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Research Team

Director

Carla Sharp

Carla Sharp

Dr. Sharp trained as a clinical psychologist (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa) from 1994-1997, after which she completed a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University, UK, 1997-2000. In 2001, she obtained full licensure as a Clinical Psychologist in the UK through a Statement of Equivalence with the British Psychological Society. From 2001-2004 she was appointed as a Research Post-doctoral Fellow in Developmental Psychopathology, Cambridge University. In 2004, she moved to the United States to take up an appointment as Assistant Professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine. She obtained provisional licensure as Clinical Psychologist in Texas in 2008. In 2009, she was appointed as Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston. In 2014 Dr. Sharp became the Director of Clinical Training and in 2015 she was promoted to Full Professor.

Her published work includes over 220 peer-reviewed publications and numerous chapters reflecting her interests in the social-cognitive basis of psychiatric problems and problems of behavioral health, and the application of this work in developing diagnostic tools and interventions in youth. She has co-authored three books: An edited volume with Springer titled The Handbook of Borderline Personality Disorder in Children and Adolescents, an edited volume with Oxford University Press titled Social cognition and developmental psychopathology and a book with MIT Press titled Midbrain mutiny: Behavioral economics and neuroeconomics of gambling addiction as basic reward system disorder. Her work has been continuously funded since 2009 by the NIH and various foundations.


Assistant Lab Director

Kiana-Wall.jpeg

Kiana Wall

Kiana is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. She joined the DPL as an undergraduate research assistant in May of 2014 and graduated from the University of Houston in May of 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology. Kiana served as a post-baccalaureate research assistant in the lab for one year and began her Clinical Psychology Ph.D. in the fall of 2017. Kiana's primary research interests include the assessment of personality disorders in adolescence, the role of attachment and social cognition in the development of borderline personality disorder (BPD), and translational research to inform the prevention and early intervention of BPD, and she has acted as the graduate student coordinator for multiple studies in the lab utilizing student, community and patient populations. Her master's thesis examined the latent factor structure of the Personality Inventory for DSM-5 (PID-5) and she graduated with her M.A. in August of 2019. For her dissertation, which has been funded by an NIMH F31 fellowship, she is evaluating the feasibility and acceptability of the Mediational Intervention for Sensitizing Caregivers (MISC) for future adaptation for mothers with BPD. In 2020, Kiana was elected to serve as the Social Media/Relations Chair on the board of the Student Section Committee for the International Society for the Study of Personality Disorders (ISSPD), and she also serves as the student member of the ISSPD Congress Scientific Committee.


Lab Manager

Samantha Annab

Samantha Annab

Samantha is a fifth-year undergraduate student pursuing a B.S in Psychology. Additionally, she is triple minoring in biology, biochemistry, and Medicine and Society. She joined the lab in August 2017 as an undergraduate research assistant and has served as the lab manager since Summer 2018. Samantha's research interests include personality disorders, the effect of relationships on psychopathology, and the relationship between language and psychopathology. She plans to pursue a career as an adolescent psychiatrist.


Clinical Psychology Graduate Students 

Madeleine Allman

Madeleine Allman

Madeleine is a first-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. Madeleine earned her B.S. in Psychology and Public Health from Tulane University in 2016 and earned her Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 2017. After graduating, she came to Houston to work in global health research at Baylor College of Medicine. Madeleine is interested in treatment development for high-risk populations and the impact of trauma on parent-child relationships.
 


Sophie Kerr

Sophie Kerr

Sophie is a second-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 2017, she spent two years working as a research assistant and diagnostic interviewer with the Methods to Improve Diagnostic Assessment and Services (MIDAS) Project at Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital. Her research interests broadly include the development and treatment of personality pathology, with a focus on parental personality pathology, parenting, and intergenerational transmission toward the goals of informing prevention and intervention. Her Master's thesis examined relations between maternal borderline personality disorder features and parenting behaviors during in-vivo conflict discussions with adolescent offspring using the Observing Mediational Interactions (OMI) coding system from the Mediational Intervention for Sensitizing Caregivers (MISC).
 


Ronnie McLaren

Ronnie McLaren

Ronnie McLaren is a third-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. She joined the DPL as an undergraduate research assistant in January 2017 and graduated from Rice University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a minor in neuroscience. Her research focuses on the components of self-other functioning, particularly social cognition, using three interrelated approaches: (1) developing valid and appropriate measurement tools, (2) investigating the relationships between the development of self-other functioning and of psychopathology in individuals with a diversity of backgrounds, and (3) adapting and implementing interventions tailored to address self-other deficits. Her master's thesis examined the specificity of hypermentalizing to Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) using meta-analytic methods, and she graduated with her M.A. in August of 2020.


Jessica Ortiz

Jessica Hernandez Ortiz

Jessica is a second-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. After graduating from Prairie View A&M University in 2018, she worked coordinating an immigration research project at a non-profit and as a data collector for UT Health. Her research interests include attachment, trauma and the psychosocial development and functioning of immigrant and racial/ethnic minority youth. She is interested in this work from a translational perspective, with the end goal being scalable and culturally sensitive evidence-based interventions for underserved populations. Her thesis examines caregiver separation, resilience and peer attachment in recently immigrated Latinx youth.


Eric Sumlin

Eric Sumlin

Eric Sumlin is a third-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. After graduating from Baylor University with a B.S. in Psychology, Eric joined Dr. Sharp's lab as a post-baccalaureate research assistant in Fall 2016 and later served as lab manager. His research focuses on social-cognitive and interpersonal functioning, and how they contribute to the development of suicidal and self-injurious thoughts and behaviors in adolescents. His Master’s thesis investigated the differential impact of thwarted belongingness in the development of suicidal ideation in minority and non-minority adolescents. He currently coordinates a study on identity functioning and how it relates to coping strategies and risk of self-harm in college students.


