. She has 14 years of research administration experience.

Eresha Bluth, MHA

Program Coordinator

Eresha Bluth joined the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Laboratory in August 2020. She received her BSc in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and her MHA from the University of Southern California. She has over 10 years of research administration experience.

Breanne McDermott, BS

Breanne McDermott, BS

Research Project Specialist

Breanne joined the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Lab in May 2021. Breanne received her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh in 2021. Her research experience began during her undergraduate education and she continues to maintain passionate interest in research concerning women’s health, cognition and dementia.