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Curriculum vitae


For 5 years now Cristina has conducted research in the Cognitive Axon Laboratory led by Dr. Timothy Verstynen, where she investigated how individual differences in the white matter structural networks lead to individual differences in value-based decision-making using graph theoretic structural topology measures and diffusion MRI. In the summer of 2017, Cristina conducted research at the Stanford Psychophysiology Laboratory of Dr. James Gross, where she collected and analyzed neuroimaging data from EEG on an emotion regulation study. Balancing academics and research, Cristina served as the President of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, the Vice President of the Spanish and Latin Student Association, and as Co-Dance Coordinator for Carnegie Mellon's Ballet Folklórico. Throughout her time at CMU, Cristina also designed and taught a 3-unit University Accredited course, 98-324: Medical Spanish, short for Spanish for Healthcare Professionals on conversing in Spanish in a clinical setting, as well as learning the current state of health disparities affecting Latinos in the United States. She has also served as a volunteer and now Intern for the Hospital Elder Life Program at West Penn Hospital which detects, prevents, and treats delirium in patients. Cristina also served as a teacher assistant for Dr. Marlene Behrmann for the course Biological Foundations of Behavior.

Cristina was selected as an Andrew Carnegie Society Scholar, which is awarded to the top 40 graduating seniors who achieved Carnegie Mellon’s high standards of academic excellence, volunteerism, leadership and involvement in student organizations, athletics or the arts. She also received numerous scholarships including the Silicon Valley Latinos in Technology Scholarship, and the HSF Scholarship. Her research work has resulted in 1 first author publication, and multiple poster presentations at national conferences. Her research was awarded First Place for the Psychology Department Poster Competition Award, and First Place for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Award. She graduated with University and College Honors, and Departmental awards.

Following graduation Cristina has begun to serve as the Lab Manager in Carnegie Mellon’s Cognitive Axon Lab on cognitive and computational neuroscience. In the future she plans to combine her passions in caregiving and neuroscience by improving care at the bedside through the development of novel neurological diagnostics and therapeutics as a physician scientist.


Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA

Mellon College of Science, B.S. Neuroscience with a Concentration in Cognitive Neuroscience

August 2015 - May 2019 Graduated with University and College Honors, and Departmental Awards


Stanford University

Stanford, CA

Stanford Summer Session,  Intracellular Trafficking and Neurodegeneration

June 2017 - August 2017


DRD2 polymorphism and sensitivity to losses during value-based decision-making

Cristina Bañuelos, Kasey Creswell, Ph.D., Stephen Manuck, Ph.D, Peter Gianaros, Ph.D., Timothy Verstynen, Ph.D, 

Poster Presentation, Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference, March 2020

How structural brain network topologies associate with cognitive abilities in a value-based decision-making task

Cristina Bañuelos, Timothy Verstynen, Ph.D

Oral Presentation, Department of Biological Sciences Honors Thesis, May 2019

Structural brain network topologies associate with aspects of value-based decision-making

Cristina Bañuelos, Alexis Porter, Kirk I. Erickson, Ph.D., Timothy Verstynen, Ph.D, 

Poster Presentation, Meeting of the Minds, May 2019

*Awarded the First Place Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Award, and 

*Awarded the First Place Psychology Department Poster Competition Award


Unconscious Thought Affects Racial Judgments on Criminal Cases

Cristina Bañuelos, Manuel Casasnovas, Cecilia Mastrogiacomo

Poster Presentation, Psychology Department Research Methods Competition, April 2019

*Awarded the First Place Research Methods Competition: Social Psychology Award


Structural brain network topologies associate with aspects of value-based decision-making

Cristina Bañuelos, Alexis Porter, Kirk I. Erickson, Ph.D., Timothy Verstynen, Ph.D, 

Poster Presentation, Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference, March 2019


Association between change in microscopic white matter pathways and cardiorespiratory fitness in response to a behavioral weight loss intervention

