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Monika A Waszczuk, Phd

Associate Professor

Dr. Monika Waszczuk is an Associate Professor of Psychology. She completed her undergraduate training at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, UK. Afterwards, Dr. Waszczuk received her MSc and PhD in Behavioral Genetics from the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London, UK. Following her graduate training, Dr. Waszczuk joined the Department of Psychiatry at Stony Brook University in New York, where she completed her postdoctoral training and conducted research as an Assistant Professor. Many of her projects at Stony Brook University have been in collaboration with the World Trade Center Health and Wellness Program. Dr. Waszczuk is an executive board member of the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) Consortium and serves as a Chair of the Genetic Workgroup. Dr. Waszczuk joined the faculty of RFUMS in 2020.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Research Interests

The overarching goal of Dr. Waszczuk’s research program is to explicate the role of genetic vulnerability in the etiology and co-occurrence of physical and mental health conditions. Research topic include:

  • Application of polygenic risk scores to predict severity and long-term course of PTSD, inflammation, and other health outcomes in responders to the 9/11 disaster.
  • Interplay between personality traits, health-related behaviors, and trauma/stress exposure in mental and physical health.
  • Etiology of psychiatric conditions, in particular emotional disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety, PTSD), in developmental and adult populations.
  • Psychiatric comorbidity, classification, and the HiTOP model, with a focus on transdiagnostic approaches.

Connect with Dr. Waszczuk on Twitter: @MAWaszczuk

Are You a Prospective Graduate Student?

Dr. Waszczuk will be accepting a student for the 2022/2023 academic year. 

Please feel free to email Dr. Waszczuk for more information and to discuss your application and funding opportunities. Do reach out even if you are unsure whether you meet all qualification criteria, as we take a holistic view of each applicant. Students with interest in research would be a particularly good fit with the lab. Candidates from underrepresented and less traditional backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

To find out what it is like working with Dr. Waszczuk, and to gain insight into the RFU admission process and students’ perspectives more broadly, you can contact current lab members.

Current Students

Elaine Schultz, MS

Elaine Schultz, MS
Doctoral Student
elaine.schultz@my.rfums.org

Elaine is currently a 6th year graduate student specializing in Neuropsychology. Her clinical interests include providing both neuropsychological and therapeutic care for individuals who have experienced brain injury primarily in a hospital or rehabilitation setting. Her primary research interests relate to how personality characteristics influence symptoms and recovery, post brain injury, how anxiety and depressive symptoms influence cognitive functioning in adult populations, and how PTSD and poor sleep impact both physical and cognitive functioning. In her free time, she enjoys dance, spending time with her nieces, and discovering the delicious foods Chicago has to offer.

Palak Singh, MS

Palak Singh, MS
Doctoral Student
palak.singh@my.rfums.org

Palak is a fifth-year student in the Ph.D. program. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Master’s degree in neuroscience at Columbia University. Her clinical interest is in neuropsychology, and she is currently completing an advanced neuropsychology externship at the University of Chicago. Her primary research interests include examining traumatic stress, specifically executive functioning and resiliency factors that contribute to positive psychosocial outcomes. Her dissertation examines the interacting effect of social support and polygenic risk for PTSD and depression in 9/11 responders. She is a student committee member for the Society for Clinical Neuropsychology/Division 40’s Practice Advisory Committee.

Jasmine Cárcamo, MA

Jasmine Cárcamo, MA
Doctoral Student
jasmine.carcamo@my.rfums.org
Twitter: @JasmineCarcamo

Jasmine is a first-year student in the Clinical Psychology PhD Program. She graduated from Stony Brook University with an MA in Psychology. Prior to RFUMS, Jasmine worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) for an international, multisite, NIA-funded research project titled the Long Life Family Study (LLFS) which investigates the genetics and familial components of exceptional survival, longevity, and healthy aging. Research interests include polygenic risk for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as neuropsychological predictors of neurodegenerative disease outcomes in understudied populations. In Jasmine's free time, she enjoys painting, live music, hiking, traveling and poetry.

