Our Team

Lab director

Christine I. Hooker, PhD | Principal Investigator
Stanley G. Harris Sr., Professor of Psychiatry

Professor of Diagnostic Radiology

Christine I. Hooker received her PhD in clinical psychology from Northwestern University in 2002. She completed her clinical training at the VA Northern California and then worked as a postdoctoral fellow and later a research professor in the Neuroscience Institute at the University of California at Berkeley. In 2007, Hooker joined the Psychology Department at Harvard University as a faculty member. In 2015, she joined Rush University Medical Center as the Stanley G. Harris Family Professor of Psychiatry. Her research uses functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or fMRI, to investigate neural mechanisms that facilitate social functioning in healthy adults and patients with schizophrenia disorder. Her work has been supported by the National Institute of Health, the MIND Institute, and the National Association for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression.

Research staff

Kristen M. Haut, PhD | Director of Research

Instructor of Psychiatry

Kristen M. Haut received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2010. She completed her clinical training at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience at UCLA and then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University and a visiting assistant professor at Williams College. Her research involves using multimodal neuroimaging techniques including fMRI and diffusion tensor imaging to investigate structural and functional connectivity brain abnormalities that contribute to the risk for and onset of psychotic disorders as well as how these abnormalities contribute to cognitive deficits, such as impaired working and episodic memory, in individuals with schizophrenia. Her clinical interests include psychodiagnostic and neuropsychological assessment, cognitive-behavioral therapy and social skills training. A Chicagoland native, she is enjoying spending time with her family and getting reacquainted with the city’s food, music and yoga.

Abhishek Saxena, AB | Research Coordinator

Abhishek received his bachelors in arts in psychology with a concentration in experimental psychopathology from Washington University in St. Louis in May of 2015. While at Washington University, he studied the role of emotions and mood in psychopathology, particularly depression. Following graduation, Sazena spent six months at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the etiology and course of first-episode psychosis. His current research interests include the neural and behavioral changes associated with affect and social-cognition in people with mood, anxiety, and psychotic disorders. When he is not running statistical analyses, Abhishek enjoys baking, brunch, writing poetry and short stories, and watching lots of TV. Abhishek also enjoys when his beagle, Zara, visits him!

Sarah Pridgen, MA, LPC | Community Outreach Coordinator

Sarah has a BA in Special Education from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and is a former special education teacher. She received her MA in Clinical Psychology from Roosevelt University. During her graduate training, she was a research assistant in a lab focusing on norming computer-based category and digit span tests. Sarah has experience providing individual and group therapy with at-risk populations experiencing highly acute symptomology including psychotic symptoms, suicide ideation, homicide ideation, and aggression. She also has experience combining her training as a special education teacher with her clinical work by providing specialized therapy to individuals with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. Her research interests include improving outcomes for individuals with severe mental illness, social cognition, aggression, and the effects of discrimination and microaggressions on mental health. When not in the research lab, Sarah likes to hang out with her cats, Clark and Foster, read, and explore Chicago’s dining scene.

Research assistants

Colin Iwanski, BA

Colin graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a BA in Psychology. He is currently a graduate student of Ellen Herbener in the Clinical Program of the Psychology Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Colin’s main research focus is the relationship between different aspects of social cognition and social functioning for individuals with schizophrenia. If Colin finds spare time, he enjoys going to concerts, watching movies, and taking his dog Zoe to the park.  

Samantha Schoeneman, BA

Samantha graduated from the University of Chicago in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in both Classical Studies and Psychology. She completed a post-baccalaureate pre-medicine certificate at Northwestern University in 2013 and is currently pursuing her MD at Rush Medical College. She is interested in how our experiences and behaviors shape our brains and how we can leverage the brain’s plasticity to treat neurological and psychiatric diseases.

Briana Galindo

Briana is a senior at University of Illinois, Chicago pursuing her bachelors in applied psychology. 

Karen Hernandez, BA

Karen is a recent graduate of University of Illinois, Chicago, where she recieved her bachelors in psychology.

Angela Lechowicz

Angela is a senior at University of Illinois, Chicago pursuing her bachelors in applied psychology. 

Lab Canines & Felines

Abbie enjoys playing fetch and hanging out at the dog beach. She is obsessed with cats and chasing squirrels. Abbie is currently working towards her dream of becoming a therapy dog. 

Zara is interested in being the sassiest beagle there ever was. She enjoys long walks (except when it’s raining); sleepovers with her best friend, Enzo; looking for someone to drop food from the dinner table; smelling everything; howling at squirrels, rabbits, other dogs and really anything that moves; and napping in the sun.\

Zoe is a 50 pound ball of pure energy and excitement.  She is very interested in whatever you’re up to, especially if there is food involved.  She likes long walks in the park and playing with her puppy and human friends.  

Foster and Clark are interested in kibbles, socks and the female cat that lives next door. They enjoy ear rubs, sitting in Amazon boxes, and chasing each other around the house.