"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.

Samir Patel, BS

Research Technician

Samir majored in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Anthropology at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is employed as a research technician through the Carolina Stress Initiative, jointly in collaboration with Dr. Jose Rodriguez-Romaguera. Samir is currently conducting a study that examines how healthcare workers respond to stressful cues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how such responses predict longitudinal psychiatric outcomes. Outside the lab, Samir loves travelling to different countries and playing basketball.

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.

Andrea 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.

Arash Hosseini, BS

Medical Student

Arash is an alumnus of UNC, where he majored in Chemistry and minored in Biology, and is currently a medical student at Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine. He previously worked in the AURORA Study, a national research initiative designed to improve the understanding, prevention, and recovery of individuals exposed to a traumatic event. Arash is interested in pursuing a career in psychiatry, and his current project in the lab examines how chronic stress influences the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and cortisol levels in humans. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, exercising, traveling, and trying new restaurants/cuisines.

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.

Abigail J. Gillespie

Undergraduate Student

Abigail is majoring in Biology and English and Comparative Literature with a minor in African, African American, and Diaspora Studies. Abigail's research interests include how narrative art influences disease outcomes and how stress exposure impacts cell morphology and function. After receiving her undergraduate education, she is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in History of Medicine or in Genetics and Molecular Biology.

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.

Lab alumni

Helena Palma-Gudiel, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar, 2019-2021

Calvin S. Leung, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar, 2020-2022

Jake D. Oxendine, BS

Undergraduate Student, 2019-2021

Emma M. Welter, BS

Undergraduate Student and Research Technician, 2019-2022

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

Nils C. Gassen, PhD

Senior Researcher, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Bonn, Germany

Elior Rahmani, PhD

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

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

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