Welcome to our new class of junior investigator mentees

We are pleased to welcome our next class of junior investigator mentees as part of our Research Education Component (REC). We had an exceptional amount of applications this cycle, and as a result, extended the mentorship program to seven mentees. These investigators span from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University. We look forward to assisting these investigators in their career development over the coming years. Read more about each of them and their career goals below.

Amara Ezeamama, PhD, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University

Dr. Amara Ezeamama is an Assistant Professor with a decade of experience implementing epidemiologic studies of cognitive function in relation to HIV-infection, parasitic infection and malnutrition in vulnerable populations within resource limited settings. She obtained a PhD in Epidemiology from Brown University in 2006 and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Harvard School of Public health between 2008 and 2012.  Prior to graduate training in epidemiology, she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA Class of 2000).  In her current role, she investigates determinants of neurocognitive disorder, disability and quality of life decline among Africans living with HIV and currently on antiretroviral therapy.  She hopes to inform future interventions that mitigate premature functional decline in this vulnerable population.


Ana Daugherty, PhD, Assistant Professor, Wayne State University

Dr. Ana Daugherty is an Assistant Professor at Wayne State University, joint appointed in the Departments of Psychology, Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, and the Institute of Gerontology. She earned a doctorate in psychology (behavioral and cognitive neuroscience) from Wayne State University in 2014 and completed a competitive post-doctoral research fellowship at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She now directs the Healthy Brain Aging laboratory and studies how vascular and metabolic factors modify human neural cognitive aging, and contribute to risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. She employs multimodal MRI methods, diverse cognitive-behavioral assessments, blood biomarkers of vascular health, actigraphy and advanced statistical methods for the longitudinal study of aging.


Annalise Rahman-Filipiak, PhD, Clinical Lecturer, University of Michigan

Dr. Annalise Rahman-Filipiak is a Clinical Lecturer in the Neuropsychology Section of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology, Biology, and Neuroscience from the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC, followed by Master’s and doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. She was a predoctoral trainee at the Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology. Dr. Rahman-Filipiak completed a residency in Neuropsychology at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System/University of Michigan consortium before joining the UM faculty in October 2018. Dr. Rahman-Filipiak’s research focuses on the development of novel measures for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), metacognition in aging, and culturally-sensitive protocols for the disclosure of diagnosis of or biomarker-based risk for ADRD.


Charlie Fehl, PhD, Assistant Professor, Wayne State University

Dr. Charlie Fehl is a chemical biologist studying the molecular mechanisms of sugar metabolism and signaling pathways. His lab builds controllable intracellular tools (using light or synthetic biology) to interrogate metabolic regulation in living cells. In particular, we study the neuroprotective effects of O-GlcNAcylation, a metabolic signal that drops precipitously in neurons experiencing degeneration. We use organic synthesis, photochemistry, and synthetic biology to track the roles of these sugars in living cells using proteomics, transcriptomics, and informatics analyses to gain a systems-wide understanding of metabolic regulation in neurodegenerative disease. Dr. Fehl received his B.S. degree from the University of Michigan, then took an extended route back to Detroit following a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Kansas and postdoctoral experience at the University of Oxford. He opened his lab in the Wayne State University Department of Chemistry in 2018.


Courtney Polenick, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan

Dr. Polenick is Assistant Professor in the U-M Department of Psychiatry and Faculty Associate in the Aging & Biopsychosocial Innovations Program of the Survey Research Center at the U-M Institute for Social Research. She received her PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from the Pennsylvania State University, and she completed an NIMH T32 postdoctoral fellowship focused on geriatric mental health in the U-M Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Polenick’s research centers on later-life family relationships and caregiving in the context of complex care needs including dementia and multimorbidity. She is particularly interested in understanding mutual influences within older couples managing chronic conditions that inform targeted dyadic interventions to maintain the well-being of both partners.


Ilce Medina Meza, PhD, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University

Ilce Medina Meza is Assistant Professor at the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at Michigan State University. She is a Chemical Engineer B.S. and M.S. with PhD in Food Science from Instituto Tecnologico de Veracruz/Universita di Bologna.  Prior to join MSU she was appointed as research fellow in the Biological Systems and Engineering department at Washington State University. Her research interest are on Food and Health Engineering, focusing in a deep understanding on the molecular mechanisms governing oxidative stress of lipids, steroids and cholesterol homeostasis. She has devoted significant time studying lipid oxidation due to autooxidation and reactive oxygen species (ROS), and evaluating their impact on health. Her current research is the lipidomic based-discovery of neurodegenerative diseases biomarkers for early detection by application of high throughput mass spectrometry methods and kinetic modelling. She has joint appointments in the departments of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering. She has published more than 30 peer-reviewed papers. She is editor of 1 book, author of 2 book chapters and delivered more than 40 presentations both oral and poster at internationals conferences. She is member of the ASABE, IFT and European Network for Oxysterols Research (ENOR). She is member of the Editorial Board of the journal Food Research International, and serves as reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals in the area, including Food Engineering, Food Chemistry, Food and Bioprocess Technology.


Omar Ahmed, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan

Dr. Omar Ahmed received both his undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in Neuroscience from Brown University. He then worked on large-scale single-neuron-resolution recordings in epilepsy patients at Massachusetts General Hospital during his postdoctoral work, before joining the faculty at the University of Michigan in 2016 as an Assistant Professor. His primary appointment is in the Dept. of Psychology (Behavioral Neuroscience area), and he is affiliated with the Dept. of Biomedical Engineering and the Neuroscience Graduate Program. His lab uses a combination of in vivo and slice electrophysiology, two-photon imaging, computational modeling and design of novel analytical tools to understand the neural circuits involved in learning and memory, as well as how these circuits are altered in Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.