ARCHIVED PAGE: UF Women of Neuro

In July 2021, we began highlighting some of the incredible women leading our research initiatives at the McKnight Brain Institute. Check out some of our fearless leaders below!

Principal Investigator, Dale Lab

Dr. Erica Dale

Dr. Dale studies the neurons in the cervical spine that control breathing to develop new treatments and devices for those with spinal cord injuries.

Image of Doctor erica dale with text reading: “My best advice is not to take the 'nos' to heart. If you find a passion, stick to it. Life will inevitably throw obstacles in your way, so follow your convictions and passions to the best of your abilities. If the path hasn't been built yet, get out your shovel! Become not just resilient, but antifragile.”

Neurology Service Chief, Small Animal Clinical Sciences, UF College of VETERINARY Medicine

Dr. Sheila Carrera-Justiz

Dr. Sheila Carrera-Justiz is neurology service chief in UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine department of small animal clinical sciences. Her research spans from household pets to exotic species, and she’s currently exploring a novel treatment for malignant brain tumors in dogs.

U-F Women of Neuro. portrait of doctor Sheila Carrera-Justiz next to her quote: "“Find something you love and go after it. If it turns out differently than expected, don’t be afraid to reevaluate and make a change. Twenty years ago, I thought I would work for a practice in a big city. I never expected to be an academic in a college town, and I couldn’t be happier with where I have landed.”

Principal Investigator, Translational Neurosurgical Oncology Laboratory

Dr. Maryam Rahman

Dr. Rahman is dedicated to finding a cure for brain tumors. Her laboratory focuses on identifying novel immunotherapy approaches to overcome resistance in patients with brain cancer. Current projects include development of vaccines for the treatment of brain tumors and combining immunotherapy with MRI guided laser ablation.

U-F's women of neuro, Maryam Rahman, M-D: "For me, striving to overcome self-imposed limitations and impatience opens the door to a life of creativity, collaboration and joy. If through my work I can reduce suffering of patients and inspire students to dedicate themselves to providing clinical care, educating or producing research with the potential to change lives, then I have achieved something worthwhile."

Principal Investigator of the Tissue Mechanics, Microstructure and Modeling Laboratory

Dr. Lakiesha Williams

Dr. Williams’ research is focused on how the meninges and brain interact with each other normally and under conditions such as intense vibrations and high impact to better understand the links between TBI & Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Lakiesha Williams for U-F's Women of Neuro feature: "I want young women to see that you can get a Ph.D. in STEM and excel in a research career while having a family if that’s the path you choose. No accomplishment of significance is easy, so live your dream and go for it. Challenges in life and research are inevitable; learning to navigate through them will help you grow as a person."

Principal Investigator of the Social-Cognitive and Affective Development Lab

Dr. Natalie Ebner

Dr. Ebner’s expertise in experimental behavioral aging research coupled with her background in affective, social, and cognitive neuroscience allows for a comprehensive view of brain−behavior relationships in the study of healthy aging.

Ebner: ""I was fortunate to have extraordinary mentors who supported me in my research and career goals while honoring my situation as an international scholar raising two daughters on my own. My advice for young women in this field is to stand up for yourself and advocate for what will allow you to achieve success, in both your personal and professional life."

principal investigator of the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Engineering Lab at UF’s Preston A Wells Jr. Center for Brain Tumor Therapy.

Dr. Catherine Flores

Dr. Flores’ research interests are primarily in determining biological interactions between various cellular compartments involved in adoptive immunotherapy. Her studies also focus on leveraging systemic toxicity of frequently practiced clinical treatments in order to further enhance anti-tumor efficacy of immunotherapy.

photo of dr. Flores next to text: "I’ve had phenomenal women mentors who have inspired me throughout my career, and they’ve taught me the importance of equity and fairness. They give me hope and encouragement for the future of women in science and medicine. Being a female leader allows me to advocate for women in science — if you champion others, everyone succeeds."-Catherine Flores, Ph.D.

Medical Director, UF Health Shands Comprehensive Stroke Center

Dr. Anna Khanna

Dr. Khanna is currently providing care for stroke patients in inpatient and outpatient settings. She mentors two stroke fellows, medical students and residents. Dr. Khanna’s main interests are in acute stroke management and continuing research in several clinical trials treating acute stroke.

