Principal Investigators in the Stress and Neuroimaging Lab

Alan N. Simmons, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System
Director, fMRI Research Core, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System
Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego

Education and Professional Experience
Dr. Simmons received his B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of California at San Diego and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology. After completing a predoctoral internship in clinical neuropsychology at Oak Forest Hospital in Illinois, he joined the laboratories of Professors Murray Stein and Martin Paulus as a postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Simmons is the Associate Chief of Functional Neuroimaging for the Center of Excellence in Stress and Mental Health at the San Diego VA Healthcare System.

Research Focus
Dr. Simmons' research focuses on neuroimaging of emotional systems such as anticipatory and affective appraisal. He has conducted studies on posttraumatic stress disorders, trait anxiety, neuropsychopharmacology, and depression. Dr. Simmons is collaborating with other investigators on the study of pain processing, traumatic brain injury, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and eating disorders. In addition, he is working on novel computational models for imaging analysis. Dr. Simmons has received early career funding from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders (NARSAD) and from the U.S. Department of Defense.


Andrea D. Spadoni, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego

Education and Professional Experience
Dr. Spadoni earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in neuropsychology, from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and San Diego State University Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. After completing her APA Division 40 approved predoctoral internship at the New Mexico VA Healthcare System and the University of New Mexico, she returned to UCSD as a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Alan Simmons (CESAMH Neuroscience Research Investigator) and Dr. Susan Tapert (Psychology Service Chief at VA San Diego Healthcare System; VASDHS). Dr. Spadoni is currently a Research Health Science Specialist at the VASDHS and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD.

Research Focus
Dr. Spadoni uses functional neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural mechanisms driving the development and maintenance of comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol use disorders and their empirically supported treatments. She is also interested in the direct and interactive effects of affective disorders and substance abuse on neurocognition and affective processing.


Jessica Bomyea, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System

Education and Professional Experience
Dr. Bomyea is a research scientist in the Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental health, working in the Stress and Neuroimaging Lab with Dr. Alan Simmons and the TBI Cognitive Rehabilitation Clinic with Dr. Amy Jak. Dr. Bomyea received her doctoral degree from the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in clinical psychology. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at the VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center and a postdoctoral fellowship at UCSD with Drs. Ariel Lang and Murray Stein.

Research Focus
Dr. Bomyea’s research seeks to understand the link between aspects of cognitive functioning (e.g., cognitive biases, executive functioning) and PTSD. In addition, she studies novel interventions for PTSD with the goals of translating cognitive science principles to new treatment approaches and delineating the processes of change during treatment. She is currently examining the neurobiological characteristics of individuals with PTSD and/or TBI, and the efficacy and neural substrates of cognitive interventions for PTSD.


Katia Harle, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System
Assistant Professor, University of California San Diego, Department of Psychiatr

Education and Professional Experience
Dr. Harlé completed her B.Sc. in Physics and Electric Engineering at the “Institut National des Sciences Appliquées” in Toulouse, France. She went on to complete a Masters in cognitive neuroscience and earned her Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in neuropsychology, at the University of Arizona under the mentorship of Drs. Alan Sanfey and John Allen. After completing her APA Division 40 approved predoctoral internship at the UCSD Department of Psychiatry and VA San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS), she joined the UCSD Department of Psychiatry as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Martin Paulus. Dr. Harle is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD.

Research Focus
Dr. Harlé’s research uses a combination of computational modeling, brain imaging, and neuropsychological methods for understanding how negative affect is integrated into reward processing and decision-making, and how such cognitive processes break down in individuals with psychiatric illness such as depression, PTSD, and substance abuse. Her research goals are to help 1) provide a mechanistic rationale for developing interventions aimed at improving individuals’ response to adverse emotions, and 2) develop more precise severity markers and predictors of clinical course and treatment response, based on a combination of neuroimaging data and computational tools. Dr. Harle’s research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NINH) and by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).