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Our Team Members


JoAnn Difede, Ph.D., Director
Mary Denise Cancellare, Ph.D.
Judith Cukor, Ph.D.
Francis Lee, MD, Ph.D.
Andrew McAleavey, Ph.D.
Nancy J. Needell, M.D.
Megan Olden, Ph.D.
Melissa Peskin, Ph.D.
Amy Rubenstein, Ph.D., Voluntary Faculty
Lisa A. Spielman, Ph.D.
Michael Valdovinos, Psy.D, ABPP
Katarzyna Wyka, PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry


Adina Jick, Research Assistant
Annell Ovalles, Research Assistant


Hal Rives
Khrystyna Tsunyak
Shaakya Vembar

PATSS Faculty Bios

Dr. Melissa Peskin, Ph.D.

Dr. Melissa Peskin is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and an Assistant Attending Psychologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Peskin completed her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University and received a M.Sc. in Psychology from the University of Dublin, Trinity College. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she received extensive training in the evidence-based assessment and treatment of anxiety and trauma-related disorders. Dr. Peskin completed her clinical internship in the Trauma Recovery Center Division at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center, where she provided Cognitive Processing Therapy, Prolonged Exposure, and Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy to service members in residential and outpatient PTSD programs. She joined the Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies in 2012.

Dr. Peskin's research focuses on developing and improving the effectiveness of treatments for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She has a particular interest in using neurobiological tools to understand treatment mechanisms and predict treatment response. Dr. Peskin is currently conducting a pilot study exploring a novel intervention for individuals with PTSD due to military sexual trauma.

Dr. Peskin has expertise in cognitive behavioral therapy for PTSD, anxiety, and depression. She provides psychotherapy to individuals as part of the New York Presbyterian Hospital Military Family Wellness Center and serves as a therapist on DoD funded clinical research studies for individuals with PTSD. In addition, Dr. Peskin serves as primary supervisor and coordinates a trauma rotation for psychiatry residents, psychology interns, and social workers learning exposure therapy.

Dr. Michael Valdovinos Psy.D., ABPP

Dr. Michael Valdovinos completed his undergraduate psychology degree at the University of California, Davis and his Doctor of Psychology degree from the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles where he received research and clinical training in evidence-based interventions for adolescents and adults. He has specific expertise in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and is Board Certified in Behavioral and Cognitive Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP).

Dr. Valdovinos is a combat decorated former Active Duty US Air Force Officer and Clinical Psychologist with extensive clinical, administrative and leadership experience having recently served as the Chief of Outpatient Mental Health at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany. In this position, he led the largest overseas outpatient mental health team under the aegis of the US Department of Defense in Europe. He has deployed himself, led units in the treatment of combat veterans, pioneered the use of Telehealth and Virtual Reality to treat PTSD in the US Air Force and specialized in the recovery and reintegration of Prisoners of War. The broader application of his reintegration work has been in supporting veterans through their transition from the military back into the challenges of civilian life. Dr. Valdovinos previously served as a treating Psychologist in the Telehealth and Evidence-Based Treatment program at the Palo Alto Veteran's Affairs Hospital in California in addition to working with Stanford University's Department of Psychiatry to develop Virtual Reality treatment capabilities.

Dr. Valdovinos trains mental health providers and students in the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapies including Prolonged Exposure, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Virtual Reality, and Mindfulness Interventions. He is also a clinician on DoD funded research focused on developing interventions for PTSD in military trauma populations. Dr. Valdovinos is bilingual in Spanish.

Dr. Andrew McAleavey, Ph.D.

Dr. Andrew McAleavey is an Instructor of Psychology in Psychiatry, at Weill Cornell Medical College. He completed his undergraduate training at Brown University and received a Ph.D. in Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University. He has received expert clinical training in evidence-based interventions, and completed his clinical internship at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College. He joined the Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies at Weill Cornell Medical College in 2015.

Dr. McAleavey has been published extensively in research literature focusing on the mechanisms of psychotherapy outcomes, as well as psychological symptom development. At present, this includes genetic, psychophysiological, and cognitive-emotional factors influencing who develops PTSD following a trauma and who is likeliest to respond to treatment. He is also interested in quantitative research methods.

Dr. McAleavey practices outpatient psychotherapy as part of the New York Presbyterian Hospital Military Family Wellness Center and works with inpatients at the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital. His clinical work focuses on PTSD, anxiety, depression, and anger management.

Dr. Nancy Needell, M.D.

Dr. Nancy Needell is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and an Assistant Attending Psychiatrist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is the Medical Director of the Weill Cornell Psychiatric Mobile Crisis Team, a multi-disciplinary team that responds to crises and emergencies in the community, visiting people in their homes to assess the need for rapid intervention. Dr. Needell serves as a co-investigator on several DoD funded studies of PTSD. Dr. Needell is an active member of the New York City Elder Abuse Prevention MultiDisciplinaryTeam (made of up district attorneys, elder attorneys, social workers, adult protective service workers, and forensic accountants, among others) to help prevent and stop financial elder abuse. She also works in the Weill Cornell Psychiatric Emergency Department, Dr. Needell has worked at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility as well as in homeless shelters, jail diversion programs, and in-patient psychiatric units. She is board certified in adult psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, and geriatric psychiatry.

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