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Our Team

SACH Director


Sack Director

Candice A. Alfano, Ph.D.

caalfano@uh.edu

Dr. Alfano is a licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the University of Houston (UH). She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Maryland-College Park in 2005 and completed her internship and post-doctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Alfano's research and clinical interests include anxiety and sleep disorders across the life span, the role of inadequate sleep in the development of affective problems, and behavioral interventions. She has published over 50 empirical papers, articles, books chapters, and books on these topics. Dr. Alfano’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Defense (DoD), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She serves on the scientific council for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) and the board of directors for the Society for Behavioral Sleep Medicine (SBSM).

Associate Clinical Director


Sack Director

Andres G. Viana, Ph.D., ABPP.

agviana@uh.edu

Dr. Viana is Assistant Professor of Psychology, a licensed clinical child psychologist, and Director of the Child Temperament, Thoughts, and Emotions Laboratory at the University of Houston. He also serves as Associate Clinical Director of the Sleep and Anxiety Center of Houston. Dr. Viana received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology from Penn State University and completed his psychology residency training at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), where he remained as a tenure-track member of the Psychiatry department until 2015. Dr. Viana’s program of research is grounded in the developmental psychopathology perspective to psychological functioning and focuses on the study and assessment of risk factors for childhood psychopathologies, with an emphasis on temperamental, emotional, cognitive, and parenting factors that may exacerbate anxiety, as well as the nature of the covariation among these processes. A growing aspect of his research program involves cognitive and emotion-related factors associated with risk behaviors in children with internalizing difficulties. Dr. Viana’s research has been funded by the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). He is the recipient of several awards, including the Anxiety and Depression Association of America Career Development Award, NIMH’s Child, Intervention, Prevention and Services (CHIPS) Fellowship, and UMMC’s Faculty Research Mentor Award. He is an active member of several professional organizations, including the Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, the Association for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. He also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Anxiety Disorders and the Child and Youth Care Forum.

Post-Doctoral Fellows


Jennifer Fillo

Joanne Bower

Joanne.Bower@times.uh.edu

Dr. Bower is a postdoctoral fellow originally from England, where she received her Ph.D. in 2016 from the University of Reading. Within the SACH lab she helps coordinate the Military Families Project and a NASA-funded study investigating psychological risk and resilience in isolated, confined and extreme environments. Her research interests include developing tools to measure the regulation of positive emotions, as well as investigating how different emotions impact health and well being. Her background includes several years of working on large, multi-center clinical trials, many of which investigated the effects of experimental compounds on sleep and alertness.


Cara A. Palmer

Cara A. Palmer

cara.palmer@times.uh.edu

Dr. Palmer is a postdoctoral fellow in the SACK lab. She received her Ph.D. in 2014 from West Virginia University in Life-Span Developmental Psychology. Her research interests broadly encompass the development of emotion regulation and reactivity, and her previous work has primarily focused on the regulation of positive affect and responses to positive experiences. Her research uses multiple methods (e.g., behavior, heart rate variability, subjective reports) to examine how people regulate their emotions, what predicts maladaptive affective processes, and how emotional experiences and regulatory strategies impact overall well-being and mental health.


Amanda Palo

Amanda Palo

adpalo@central.uh.edu

Dr. Palo is a postdoctoral fellow who recently received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. She completed her pre-doctoral clinical psychology internship at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She currently serves as the clinic coordinator for the Sleep and Anxiety Center of Houston (SACH). She is also the clinic coordinator for the University of Houston Adolescent Diagnosis, Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment center (UH-ADAPT), which is directed by Dr. Carla Sharp. Her clinical training focuses on assessment and treatment with children and adolescents, and she plans to pursue licensure as a clinical psychologist.

Project Coordinators


Graduate student

Hira Hussain

hussainha@hbu.edu

Hira received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Government from Houston Baptist University in 2013, Cum Laude. At SACH, she assists with the Risk and Resilience study, which aims to understand the impact of military deployment on children and spouses/partners. Hira plans to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical child psychology in the near future.

