People

Meet the Experts

Dr. Ryan Vandrey
Dr. Elise Weerts
Dr. Tory Spindle
Dr. Dustin Lee
Dr. Justin Strickland
Dr. Cassie Moore

Meet the Post-Doctoral Fellows

Dr. Austin Zamarripa
Dr. Ashley Dowd

Meet the Research Program Coordinators


Riley Robinson

Riley Robinson is a Research Program Coordinator and joined the CSL in 2021 after graduating from UMBC with a B.A. in psychology. In school she focused on abnormal psychopathology. She also has a passion for forensic psychology, and hopes to begin her PhD in Forensic Psychology in the next few years. After school she hopes to do research into reducing recidivism rates among the incarcerated population, specifically juveniles, in Baltimore City. In her spare time she enjoys axe throwing, gardening, baking, and flow hoop dancing. With the CSL she currently does research focused on the terpenes found in the cannabis plant, and what behavioral influence those terpenes may have when ingested.


Lauren Pollak

Lauren has been with the Cannabis Science Lab as a Research Program Coordinator since January 2020. She has her B.A. in Psychology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland as well as her M.S. in Clinical Research Administration through Laureate International Universities. She is primarily interested in substance use disorders, mental illness, and psychopharmacology, as well as regulatory issues and strategies to protect the health and safety of research subject participants. Lauren hopes to work in the pharmaceutical industry in the future, helping to bring new therapeutic products to the market for myriad mental health conditions. In her free time, Lauren races her sailboat (a Laser Radial dinghy) and also enjoys walking her golden retriever, running, and practicing yoga. Lauren works on both acute and chronic dosing studies, examining the effects of vaporized THC in combination with isolated terpenes as well as the effects of oral CBD when chronically consumed.


Sara Douglas

Sara Douglas is a research coordinator after recently graduating from Washington college. Upon graduation, she received a degree in both sociology and psychology. Her research interests primarily include social psychology, media psychology (impact of social media usage of consumers), psychopathology, the school to prison pipeline, and the socio-cultural impacts of drug legalization in the U.S. In the future, she hopes to be accepted into a master’s program in the social psychology field. Her hobbies include playing soccer, trying new coffee shops, and going on hikes with friends. In the cannabis lab, she works on a drug interaction study focusing on the interaction between cannabis and commonly ingested pharmaceuticals. She also works on a study that explores the impacts of topical CBD on drug testing.

Hayleigh Tilton

Hayleigh Tilton is a Research Program Coordinator in the Cannabis Science Laboratory. She graduated with a BS in Psychology and a minor in Chemistry from Florida State University, where she was able to work on research involving anxiety sensitivity’s relationship to cannabis use. Hayleigh’s research interests include the behavioral pharmacology of cannabis as well as the neuropsychopharmacology of psychedelic drugs and their implications on consciousness. She is looking to continue her education with a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience in order to continue studying these drugs and their effects on the human mind. In her free time, Hayleigh enjoys yoga, traveling, live music, drug harm-reduction, and cross-stitching. Her current projects are focused on the pharmacology of hemp-based topical products and drug-drug interactions with edible cannabis.

Spencer Lin

Spencer joined the CSL as a Research Program Coordinator in August of 2021, after earning his B.S. in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. In the CSL, Spencer works on both THC and CBD research, studying the effects of topical CBD products and the individual and combined effects of nicotine and cannabis. Spencer is interested in research on pharmacodynamics of commonly used substances, especially regarding impairment. He is also interested in counseling psychology and plans to pursue a Ph.D. program in clinical or counseling psychology in the near future. In his free time, Spencer enjoys photographing squirrels, cooking, cycling, and gaming.

Kushani Shah

Kushani has been with the Cannabis Science Laboratory since May 2021. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Illinois. Her primary research interests are substance use, co-occurring mental illness and addiction, therapeutic use of substances, as well as forensic psychology, wherein providing effective mental health treatment for the incarcerated population. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in a clinical psychology program soon. Currently, Kushani works on two projects that aim to understand the impact of oral cannabis and alcohol administration on impairment as well as the behavioral pharmacology of nicotine and cannabis. In her spare time, Kushani loves to read, bike, hike, play board games, and collect ocean-scented candles.

