Itamar Lerner

Itamar Lerner, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Itamar Lerner is a cognitive and computational neuroscientist and the Principal Investigator of the Sleep and Memory Computational Lab. His research interests include the effects of sleep on learning, hippocampal-dependent memory and its involvement in pattern recognition and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the brain mechanisms behind creativity and insight, associative processes in semantic memory in healthy and schizophrenic individuals, and language acquisition. Visit for additional information.

Graduate Researchers

Beverly Vickrey

Beverly joined The Sleep and Memory Computational Lab in the Spring of 2022 and is a second year master’s student as of Fall 2022. She previously completed her bachelor’s degree in biology in 2012 through WGU and decided to change focus, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology at UTSA before continuing to a master’s program. Her research interests involve memory consolidation during sleep and the external influences which may hinder or bolster the consolidation process. She plans to continue a Ph.D. program after finishing her master’s at UTSA.

Emerson Larios, B.S., M.S.

Emerson is a second-year student at University of Texas in San Antonio studying for his master’s in psychology. Emerson is from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. He attended University of Mobile, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Organic Chemistry. In addition, he received a Master of Science in Biology from Auburn University. Emerson is interested in understanding the biological mechanisms involved in the role sleep plays in the development of stress and trauma, along with subsequent disorders that may arise, such as PTSD.

James Westphal, B.A.

James is currently a second-year student in the Psychology MS program at UTSA. He first began working with Dr. Lerner as an undergraduate in February 2020. During this time span, he has experienced coding in Python and JavaScript using PsychoPy to write experiments, used in his own research as well as other master’s students. He has also had the opportunity to help develop lab protocols that will be used in the lab’s research with PSG and EEG-based experiments. In addition, James has also gained experience with applying for grant proposals and has had a firsthand education on sleep and sleep research.

Undergraduate Researchers

Emily Wood

Emily has been an undergraduate Research Assistant in The Sleep and Memory Computational Lab since September of 2020. After completing her bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she plans to pursue her MD. During her time as a Research Assistant she was given the opportunity to help set up the lab, review grant proposals and train incoming Research Assistants. Under Dr. Lerner’s leadership she has gained a deeper understanding of sleep and its function, as well as deepening her passion for research.

Sabrina Sanchez

Sabrina is a freshman majoring in neuroscience and is on track to graduation in the Spring of 2025. After graduating she hopes to get her MD at a Texas Medical school. Sabrina is a new research assistant and is very excited to be given the opportunity to be a part of innovative and exciting research.

Caroline Muniz

Caroline is an honors freshman majoring in Psychology and is a new research assistant in Dr. Lerners Lab as of Spring 2022. Caroline is really passionate about the field of psychology and medicine. After graduating in 2025, she wants to attend medical school in Texas. She recently got certified as an EMT and loves to help in emergency situations. She is very excited to learn more about sleep and the effects it has on memory, as well as gaining valuable experience in psychology research.

Alx McCabe

Alx recently joined The Sleep and Memory Computational Lab in Spring 2022, in hopes of gaining a greater understanding of the research process and the effects of sleep on neurological and physiological mechanisms. She is a first-year undergraduate student studying Neuroscience with a pre-med concentration. Alx plans to pursue an MD, with the goal of conducting research on the efficacy of accessible health care treatments and lifestyle decisions, and applying that research directly to patient care.

Kendell Lyssy

Kendell is a new research assistant starting in the Fall of 2022 semester and is excited to learn more about the research process in the sleep lab. She is a second-year undergraduate student who is majoring in psychology. After graduating, Kendell plans to pursue a master’s with the intention of getting more knowledge and experience in the field.

Hannah Velez-Barjak

Hannah graduated from UTSA in the spring of 2022 with her BA in psychology. She is a new research assistant who is interested in getting more experience with research and learning more about how sleep affects the mind. In the near future, she plans on getting into a graduate program to earn a Psy.D. in clinical psychology.

Nathan Zuniga

Nathan is a first-year student in the Honors College majoring in Computer Science with plans to minor in Mathematics. He is interested in writing scripts for tasks and is fascinated by the work being done in The Sleep and Memory Computational Lab. Nathan is Security+ certified and hopes to obtain more certifications along his path to graduation in Spring 2026. After graduating, Nathan plans to pursue a career in Ethical Hacking.

Stephen Zajac

Stephen is a first-year student at the University of Texas in San Antonio studying for a bachelor’s in psychology. Stephen is a double major in psychology and politics and law and is studying to become a relationships therapist with a focus on borderline personality disorder and chemical dependency. Over the summer, Stephen is an accounting intern at Cooper CPA Group.