Our Research Team

Kanesha Banks, M.S.


Kanesha Simmons Banks is a 4th year clinical psychology student at Howard University. She graduated from the University of Virginia with an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Psychology. After graduating, she began working as a Post Baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award fellow (Post Bac IRTA) at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, MD conducting functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Magnetoencephalography studies investigating people’s responses to pain, pain modulation, and anxiety. She has received her Master of Science in Clinical Psychology where her thesis examined the relationship between cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive functioning. Her research interests are centered around cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stress and its impact on neurocognitive functioning. Her clinical interests include understanding and implementing mindfulness-based interventions for mood disorders, stress-related disorders, and coping with chronic medical illnesses.

Breanna Beard


Breanna Beard is a 2nd year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at Howard University. She completed her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in psychology at North Carolina A&T State University. Her clinical interest involves health promotion through the modification of daily lifestyle practices to enhance the mind-body connection. Her research further examines the complex interaction among health behaviors contributing to disparate health outcomes among African Americans. Currently, she is completing her master’s thesis, where she integrates her research and clinical interests, by exploring neurocognitive substrates underlying the relationship between physical activity and eating behaviors.

Olga Herren, M.S.


Olga Herren is a 7th year doctoral candidate in neuropsychology at Howard University. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She received her Master of Science in neuropsychology where her empirical thesis examined effects of spirituality on executive functioning in a community sample of African-American adults. Her research interests include social determinants of health, in particular the impact of psychosocial variables on physiological processes and resulting cognitive function and brain structure.  She is currently involved in projects examining the influence of attentional and emotional control on physiological processes translated as cognitive outcomes, with the intention of investigating associations between cultural components, lifestyle habits, inflammation, cellular aging, neurotrophic factors, and various biomarkers of energy homeostasis, eventually introducing culturally-based interventions to the African-American community as a way to potentially dampen the damaging inflammatory response in stress.

Victor Jones, M.S.


Victor L. Jones Jr is a 6th year doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Howard University. Mr. Jones completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in clinical psychology at Howard University. His research explores the biological, social, behavioral, and psychological factors that impact overall health and wellness in at-risk populations. Mr. Jones is currently a health psychology intern at the VA Maryland Health Care System/University of Maryland School of Medicine Psychology Internship Consortium. His clinical interests include conducting assessments and interventions, as well as providing case consultation, in a medical/hospital setting. He has recently accepted a post-doctoral fellowship with an emphasis on HIV and Liver Diseases at the DC VA Medical Center.

Keri Kirk, M.S.


Keri Kirk is a 5th year doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Howard University. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Movement Science-Kinesiology at the University of Michigan and is a certified personal trainer. She received her Master of Science in psychology where her empirical thesis examined exercise behaviors of HBCU college students. Her clinical interests combine her passion for fitness and health promotion and include health, sport, and exercise psychology, psychosocial correlates of health disparities, intervention development for health promotion among Black women, cognitive and motivational aspects of behavior change, and minority mental health awareness.  Her research explores the biopsychosocial correlates of physical activity adherence in young Black women.  She is currently completing her pre-doctoral internship at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit, Michigan, and will be completing her postdoctoral fellowship at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.

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