Porter AG, Bañuelos, C, Leckie, RL, Erickson, KI, Rogers, RJ, Jakicic JM, Verstynen, TD

Poster Presentation, Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference, March 2019


Structural brain network topologies associate with aspects of value-based decision-making

Cristina Bañuelos, Alexis Porter, Kirk I. Erickson, Ph.D., Timothy Verstynen, Ph.D, 

Poster Presentation, NEURON Conference, February 2019

Research Experience

Cognitive Axon Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University


Lab Manager

May 2019 - Present

  • Full-time position responsible for overseeing and writing grants, IRB submissions, appropriate storage and organization of lab data, lab finances, lab website, data collection, and subject payments

  • Lead organization and development of safety and health protocols as the Pandemic Safety Officer

  • Lead my own projects on further understanding obesity and addiction as impairments in value-based decision-making and learning by using cognitive and neural models and data science methods

  • Collaborate with other projects by assisting with fMRI data collection and fMRI data preprocessing

  • Beginning a lab project to turn all projects collected within the last 5 years to be BIDS compliant

Undergraduate Researcher

May 2018 - May 2019

  • Through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship I was awarded a $3500 scholarship for full-time research throughout the summer to work towards my own research thesis proposal 

  • Lead my own project on how graph-theoretic structural topology measures associate with aspects of value-based decision-making by using data science methods and techniques

  • Worked on a project investigating the integrity of white matter pathways in overweight participants who have undergone exercise and/or diet interventions

Research Assistant

August 2016 - May 2018

  • Began on project investigating involvement of brain systems in selecting motor actions and their integration in decision making

  • Extensively trained to use neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI, conduct literature reviews, run studies, maintain accurate records, and analyzed data collected and attain a better understanding of the brain mechanisms involved

Stanford Psychophysiology Laboratory, Stanford University

Head Research Assistant 

June 2017 - August 2017


  • Extensively trained to run studies using EEG, and trained new assistants in the EEG study protocol, cap placement, and EEG software usage for running participants

  • Promoted to head research assistant on emotion regulation study, performed extensive data analysis on behavioral data for over 50 participants, and made decisions on the future study directions and experimental designs

HealthCare Experience

Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP)

West Penn Hospital, Allegheny Health Network


August 2018 - Present

  • Work 10 hours per week during the fall semester, and 5 hours per week during the spring semester

  • Oversee daily operations of HELP, screen and enroll patients into the program, orient patients and families to the program and assign appropriate intervention protocols, and collect data and use database to conduct a research project on HELP progress

  • Currently conducting new research project on HELP aimed to determine whether our interventions benefit high risk patients who have had extended hospital stays 

  • Project will be tentatively submitted for publication through a peer-reviewed journal


September 2017 - July 2018

  • Worked 4 hours per week during the school year, and 8 hours per week over the summer

  • Extensively trained to detect, prevent, and treat delirium, as well as other cognitive impairments such as dementia in elderly patients by administering interventions

  • Was continuously available to assist nurses in tasks such as taking vital signs, restocking rooms, answering call lights, and assisting nurses with personal care, medication, promoting patient satisfaction, safety, and education

Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP)

Now named Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP)

University of California, Los Angeles


June 2016 - July 2016

•  Volunteered as a Spanish Translator for families and individuals at the Wilmington Health Fair

•  Created a fully functional project addressing health disparities of victims of human trafficking

•  Participated in Problem Based Learning classes and Stem Cell Treatment Grand Rounds

TEAching Experience

StuCo: Spanish for Healthcare Professionals (Medical Spanish)

Carnegie Mellon University

Instructor, Course Designer

January 2018 - May 2019

  • Designed a 3 unit University-accredited course on Spanish medical terminology and health disparities affecting the U.S. Latino population

  • Held weekly 1 hour lectures, graded midterm exams, final exams, and weekly homework that I designed for a class of 25 students

  • In the process of developing a full 9 unit course taught in the Department of Hispanic Studies with the guidance of Hispanic Studies and Health Professions Program professors

