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Seth D. Norrholm, PhD, is a translational neuroscientist with over 20 years of research experience in furthering the understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying fear-, anxiety-, trauma-, and stressor-related disorders and the psychiatric conditions with which these disorders are co-morbid.

Dr. Norrholm has trained in both the “classical” bench-based neurosciences as well as within clinical arenas dedicated to the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. Together with a network of collaborators, Dr. Norrholm has employed objective, psychophysiological methods to study the underpinnings of mammalian fear processing as well as the mechanisms mediating effective treatments for fear and anxiety. Dr. Norrholm is a recognized world leader in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Fear. 

Seth Norrholm, Ph.D.

Scientific Director

Tanja Jovanovic, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences and the David and Patricia Barron Chair for PTSD Neurobiology at Wayne State University. Dr. Jovanovic’s research program focuses on the interaction of traumatic experiences, neurophysiology, neuroendocrinology, and genetics in stress-related disorders in adults and children in high-risk populations. She directs the Detroit Trauma Project which investigates the impact that urban trauma exposure has on the brain. 

Dr. Jovanovic is the lead investigator on several federally funded grants from the National Institutes of Health and has an Independent Investigator Award from the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers and served on national and international grant review panels.

Tanja Jovanovic, Ph.D.



Manessa Riser studied Psychology at Wayne State University. Manessa is a currently a research assistant in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Wayne State University's School of Medicine. Ms. Riser is interested in the neurobiology of trauma, the effects of early life adversities on brain development and fear conditioning.

Research Assistant

Manessa Riser

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Grant LeVasseur studied biochemistry & molecular biology at Michigan State University where he recieved his bachelor's degree in 2017. He is currently a 4th year MD/PhD student at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. His research interests include investigations into the neurobiology of trauma using rodent models of stress, how drug treatments change this neurobiology, and how those models can translate into treatments for humans. His current project involves an investigation into how morphine withdrawal as a model of stress affects fear learning in rats.

When Grant isn't in the lab, you might find him at home brewing his own coffee, eating at one of the many restaurants in midtown, or biking around belle isle.

Graduate Research Assistant


Grant LeVasseur

Timothy Cilley Jr (TJ) completed his undergrad at Michigan State University. His degree was in Interdisciplinary Studies with a cognate in Psychology, a major in Health in Society and a minor in Health in the environment. He is currently a research assistant with the Conti Lab and the NeuroCAST lab. He is interested in PTSD research. He loves reading books and dogs.

Research Technician


Timothy Cilley

VR Technician


John Noetzel

John Noetzel attended Michigan State University where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in Media Information. In that time he focused his studies on interactive media design and game development. He gained fundamental experience across multiple game production disciplines, ultimately gravitating towards programming and development.  Having completed his degree, John continues to build experimental game projects. He is most interested in exploring the practical applications of interactive media, particularly games, in other fields and is inspired by the ability to approach those applications in an innovative and meaningful way.

Savannah Pointe is a first year  undergraduate student at Wayne State University. She is pursuing a degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology. 

Undergraduate Intern

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Savannah Pointe

Former Lab Members


Andrew Hauler

Northern Michigan University


Renie George

Medical College of Georgia


Jessica Woodford

Lab Alum

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