Renuka Surujnarain

After graduating with a B.A. in Neuroscience-Biology from CUNY Queens College in N.Y.C, Renuka arrived at the Cannabis Science Laboratory in February 2021 to help conduct research studies looking at the behavioral pharmacology of cannabis and nicotine. Through collaboration with faculty, staff, and other coordinators, she obtains brain imaging data to learn more about nicotinic receptor density in the brains of tobacco smokers, as well as gather pharmacokinetic data to learn more about how cannabis may impact the metabolism of other commonly used medications. Invested in the intersection of sensible drug policy, human autonomy, and altered states of consciousness, she hopes to gain exposure to the scientific research that can be used to improve current issues in drug policy and increase academic access to Schedule I drug research.

Mikahla McDeavitt

Mikahla arrived at the BPRU in February 2022, after graduating from UC San Diego the previous year with a B.S in Human Developmental Sciences and a minor in Psychology. Mikahla hopes to enhance her understanding of the intersectionality  between behavior and drug interventions. She aims to obtain a Ph.D in clinical psychology or developmental psychology. In her spare time, Mikahla enjoys practicing yoga, painting and exploring the city of Baltimore. Mikahla is currently working on a study that is investigating different doses of CBD and its biological and cognitive effects on human subjects. 

Ben Huynh

Ben joined CSL in February 2022, after he studied at the University of Maryland and graduated in spring 2020 with a degree in Family Science, a subfield of public health focusing on social determinants of health and psychology. He is interested in studying trauma, its effects, and effectiveness of various coping skills/strategies. He is also interested in addressing racial health equity and health outcomes of incarcerated individuals. His future goals are to continue his education in public health and serve as an advocate for prison reform and minority mental health equity. In Ben’s spare time, he enjoys reading & writing poetry, and playing tennis & basketball. He is also a sucker for a good sitcom. His favorite sitcom is Community and is currently enjoying Abbott Elementary. At the lab, Ben’s research focus is on the combined effects of tobacco and cannabis. 

Lindsay Howard

After graduating with a B.A. in Psychology from Gettysburg College, Lindsay joined the CSL in 2022 as a Research Program Coordinator. In school she mainly became interested in behavioral neuroscience and human cognition. She hopes to pursue a PhD in psychopharmacology or behavioral neuroscience in the next few years. Her hobbies include running, hanging out on her family’s boat, and playing with her dog. In the cannabis lab, she plans on studying the pharmacokinetics of different cannabinoid compounds and plans to work with chronic CBD dosing.

Bess Mascone

Bess is a Research Program Coordinator in the Cannabis Science Laboratory. She graduated from Washington College with a BS in Psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and Sociology. During undergrad, she was able to work in a preclinical lab researching biological differences of addiction vulnerability. She enjoys researching the potential behavioral benefits of using medicinal marijuana to treat symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the intersectional stigmatization disabled populations would face with illicit drug use due to drug policy. She hopes to pursue a master’s in social work (MSW). On her spare time, she enjoys going for walks, hikes, and watching Netflix.

Meet the Student Interns

Allie Hausker

Allie is a Senior at Johns Hopkins University studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and Psychology. She works in the preclinical research division on projects relating to the behavioral pharmacology of cannabinoids with a particular focus on inflammatory pain. Allie is currently studying abroad with JHU in Denmark, but will return to the lab in the Spring.

Meet the Collaborators

Affiliated Johns Hopkins Faculty

Dr. Cecilia Bergeria
Dr. Kelly Dunn
Dr. Annie Umbricht
Dr. Denis Antoine
Dr. Paul B Rosenberg
Dr. Elizabeth Wise
Dr. Jay Salpekar
Dr. Johannes Thrul
Dr. David Wolinsky
Dr. Edward Cone
Dr. Dionna Williams
Dr. Lauren Jantzie

External Scientific Collaborators

Dr. Marcel Bonn-Miller
Dr. Ron Flegel
Dr. Ruth Winecker

Meet the Facilitators


Yvette Rogers, PA-C
Pilar Dutton, LPN
Leeza Wager, PharmD
Robin Clay, RN