2023 ISPNE Early Career Scholar Mentors
Dr. Robert Paul Juster:

Robert-Paul Juster completed his graduate studies in Psychology at Concordia University (BSc) and Neuroscience at McGill University (MSc, PhD) before completing a Post-Doctoral fellowship in Psychiatry and Public Health at Columbia University. In 2018, Dr. Juster was recruited as an Assistant Research Professor and launched his laboratory called the Center on Sex*Gender, Allostasis, and Resilience (CESAR) based at the Research Center of the Montreal Mental Health University Institute. In 2023, Dr. Juster became an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Addiction at the University of Montreal. Dr. Juster currently holds a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Sex and Gender Science Chair.

Dr. Juster’s research focuses on stress and resilience using a sex and gender lens. His research focuses on teasing apart the role of biological sex and socio-cultural gender in explaining pathways that render us vulnerable or resilient to stress-related disease. Dr. Juster has become an expert in the measurement of allostatic load, the ‘wear and tear’ of chronic stress and unhealthy behaviors first developed by the great late Bruce McEwen. In much of Dr. Juster’s current funded research, he and his team of 20 students and staff aim to better understand how stigma, stress, and strain influence the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, and queer individuals. His research program has also included studying allostatic load among many other vulnerable groups across lifespan development with a particular focus on using allostatic load as a marker of accelerated aging. Along with international collaborators, Dr. Juster and his team have contributed 115 peer-reviewed publications in a broad array of transdisciplinary journals spanning the social sciences to neuroendocrinology.

Dr. Veronika Engert: 
Professor of Social Neuroscience, FS University Jena and MPI-CBS Leipzig
Veronika Engert studied Psychology at the University of Trier. Her dissertation (“Behavioral response to methylphenidate challenge: Influence of early life parental care and personality”) was co-supervised by Profs. Dirk Hellhammer at the Department of Clinical and Theoretical Psychobiology, Trier University and Jens Pruessner at the Department of Psychiatry, Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University in Montreal, Canada. For her Postdoc she worked with Prof. Alain Dagher at the Montreal Neurological Institute. Returning to Germany, she came to the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences to work as a group leader in the ReSource Project, a worldwide unique project examining the long-term consequences of meditation-based mental training. Since 2019, she is Professor of Social Neuroscience at the Institute of Psychosocial Medicine, Psychotherapy and Psychooncology at the Jena University Hospital. Her main research topic is stress in the social context, that is, how social variables can be both risk and resilience factors in the context of stress. Her current work examines empathic stress (the transmission of emotional and physiological stress activation between individuals), the influence of social abilities such as empathy, compassion and theory of mind on the development of stress-associated disease after trauma, as well as the potential of different mental training interventions to reduce stress load and improve health and wellbeing

Dr. Sam Ziliolit:
Dr. Samuele Zilioli is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at Wayne State University (WSU), Detroit. Before landing in the US, Dr. Zilioli completed his undergraduate and graduate training in Italy and Canada. In Italy, he received a BA and MA in Psychology from Catholic University of Sacred Heart. In Canada, he completed a PhD in Cognitive and Neural Sciences from Simon Fraser University where he was the recipient of the Governor General's Gold Medal for achieving the highest academic standing upon graduation. He completed a postdoc in Health Psychology at Wayne State University.

Dr. Emily Hittner:
Dr. Hittner has a PhD in Human Development and Social Policy and a M.S. in Statistics at Northwestern University. Her research has been published in journals like Psychological Science, Emotion, and the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Dr. Elif Aysimi Duman:
Elif Aysimi Duman is an Assistant Professor of Biopsychology at the Department of Psychology and Center for Life Sciences and Technologies, Bogazici University, Istanbul.  She has a B.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Istanbul Technical University, and M.A. in Psychology and Ph.D. in Biopsychology from Stony Brook University, New York. For the last 7 years, she is the PI of Psychoepigenetics Lab at Bogazici University, investigating the role of early life stress on physiology, epigenetics, behavior, health and infant development in different cohorts from infancy to adulthood. She has started the first prospective birth cohort in Turkey called Bogazici Mother Baby Relationship Project

(BABIP) that examines the role of early and perinatal stress on maternal and infant outcomes from pregnancy to two years after birth. Coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, BABIP also continues to collect pandemic-related measures. In relation to this project, she is involved in international research networks and collaborations as well as national and international networks promoting awareness on the importance of maternal mental health and child development.

Dr. Nicolas Rohleder:
Dr. Rohleder's main research interest is the interaction between the central nervous system with the periphery of the body. More specifically, research focuses on how central nervous system states affect biomedical health through efferent signaling pathways. For example, current projects address the question whether and how repeated stress exposure during the lifespan can lead to cumulative organ damage and thus accelerate the aging process.