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Current Lab Members


Luana Colloca, MD, PhD, MS

MPower Distinguished Professor, Pain and Translational Symptom Science Department, University of Maryland School of Nursing

Director, CTSA TL1 Program University of Maryland School of Medicine

Adjunct Professor University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD - Departments of Anesthesiology and Psychiatry (secondary appoint.)

Chair, PAIN and PLACEBO SIG - International Association for Study of Pain (IASP)

Treasurer, Society for Interdisciplinary Placebo Studies (SIPS)


Yang Wang, MS, PhD

Yang Wang received her BA in English from China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing, China and both a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Psychology from Southwest University, Chongqing, China. Her research interests include exploring the influences of expectations on pain perceptions within healthy and clinical participants. She is a current Assistant Professor at the Colloca Lab working on the influence of vasopressin on observationally- induced analgesia.


Adria Suhr, BS

Adria Suhr obtained her Bachelor of Science in Psychological Science with a Spanish minor from the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont. She has years of experience in reproductive health care from patient care to project management. As the research coordinator, she works closely with the Principal Investigator in multiple projects.


Titilola Akintola, PhD

Lola received her doctorate in Toxicology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore where she investigated opioid-induced conditioning effects and placebo effects in animal and clinical models of chronic pain, respectively. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Section on Affective Neuroscience and Pain at the National Institutes of Health. Her interests include exploring the mechanisms of cognitive & affective modulators of clinical outcomes in chronic pain and substance use disorder paradigms. She currently works as a research staff scientist in the Colloca lab overseeing multiple projects including virtual reality effects in pain and substance use disorders.


Katia Matychak, MS

Katia earned her Bachelor of Science from Temple University, majoring in cellular and molecular neuroscience. She also earned her Master’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biomedical Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. In college, Katia started working in a lab that studies ion channels through X-ray crystallography and patch-clamp electrophysiology, and from there she knew she wanted to work in research. She continues her dedication to research as a clinical research coordinator, streamlining lab projects. 

Post-Doctoral Fellows

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Roni Shafir, PhD

Post Doctoral Fellow

Roni completed her B.A. in Psychology and the Interdisciplinary Program in Humanities at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and both her M.A. in Psychobiology and her PhD in Psychology at Tel-Aviv University, Israel. Currently, she is a postdoctoral fellow at the Colloca lab. Roni's main interest is in exploring how placebo and nocebo effects shape psychological, physiological and neural responses to pain experience, as well as individuals' self-regulation of such responses.


Carmen-Édith Belleï-Rodriguez, Ps. Ed., PhD

Post Doctoral Fellow

Carmen completed her BA in psychoeducation and psychology and her M.Sc. in psychoeducation clinic and research at the University of Montreal, Canada. She completed her Ph.D. as well as a first postdoctoral fellowship in Health Science Research at the University of Sherbrooke, Canada. She is currently undergoing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Colloca Lab. Her research interests include the non-pharmacological strategies in pain treatment, such as the effect of expectations, placebo and nocebo.


Nandini Raghuraman, MS, PhD

Post Doctoral Fellow

Nandini Raghuraman received her in Biotechnology from Anna University, Chennai, India and got her Master’s in Medical and Research Technology from University of Maryland Baltimore. She completed her Master's Thesis work with Dr. Colloca on Pain Perception in the Brain with Electroencephalography as a neuroimaging technique and is currently a PhD student in the lab working on sociodemographic factors that influence placebo hypoalgesia, observational learning of analgesia, and virtual reality and pain modulation projects. 

Postbaccalaureate Students


Jewel White, BA

PhD Student (Neuroscience)

Jewel White is a PhD student in Neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Medicine. She received her B.A. degree in biology with a minor in psychology at the University of Virginia and completed her postbaccalaureate studies in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Georgia, where she focused on the cellular mechanisms of learning and memory following substance use. Her research interests include the neural mechanisms of pain modulation and substance use disorders. As a part of the Colloca Lab, her research focuses on observation and pain reduction.  


