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Appetite Lab Team


Recent Members:


  Susan Carnell, Ph.D.

Susan Carnell, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Elena Jensen, Ph.D.

Elena Jansen, Ph.D., Post-doctoral Fellow

Dr Elena Jansen received her PhD from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia. Here she developed and validated the Feeding Practices and Structure Questionnaire, which is now being used in multiple countries and languages. Her research investigates how children’s early relationships with their parents, and their home environment, relate to child health and behavioral outcomes – especially the development of child eating behaviors and weight. In the Appetite Lab, Elena is expanding her work into biobehavioral influences on weight. She is especially interested in the contribution of stress and caregivers other than mothers, especially fathers, in the development of children’s eating.

Gita Thapaliya, Ph.D.

Gita Thapaliya, Ph.D., Post-doctoral Fellow

Dr Gita Thapaliya received her PhD from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she worked with Professor Sue Francis and Dr Gordon Moran to examine the gut-brain axis in Crohn’s disease using functional MRI. In the Appetite Lab, she is interested in understanding the role of the brain in appetite regulation and eating behavior in child obesity and during healthy development. Current projects include investigations of the shared neurobehavioral underpinnings of obesity and ADHD in children.

Jenny Sadler, Ph.D.

Jenny Sadler, Ph.D., Post-doctoral Fellow

Dr Jenny Sadler received her PhD in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she worked with Dr Kyle Burger to study eating behavior and brain response to sugar-sweetened beverages. She joined the Appetite lab in July 2020 to conduct research using neuroimaging and behavioral techniques to understand how children learn food preferences and make food decisions. 

Kimberly Smith, Ph.D.

Kimberly Smith, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Dr Kimberly Smith received her PhD in Neuroscience from Florida State University, where she worked with Dr Alan Spector to investigate the genetics of taste function using psychophysical methods in rodent models. In the Appetite Lab, she is interested in examining the neurobiological mechanisms underlying food choice and weight outcomes across the age and weight spectrum using behavioral and neuroimaging techniques in humans. Current projects include fMRI studies of Anorexia Nervosa and bariatric surgery.

Liuyi Chen, MS

Liuyi Chen, MS, Data analyst

Liuyi received her Master degree in Computer Science from Stevens Institute of Technology. She joined the Appetite Lab in July 2017, where she focuses on analysis of fMRI data on obesity and appetite in children and adults.

Allison Ahn

Allison Ahn, BA, Research Coordinator

Allison received a BA in Psychology from UC Berkeley and hopes to continue her education in clinical psychology. She joined the Appetite Lab as research coordinator in March 2022. She is interested in researching the influences of adverse childhood experiences, culture, and socialization on the development of psychopathology in childhood and adolescence.

Anahys Aghababian, MS

Anahys Aghababian, MS, Research Coordinator

Anahys received a BA in Psychology from Loyola University, where she took a special interest in health psychology. As the Appetite Lab’s main research coordinator Anahys contributed to projects including an MRI study of weight and eating behavior in children, and studies of behavioral outcomes of bariatric surgery, and health behaviors during the COVID pandemic.

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