People

PI: Dana M. Small, PhD

Dana Small

Dana Small is a Professor of Psychiatry and of Psychology at Yale University and the Director of the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center (MDPRC). She received her MSc in Neuroscience (1998) and PhD in Clinical Neuropsychology from McGill University in 2001. Her research focuses on understanding how sensory, metabolic and neural signals are integrated to determine food choices and on how the dysregulation of these systems contribute to the development of obesity, diabetes and cognitive impairment.
Contact: dana.small@yale.edu
Office Phone: 203-785-4158

Xue Davis, PhD

Xue is a Project Manager at Yale University and Operations Director of the MDPRC. She completed a Neuroscience PhD in the Small lab at Yale (2015) and a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Harvey Grill at the University of Pennsylvania. Xue is interested in individual differences in metabolic and perceptual responses to food cues and their relationship to reward-related feeding behavior.
Contact: xue.davis@yale.edu

Tuki Attuquayefio, PhD

Tuki Attuquayefio

Tuki is a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University. He obtained his PhD from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia in 2017. His PhD examined the impact of high fat high sugar consumption on interoceptive sensitivity, as well as cognitive and memory processes related to hippocampal function. His postdoctoral research combines behavioral, physiological, and neuroimaging measures to investigate behavioural, cognitive and metabolic changes associated with central insulin administration in prediabetic overweight and obese youth.
Contact: tuki.attuquayefio@yale.edu
Twitter: @tuki_nii

Michael Farruggia

Michael is a PhD Candidate in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program at Yale University. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and Biology from Duke University in 2014. Subsequently he worked at Florida International University as a laboratory manager/research assistant studying how memory changes across neurodevelopmental disorders. His current research focuses on using predictive analytics to better understand taste perception and obesity.
Contact: michael.farruggia@yale.edu

Emily Perszyk

Emily Perszyk is a graduate student and National Science Foundation pre-doctoral fellow in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program at Yale University. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience from Washington and Lee University in 2018. During this time, she worked in Dr. Bob Stewart’s sensory neurobiology lab to characterize the normal postnatal dendritic development of neurons in the hamster nucleus of the solitary tract taste relay center. Currently in the Small lab, she is interested in studying the neural correlates of food reward and feeding behavior through neuroimaging and indirect calorimetry techniques.
Contact: emily.perszyk@yale.edu

Alex Chen, MA

Alex is a Medical Student at Yale School of Medicine. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology, Psychology, and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Subsequently, he completed his Master’s degree in Philosophy of Medicine and Psychiatry from King’s College London. Alex’s past research interests include seizure thresholds in epilepsy, and neurobehavioral changes during gut inflammation. Currently, his research focuses on the relationship between body composition and cognitive function, as well as the ethical grounding of clinical decision-making during the beginning and end of life.
Contact: alex.chen@yale.edu

Elizabeth Garcia

Liz is a Research Assistant II at Yale University. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Johns Hopkins University in 2014. Liz is interested in the diverse role of neuropsychological and metabolic signals that contribute to the obesity epidemic. She plans to utilize this clinical research experience to pursue a medical degree.
Contact: elizabeth.garcia@yale.edu

Kathryn Wall

Kathryn Wall

Kathryn is a Research Assistant in the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center. She graduated from Union College in June 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. While at Union she worked in a lab studying the relationship between and, underlying neurobiological mechanisms of, exercise and cognitive improvement in older adults with MCI. Currently, she works on projects evaluating the relationship between metabolism and cognition and the effects of high-fat vs high-sugar diets. Kathryn’s future plans include pursuing a doctoral degree in Neuroscience.
Contact: kathryn.wall@yale.edu

Zach Hutelin

Zach is a Research Assistant in the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center. He graduated from Brevard College with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science. He spent the following year at Valdosta State University as a Post-Baccalaureate where he conducted metabolic research. Currently, Zach’s focus is on physiology, nutrition and gut-brain interactions. Zach’s future plans are to pursue medical school and one day apply his research into a clinical setting to facilitate dietary change.
Contact: zach.hutelin@yale.edu

Jessica Trinh

Jessica is a senior undergraduate researcher at Yale College. She is majoring in Neuroscience (B.S.) and is involved in projects exploring taste sensitivity and relationships between odor imagery with BMI and craving. She is interested in the intersection of nutrition and medicine and hopes to pursue a Masters in Nutrition before applying to medical school.
Contact: jessica.trinh@yale.edu

Workers in the lab.