Lakota Watson, BA

PhD Student (Neuroscience)

Lakota Watson is a PhD student in Neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Medicine. Lakota obtained two BAs in neuroscience and psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2018. They went on to complete their postbaccalaureate training in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Cheer at UMB where they studied the effects of endocannabinoid signaling on pro-social behavior in mice and avoidance of aversive stimuli in rats. Lakota's research interests include substance use disorders, social behavior, and individual differences in placebo susceptibility.


Mumtahana Nabi, BDS, MPH

PhD Student (Molecular Epidemiology)

Mumtahana Nabi is a PhD student in Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Medicine. She obtained her BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) degree from the Dhaka Dental College in Bangladesh. She also received two MPH degrees in Epidemiology from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Northern University Bangladesh. Her prior research experience provided a strong foundation in both quantitative and qualitative analytical skills using SAS and R.  She is passionate about understanding the role of genetic and environmental influences underlying pain mechanism, variation in pain perception and response to treatment, particularly in the orofacial region. Her long-term goal is to improve pain management for cancer patients in developing countries through a better understanding of interaction between genetic and environmental factors, especially those from disadvantaged groups.

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James Cottam, BSc (Hons), MSc

PhD Student (Epidemiology)

James Cottam received his Bachelor of Sciences with Honours from the University of Edinburgh, UK, before completing a Master of Sciences at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK. He performed his master’s thesis ascertaining the reliability of data measuring seasonal malaria chemoprevention coverage. James is currently a PhD student in Epidemiology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. His current research interests include health disparities, social determinants of disease and differential responses to treatment.  

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Ankita Moss, BS

MD Student

Ankita is an MD Candidate at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, with an interest in the psychobiosocial aspects of pain management and perception. She has a background in neuroscience research methodology as well as neuroethics. She hopes to connect her experiences at the Colloca lab with her medical training. Ankita graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology with a double minor in Ethics and Philosophy. She then earned an Applied Machine Learning Certificate from Emory post grad.

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Shannon McDonnell, RN BSN, NREMT-B

MS Student (Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences)

Born and raised in St. Mary’s County, MD, Shannon McDonnell earned her B.S. in Nursing from York College of Pennsylvania in May 2020. Immediately postgrad, she worked as an RN in one of Washington D.C’s busiest emergency departments for three and a half years. While there, she found a passion for patient and provider education, as well as improving patient and staff safety. In addition to emergency care, she’s also worked in holistic wellness nursing, COVID-19 testing, and occupational health.
Shannon is currently completing her M.S. in Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences at Georgetown University and has particular interest in translational/clinical integrative medicine research and promoting policies that allow more patients to access complementary and integrative care. Her other interests in integrative medicine include burnout prevention/treatment, health equity, natural medicine, and the study of traditional medical systems.
When she isn’t working or learning, she enjoys caring for her beloved houseplants, cooking, anything creative, and enjoying her current home of Washington D.C.

The Colloca Summer Fellowship

Based on the MPower Distinguished Professorship, this award aims to recognize the early steps of successful young scholars.

Anna Han


Anna Han is a junior at Johns Hopkins University majoring in computational neuroscience and Medicine, Science, and the Humanities. She was selected for the Colloca Summer Fellowship on the basis of her achievement, skill, and passion for discovery. She is excited to develop her research experience by exploring avenues of learning related to virtual reality and pain response. In the future, she plans to attend medical school and possibly become a physician-scientist.

Student Interns

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Eric Duan

Eric Duan is a senior at Glenelg High School in Howard County, Maryland. He was selected for the Colloca Lab as a member of his school's Gifted/Talented Mentorship Program, and hopes to deepen his passions in neuroscience and the placebo effect with respect to pain. Eric is also active in competitive chemistry and aspires to pursue neuroscience in the medical field in the future. 

