Our Research Team




https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/sahil-bajajSahilBajajPh.D.DirectorMultimodal Clinical Neuroimaging
https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/karina-blairKarinaBlairPh.D.Director of the Program for Trauma and Anxiety (PTAC)
https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/matthew-dobbertinMatthewDobbertinD.O.Chief of Inpatient Psychiatric Acute Care

​Post Doctoral Fellows

Johannah Bashford-Largo 

Johannah Bashford-Largo, M.Ed., PLMHP

Johannah Bashford-Largo has been the Research Clinician for the Center for Neurobehavioral Research since 2018. She earned her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She will be working towards her doctorate degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Neuroscience and Behavior program under the supervision of Dr. Maital Neta, PhD. Johannah’s research interests include using functional neuroimaging methods to study differences in brain systems within multiple psychopathologic disorders.

Ru Zhang 

Ru Zhang, Ph.D.

Dr. Ru Zhang, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Boys Town National Research Hospital’s Center for Neurobehavioral Research. She earned her doctorate in Mathematical and Computational Cognitive Science in 2016 from Purdue University under the supervision of Dr. Ehtibar Dzhafarov, PhD. In her dissertation, Dr. Zhang developed mathematical models and tested those models using psychophysics experiments to examine if human mind and behavior can be represented by the quantum entanglement manner and how various mental processes for multiple dimensions of information are arranged when cognitive tasks are executed. After graduation, Dr. Zhang joined Dr. James Townsend’s lab at Indiana University, Bloomington to continue her work on the topic of mental process arrangements. Then she moved to University of Colorado, Boulder to work with Dr. Matt Jones where she developed and tested reinforcement learning models to learn how humans make decisions and adapt their behavior according to the provided feedback. Dr. Zhang’s current research interests include understanding emotional processing and reinforcement learning processing at the neuron level for both typically developing youth and youth with clinical diagnoses.

Avantika Mathur 

Avantika Mathur, Ph.D.

Dr. Avantika Mathur, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Boys Town National Research Hospital’s Center for Neurobehavioral Research who joined the lab in 2020. The research interests of Dr. Avantika Mathur include understanding the brain mechanisms that underlie the process of human reading, language and music perception ability. While earning her doctorate, she investigated the emotions experienced during music listening using behavior and neuroimaging methods. Her dissertation, under the supervision of Dr. Nandini C. Singh at the National Brain Research Centre in India, focused on studying the brain networks recruited during music listening and the differential modulation of these networks with the valence of musical stimuli. Meanwhile, she learned to utilize advanced imaging techniques, such as structural and functional MRI, to unravel the neural mechanisms that underlie various cognitive functions.

After earning her Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience, Avantika joined the NL3 Wang Lab with Dr. Yingying Wang at University of Nebraska, Lincoln in March 2018 as a postdoctoral research fellow. She continued research in another domain of her interests: ‘To understand the neural processes of human reading ability’. She used functional MRI to understand the neural mechanisms of reading processes - phonological and semantic processing, in 5–7-year-old children. This project was a part of a longitudinal study that measures the reading ability of typically developing children and compares reading ability of children with hearing loss using a series of behavioral tests and neuroimaging techniques — functional MRI, resting-state MRI and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI).

Dr. Mathur joined as a postdoctoral research fellow with Dr. James Blair in July 2020. Dr. Mathur’s current research interests include using multi-modal imaging techniques, including functional fMRI and DTI, to understand differences in brain systems within multiple psychopathologic disorders. She plans to use advanced skills in neuroimaging data analysis (univariate and multivariate analysis, graph theory and connectomics), to better understand the same.

Research Assistants

Jaimie Elowsky 

Jaimie Elowsky, B.S.

Joined the CNR in Summer 2019 from Middle Tennessee State University. Future plans: Clinical Psychology Ph.D.

Nida Majeed 

Nida Majeed, M.B.B.S.

Joined the CNR in Spring 2021 from King Edward Medical University, Pakistan. Future plans: Medical Residency.

Lab Alumni and Former Staff