Our Team

Philip Held, PhD
Principle Investigator, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

(he/him)

Dr. Held is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Rush University Medical Center. He also serves as Research Director of the Road Home Program: National Center of Excellence for Veterans and Their Families at Rush, where he oversees a large number of clinically-focused research projects that aim to innovate and improve existing treatments for traumatic stress. 

Before joining Rush University Medical Center, Dr. Held obtained his PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Tennessee where he was part of the Military Health and Stress research group. Dr. Held went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship specializing in Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) at the Center for Trauma Recovery in St. Louis, MO.

Dr. Held’s research aims to personalize and enhance care for PTSD and other trauma-related disorders. Specifically, his research focuses on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of existing evidence-based interventions, and making treatments more accessible. Dr. Held is particularly passionate about using advanced analytics to identify key predictors of treatment success and moderators that impact clinical outcomes. 

Merdijana Kovacevic, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

(she/her)

Dr. Kovacevic is a Postdoctoral Fellow who has specialized training in providing assessment and therapy services for trauma survivors. Merdijana obtained her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Tulsa and completed her clinical internship at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center, including a rotation at the Trauma Recover Center. During her graduate training, she was a research assistant in a lab exploring effectiveness of trauma-informed programming for substance-using, justice-involved women. She also provided trauma-focused individual and group therapy to individuals who experienced various types of traumas, including sexual assault. Her research interests include improving the effectiveness or efficacy of trauma-based care.

Sarah Pridgen, MA, LPC
Manager of Research Operations

(she/her)

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. 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 exploring neural mechanisms that support intensive treatments, especially as they relate to cognition. She is also interested in the utilization of machine learning to aid in the advancement of clinical care by using data to predict which individuals will most benefit from intensive treatment formats. 

Ryan Schubert
Clinical Data Scientist

(he/him)

Ryan received his BS in Biology and Bionformatics and his MS in Applied Statistics from Loyola University Chicago. Ryan previously worked as a Bionformatician in a computational human genetics lab. There he gained an interest in how statistics could be applied to deepen our understanding of human health. His research interests include the ethics and application of algorithms in healthcare.

Enya Meade
Research Assistant

(she/her)

Enya received her BA in psychology from Franklin & Marshall College. After graduating, she worked at a cognitive development lab at The University of Chicago before becoming a research assistant at Rush University Medical Center. Her research interests include etiology of violent behavior, especially when examined from a neuropsychological and neurocognitive perspective.

Mauricio Montes
Research Assistant

(he/him)

Mauricio has a BA in Psychology (Applied Behavior Analysis) and a BS in Human Development from Binghamton University. At Binghamton, Mauricio was a research assistant for a lab studying adjustments to stress and trauma as well as a lab studying human sexuality. During this time, he deepened his background in LGBTQIA+ studies and researched minority stress. Additionally, he conducted research under the National Science Foundation where he traveled throughout the Ukraine to study distress experienced by the people living there. Broadly, Mauricio’s research interests center around the impact early exposure to stressful/adverse events has on mental health.

Rhea Mundle
Research Assistant


(she/her)

Rhea graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Molecular and Cellular Biology. At UIUC, Rhea was a research assistant for a lab studying human memory and cognition. After graduating, Rhea completed a systematic review project on the effectiveness of psychological intervention in patients with prostate cancer. her research interests include understanding the long-term effects of trauma, medical trauma, and the underlying psychological burdens in various chronic conditions. 

Cailan Splaine
Research Assistant

(she/her)

Cailan has a BS in Psychology and a BA in Sociology from the University of Washington where she worked in the UW Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress as an undergraduate research assistant. Her research interests include PTSD following sexual and interpersonal traumas, resilience trajectories following trauma, contributors to treatment nonresponse, and characteristics of PTSD symptom sub clusters. She hopes to earn a PhD in clinical psychology with a continued focus on PTSD treatment and prevention in sexual assault survivors.

Jessica Tharaud
Research Assistant


(she/her)

Jessica graduated with bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Spanish from Bryn Mawr College. While at Bryn Mawr, she worked on the Harvard Study of Adult Development, a continuous study of lifespan development running for more than 70 years. Prior to coming to Rush, she taught English at IE University in Madrid, Spain on a Fulbright scholarship. Her research interests broadly include the development of psychopathology across the lifespan. Jessica aspires to be a clinical psychologist.