Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Timko Research Group

CHOP Building Top

Lab Members


Faculty

Dr. C. Alix Timko. PhD

Dr. C. Alix Timko. PhD
Principal Investigator
 timkoc@email.chop.edu
 267-426-5467

Dr. C. Alix Timko is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a clinician in the Eating Disorder Assessment and Treatment Program in the Department of Child and adolescent psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Dr. Timko’s prior work has focused understanding eating behavior in young adults, the use of acceptance-based behavioral therapy (in particular Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) in treating eating disorders, and the presentation of disordered eating in boys.

Currently, she is a Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) Scholar, and is supported by a K12 award (PI: Maria A. Oquendo, MD, PhD).  The purpose of the BIRCWH is to extend her expertise into the area of neuroscience, specifically in behavioral neuroendocrinology and the use of neuroimaging. Her current work focuses in the area of neurocognition, reward circuitry, and what role they play (separately and together) in the development and maintenance of anorexia nervosa. She is actively examining sex differences in social reward in adolescents with anorexia nervosa as well as the role of role of sex hormones in the development and/or maintenance of anorexia. Her work includes examining how malnutrition during this sensitive period impacts brain development. The end goal is to identify biomarkers of a longer course of illness and use this information to develop or refine treatments for adolescents in order to improve outcome and reduce relapse.

Her most recent research has examined the use of Cognitive Remediation Therapy with adolescents in hospital for medical stabilization of their anorexia. The purpose of this was to determine if using CRT on a hospital unit was feasible. The study also examined whether or not CRT enhanced willingness to engage in treatment post-discharge, improved rate of weight gain, and reduced symptom accommodation.



Study Therapists

Dr. Natalia Orloff, PhD

Dr. Natalia Orloff, PhD
 orloffnc@email.chop.edu

Dr. Natalia Orloff recently joined the team as a research psychologist. Prior to coming to CHOP, Natalia completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UC San Diego Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from University at Albany, State University of New York, and completed her pre-doctoral internship at the UC San Diego/ VA Psychology Internship Training Program. During her pre-doctoral internship, Natalia trained at the Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research and at Rady Children’s Hospital Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services. 

Natalia has experience working with children, adolescents, and adults and has received specialized training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Family Based Therapy (FBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). She has worked with individuals with eating disorders at various levels of care, including inpatient, residential, partial hospital, intensive outpatient, and outpatient. In addition to her work with eating disorders, Natalia has experience treating individuals with a variety of diagnoses, including major depressive disorder, anxiety, trauma, and OCD. Natalia’s past research interests include the role of craving in gestational weight gain as well as craving in behavioral addictions. More recently, Natalia has shifted her research interests, focusing on treatment development in eating disorders.


Dr. Eleanor Benner, PsyD

Dr. Eleanor Benner, PsyD
 bennere1@email.chop.edu

Dr. Ellie Benner currently works as a Clinical Psychologist in the outpatient Eating Disorder Assessment and Treatment Program at CHOP and a clinician on Dr. Timko's current research trial comparing Family-Based Treatment to alternative treatment approaches. Prior to coming to CHOP, Ellie completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Integrated Behavioral Health in Bethlehem, PA. She received her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA and completed her pre-doctoral internship at the Johns Hopkins University Counseling Center.

Ellie has experience working with children, adolescents, and adults and has received specialized training in Family Based Treatment, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). She is currently pursuing certification in Family Based Treatment for adolescents. She has extensive experience providing evidence-based treatments for individuals with varying types of eating disorders across the age spectrum. Her true passion lies in working with families and adolescents with eating disorders. Ellie's research interests include novel evidence-based interventions for adolescents with eating disorders and the use of telehealth in the treatment of eating disorders.


Dr. Jessica Harpel, PsyD

Dr. Jessica Harpel, PsyD
 harpelj@email.chop.edu

Jessica recently joined the team as a postdoctoral fellow.  Prior to joining the team, Jessica completed an internship at Geisinger Medical Center in pediatric psychology.  Additionally, she previously completed a year-long practicum in CHOP’s Eating Disorders Treatment and Assessment Program. She received her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology at PCOM. 

Jessica has experience working with children and adolescents and has received specialized training in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Family-Based Therapy (FBT), and Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERPT).  She has provided evidence-based treatment for children/adolescents with a variety of medical conditions, including cancer, GI problems, headaches, and chronic pain.  Additionally, she has provided treatment within CHOP’s eating disorder program, both inpatient and outpatient.  Jessica’s dissertation focused on clinician characteristics and their impact on patient-reported working alliance for individuals with eating disorders.


