Our Team

Philip Held, PhD
Principal Investigator, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Philip Held, PhD(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
Study Therapist

Merdijana Kovacevic, PhD(she/her)

Dr. Kovacevic is a Clinical Psychologist 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.

Daniel Szoke, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Szoke is a Postdoctroal Fellow who studies therapy services for suvivors of trauma, with a specific interest in mindfullness-based interventions. Daniel obtained his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno under the mentorship of Dr. Holly Hazlett-Stevens. Daniel’s clinical internship was at VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System where he completed rotations with the Addictive Disorders Treatment Program and PTSD Clinical Team. During graduate school, Daniel provided trauma-focused therapy for Spanish-speaking survivors of domestic violence and published on cultural adaptations for trauma-focused treatments. Daniel also examined mindfulness as a protective factor for secondary traumatic stress in rape crisis center staff. He is interested in exploring the mechanisms of change within mindfulness-based interventions for survivors of trauma and continuing to improve the effectiveness of trauma interventions. In his spare time, Daniel enjoys reading, visiting new coffee shops, and going to the beach.

Erin Walker, PsyD
Postdoctoral Fellow


Dr. Walker is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow who studies assessment and therapy services for trauma survivors. Erin obtained her PsyD in clinical psychology from Adler University and completed her clinical internship at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, including a rotation in the Trauma Recovery Program. During her graduate training, she completed her dissertation project on resilience within a clinical sample of asylum-seekers who survived torture. She also provided trauma-focused individual and group therapy to individuals who experienced various types of traumas, including sexual assault, torture, combat, and natural disasters. Her research interests include resilience after trauma, diversity and cultural factors that impact treatment, building culturally sensitive assessment measures, and improving the efficacy of trauma-based treatment. In her personal life, Erin enjoys reading, comic books, Dungeons & Dragons, and exploring new restaurants in the city.

Sarah Pridgen, MA, LCPC
Manager of Research Operations


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


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

Enya Meade(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.

Rhea Mundle
Research Assistant

Rhea Mundle(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

Cailan Splaine(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

Jessica Tharaud(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. 

Emily Patton
Reseach Assistant


Emily received her BA in psychology with a concentration in Human Services from DePaul University in 2020 where she also minored in Public Health Studies. Following graduation, she spent two years as a research study coordinator for the Statistics for Evidence Based Policy and Practice Center at Northwestern University. Her research interests include the experiences and impact of formal and informal truama disclosure, specifically among those who have survived sexual and relationship violence. Additionally, she is interested in self-efficacy and empowerment in truama survivors. In her free time, Emily enjoyes reading, running, and baking.