Our mission is to promote valued living and body acceptance at UW and beyond through investigating eating and exercise behaviors at the individual level.



Katherine Schaumberg, PhD

Principal Investigator

My expertise is in vulnerability to eating and weight concerns along with behavioral treatments for eating disorders.  My research has specifically focused on the distinction between adaptive and maladaptive patterns of eating and physical activity.  I aim to understand dispositional and environmental circumstances under which individuals enact positive habits compared with those in which problematic behavior patterns arise. I attended graduate school at the University at Albany – SUNY, where I worked in the Anderson lab and examined how individual dispositions and traits can interact with behavioral learning to distinguish when eating and activity patterns may be maladaptive. During my postdoctoral fellowship at the Drexel University WELL Center, I worked on a trial investigating the adoption and maintenance of high levels of physical activity to promote healthy weight management. I then completed a T32 Fellowship at the University of North Carolina Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, where I extended my interest on individual predisposition for maladaptive eating and activity to the level of genetic and biological risk factors. At The Embark Lab, we aim to apply a growing knowledge of genetic risk to biopsychosocial models of behavior in order to identify eating and activity-related risk both in eating disorders and across psychiatric conditions. Further, we aim to use this information to promote empirically-based, individually-tailored treatment approaches that enhance mental health.

Katherine Schaumberg CV

Maxwell Frank

Research Specialist

I graduated from Michigan State University in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and psychology. As an aspiring graduate student, I am looking forward to learning as much as I can while being a part of the EMBARK lab team. I joined the EMBARK lab to gain experience in a research setting that specifically aims to help people. In the future, I would like to earn a PhD with a focus on evolutionary psychology or cognitive neuroscience. In my free time, you’ll likely find me watching a movie or going to the gym, but in the summer I would rather be out on a boat.

Lauren Pictor

Research Specialist

In May 2022 I graduated from Indiana University with a BA in English and psychology, and I plan to further my education by attending a Clinical Psychology PhD program in the near future. I began working in the Embark Lab in June 2022 and have enjoyed conducting clinical research on driven exercise and promoting the reduction of weight stigma at UW-Madison. Outside of the Embark Lab I enjoy reading, playing with my cat Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and trying different cocktail bars in Madison.
Research Interests: body image/dissatisfaction, minoritized populations, weight stigma

McCaleb Eifert

Master’s in Social Work Student

I graduated from the University of Washington in 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Currently, I am pursing my Master’s in Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with the intention to work as a therapist and advocate for those experiencing eating disorders. I joined the Embark team to increase my participation in the understudied field of eating disorders and am most looking forward to better understanding and challenging fat-bias, particularly in the medical field. In my free time, I enjoy baking sourdough bread and pies, going on long bike rides, and cross country skiing.

Allison McGuirk (she/her)

Doctoral Student in Counseling Psychology 

Allison (she/her) is a second year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at UW Madison. She is particularly interested in studying body image and disordered eating, challenging fatphobia within clinical settings, and working with LGBTQIA+ folks. She graduated from Tufts University, where she studied Community Health and American Studies. After college, she spent a few years working at Epic Systems, an electronic health record company, on the Childbirth and Mental Health teams. In her free time, she enjoys being spontaneous, going on walks, jumping into bodies of water, people-watching, drinking chocolate milk, playing pond hockey, reading memoirs, doing magazine quizzes, rewatching the same shows over and over again, and writing.


Courtney Weberpal

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am currently a junior majoring in Psychology and Neurobiology with a Global Health certificate. I’m interested in behavioral and social psychology and how outside factors affect our daily interactions. I joined the Embark Lab to learn more about eating disorders and how individualized each experience can be, especially as eating disorders continue to become more common in society. In my free time, I enjoy trying new restaurants, spending time outdoors, and playing sports!

Danielle Lennon

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I’m currently a Senior majoring in History and Psychology with a minor in Southeast Asian Studies. It is exciting to be joining the Embark lab and studying the relationship between eating disorders and body image; Hopefully, I can use what I learn in the future to look at the relationship between weight stigma and eating disorders cross culturally. In my free time I enjoy competing with Slainté Irish Dance, hanging out at the Botanical gardens, and cooking for my friends and family!

