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Current Lab Members


Zvinka Zlatar, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

Dr. Zlatar received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Florida with a focus on adult neuropsychology/geropsychology. She completed her APA-accredited clinical psychology internship at the University of California, Los Angeles (Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior), focusing on the neuropsychological assessment of older adults and Spanish-speaking adults. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neurocognitive aging at the University of California, San Diego with an emphasis on imaging the neural substrates of physical activity in older adults. In 2016, she joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego, where she currently conducts research developing behavioral interventions to promote healthy brain and cognitive aging.

Dr. Zlatar is the Principal Investigator of the WISE Lab (Wellness Initiative for Senior Enrichment). The WISE Lab investigates the neural mechanisms by which behavioral factors and lifestyle interventions (such as exercise and diet) affect brain plasticity and cognition in aging. For this purpose, the WISE lab uses functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain structure and perfusion (arterial spin labeling MRI); standard neuropsychological tests to assess cognitive function; accelerometry to capture physical activity and sedentary time; cardiorespiratory treadmill testing to measure fitness levels; and dietary recall to assess dietary changes. 

Marina Zaher Nakhla
Graduate Student

Marina Zaher Nakhla graduated from CSU Northridge with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Master's degree in Clinical Psychology. She is currently a first-year graduate student at the San Diego State University/University of California San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in neuropsychology.

Marina is a Strategic Enhancement of Excellence through Diversity (SEED) fellow and a graduate researcher in both Dr. Zvinka Zlatar's WISE Laboratory and Dr. Dawn Schiehser's Neurocognition and Movement Laboratory. Her research interests involve cognitive aging, as well as the intersection between neuropsychological disorders, physical disability, and mental health. She also has interests in working with underrepresented populations in both research and clinical practice.

Lynn Cohen
Lab Manager | Undergraduate Research Assistant

Lynn is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. Her research interests include dementia, traumatic brain injury, and brain imaging. She plans on pursuing a graduate degree in Neuropsychology after completing her undergraduate studies at UC San Diego.

Caitlin Knight
Lab Manager | Undergraduate Research Assistant

Caitlin is a third-year transfer student majoring in Psychology, with a specialization in Cognitive Psychology. She is interested in learning and memory research, and hopes one day to work in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Allison Williams
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Allison is a second-year Biochemistry & Cell Biology major and Psychology minor. She is a pre-med student who hopes to go into the field of Psychiatry or Neurology. Her research interests involve preventative psychiatry and neurodegenerative diseases.

Maya Eshel
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Maya is a fourth year undergraduate Communications major with a Psychology minor. She is interested in cognitive aging and language research. Following the completion of her undergraduate studies at UC San Diego she hopes to pursue a degree in Clinical Psychology.