MPower Scholars


Lucy Van Eron

MPower Scholar SON, 2023

Lucy Van Eron is an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park. She will be starting at the University of Maryland, School of Nursing as a BSN student in Fall of 2023. As an undergraduate intern in the lab, her research interests include pain perception in the brain and pain reduction in patients.


Joshebel Abase

MPower Scholar SON, 2023

Joshebel Abase will be attending the University of Maryland School of Nursing in the Fall of 2023 with hopes of eventually becoming a nurse anesthetist. Her research interest is on pain management and, specifically, how provider care affects pain perception in patients.


Lindsey Baldwin

MPower Scholar SON, 2023

Lindsey Baldwin is a rising junior on the nursing pathway at the University of Maryland. She will be matriculating from the University of Maryland College Park into the University of Maryland School of Nursing in the fall of 2023. As a future nurse she hopes that, through her work in the Colloca Lab, she will gain knowledge on pain perception that will help her to provide the best of care to patients experiencing pain.

Lab Alumni

Former Post Docs

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Lieven A. Schenk, PhD


Yang Wang, MS, PhD

Former Clinical Research Coordinators


Nathaniel (Nate) Haycock, MS

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Taylor Ludman, BS


Daniel Shelton


Maxie Blasini


Rachel Massalee, MS

Former Physician Partners

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Nathalie Peiris, MD

Former PhD Students


Emily Werthman, MSN, RN, PhD


Titilola (Lola) Akintola, BS, PhD


Rachel (Roxy) Cundiff-O'Sullivan, MA, PhD


Sharon Thomas, CRNA, MS, MSN, PhD

Former Rotating PhD Students

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Nicole Corsi, MS, PhD

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Samuel Krimmel, BA, PhD


Susweta Roy, MS


Rebecca Aitken, BS

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Christina Tricou, BA, PhD


Suleyman Aslan, MS

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Phylicia Cooper, BS

Former Medical Students


Elizabeth Olsen, BA

Former PRISM Scholar


Esther Chan, BS

Former PRISM Scholar


Aniruddha Rao, BS

Former PRISM Scholar


Alexis Green, BA



Susie Park, BS

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Ariana Taj, BA

Former PRISM Scholar


Dina Elsaesser, BS



Uwagbale (Uwa) Okojie, BS


Former Research Assistants

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Kristina Park, MS

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Charlene Tugwete

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See Eu Lee


Kathryn Smith

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Ria Patel


Samuel Philips


Mazine Anjorin


Yasmine Bedjaoui, MS

Former MPower Scholars 

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Zachary Lupuloff, BSN

MPower Scholar SON, 2016


Chika Okusogu

MPower Scholar SON, 2018

Federal Work Study Student

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Rohan Laljani

MPower Scholar SOM, 2020


Jeril Varghese

MPower Scholar SON, 2020


Kira Mazel

MPower Scholar SON, 2021


Jane Quackenbush

MPower Scholar SOM, 2022


Salim Muhammed

MPower Scholar SOM, 2022


Lucy Van Eron

MPower Scholar SON, 2023


Lindsey Baldwin

MPower Scholar SON, 2023

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Shiva Movsav

MPower Scholar SON, 2017

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Alexis Saunders

MPower Scholar SON, 2019

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Julianne Austin

MPower Scholar SON, 2020

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Desai Oula

MPower Scholar SOM, 2020


Michelle Soltz

MPower Scholar SON, 2021


Nhi Tran

MPower Scholar SON, 2022


Manmeet Sandhu

MPower Scholar SON, 2022


Joshebel Abase

MPower Scholar SON, 2023

Former Colloca Summer Fellowship Scholars


Nya Anderson



Salim Muhammed


Former Student Interns


Anurag Gottipati

Former High School Intern


Emily Sun

Former High School Intern


Avni Kaushik

Former High School Intern


Margaret (Maggie) Yin

Former High School Intern

Harvard Class of 2025


Angela Han

Former High School Intern

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Jaya Daulat

Former High School Intern

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