Salome Vanwoerden

Salome Vanwoerden

Salome is a sixth-year doctoral graduate student working toward her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a minor in Quantitative Methods. For the 2019-2020 year, she is completing her clinical internship at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (University of Pittsburgh). She received her undergraduate degree from Rice University and worked as a research coordinator at The Menninger Clinic for two years prior to graduate school. Her primary research interest is social cognition, involving both self and other processes, primarily in the context of the development of personality pathology. She is interested in exploring how attachment and family dynamics contribute to the development of social cognition. Her master’s thesis, which she defended at the end of her second year, was an investigation of the intersection between person perception and theory of mind using a novel task in an inpatient sample of adolescents. For her dissertation, which has been funded by an NIMH F31 fellowship and a dissertation award from Division 53 of the APA, she is developing an observational coding scheme for mentalizing as it occurs during parent-adolescent interaction. Salome is a recipient of the Presidential Graduate Fellowship, James Leslie McCary Award, and the 2018 NASSPD Young Investigator Award. Additionally, she has received grant funding from the American Psychological Foundation to evaluate outcomes for a group psycho-education program for teens and their parents.

Students Currently on Internship

Francesca Penner

Francesca Penner

Francesca is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and her Master’s degree from Vanderbilt University, where she was also a research assistant for a preventive intervention trial for families with a history of parental depression. In the Developmental Psychopathology Lab, Francesca is involved in the ADAPT assessment and treatment outcomes study, the MISC-CBO project testing a community-based intervention for HIV-affected children in South Africa, and in our study of identity development in typical adolescents. She also leads a study examining relationships between social cognition, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), resilience and other positive psychology constructs, and personality pathology among young adults. Her main research interests are in parenting and social cognition as risk and resilience processes in the development of psychopathology during adolescence. She is also interested in translational research to improve prevention and intervention for adolescent psychopathology, particularly by enhancing parent interventions.

 

DPL Alumni

Salome Vanwoerden, Ph.D.

Claire Hatkevich, Ph.D

Allison Kalpakci, Ph.D.

Will Mellick, Ph.D.

Carolyn Ha, Ph.D.

Tyson Reuter, Ph.D.

Amanda Venta, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Ross, Ph.D.

Robert Seals, Ph.D.

Heather Pane, Ph.D.

Kelly Green, Ph.D.

Stephanie Kovacs, Ph.D.

Teona Amble, Ph.D.

Ilya Yaroslavlsky, Ph.D.

Dan Mortenson, Ph.D.


Research Assistants

Shreya Aggarwal

Shreya Aggarwal

Shreya is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a B.S in Psychology and minoring in Medicine and Society. She joined the lab in May 2019 as an undergraduate research assistant. She plans to continue her education by pursuing a in Psychology. Shreya’s career goal is to be a psychologist and have her own practice. 


Nabeeha Asim

Nabeeha Asim

Nabeeha is a fourth-year undergraduate student pursuing a B.A. in Psychology with a double minor in Medicine & Society and Human Resource Management. She joined the lab as a Research Assistant in May 2018. In addition to DPL, Nabeeha is also a Research Assistant at the Emotions in Marriage Lab. Her research interests center around maladaptive behaviors, trauma and emotion regulation in the development of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Additionally, she is interested in the prevention and intervention of BPD. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.


Estefania Fernandez

Estefania Fernandez

Estefania is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Houston, pursuing a B.S in Psychology and a B.A. in Spanish. She joined the lab in January 2020 and her research interests include the mental health of minorities, especially Latinos, and personality disorders in children and adolescents. After graduation, Estefania plans to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. Estefania hopes to one day open her own practice.


Madison Hutzler

Madison is a fifth-year undergraduate and is pursuing a B.S in Biology and Psychology. Additionally, she is an active student in the Honors College and a research abroad alumni. She joined the lab in April 2019 as an undergraduate research assistant. Madison’s research interests include personality disorders across cultures, the effect of parent- child relationships on psychopathology, and the specific development and treatment of PTSD. She plans to pursue a career as a clinical psychologist and professor.


Onyinye Obi-Obasi

Onyinye Obi-Obasi

Onyinye is currently a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology with a minor in Quantitative Social Sciences. Her research interests are in personality disorders and the role of attachment in the development of psychopathology in children and adolescents. She believes that if mental health issues are curbed at an early stage it would be easier to produce more emotionally and mentally stable people in our communities.


Caroline Pearson

Caroline Pearson

Caroline is a fourth-year undergraduate student pursuing a B.S. in psychology. She joined the lab in January 2019 as an undergraduate research assistant. Her research interests include externalizing disorders, antisocial traits, and personality disorders. Caroline is interested in working with children and adolescents. She plans to become a clinical psychologist.


Frances Saubon

Frances Saubon

Frances is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Public Health. Her current research interests are anxiety, substance use, parent-child relationships, trauma, and how factors like these influence psychopathology development. After graduation, she plans to continue her education and pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. She wants to dedicate her work to enhancing preventive interventions for psychopathology development and provide personalized resources for the community.


Hui Song

Hui graduated from the University of Houston in the summer of 2020 with a B.S in Psychology and a minor in Medicine and Society. He joined the lab in the summer of 2019 as an undergrad and hopes to further his education by pursuing a postgraduate degree in psychological research.