Uf's Women of Neuro present is highlighting Dr. Anna Khanna, director of the UF stroke center. "My advice to young women striving to become doctors now extends to my own daughter, a pre-med student here at UF. I always tell her there are no limits. All dreams are possible and therefore you must dream big. Some goals take work and time, but all can be achieved. Believing in yourself is most important."

Director, UF Department of Neurology Residency Program

Dr. Christina Wilson

Dr. Wilson currently provides stroke care for hospitalized patients and supervises resident continuity clinic. She also handles didactic training of stroke mechanisms of disease and mentors stroke fellows, medical students and residents. Dr. Wilson’s main interests lie in neurology graduate medical education and clinical stroke management.

Christina Wilson, Director, UF Department of Neurology Residency Program: "As a medical educator, I have the privilege of seeing residents start with an initial spark of passion and transform into knowledgeable, independent practitioners. My advice is to share your vision for your career and not hold back. This will keep you on track and allow your mentors to identify opportunities to help you get there."

Chair of UF’s Department of Physical Therapy

Dr. Krista Vandenborne

Dr. Vandenborne’s work presents a multidisciplinary, integrated research approach to study muscle degeneration/regeneration from a pathophysiological level to functional impairment. Her research uses MRI & spectroscopy to study skeletal muscle in patients, and she is leading a translational research program focused on developing and validating biomarkers in muscular dystrophy.

M-BI-'s Women of Neuro presents: Krista Vandenborne

neuropsychology director of the movement disorders and neurorestoration program at the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases at UF Health

Dr. Dawn Bowers

Dr. Bowers is internationally known for her expertise in neurocognitive and emotion processing changes associated with age related disorders including Parkinson disease, Essential Tremor, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurologic disorders. Her research has spanned  laterality, attention and memory, and neuropsychology of emotion using TMS, ERP, psychophysiology, near infrared stimulation, computational modeling, and face digitizing. 

“I was fortunate to have marvelous mentors whose actions and values helped guide my career. From them, I learned to find my passion, be bold and think outside the box. They modeled the best of interdisciplinary science, which I’ve tried to emulate. Because I love what I do, I have rarely considered it work, but rather a part of my life story.” - dawn bowers

Director of Research for the Department of Neurology’s Division of Neurocritical Care

Dr. Carolina Maciel

Dr. Maciel is a neurointensivist with dedicated training in EEG monitoring in critically ill patients. Dr. Maciel’s areas of scientific focus include neuroprognostication, secondary brain injury mechanisms while understanding the impact of cortical electrical phenomena after acute brain injuries, novel therapeutic approaches to status epilepticus and acute pain, and the critical care management of the potential organ donor.

Graphic: [headline] U-F's Women of Neuro. [quote] “I aspire to serve as a role model for all members of the team, particularly in demonstrating that putting your heart and soul into everything you do always pays off. For me, being a leader means inspiring each person who crosses paths with me to push their ceiling higher, whatever that might be and in whichever role they are in.” Carolina Maciel, M-D, M-S-C-R Director of Research, Division of Neurocritical Care  UF Department of Neurology. Doctor maciel is a latino woman with short brown hair standing in an office with a colorful string of garland behind her.

Director of the Mangurian Clinical-Research Headquarters for Lewy Body Dementia at the Fixel Institute

Dr. Melissa Armstrong

Dr. Armstrong’s research focuses on the lived experience of disease for individuals with Lewy body dementia and their families, ranging from patient and caregiver priorities for care to hospital outcomes to end-of-life experiences.

photo of doctor armstrong with the quote: "When I first started my neurology residency training, there were no women faculty where I worked. We are in the midst of an exciting time when more women are entering and excelling in the field of neurology. Mentoring this next generation, regardless of gender, is one of my passions."

medical director of the UF Health Shands Neurointensive Care Unit

Dr. Katharina Busl

Dr. Katharina Busl is the medical director of the UF Health Shands Neurointensive Care Unit and UF’s neurocritical care division chief. Her research interests center around care innovations and quality of care in neurocritical care.

