• Department of

    Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences

  • About

    THINK Lab stands for Trauma History Investigation of Neurodevelopment in Kids. We study the impact of stress and trauma during childhood on brain development in children and adolescents, as well as, pediatric anxiety disorders, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our research uses several neuroscientific techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG).

    Wayne State University

    School of Medicine

    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience

  • People

    Meet the minds of the THINK Lab

    Hilary Marusak, Ph.D.

    Principal Investigator

    Dr. Marusak is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University School of Medicine. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child and Family Development, a Scientific Member of the Karmanos Cancer Institute and the CURES Center, and a Science Advisor for the nonprofit organization Kids Kicking Cancer.

    Breanna Borg

    Research Coordinator

    Breanna is currently a graduate student at Wayne State University School of Medicine working to earn her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University, majoring in neuroscience. Her previous research was done with the Department of Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, where she focused on trauma (firearm injuries, sink-bathing burns, circumstances surrounding dog bites).

    Austin Morales, M.S.

    Research Technologist

    Austin received his Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering in 2020 from Wayne State University. He also earned a Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Physics at Wayne State. Austin is interested in structural and functional changes of developing minds subjected to traumatic experiences. Other research interests include procedural memory, long-term potentiation, and fMRI biophysics.

    Amanpreet Bhogal

    Research Volunteer & Social Media Director

    Aman earned her bachelor's degree in Psychology in 2019 from Wayne State University. She is interested in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on child mental health. Additionally, Aman has been interested in bridging the communication of research to the lay audience with her creative work in videography and photography.

    Aneesh Hehr

    Research Volunteer

    Aneesh is a medical student at Wayne State University School of Medicine. He completed his bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences at Wayne State University. He is interested in pursuing a career in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and/or Neuropsychiatry.

    Shreya Desai

    Research Volunteer

    Shreya is currently an undergraduate student at Wayne State University, working toward a major in neuroscience and a minor in psychology. She is interested in exploring brain development in children who have experienced trauma and she is also interested in researching the effects of mindfulness on children.

    Saurav Singh

    Research Volunteer

    Saurav is currently a fourth year political science and neuroscience double major at Wayne State. Saurav's interest in neuroscience comes from his own personal experience with epilepsy. Through working in research, he hopes to know more about neuroscience to help others with his condition.

    Mohammed Faraj

    Research Volunteer

    Mohammed is a third year medical student at Wayne State School of Medicine. Mohammed completed my bachelor's degree in genomics and molecular genetics at Michigan State University and is interested in pursuing a career in either Anesthesiology or Pediatrics.

    Shelley Paulisin

    Research Volunteer

    Shelley is currently an undergraduate student at Wayne State University, majoring in Public Health and minoring in Neuroscience. Shelley plans to apply to medical school and is interested in specializing in Pediatric Oncology/Hematology. Shelley has been a research assist in Dr. Marusak's studies for over 4 years and has worked on several projects, including two co-authored publications. In her free time, Shelley loves working out, attending Bikram Yoga, and spending quality time with her son Dylan and cat Piglet.

    Zazai Owens

    Research Volunteer

    Zazai is an alumni of Wayne State University, where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Education. She currently works as a Special Ed.Teacher with developmentally delayed preschool and kindergarten children in Detroit, Zazai works concurrently as a Behavioral Health Technician with St. John Ascension Health. She is also a premedical student, applying to medical school. Zazai is facilitating a partnership between Detroit Public Schools and the THINK LAB.

    Lauren Lowes

    Research Volunteer

    Lauren is a current third year medical student pursuing family medicine or obstetrics and gynecology. She hopes to stay in Michigan and complete her residency in the metro Detroit area. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2018 and is currently in medical school at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She graduated with honors, a degree in Nutritional Sciences and minors in both Bioethics and Humanities and Health Promotion. She has conducted research on the impact of petroleum coke storage in Michigan through Wayne State University and has worked with the Department of Surgery at Children's Hospital of Michigan conducting research on patients diagnosed with intestinal failure.

    Nina Lipanski

    Research Volunteer

    Nina is currently an undergraduate student at the University of California San Diego, working toward her major in Biology with a minor in Global Health. She is a premedical student who is interested in exploring the field of behavioral neuroscience and psychiatry.

    Jennifer Losiowski

    Research Volunteer

    Jennifer is an alumnus of Central Michigan University with her bachelor's degree in Psychology. She is currently a second-year graduate student in the Basic Medical Sciences program at Wayne State University. Jennifer is interested in better understanding the biological and environmental factors that puts children at risk for development of psychiatric disorders and utilizing neuroimaging techniques to evaluate structural and functional brain changes associated with psychiatric disorders.

