Executive Committee Members


Victoria Heimer-McGinn, PhD (Co-Chair)
Dr. Heimer-McGinn is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Roger Williams University. Dr. Heimer-McGinn teaches a variety of neuroscience courses at RWU and is passionate about spreading her love for the brain. She co-founded Brain Week RI in 2016 and received the Next Generation Award in 2019 from the Society of Neuroscience in recognition of her work in outreach and education. Dr. Heimer-McGinn is also a Fulbright Scholar, National Hispanic Scholar, and Associate of the Neuroscience Scholars Program. She earned a PhD in molecular neuroscience from University College Cork in Ireland and was a Postdoctoral Fellow (NRSA-F32) at Brown University and Providence College. Here, she trained in behavioral, cognitive, and systems neuroscience. In the past, she has researched spatial memory/context, attention, working memory, and transgenic technologies. Her current focus is on sex-specific cognitive deficits in a mouse model of bipolar disorder. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she is dedicated to increasing female and minority representation in STEAM fields.


Oluwarotimi Folorunso, PhD (Co-Chair)
Dr. Oluwarotimi (Timi) Folorunso is a post-doctoral research fellow in the Translational Psychiatry Laboratory, which is led by Darrick T. Balu, PhD. His research focuses on investigating the cellular and molecular mechanism that underlie cognitive deficits in psychiatric and neurological disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

He is interested in understanding how intrinsic and extrinsic factors alter cortical development, ultimately leading to cognitive deficits in adolescence and adulthood. He is a recipient of the Jeane B. Kempner Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award.


Arielle Nitenson, PhD
Dr. Arielle Nitenson is a Health Program Evaluator at the State of Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH).

Previously serving as an Assistant Professor of Physiological Psychology at Rhode Island College, Arielle earned a Master of Arts in Teaching (Biology Secondary Education) and a PhD in Neuroscience from Brown University. As an advocate for improving the quality of science education, Arielle strives to make science accessible to the general public.


Amy Gabarra
Amy is a political fundraising consultant working for elected officials at every level of Rhode Island government since 1994. Her current and past clients include Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman David Cicilline and Hon. Myrth York. She's been involved in almost every major statewide election over the past 20 years.

Her expertise includes event planning and she has been crucial in the organizing of this year’s Brain Week RI. She is driven to bring knowledge of mental health and neuroscience to Rhode Island.


Dominique Popescu, PhD
Dr. Popescu is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University working onsite at Butler Hospital. She earned her PhD in Integrative Neuroscience from Stony Brook University where she worked on projects developing models of Alzheimer's Disease and conducting lifestyle factor interventions focused on the impact of cardiovascular exercise on AD pathology.

She also developed and instructed a new Psychology of Exercise course and adopted this course for online administration during her time at Stony Brook. Dominique is passionate about empowering people to take charge of their brain health and start aging healthier.


C. Paula Lewis-de los Angeles, MD / PhD
Dr. Lewis-de los Angeles is a physician in the Brown University Triple Board residency program (Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Child Psychiatry). She completed undergraduate studies at Stanford University and her master's in Mind, Brain, and Education at Harvard University. She earned both her MD and PhD (Neuroscience) from Northwestern University where she was part of the Medical Scientist Training Program.

Her clinical and research interests include neurodevelopment in typical and atypical pediatric populations as well as the intersection of mental health and brain development. Dr. Lewis-de los Angeles is passionate about serving underserved communities and is excited about getting learners of all ages excited about the brain!


Nicole Maranhas
Nicole manages communication and outreach for the George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience at University of Rhode Island. Prior to her work at URI, she taught at San Jose State University in California and worked as an associate editor for Rhode Island Monthly magazine.

Nicole was a 2019 Logan Science Journalism Fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, where she was fascinated to get a hands-on glimpse into the world of biomedical research. She is an avid supporter of Brain Week RI and its mission to engage the community in brain health awareness.


Alastair Tulloch
Alastair is a doctoral candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at Brown University. His research focus is on the embryonic signaling mechanisms that lead to nervous system wiring during human development. As a former educator in high school science classrooms, he has a strong desire to connect science from the bench to the greater community.


Claire Kokoska
Claire is an associate for a renewable energy consultancy and also serves as a freelance digital marketing/branding consultant. Earning her undergraduate degree from Union College, she focused her thesis on the psychology of childhood development, carrying that interest with her in organizing BRAINY Visits with the team at the Robert J. & Nancy D. Carney Institute for Brain Science at Brown University.


Torrey Truszkowski, PhD

Dr. Truszkowski is the Research Compliance Manager in the Brown University Office of Research Integrity. Dr. Truszkowski completed her PhD in Neuroscience from Brown University in 2018.

As a graduate student, she visited many K-12 schools in Rhode Island to teach brain science and carries that passion for teaching and learning into her Brain Week leadership activities.