The Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory

Charmane Eastman, Ph.D.


Founding Director, Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory

Professor, Department of Behavioral Sciences


I went to college at SUNY in Albany, N.Y. when I was very young and got a degree in Math.  Then I was a lab tech (research assistant) for many years at M.I.T., Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley.  I worked with monkeys, rabbits, cats and a few other animals in studies of vision, hearing and smell.  I was “super tech” and never planned to go to graduate school.  But things change.  Finally, I went to the University of Chicago, worked in the sleep lab of Alan Rechtschaffen, PhD., and got a Ph.D. in Biological Psychology.  My dissertation was on sleep and circadian rhythms in rats and included a computer model of human circadian rhythms.  I stayed for a few years of post doc and studied rats with lesions of the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN, the master circadian clock in mammals).

After my post doc I got a job as Laboratory Director of the Sleep Disorders Service and Research Center and Assistant Professor in the Psychology Dept of our university.  I started my research career with an “in house” grant.  Then I got an NIH grant and started the Biological Rhythms Research Lab.  It was just me and one research assistant and I would help bring light boxes to the homes of our subjects and put black plastic on their windows for my studies on the effects of light on the circadian clock.  After several more years and several more NIH grants, they built a new lab for me.  It was fun to help design this unique facility for efficiently and rigorously studying human circadian rhythms.

In my lab, we spent many years investigating circadian rhythms in winter depression (also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD)), and bright light treatment of SAD.  Our current research focuses on how to reset (phase shift) the human circadian clock with light and melatonin.  The aim of these studies is to develop practical solutions to alleviate the problems of shift work, jet lag, and the other “disorders” created by modern society such as the delayed sleep phase disorder and the sleep problems of extreme night owls and most adolescents due to their delayed circadian phases.  One day, in 1990, the head flight surgeon at NASA called and asked me to make sleep and bright light schedules to reset the circadian clocks of the astronauts to prepare them for the shift work of space shuttle missions.  So I hired a new faculty member, trained her how to make these schedules, and she continued to do them until the end of the space shuttle program. 

Over the years, I have had a couple of graduate students from the Neuroscience Graduate Program, a few post docs and many, many research assistants.  Many of them, even some research assistants, have become first or secondary authors on publications.  Two of them have become faculty members in my lab and now have their own NIH grants and have started their own circadian rhythm research areas.  You can read about them, and some other past trainees, elsewhere on this website.

So far, as Principal Investigator, I have received 15 NIH grants for the Biological Rhythms Research lab, adding up to 58 years of funding.  I am an author on about 100 publications.  You can read about these grants and papers elsewhere on this website.

Read more here.

Kris Janevski, BA


Research Assistant


I was born in Detroit, MI and graduated in 2017 with a B.A. in Chemistry from Michigan State University. While an undergrad, I assisted at the Archive for Research on Child Health, an ongoing project that studies factors that influence health outcomes at birth and early adolescence. I’m interested in medicine and public health, and look forward to helping out with Dr. Crowley’s study on sleep interventions for high-schoolers. Outside of lab, I’ve been having fun exploring the city, and also enjoy cooking, playing sports, and spending time in the sun.

Stephanie Crowley, Ph.D.


Acting Director, Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory

Associate Professor, Department of Behavioral Sciences


I grew up on the south shore of Massachusetts in a small town with a beautiful beach! I was an undergraduate at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, which is where I became involved with sleep research in the laboratory of Dr. Amy Wolfson. In 2000, I graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and moved to Chicago, IL, where I was a research assistant here in the Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Charmane Eastman. After 3 years as a research assistant, I moved back to the east coast to go to graduate school. I earned a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at Brown University in Providence, RI under the mentorship of Dr. Mary Carskadon and many other wonderful scientists. In 2009, I came full circle back to Chicago and back to the Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory. I am currently an Associate Professor at our affiliated University (see more information here).