    Daed Daher

    Research Volunteer

    Daed is currently an undergraduate premedical student at Wayne State University, working toward a major in Environmental Science and a minor in Geology. She is interested in the impact of various forms of trauma on adolescent neurodevelopment, with a focus on environmental effects.

    Pelli Mechnikov

    Research Volunteer

    Pelli is currently an undergraduate student at Michigan State University double majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology and minoring in Jewish Studies. She is interested in exploring how anxiety disorders affect the brain and is especially interested in studying anxiety in children.

  • We are Hiring!

    Come work with us in Detroit


    For a list of the THINK lab's published research, click here

    Follow us on social media here

    Participate in paid research studies!

    Click on this link or scan the QR code to complete a form to be contacted about research opportunities!

    Wayne State ABCD study

    Parents of 10-17 yr olds living in Detroit or the surrounding areas: Take a brief online survey and have your child complete a brief survey and earn a $20 e-gift card for your participation!


    Help Wayne State researchers understand the things that children & teens experience. Your child may also be eligible for a larger study that compensates $180. Watch this 2-minute video to learn more about the study. Contact us to get started!

    PATH Study

    The Peer Adjustment and Teen Health (PATH) study is an online survey study to learn about teen health. If you are a parent of a 10-14 year old and live in Detroit or the Detroit Metro area, you may be eligible to participate in brief online surveys and earn up to $20 for your participation. Contact us to get started!

    DRYVE Study

    The Detroit Research on Youth Violence Exposure (DYRVE) study is an online survey study to learn more about local Detroit neighborhoods and community violence in teens. Teenagers between the ages of 14-18 yrs (and one parent/guardian) living in Detroit may be eligible to participate. If that's you or your teen, contact us!

    CBD Study


    This study is to examine the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on anxiety and behavioral problems among children with epilepsy. In partnership with Dr. Aimee Luat, MD (Children's Hospital of Michigan).



    Research Funding

    We are thankful for research support from various funders. Our current research is supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Children's Foundation, and the WSU Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences.

    THINK lab members sweep The Science Coalition’s Fund It Forward Student Video Challenge


    View the winning graduate video here by Amanpreet Bhogal and Aneesh Hehr. This video was also awarded the People's Choice Award -->



    View the winning undergraduate video here by Shreya Desai -->

  • Affiliated Groups

    Collaborators & community partners

    Science Policy Network-Detroit

    Co-founded by THINK lab members Breanna, Saurav, Shreya, and Dr. Marusak

    BrainSTEM podcast

    Hosted by Dr. Marusak and produced by Amanpreet and Manmeet Bhogal

    Kids Kicking Cancer

    International nonprofit organization

    Detroit Trauma Project

    PI: Tanja Jovanovic, Ph.D.

    TNP2 Lab

    PI: Christine Rabinak, Ph.D.

    MR Research Facility

    Wayne State Core Facility

    The Drug Lab

    Drs. Mark Greenwald & Leslie Lundahl

    Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

    Division Chief: Jeffrey Taub, M.D., F.A.A.P.

    Behavioral and Field Research Core

    Scientific Director: Felicity Harper, Ph.D.

    Adolescent Relationships in Context Lab

    PI: Hannah Schacter, Ph.D.

    Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery Program

    Medical Director: Aimee Luat, M.D.

    Wayne Pediatrics

    Chief Medical Officer: Christopher Youngman, M.D.


    The THINK team in the lab and in the community!

    Washington, D.C.


    Dr. Marusak advocating for federal research funding for neuroscience on behalf of the ACNP and SFN

    School visits


    In partnership with Kids Kicking Cancer

    THINK lab students at the Celebration of Life


    For pediatric cancer patients and survivors



    Dr. Maruask high-fiving a child who completed one of our neuroimaging studies

    Therapeutic Techniques for the 21st Century: Pediatric Psychosocial & Palliative Care


    Dr. Marusak discussing the impact of stress and trauma on the brain and the benefit of martial-arts based meditative techniques

    Celebration of Life


    For pediatric cancer patients and survivors



    A child superhero participating in one of our EEG studies

    Brain Day


    Drs. Marusak and Rabinak in a panel about women in science at the Michigan Science Center

    Virtual reality


    A child completing our virtual reality task

    Celebration of Life


    For pediatric cancer patients and survivors

  • Contact Us!

    You're awesome. Let's talk.






    Tolan Park Medical Building 3901 Chrysler Service Drive, Suite 2B
    Detroit, MI 48201