Biological Foundations of Behavior

Carnegie Mellon University


Teacher Assistant

January 2018 - May 2018


  • Worked 9 hours per week during the school year

  • Created questions for the exams, graded exams and finals given in the course, held office hours by appointment, answered questions on material, proctored exams and in class activities


Health Policy and Legislative Affairs Committee

Student National Medical Association (SNMA)

Committee Member

May 2018 - May 2019

  • Advocate for legislative and policy developments affecting medical education and health care through the development and writing of health policy statements by staying up-to-date on the latest developments in policy and legislation affecting medical education and health care

  • Co-authored statement on Cultural and Structural Competency published by the SNMA

Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS)

Student National Medical Association (SNMA), Carnegie Mellon University

Senior & Alumni Advisor

May 2018 - Current

  • Advise current MAPS president and Executive Board about club activities and events, as well as outreach efforts within campus and greater Pittsburgh area


May 2017 - May 2018

  • Diligently supervised the entire organization, ensuring the achievement of all goals, created agenda for 11-person Executive Board meetings, oversaw all committees and executive board members activities, as well as the financial status of the chapter

  • Professionally executed duty of liaison with national and campus contacts to publicize organization and work towards mission

  • Created the organizations first website that showcases events, people, and mission


May 2016 - May 2017

  • Managed all monetary funds of the organization by maintaining and creating a yearly budget

  • Managed all funding proposals and grants in JFC process, and proposed allocation of funds

Freshmen Representative

September 2015 - May 2016

  • Responsible for publicizing events, finding new members, and engaging Freshmen class members

Spanish and Latin Student Association (SALSA)

Carnegie Mellon University

Vice President

May 2016 - May 2017

  • Oversaw planning of large-scale events with the President, ensured that meetings stayed on track with the set agendas

Co-Dance Coordinator

May 2016 - May 2019

  • Coordinated rehearsals and created dance routines for the SALSA Ballet Folklorico dance group that performed annually at Carnegie Mellon’s Noche Latina

Coaching Minority Progress & Academic Success in Science (CoMPASS)

Carnegie Mellon University


May 2016 - May 2019

  • Mentored 2 freshmen every year to improve the retention rate and success of minorities in science

  • Mentored Biology, Neuroscience, Chemistry, Math, and Physics freshmen and sophomores

Neuroscience Student Advisory Council & Nu Rho Psi Honor Society

Carnegie Mellon University

Service and Outreach Chair

May 2016 - May 2017 and May 2018 - May 2019

  • Organized and oversaw all service events and projects as well as all outreach events within CMU and the Pittsburgh area, such as fundraisers, bake sales, courses for young children, and tabling with interactive neuroscience activities for outreach events

  • Kept count of service hours completed by members through our service projects

HONORS, Awards & Scholarships

Spring 2019

Spring 2019

Spring 2019

Spring 2019

Spring 2019

Spring 2019

Spring 2019

Spring 2019

Spring 2019

Spring 2019

Fall 2018

Spring 2018

Fall 2017

Fall 2017

Fall 2017




Spring 2016




Department of Biological Sciences Honors Thesis Oral Presentation

Department of Biological Sciences Departmental Award for Academic Excellence

Mellon College of Science College Honors

Carnegie Mellon University Honors

First Place Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Award

First Place Psychology Department Poster Competition Award

First Place Research Methods Competition: Social Psychology Award

Senior Leadership Recognition Award

Carnegie Mellon Nu Rho Psi Travel Award

Mellon College of Science Dean’s Travel Award

Andrew Carnegie Society Scholar Award

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Mortar Board Honors Society

Nu Rho Psi Honor Society

Psi Chi Honor Society

Wadsworth Carnegie Mellon Scholarship

Latinos in Technology Scholarship

Mellon College of Science Dean’s List High Honors

Mellon College of Science Dean’s List

Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholarship

10,000 Degrees Scholarship

PG&E PSA Scholarship

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Curriculum vitae
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