My research focuses on changes to sleep and the circadian (~ 24-hour) clock during adolescence, specifically during puberty. I have been privileged to perform research supported by Apollo Health, Inc./Philips Respironics®, the Sleep Research Society Foundation, NIMH, and NHLBI.

Outside of the lab, I volunteer to speak to students in local school classrooms in hopes of educating young people about the importance of healthy sleep as it relates to academic performance, mood, health, and safety. I also like to spend time with my husband, cook, and explore the endless entertainment in Chicago!  

Faculty & Staff


 

Taylor Recek, BS


Research Assistant


I graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2016 with a B.S. in Physiology and a minor in Psychology. During my time as an undergraduate, I participated in research in the Pediatric Health Psychology lab under Dr. Larry Mullins, in which I assisted primarily in a study looking at how a recent pediatric cancer diagnosis affects the parents and family, in addition to the child. During this time, I gathered information about how such life-changing news can affect an individual’s emotions, physical health, and even sleep. I am eager to begin the next stage of my career learning more about sleep in Dr. Crowley’s Teen Sleep Study, and then plan on attending medical school in the next few years. During my free time, I enjoy traveling, hiking, cooking, and spending time with my family, friends, and dogs.

Sabrina Velez, BA


Research Coordinator


I started working at the lab shortly after receiving my BA in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in May of 2015. Currently, I assist Dr. Crowley with coordinating our Teen Sleep Health Study and help analyze a lot of our performance test data. I very much enjoy working with our teen participants and helping them navigate the study-while collecting our endless amounts of data! Recently, I was accepted to the Imaging Sciences program here at Rush University and am taking classes part time to pursue a career in health care. Outside of the lab, I enjoy traveling, music, and the great outdoors.

Amelia Smith, BS


Research Assistant


I earned my BS in Biology in December 2016 from Loyola University Chicago. At Loyola, I participated in undergraduate research concerning the neurobiological pathways of fruit fly circadian rhythms based on their feeding behavior under Dr. Daniel Cavanaugh. My passion for chronobiology is what led me to the Biological Rhythms Research Lab and I am excited to embark on my research career as a member of this team. Outside of the lab I like to play with my puppy or catch up on whatever TV series currently has my attention.

Logan Killen, BS


Research Assistant


I started my college career at Illinois Valley Community College which is 100 miles southwest of Chicago nearby where I grew up. The following year I transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where I earned my BS in Kinesiology in May 2018. While at UIC I worked as an Undergraduate Teacher’s Assistant for two different courses during my junior year. The following Fall I started working as an intern at Shriners Hospital for Children where I worked in the Motion Analysis Lab. There, I worked with many wonderful patients, participated in research, and worked on an independent project. This internship introduced me to the world of research and prompted me to apply for positions post-grad in healthcare research. Currently, I am looking forward to my future helping out with Dr. Crowley’s Teen Sleep Health Study and I am eager to learn more over the next few years. When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy spending time outdoors, watching sports with my roommates, and sleeping.

Shelby Gilyard, MA


Research Assistant


I graduated in 2016 with my BA in Biology from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT while playing Division III Women's Lacrosse. After graduating, I worked as a medical scribe before moving to Chicago to study for the MCAT, learn the art of coffee as a barista, volunteer at the Children's Hospital, and pursue various interests; including my 200RYT in Anusara Yoga Principles. In 2017, my summer internship helping with perinatology research at NICHD Branch in Detroit, sparked my interest in the world of research. To gain exposure to clinical research, I worked as a research assistant in the Sleep Center at Rush University Medical Center while finishing my MA in Biomedical Sciences at Roosevelt University in 2018. I desire a career that will allow me to combine my knowledge of yoga & mindfulness techniques with sleep medicine research to benefit those from all walks of life. I am eager to learn as much as I can while working with Dr. Crowley and the staff in the Biological Rhythms Research Lab before applying to graduate school. Outside of the lab, I love to cook, bake, read, travel to new countries/places, walk my dog, run, bike, go to concerts, and spend time with my family and friends.

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