Graphic with photo of Katarina Busl and quote"I encourage women in neurology to find their passion within the field and then go for it. Everything has a different spin to it when you love what you do. Make sure to consider how you will balance your professional and personal lives and surround yourself with a strong support network, both at work and at home."

Director of the Center for Addiction Research & Education

Dr. Sara Jo Nixon

Dr. Nixon is a clinical researcher in the area of substance abuse and dependence. Due to the complex nature of substance abuse, her work uses comprehensive behavioral assessments including neuropsychological testing, brain electrophysiology, and clinical research interviews.

Sara Jo Nixon, director of the center for Addiction Research & Education: "To me, true leadership means not backing down when faced with persistent challenges and modeling that perseverance. It means welcoming difficult questions and encouraging critical thinking in order to build a foundation that will lead us to exceptional innovation. Ultimately, success comes from meeting your own expectations — take time to know what those expectations are."


Dr. Catherine Price

Dr. Price’s research is devoted to studying the neuropsychology of older adults with and without dementia and neuroanatomical dissociates on older adults’ cognitive functioning and cognitive change.

portrait of Dr. price next to a body of text that reads:

Interim Chair, UF Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Carol Mathew

Dr. Mathews is a renowned clinician and translational researcher in the areas of obsessive-compulsive disorder, tics and anxiety disorders.

mathews smiles to her quote that reads: "My driving passion is to help people identify and harness their unrealized potential, whether it’s my patients, students or colleagues. I am particularly enriched by working with women and others who are underrepresented in medicine and science and those who are starting their careers or contemplating a career change or next step. Working together, we can continually strive for the next attainable goal!"


Dr. Malú Gámez Tansey

Dr. Tansey’s research explores the role and regulation of neuroinflammatory and immune system responses in modulating the gene-environment interactions that determine risk for development and progression of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disease.

Doctor Tansey is our next Women of Neuro

Associate Director of UF’s Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory

Dr. Sara Burke

Dr. Burke’s research investigates mechanisms of cognition and determining how diet and metabolic function can increase resilience to memory loss in aging and disease. To answer these questions, her lab integrates data across multiple levels of analysis that includes neurophysiology, gene expression, anatomy and behavioral assays.

Photo of doctor Sara Burke next to a graphic that reads, "University of Florida: Women of Neuro. ""It is incredibly important for researchers in the neurobiology of aging field to foster an interest among trainees from marginalized groups and first-generation students. There is still a lot of progress to be made to understand and treat cognitive aging. Our field will be better equipped to tackle unsolved problems if we are listening to a broad range of diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives." - Sara Burke, p-h-D, Associate Director of the Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory

Associate Director of UF’s Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence

Dr. Yenisel Cruz-Almeida

Dr. Cruz-Almeida’s research is focused on understanding age-related pain perception and modulation in humans. Her research examines nervous system factors contributing to the observed inter-individual differences in pain phenotypes and its functional consequences including cognitive and mobility impairments.

“Building your perseverance and resilience are key to becoming a great scientist. When you fail, whether it’s an experiment or a beautiful grant proposal you’ve been working tirelessly on, you have to persevere and know that your worth is not determined by your failure.”

Director of UF’s Center for NeuroGenetics

Dr. Laura Ranum

Dr. Ranum’s research focuses on the role of Repeat Associated Non-ATG  (RAN) translation, RNA gain of function and protein gain of function in repeat expansion disorders including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) types 5 and 8, myotonic dystrophy (DM) types 1 and 2 and Huntington’s disease (HD).

photo of doctor ranum in her lab


Dr. Regina Bussing

Dr. Bussing currently holds the position of professor and chief of faculty development in the department of psychiatry at UF. Her research expertise spans mental health services, measure development, pharmaco-epidemiology, psychotherapy intervention, and clinical pharmacology trials research.

photo of doctor bussing in her office


Dr. Jennifer Bizon

Dr. Jennifer Bizon is a professor and chair of the department of neuroscience. Her research is broadly focused on understanding brain aging and its implications for cognitive function. She participates in the training of medical students, graduate students, undergraduates, and postdoctoral fellows.

"Being a leader in this field provides an opportunity to help pave the way for the next generation of female scientists. It's so important to have examples of female leadership, not only to have diverse voices in the room, but also to show that it is possible to balance work and family life."