School of Medicine

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  • Pilleriin Sikka

    Pilleriin Sikka

    Postdoctoral Scholar, Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine

    Current Research and Scholarly InterestsI strive to understand the phenomenology, dynamics, mechanisms, and impact of subjective experiences that occur across different states of consciousness—from wakefulness to normal sleep and dreaming, to anesthesia dreaming, and to psychedelic experiences. As part of my doctoral research, conducted under the mentorship of Prof. Antti Revonsuo, I investigated the conceptual and methodological challenges in the study of dream experiences, the neural correlates of these experiences, and how dreaming is associated with waking well-being. In 2021, I joined Stanford University as a Postdoctoral Scholar, initially working at the Stanford Psychophysiology Laboratory under the mentorship of James J. Gross. In this role, I expanded my research to explore emotions and emotion regulation across the wake-sleep cycle and to study an oft-overlooked aspect of well-being--peace of mind. Since November 2023, I have been a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, where, under the mentorship of Dr. Boris Heifets, I am investigating transformative experiences, specifically, the mechanisms and therapeutic potential of anesthesia-induced dream states and psychedelic experiences.

    Leveraging my unique multidisciplinary background, my goal is to bridge the fields of consciousness research, sleep and dream research, emotion research, and well-being research and draw upon the concepts, theories, and methods from psychology, neuroscience, and (molecular) biology. To this end, I have experience in using diverse methods, including self-reports (development, validation, and use of questionnaires), interviews, ecological momentary assessment (EMA/ESM; diaries), behavioural experiments, natural language processing, sleep monitoring techniques, and electrophysiological (EEG/ERP) recordings, combined with qualitative and quantitative data analysis.

    With an overarching goal of conducting research with societal impact, I aspire to: (1) develop innovative diagnostic and prognostic markers of mental health and well-being, and (2) to devise and test interventions scalable for enhancing the mental and physical well-being of communities.

  • Ayesha Sujan

    Ayesha Sujan

    Postdoctoral Scholar, Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine

    BioAyesha Sujan, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on evaluating the safety and effectiveness of opioid and psychiatric medications in pregnancy using large samples of publicly and privately insured patients in the US. She also has research interests in evaluating the safety of prescribing pain and psychotropic medications in pediatric populations. In addition to her research, Dr. Sujan also works as a clinician in the Pediatric Pain Management Clinic at Stanford conducting psychosocial assessments and providing pain psychology treatment for youth with chronic pain.