The Team

Principal Investigator 

Judy Pa, Ph.D.

Judy Pa, PhD, Lab Director

Dr. Judy Pa, PhD is the Co-Director of the ADCS and Professor of Neurosciences. Dr. Pa has 20 years of human neuroimaging experience and directs a research lab focused on Alzheimer’s prevention and risk factors. Dr. Pa recently moved from USC in which she was Project Leader of their Program Project Grant on Vascular Contributions to Alzheimer’s disease, Imaging Core Co-Leader of their Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, and Co-Director of the USC SMART-VR Center. One branch of her research program is developing and testing new multi-domain combination interventions using technology, such as virtual reality and remote activity monitoring, with the goal of preserving brain health and cognition.

Dr. Pa is currently the Principal Investigator of 2 ongoing National Institutes of Health behavioral intervention trials with a focus on physical and cognitive activities. She also leads a research program on big data approaches to investigate the interplay between biological sex and APOE genotype, two key risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Pa is an internationally recognized leader in lifestyle-based interventions for brain health and whose research has been featured on MSNBC, US News, Larry King Live, and the Hallmark Channel with Maria Shriver. She is dedicated to mentoring the next generation of scientific leaders, early career researchers, graduate students, and data enthusiasts. In her non-science time, Dr. Pa spends time with her husband, 2 kids, and labrador retriever on the ski slopes.

Research Staff

Lisette Isenberg

Research Scientist

Joey Contreras

Research Scientist

Joy Stradford

Virtual Reality Study Manager 
Joy received her bachelor of science in Psychology with a minor in Biology from Howard University in May of 2017 and her master of science in Neuroimaging and Informatics from USC in May of 2018. Joy currently manages two clinical trials at USC LONI and UCSD Health. She is interested in examining race disparities in Alzheimer’s Disease, and aspires to become a clinical neuropsychologist.

Coralie Phanord

Virtual Reality Programmer
Coralie is a VR Programmer for the Pa Lab. She enjoys studying and developing technology tools that improve mental and physical health. She has a Bachelor of Engineering from Dartmouth College.

Post Doctoral Scholars

Megan Fitzhugh

Post Doctoral Scholar
Megan is interested in understanding how hearing loss increases one’s risk for dementia. She uses hearing tests and brain MRI data to study how hearing loss may alter brain structure and function. Megan received her doctorate in neuroscience at Arizona State University and her bachelor’s and master’s degree in physiology and psychology from the University of Arizona.

Graduate Students

Laura Fenton

Clinical Science PhD Student, USC
Laura is a fourth year graduate student in the Clinical Science Department at USC. She is interested in modifiable lifestyle factors that can delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and early behavioral manifestations of cognitive decline. She received her B.A. in psychology from UC Berkeley in 2016 and her M.A. in Clinical Psychology from USC in 2021.

Nancy Elizabeth Ortega

Neuroscience Ph.D. Student, UCSD

Nancy’s research aims to understand the neural mechanisms by which depression increases an individual’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). She uses brain MRI data, mental health assessments, cognitive tests, and genetic information to explore potential relationships. Nancy received a B.A. in psychology from the University of San Francisco.

Joanna Eckhardt

Neuroscience PhD Student
Joanna is a second year PhD student in the UCSD Neurosciences Graduate Program. She is interested in understanding the relationship between exercise and sleep, and how these factors may relate to Alzheimer’s disease. Joanna received her B.S. in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science from the University of Arizona Honors College.

Vahan Aslanyan

Biostatistics PhD Student, USC