Pachoua Yang

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am a Junior majoring in Psychology with a pursuit in Asian American Studies Certificate. I joined EMBARK Lab to learn more about eating disorders and behaviors as well as gaining research experiences. I am inspired of the mission and purpose as I am a big person for mental health awareness! During my free time I like to play guitar, karaoke with friends, play board games with friends and family, and make ASMR videos on youtube.

Andi Krawczyk

Undergraduate Research Assistant

My name is Andi Krawczyk and I am entering my senior year at Uw Madison majoring in both Nutritional Sciences and Spanish along with pursuing a certificate in Health and Humanities. I am a pre-med student and I aspire to become a Pediatric Oncologist. I joined Embark Lab because eating disorders are very prevalent in society today and I want to learn more so I can help others! I love being outside and practicing yoga, as well as spending Sunday mornings at Trader Joe’s shopping!

Taiming Xue

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am a senior majoring in psychology. I am very excited to study eating disorders and body image at Embark Lab! After graduating from college, I am looking forward to continuing my education in counseling psychology or social work. In my free time, I enjoy doing ballet and trying various fancy coffee recipes.

Becca Enos

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am currently a junior majoring in Psychology and Gender & Women’s Studies, and I hope to pursue a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. I am excited to be a part of the Embark Lab, and I find the relationship between disordered eating and body image/exercise a complex and fascinating topic of research. I am a strong advocate for mental health, especially among the UW-Madison campus community. In my free time I enjoy practicing yoga, hiking, traveling, and cooking!

Sabrina Liu

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am currently a senior student majoring in statistics with studio art and mathematics certificates. I am pursuing to become a UX Designer focus on Psychology and Statistics in the future. I joined Embark Lab because a high school friend of mine suffered from an eating disorder for years, but did not know there are many effective ways to treat eating disorders. As a person of color, I wanted to raise awareness about eating disorders in the Asian community and inform people about ways to get help through advocacy.

Sophia Kreckler

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am currently a sophomore majoring in Neurobiology with a certificate in Criminal Justice on the Pre-Medical path and I aspire to be a Neurologist. I joined The Embark Lab because I want to learn all about the relationship between the brain and eating disorders. The Embark Lab focuses on both research and advocacy which is very important as I am a very big advocate for mental health. In my free time, I love to spend time with my dogs, kickbox, bake, and read!

Research Interests:  neural pathways and mechanisms involved in eating disorder components,  genetic components of eating disorders, the relationship between anxiety and disordered eating

Kayla Dillon


I graduated from Augustana College in 2021 with majors in Biology and Psychology and a Spanish minor. I plan to pursue a Clinical Psychology PhD in the near future, but until then, I am beyond excited to explore eating-exercise relationships and behaviors in the EMBARK lab! I was drawn to the EMBARK lab because of its dual emphasis on research and advocacy and how we can utilize both to achieve our mission. When I’m not working or volunteering, I am most likely exercising at a local gym, biking around Madison’s lakes and trails, or daydreaming about my next traveling adventure!

Lab Alumni

Sarah Niemi (Research Specialist)
Tessa Meurer (MPH/Rotating Medical Student)
Stephanie Pham (Rotating Medical Student)
Anna Kreynin (MD/MPH Dual Degree Student)
Erin Poburka (Undergraduate Research Assistant)
Ella Redmore (Undergraduate Research Assistant)
Skye Stanwich (Undergraduate Research Assistant)
Ruisu Zhang (Undergraduate Research Assistant)
Katherine Romes (Undergraduate Research Assistant)
Alex Martinez (Undergraduate Research Assistant)
Hannah Metheny (Undergraduate Research Assistant)
Erin Bowden (Rotating Medical Student)
Sabrina Fleege (Rotating Medical Student)
Hermione Wang (Undergraduate Research Assistant)