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.
Ieva Misiunaite, MS
Research Study Coordinator
Ieva started working at the Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory after earning her BS in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago in 2013. During her time at the lab, Ieva worked with Dr. Crowley and Dr. Eastman on various research projects, including coordinating the Teen Weekend Sleep Study. In 2016, Ieva left the lab to earn a MA in Developmental Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. She is excited to return to the Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory to assist Dr. Crowley with new studies. When she’s not working, Ieva enjoys reading, going for walks, and spending time with her friends and family.
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
Sabrina Velez, BA
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.
Logan Killen, BS
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.