Publications: Cárcamo, J., Kociolek, A. J., Fernández, K. K., Gu, Y., Zhu, C. W., Stern, Y., & Cosentino, S. (2021). Neuropsychological Predictors of Severe Functional Dependency in a Multiethnic Community Cohort of Individuals with Alzheimer's Disease. Journal of Alzheimer's disease. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-210019

Krista Ekberg

Krista Ekberg
Doctoral Student
krista.ekberg@my.rfums.org

Krista is a first-year student in the Clinical Psychology PhD Program. She graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.A in psychology. Prior to entering the RFUMS doctoral program, she worked as a research assistant at DePaul University, assisting with an NIH-funded research project investigating the prevalence of pediatric myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Following her time at DePaul, she worked as a pediatric psychometrist where she administered neuropsychological tests to children and adolescents. Broadly, Krista is interested in research investigating how genetic vulnerability factors predict psychopathology and psychosocial outcomes in pediatric populations. In Krista’s free time, she enjoys working out, thrifting, traveling, and cooking.

Publications:

Ekberg, K.M., Torres, C. & Jason, L.A. (2021) Parent-child discrepancies in health-related quality of life of children and adolescents with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. Qual Life Res. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-021-02919-w

Anakaren Elizondo

Anakaren Elizondo
Master's Student
a.elizondocarranza@my.rfums.org

Anakaren is a first year student in the Clinical Counseling MS program on the research track. She graduated from St. Edward's University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2020. Her research interests include understanding the impact of child maltreatment on personality, the relationship between genetics and personality, as well as the physiology of the stress response and its role in child maltreatment and neglect. She has previously worked at the Adolescent Development Research Group at the University of Texas at Austin. In her free time, Anakaren enjoys reading, baking, and watching Netflix. 

Recent publications (selected)

Please see Dr. Waszczuk’s CV for a complete list of her current/previous research funding and peer-reviewed publications.

Waszczuk, M. A., Miao, J., Docherty, A. R., Shabalin, A. R., Jonas, K. G., Michelini, G., & Kotov, R. (in press). General vs. Specific Vulnerabilities: Polygenic Risk Scores and Higher-Order Psychopathology Dimensions in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study. Psychological Medicine. Preprint: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/km6v3

Watson, D., Levin-Aspenson, H. F., Waszczuk, M. A., Conway, C. C., Dalgleish, T. … HiTOP Utility Workgroup (in press). Validity and utility of Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP): III. Emotional dysfunction superspectrum. World Psychiatry.

Waszczuk, M. A. (2021). The utility of hierarchical models of psychopathology in genetics and biomarker research. World Psychiatry, 20 (1), 65-66.

Kuan, P.F., Yang, X., Ren, X., Che, C., Waszczuk, M. A. … Luft, B. J. (2021). Mapping the transcriptomics landscape of post-traumatic stress disorder symptom dimensions in World Trade Center responders. Translational Psychiatry, 11 (1), 1-9.

Ruggero, C.J., Schuler, K., Waszczuk, M.A., Callahan, J., Contractor, A.A. … Kotov, R. (2021). Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in daily life among World Trade Center responders: Temporal symptom cascades. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 138, 240-245

Waszczuk, M. A., Docherty, A. R., Shabalin, A. R., Miao, J., Yang, X. ,Kuan, P.-F., Bromet, E., Kotov, R.*, & Luft, B. J.* (2020). Polygenic prediction of PTSD trajectories in 9/11 responders. Psychological Medicine.

Gromatsky, M. A., He, S., Perlman, G., Klein, D. N., Kotov, R. & Waszczuk, M. A. (2020). Prospective prediction of first onset of non-suicidal self-injury in adolescent girls. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 59 (9), 1049-1057

Waszczuk, M. A., Zavos, H. M. S. & Eley, T. C. (2020). Why do depression, conduct and hyperactivity symptoms co-occur across adolescence? The role of stable and dynamic genetic and environmental influences. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 30 (7), 1013-1025

Waszczuk, M. A., Eaton, N. R., Krueger, R. F., Shackman, A. J., Waldman, I. D. … Kotov, R. (2019). Redefining phenotypes to advance psychiatric genetics: Implications from Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 129 (2), 143–161.

Waszczuk, M. A., Waaktaar, T., Eley, T. C. & Torgersen, S. (2019). Aetiological influences on continuity and co-occurrence of eating disorders symptoms across adolescence and emerging adulthood. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 52 (5), 554-563.

Waszczuk, M. A., Ruggero, C. J., Li, K., Luft, B. J. & Kotov, R. (2019). The role of modifiable health-related behaviors in the association between PTSD and respiratory illness. Behaviour, Research and Therapy, 115, 64-72.