Home » The Postdoctoral Research Training Program in Aging » Current Postdoctoral Fellows

Current Postdoctoral Fellows

Ashley Artese, PhD

Ashley Artese is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development at Duke University Medical Center. She earned a B.S. in kinesiology from the College of William and Mary and an M.S. in exercise science from the University of South Carolina. Following several years working as an exercise physiologist, she went on to complete her Ph.D. in exercise physiology at Florida State University with a focus on investigating the effects of exercise interventions including strength training, functional training, and yoga on health, body composition, and physician function in breast cancer survivors and older adults. She is currently working under the mentorship of David Bartlett, Ph.D. and Anthony Sung, M.D. to examine the impact of exercise training on health and clinical outcomes in patients who have undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. She will also explore associations between physical function, cardiovascular endurance, and immune cell function in older adults with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.



Grace Brennan, PhD

Grace is a clinical psychologist working under the mentorship of Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi. Her research focuses on the development of disinhibitory psychopathology across the lifespan. Her work examines the cognitive and affective mechanisms contributing to disinhibited behaviors (e.g., aggression, problematic substance use) as well as the social and health consequences for individuals who chronically engage in these behaviors. Grace uses both lab-based experimental paradigms and longitudinal cohort study designs in her research. Grace received her B.S. in Psychology and German Studies from the College of William & Mary and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Yale University.


Cleothia Frazier, PhD

Dr. Cleothia Frazier completed her PhD in Sociology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. Her research focuses on aging and the life course, health disparities, stress, and the effects of the neighborhood environment on health. She uses quantitative and qualitative methods to examine how differences in mental and physical health among older adults are due to the accumulation of advantages and disadvantages along the lines of race, gender, and class. Another area of interest is examining how sleep is an integral part of society, a key indicator of health, and a mechanism that helps explain health disparities in later life. Cleothia’s program of research for the RTP, entitled “‘Aging in Segregated Place’: An Examination of Health, Well-being, and Healthcare Utilization among Older Black Americans”, investigates what ‘aging in place’ means for older Blacks residing in segregated communities. Specifically, her research asks how does residential segregation effect older Blacks’ health and well-being as well as their interactions with the healthcare system? Cleothia’s faculty mentor for the RTP is Dr. Tyson Brown, Associate Professor of Sociology.


Melody Reese, PhD

Melody completed her PhD in Cellular and Behavioral Neurobiology at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK, where she also earned B.A.s in Mathematics and Psychology. After graduation, she worked as a postdoc at Duke under Drs. Miles Berger and Joseph Mathew in the Department of Anesthesiology’s Neurologic Outcomes Research Group (NORG) researching brain biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease, postoperative delirium, and postoperative cognitive dysfunction. She now works in the Aging Center under the mentorship of Drs. Miles Berger, Marty Woldorff, and Brandon Westover, who bring specialized knowledge of neuro-anesthesiology, EEG methodology, and machine learning to the team. For her RTP project, Melody will record EEG and play auditory tones as older surgical patients regain consciousness after major surgery to investigate whether abnormalities in the neurophysiological timing, pattern, or strength of the return of sensory processing after anesthesia is associated with later development of postoperative delirium. This data will be analyzed using both standard (general linear and logistic modeling) and novel (machine learning-based) quantitative approaches.


Jessica S. West, PhD, MPH

Jessica is a medical sociologist who specializes in research on hearing loss, aging, and health disparities over the life course. Jessica’s work has described the “spillover” effects of hearing loss on health outcomes for both individuals and those close to them, as well as sociodemographic disparities in the onset of and life expectancy with hearing loss. Her research has appeared in the Journals of Gerontology, Social Science & Medicine, Ear and Hearing, and other leading journals in medical sociology, hearing, and aging research. For her postdoctoral fellowship, Jessica will leverage both population-level data and electronic health record data to investigate racial/ethnic differences in age-related trajectories of hearing loss and access to and utilization of hearing healthcare services. Her current mentors are Matthew E. Dupre, Ph.D. (Population Health Sciences) and Sherri L. Smith, Au.D., Ph.D. (Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences).

Jessica received a B.A. from the University of Michigan in Social Anthropology (dual Sociology/Anthropology concentration) followed by an M.P.H. in Sociomedical Sciences with a certificate in Public Health Research Methods from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She subsequently received an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology with a focus in Medical Sociology and Demography at Duke University.