Kate L McGinley, MS, LPC

Kate L McGinley, MS, LPC
 mcginleyk1@email.chop.edu

Kate attended the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey (Now Stockton University) where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Behavioral Neuroscience. During her undergraduate years she worked at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in the Children’s Intense Emotional and Behavioral Department. After graduation, she attended Chestnut Hill College where she completed a Master of Science degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Therapy.  During her graduate program, she continue to work at CHOP as a research assistant in the Eating Disorder Research Lab; she also completed her graduate clinical internships at CHOP, working with adolescents and their families in both the inpatient and outpatient eating disorder program. Kate has received specialized training in Family Based Treatment (FBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Remediation Therapy (CRT)  and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  For the last 4 years Kate has worked in a private practice, as well as providing in-home services to families in South Jersey.



Assessment Supervisor

Amy Dupuis, MA

Amy Dupuis, MA
 dupuisa4@student.lasalle.edu

Amy Dupuis is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at La Salle University. She completed her undergraduate degree in 2018 at Towson University in Maryland. Her research and clinical interests are how chronic illnesses and disordered eating behaviors co-occur in the child/adolescent population. In her spare time, she likes to bike, read, and go to the beach when it is warm!



Clinical Research Coordinators

Veronica Kreter, BSc

Veronica Kreter, BSc
Clinical Research Coordinator
 kreterv@email.chop.edu
 267-425-1315

Veronica Kreter joined Dr. Timko's lab in June 2019 as a Clinical Research Coordinator. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in 2015 from the University of Sydney with a major in Psychology. Her ambitions include pursuing a graduate degree related to Health Psychology and one day leading an integrative, research-oriented healthcare team focused on promoting well being via cognitive and behavioral interventions. When not at work, she enjoys fostering with the PSPCA, cooking new recipes, and going swing dancing. 


Sonakshi Negi, BA

Sonakshi Negi, BA
Clinical Research Coordinator
 negis@email.chop.edu
 267-425-1318

Sonakshi Negi joined Dr. Timko's lab in the Summer of 2019. As CRC, Sonakshi is involved in the Shifting Perspectives Study as well as other research studies in the lab. Sonakshi is a 2018 graduate of George Mason University where she majored in Psychology. Her long term professional goals are to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology and research normal and abnormal developmental treatment trajectories in adolescents. Sonakshi is specifically interested in the underlying processes and change mechanisms in extant evidence-based treatment for psychological disorders in youth and using that to formulate personalized treatments for youth mental illnesses. In her free time, Sonakshi enjoys painting.


Amanda Makara, BS

Amanda Makara, BS
Clinical Research Coordinator

Amanda Makara joined the Timko lab in 2018 as a summer intern and returned in August 2020 as a research assistant. She recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BS in Neuroscience. Amanda is planning to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology focusing on child and adolescent psychopathology and family dynamics. She is also interested in the intersection between neuroscience and psychology pertaining to neurodevelopment. When not in lab, she enjoys spending time outside, reading, and laughing with family and friends.



Research Team

Connor Mears, BA

Connor Mears, BA
Lead Research Assistant, Director of Social Media
 mearsc@email.chop.edu
 267-425-1320

Connor Mears is a northern New Jersey native, recently graduated from the University of Miami with a BA in Psychology. He joined the Timko lab in the summer of 2019 and aims to obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology further in the future. His specific research interests surround the relationship between social media/technology use and the development and maintenance of psychopathology. In his free time, Connor enjoys weight training, pick-up basketball, and going to the beach.


Sarah Neilson, BS

Sarah Neilson, BS
Lead Research Assistant
 neilsons@email.chop.edu

Sarah Neilson joined the Timko lab in April of 2018. Sarah grew up in Villanova, Pennsylvania before attending St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. She graduated in 2016, with a degree in Psychology. At St. Lawrence, Sarah was a member of the women’s squash team and Admission’s Ambassador. She joined Dr. Timko's lab in the spring of 2018. Her future goals are to pursue a master’s degree and PsyD. When Sarah is not at work, she can frequently be found outdoors reading, running, or exploring Philadelphia. 


Ilana Chamdi, MA

Ilana Chamdi, MA

Ilana Chamdi is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at LaSalle University. She completed her undergraduate degree in 2017 at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her clinical interests are primarily disordered eating, emotional regulation issues, mood disorders, and trauma. Her primary research interests include various factors that contribute to disordered eating behaviors, body image issues, and resiliency. 


