"Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common... Celebrate it every day."

Winston Churchill

Lab Members

Anthony S. Zannas, MD, MSc, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Genetics

Anthony received his medical degree and completed a master’s on the Science of Stress at the University of Athens with Dr. George P. Chrousos. He then trained as a psychiatrist at Duke University, where he worked on both clinical and basic research projects. After completing residency, he did a PhD and postdoc in Molecular Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry and Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich with Dr. Elisabeth B. Binder. Anthony's passion is to uncover how lasting epigenetic changes result from stressful experiences and shape health or disease trajectories as individuals age. He is also a practicing psychiatrist at UNC. Outside of work, he enjoys traveling the world, playing piano, and reading fiction.

Oksana Kosyk, BSc

Lab Manager

After obtaining her bachelor's in Ukraine, Oksana relocated to the US and gathered extensive experience across diverse lab settings, working both with cells and rodents. Oksana is particularly interested in learning and utilizing novel, cutting-edge molecular biology and other lab techniques. Her current role as lab manager is to oversee all wet lab operations and to facilitate ongoing projects that examine the epigenetic mechanisms linking psychosocial stress with accelerated aging and increased disease risk. Outside of the lab, she loves spending time with her family, going to local coffee shops and produce farms, and exploring state and national parks.

Harlyn G. Skinner, PhD, MS

Postdoctoral Scholar

Harlyn received her PhD in Public Health Nutrition Intervention and Policy from the Gillings Global School of Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill. She also holds a master's in Biochemistry and Molecular Cellular Biology from Georgetown University and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Yale University. She is a transdisciplinary biobehavioral interventionist with interests that lie at the intersection of nutrition, stress, physical activity, epigenetics, and the microbiome. She is passionate about health equity and believes that lifestyle changes made in early life can be the most effective in preventing cardiometabolic disease. Her current work in the lab examines how psychosocial stress impacts epigenetic aging. Outside work, she is a proud dog mom of two.

Sofia Benavides, BS

PhD Student (Neurobiology T32 Fellow)

Sofia graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor's degree in Neuroscience and in Human and Social Development. During her undergraduate years she worked in Dr. Jae Lee's lab where she investigated the role of an epigenetic protein in the acute pathophysiology of spinal cord injury. Sofia is currently in the UNC's Neuroscience graduate program where she is studying the epigenetic mechanisms through which life stress and adversity program immune function. Outside of the lab, she enjoys watching sports, hiking, and attending community service trips.

David Checknita, PhD

Postdoctoral  Scholar

Dave completed his PhD in neuroscience at Uppsala University in Sweden and holds a MSc in neuroscience from McGill University as well as a BA in psychology from The University of Lethbridge, Canada. Dave’s prior work examined associations of childhood abuse and monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene methylation and genotype with the risk for developing antisocial and aggressive behaviors. His current work at UNC Chapel Hill seeks to reveal how epigenetic signatures and gene function are influenced by psychosocial stressors and, in turn, contribute to cardiovascular health and disease. Outside of the lab, David enjoys all types of music, cooking, and exercise.

Hazel Milla, BS

PREP Scholar

Hazel obtained a B.S. in Neuroscience with a Minor in Creative Writing from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021. Her previous research was in HIV pathogenesis at the De Paris Lab. She is currently a PREP scholar investigating the association between DNA methylation status, psychosocial stress, and cardiovascular health outcomes in underrepresented populations using computational methods. Outside of scientific research, Hazel plays the viola, runs long distance, and writes books, short stories, and poetry.

Sebnem Egriboyun, MD

Postdoctoral  Scholar

Sebnem recently earned her medical degree from Acibadem University in Istanbul, Turkey. She is passionate about mental health awareness, patient care, and scientific research. In the lab, her focus is on investigating how psychosocial stress and inflammatory states intersect and their potential implications for cardiometabolic health. Sebnem’s long-term aspirations include obtaining residency training and becoming a practicing psychiatrist in the US. Outside of work, she enjoys blogging, traveling, painting, going to the theatre, and spending time with friends and family.

Abby Boyer

Undergraduate Student

Abby is majoring in Biology with a minor in Spanish. After receiving her undergraduate education, she is interested in pursuing a Master's in Public Health. Abby’s research interest involves using model organisms to help us understand the effect that chronic stress has on humans. Outside of studies and the lab, she loves spending time with her friends and attending UNC basketball games.

Christina E. Georgiou

Undergraduate Student

Christina is majoring in Biology and Religious Studies with a minor in Chemistry. Currently, she is working to establish a cell model linking stress and inflammation in connection with cardiovascular disease. Christina is particularly interested in exploring the effects of psychosocial stress on the human body and hopes to enter medical school after completing her undergraduate education. Outside of school, she enjoys reading, trying out new recipes and spending time with friends and family.

Kayal R. Udaiyar

Undergraduate Student

Kayal is majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology with a minor in Creative Writing. She is particularly interested in research that involves human subjects and is currently working on a study that examines how healthcare workers react, at the behavioral and molecular levels, to stressful cues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside the lab, Kayal loves ultimate frisbee and taking pictures.

Madison Lin

Undergraduate Student

Madi is majoring in Biology and Medical Anthropology. She is particularly interested in research regarding the physiological effects of chronic stress as well as how systemic racism affects medical treatment. Madi is hoping to enter Master’s and Doctoral programs in public health after her undergraduate education is completed. Outside of the lab, she loves spending time with friends and family and traveling.

Lab alumni

Samir Patel, BS

Undergraduate Student and Research Technician, 2020-2023

Abigail J. Gillespie

Undergraduate Student, 2022-2023

Emma M. Welter, BS

Undergraduate Student and Research Technician, 2019-2022

Jake D. Oxendine, BS

Undergraduate Student, 2019-2021

Calvin S. Leung, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar, 2020-2022

Helena Palma-Gudiel, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar, 2019-2021

Key Collaborators

Trevor K. Archer, PhD

Distinguished Investigator, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Elissa S. Epel, PhD

Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco

Christina L. Graves, PhD

Assistant Professor, Division of Oral and Craniofacial Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Nathaniel A. Hathaway, PhD

Associate Professor, Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Karestan C. Koenen, PhD

Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Sarah D. Linnstaedt, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Samuel A. McLean, MD, MPH

Jeffery Houpt Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Laura M. Raffield, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Genetics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Elior Rahmani, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Computational Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles

Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD

Professor, Chief Scientific Officer, and Chair, McLean Hospital and Harvard University

Jose Rodriguez-Romaguera, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

David R. Rubinow, MD

Distinguished Professor and Chair Emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jennifer S. Stevens, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine

Eric A. Whitsel, MD, MPH

Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine, Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

©Zannas Lab