Dr. Ryan is a Professor and Head of the Department of Psychology, with additional appointments in the Department of Neurology and the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Neurosciences. She is the Director of the Cognition and Neuroimaging Laboratories, and Associate Director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute.
Dr. Lee Ryan received her Ph.D. in Clinical Neuropsychology from the University of British Columbia in 1992. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California at San Diego, she joined the faculty at the University of Arizona in 1996. Dr. Ryan has engaged in studies of memory and the neural basis of memory, publishing over 60 scholarly articles utilizing various neuroimaging methods including functional MRI, ASL perfusion, voxel-based morphometry, and diffusion tensor imaging.
Dr. Ryan’s research on the neural basis of memory has focused on understanding the hippocampal processes mediating autobiographical and semantic memory, how memory changes across the adult lifespan, and how those changes relate to brain structure and function. Recent studies using morphometric analyses and diffusion imaging have investigated factors that influence individual differences in age-related cognitive function, including genetic markers, obesity, hypertension, and anti-inflammatory drug use. As a clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Ryan has worked with individuals and families who are coping with chronic and progressive diseases that affect cognitive functioning, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Ryan teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in memory, neuropsychology, neuroanatomy, and cognitive neuroscience. She has been very active in mentoring programs at the University of Arizona that encourage women and minority students to become involved in research and pursue a career in science.