Alexis Trakhtorchuk, MA

Alexis Trakhtorchuk, MA

Alexis Trakhtorchuk is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at La Salle University. She completed her undergraduate degree in 2017 at New York University in New York City. During her gap year, she worked as a clinical research coordinator at the NYU Child Study Center where she gained an interest in childhood anxiety and related disorders. Her research and clinical interests center around the comorbidity of anxiety and eating disorders, as well as GI-related concerns in the child/adolescent population. In her spare time, she likes to read, do yoga, and go to the beach.


Danielle Scharff BA

Danielle Scharff BA

Danielle Scharf is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at La Salle University. She completed her undergraduate degree in 2018 at Washington University in St. Louis. During her gap year, she worked at McCallum Place— an eating disorder treatment center in St. Louis, where she worked on the adolescent unit. Her research and clinical interests include effective treatment of eating disorders in adolescent populations, anxiety and related disorders, and social media use and impacts on body image and related issues. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with friends and family, trying out new coffee shops, and playing with her new yorkie puppy.


Siobhan Harmon, BA

Siobhan Harmon, BA

Siobhan Harmon joined Dr. Timko’s Lab in September 2019 as a research assistant.  After earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology she completed her Post Graduate training in Play Therapy at the University of Roehampton, London.  She has many years’ experience working with children and adolescents in attachment based play therapy, working on issues relating to anxiety, self-esteem, loss and grief, trauma and academic learning challenges.  Outside of work Siobhan likes to spend time running and hiking with her family.


Cecilia Rabayda

Cecilia Rabayda

Cecilia Rabayda joined Dr. Timko's lab in the fall of 2019 as a research assistant on the Shifting Perspectives study. She is a rising third-year student at the University of Virginia, studying Global Public Health with a concentration in digital mental healthcare. She hopes to continue research and eventually pursue a career in medicine. Cecilia's specific interests include mental health programming at the university level and effects of the war on drugs on addiction recovery. Outside of research, Cecilia enjoys graphic design and teaching music.


Nikita Bastin

Nikita Bastin

Nikita is a sophomore from Fremont, California, studying Biology and English in the College of Arts and Sciences at University of Pennsylvania.  She spends much of her time outside of the lab advocating for survivors of sexual assault and writing.  She hopes to become a physician-writer in the future.


Remya Brown

Remya Brown

Remya Brown joined Dr. Timko’s Lab in November of 2019 as a research assistant. She is a current sophomore at Temple University, studying Biology as her major. After receiving her bachelor’s degree, she hopes to attend graduate school to eventually become a Physical Therapist. Outside of her studies, Remya enjoys spending time in the city of Philadelphia and jams to RnB music.


Laura Swerdlow

Laura Swerdlow

Laura Swerdlow is an undergraduate student and a current Junior at Temple University, studying Psychology in the Honors Program. She joined Dr. Timko’s Lab in May of 2020 as a research assistant. When not in class,  she is a Lifeguard Supervisor for Temple University’s Campus Recreation, and is involved with Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority and Psi Chi Honors Society. She plans to pursue a doctorate degree in psychology down the line.



Summer Interns

Grace Haase

Grace Haase

Grace Haase is a junior at Amherst College, majoring in Psychology. As a member of Amherst’s track and field team, she is interested in the relationship between eating disorders and athletics, particularly within the running community. While at school, she also works as a research assistant in Amherst’s Child Learning and Development Lab. She enjoys spending free time with friends, family, and her two dogs. 


Chloe Connor

Chloe Connor
CRISSP Intern

Chloe Connor is an sophomore at Schreyer Honors College, Penn State University majoring in psychology and minoring in neuroscience and bioethics. While at Penn State, Chloe was a research assistant in a developmental neuroscience lab focused on the development of neurobehavioral systems underlying personality and individual differences, focusing on individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder. She is currently beginning to write her thesis on the neurobiology of resilience. Outside of the lab, she competes on Penn State’s club cross country team.



Summer Research Fellow

Courtney Breiner, BS

Courtney Breiner, BS

Courtney Breiner joined the Timko Lab in the summer of 2017 as a summer research assistant and will be continuing her work in 2020 as a summer research fellow. She is currently a second-year doctoral student pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Albany, SUNY under the mentorship of Dr. Drew Anderson. She received her BA in Psychology from Boston University in 2018. Her research interests include the treatment of pediatric eating disorders and the effects of malnutrition on cognitive functioning. Outside of research, she likes to train for marathons, hang out with her chocolate lab, and drink really good lattes.



High School Intern

Annika Ridky

Annika Ridky

Annika Ridky is a junior at Harriton High School in Bryn Mawr, PA. She has an interest in the overlap between psychology and medical science. Eating disorders cross both these fields, making them the perfect area of study. When not in school or in the lab, Annika loves to sing, play drums, craft metal arts, and beatbox.