Laboratory Director

Mel_Faculty_Portrait88Melanie Stollstorff, PhD

Dr. Stollstorff is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department in the Cognitive Neuroscience Area at Florida International University (FIU).
Phone: 305-348-7961



Laboratory Manager

Gloria Aguirre

My interest in neuroscience began while I was a research assistant in a clinical lab investigating the long-term treatment outcomes of ADHD stimulant medication. I am a graduate of Florida International University with an undergraduate degree in psychology and a professional background in the delivery of mental health and geriatric health care services. My education and professional history have fostered in me a strong interest in the different ways we may remember our life experiences and how we can influence or strengthen these processes within the brain.  I look forward to completing a PhD in cognitive neuroscience so that I may lead my own lab in studying the interplay between genetics, health habits (such as diet), and memory within the context of neurodegenerative disease.

Phone: 305-348-3375


Graduate Students

Ben photoBen Sheler

My primary research interest involves trying to better understand conscious experience from the perspective that it is an interaction between voluntary and automatic influences on attention. Through use of brain imaging techniques, such as fMRI, I work to objectively parse apart what characterizes circumstances when attention is more voluntarily influenced versus automatically and vice versa.  I am also interested in the practical application of these research findings in regards to personal life improvement.





Brianna PankeyBrianna Pankey

While working as a research assistant at Howard University, I became interested in cognitive neuroscience, better understanding how the brain works, and how it relates to daily function. I am interested in research involving executive function and emotion. I find it fascinating to understand how the brain supports human function in social and emotional situations. I am eager to be a part of research that will further advance the understanding of executive function of the human brain.



Undergraduate Research Assistants

headshot_hassanHassan Akram

I am currently in my senior year pursuing my bachelor’s degree in biological science, under the pre-med track. Psychology has always intrigued me. My ultimate career goal is to become a pediatric surgeon specializing in neurology. My primary research interest are the effects of neurobiology (such as neurotransmitters, genes, transporter proteins etc.) on something as simple as thinking and emotion within the context of diseases such as ADHD. I hope to incorporate my learning from this research into my career in order to serve my community.


 Lilian Gracia

I was born in Cuba and came to the United States as a young child. I am currently a senior at FIU majoring in biological sciences. I intend to apply to medical school this summer, matriculate in 2018 and obtain my M.D degree. I have thought about specializing in surgery but don’t know exactly what type yet. My interest in the brain began while I was shadowing a neurosurgeon, prompting me to seek an opportunity with the Stollstorff Lab. I hope to gain experience in how research works behind the scenes and what conclusions can be drawn from studying the brain.


valeriafagundoValeria Fagundo

I was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. I am currently working on a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and a minor in chemistry. I will complete my undergraduate degree this year and hope to begin medical school next year. A few personal and academic experiences have given rise to my interest in cognitive neuroscience and my decision on a future career as a neurologist. I sought an opportunity at the Stollstorff Lab not only to enhance my knowledge as a future doctor but also to be part of a positive impact in my community.


roxanna-floresRoxanna Flores

I am originally from Puerto Rico, currently enjoying my undergraduate studies in Miami. I’m a senior at the FIU Honors College pursuing a bachelor’s in psychology, with a minor in biology. My life experiences have rooted in me a great desire to help others, especially children, by combining psychology with the natural sciences. I want to serve the community around me by helping improve lifestyles and health, while dealing with mental illnesses. This is why I aspire to one day become a Clinical Neuropsychologist. In my free time, I like to sing, watch TV shows, and have adventures with loved ones. I enjoy working in the Stollstorff Lab and look forward to gaining a remarkable research experience!

Kristen_HeadshotKristen Fox

I recently graduated from FIU with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in chemistry. This is my second semester working in Dr. Stollstorff’s lab, and I am very excited to be a part of such a great research project. I have been a child life volunteer at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital for over a year, and I am the Medical Mission Trip Coordinator for the American Medical Student Association at FIU. I hope to attend medical school, and one day become a pediatrician specializing in oncology and hematology.

Lily Kaufmann

I am a Canadian and I moved to Miami three years ago in order to attend FIorida International University and train with the FIU Swimming and Diving Team. During my time here I have had the opportunity to learn from great professors who have inspired me to pursue research. I will be graduating in spring 2017 with my bachelor’s degree in psychology, and I am planning on obtaining a post-graduate degree in physical therapy. With a background in both psychology and physical therapy I aim to study the interaction between the physical and mental aspects of the human experience. Specifically, I am interested in studying the relationships between changes in brain anatomy, psychological disorders, and the corresponding physical symptoms.


e-malave Emmanuel Malave

I am currently in my senior year pursuing my bachelor’s degree in computer science. Once I have completed my studies, I plan on building a career as a Software Engineer. Before I became interested in programming I had a huge interest in neuroscience and even planned on studying it as an undergraduate. My plans changed but the passion never died out. I was extremely excited after finding out that lab was looking for a Computer Science student to help them with E-Programming, web development and other tasks for their research. To be able to join both of my passions into this position seems like a dream come true. I look forward to learning and making as many contributions to the Stollstorff Lab as possible!


IMG_9337 (1)Alexandra Moor

I am  a junior at Florida International University obtaining my bachelors in psychology.  My main goal in this field is to become a researcher, to help define, predict, and prevent certain neurological disorders, from Alzheimer’s Disease to more common disorders like anxiety. I am also interested in reducing the margin of error in logical thinking by seeing what genetics influence our thought processes through emotions. I was introduced to this line of research in my high school years and have been enamored ever since. I am incredibly excited to be part of Dr. Stollstorff’s team and start working towards that goal.



Alejandro Hermida

Alejandro Hermida, former StollstorffLab Manager, has left the Stollstorff Lab to pursue a medical education at the University of Miami.




Former Stollstorff Lab Members

Manuel Contreras

Giselle Haitz

Richie Hou, PhD

Ana Piñon

Brittany Manso

Camille Morales

Claudia Batista

Dominique Espinoza

Jasmine Dukes

Nelson Lorenzo

Stefanie McLaney

Sheyla Moliner