Graduate Students


Graduate student

Jennifer Cowie

Cowie.jen@gmail.com

Jennifer Cowie is a graduate student in the lab. Prior to joining, she worked for two years as a clinical specialist in the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Clinic at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, Ga. Jennifer's research interests broadly include examining the factors contributing to the development of internalizing disorders in children and adolescents, particularly those affecting the course and treatment of anxiety and compulsive disorders. She graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from Smith College in 2009


Graduate student

Michelle Clementi

michelleaclementi@gmail.com

Michelle is a graduate student in the clinical psychology doctoral program. She graduated with honors from the University of Maryland in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. Following undergrad, Michelle worked at the National Institute of Mental Health studying child anxiety disorders and attention biases. Her research interests include developing and investigating interventions for youth with anxiety disorders and examining the relationship between physical and mental health in children and adolescents.


Graduate student

Rogelio Gonzalez

gonza371@cougars.csusm.edu

Rogelio Gonzalez is a graduate student in the lab. He previously attended California State University San Marcos where he earned his Masters degree in experimental psychology investigating culturally–specific expressions of anxiety and depression in young children as well as better understanding barriers to mental health service utilization in Mexican farmworker families. Broadly, his current research interests include anxiety disorders and sleep problems in Hispanic youth.


Graduate student

Jessica Meers

jessica.meers.patton@gmail.com

Jessica is a graduate student in the clinical psychology doctoral program. Jessica earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University and went on to pursue her Master's in Clinical Psychology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. After graduating, she worked for two years as a Clinical Research Coordinator at The University of Texas Medical Branch, working in a lab that studied sleep and health in menopausal women. Broadly, Jessica is interested in studying sleep across the lifespan, particularly in girls and women.


Graduate student

Katharine Reynolds

kcreynolds@uh.edu

Katie received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Vassar College in 2009 and is currently working toward a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. Broadly, her interests include development and treatment of child internalizing disorders, environmental stressors experienced in childhood, and the impact of these factors on sleep and development. More specifically, Katie is interested in the impact of sleep quality on the development and course of child anxiety disorders, especially in children with generalized anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders.


Simon Lau

Simon Lau

slau5@uh.edu

Simon Lau is currently a graduate student in the lab, and previously served as projector coordinator for the Military Families Project. He previously served in the U.S. Army under the Joint Special Operations Command supporting multiple theater of operations, where he earned numerous awards, including the Bronze Star Medal and multiple commendations for leadership. Honorably discharged from the Army in 2010, Simon attended and graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2013. Simon hopes to use his experiences from his military career to help improve military research on post-traumatic stress disorders, anxiety, depression, and fear.

Research Assistant


Naomi Alphonso

Naomi Alphonso

Hi, my name is Naomi Alphonso and I'm a junior at the University of Houston. My major is Psychology and minor is Human Development and Family Studies. I am interested in learning more about developmental issues and emotional and behavioral disorders in children. The SACH lab is a great opportunity for me and I hope to get practical research experience from it. My plan is to attend Graduate school and study Clinical Psychology to become a Child Psychologist.


Phi Mai

Phi Mai

Phi is a senior at the University of Houston earning her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology with a minor in biology. She assists with the Adolescent Sleep Extension Study at SACH. Her research interests include emotional and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents. Specifically, she would like to learn more about the long term effects of psychological and physical mistreatment in children. She is also interested in how depression, anxiety, and how traumatic events affect sleep. In the future, Phi hopes to become a child/adolescent psychiatrist.


Julia N

Julia Najm

Julia is a second year psychology major with a minor in law,values and policy. She previously transferred from the University of Texas at Dallas where she was apart of a personality/relationship lab. Her interests include prevention of suicide in adolescents, depressive/anxiety disorders in children and genetic predispositions to personality. Also, she hopes to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology after obtaining her Bachelor of Science degree.