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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

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.


Lab Manager

Samantha Annab

Samantha Annab

Samantha is a fourth-year undergraduate and is pursuing a B.S in Psychology. Additionally, she is double minoring in biology 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 

Sophie Kerr

Sophie Kerr

Sophie is a first-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 2017, she spent two years working as a clinical research assistant with the Methods to Improve Diagnostic Assessment and Services (MIDAS) Project at Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital. Her research interests broadly include borderline personality disorder in parents, parent-child relationships, and the development of bpd in adolescence.
 

Ronnie McLaren

Ronnie McLaren

Ronnie McLaren is a second-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. Ronnie coordinates the MISC for domestic violence survivors, MBT, and Oxytocin studies and helps with data collection for the Parent-Child Mentalizing study. 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.


Jessica Ortiz

Jessica Hernandez Ortiz

Jessica is a first-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. After graduating from Prairie View A&M University in 2018, Jessica worked at a non-profit and as a data collector for UT Health. She is primarily interested in the roles of social cognition and culture in the development of psychopathology in trauma/adversity exposed children.


Eric Sumlin

Eric Sumlin

After graduating from Baylor University with a B.S. in Psychology, Eric joined Dr. Sharp's lab as an RA in Fall 2016 and later served as the lab manager. Eric is currently a second-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. His research interests include personality disorders, suicide in adolescents, suicidality, personality pathology and social cognition in adolescents. Eric’s thesis will explore the role of emotional trust in the relationship between borderline personality pathology and self-injury in adolescents.


Kiana-Wall.jpeg

Kiana Wall

Kiana is a third-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. 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. 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.

Students Currently on Internship

Salome Vanwoerden

Salome Vanwoerden

Salome is a sixth -year doctoral graduate student working toward her PhD 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.

 

DPL Alumni

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 PhD in Psychology. Shreya’s career goal is to be a psychologist and have her own practice. 


Nabeeha Asim

Nabeeha Asim

Nabeeha is a third-year undergraduate psychology student at the University of Houston. She is also double minoring in Medicine & Society and Human Resource Management. She joined the lab in August 2018 as an undergraduate research assistant. Her research interests include anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and domestic violence. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.


Dakota Broadway

Dakota Broadway

Dakota graduated with a B.S. in Psychological Sciences from University of Texas at Dallas and is currently a 2nd year graduate student at Houston Baptist University pursuing an M.A. in Psychology. Dakota’s research interests include prevention and intervention for at risk adolescents, mood/anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia. Dakota plans to continue graduate education by pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology.


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Kathleen Dibacco

Kathleen joined the lab in May 2019. She graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and a minor in Chemistry. Her research interests include neurodegenerative diseases, learning and memory, and social cognition. She is currently a graduate student in the Master of Psychology program at Houston Baptist University.


Madison Hutzler

Madison Hutzler is a fourth-year Biology and Psychology double-major in the Honors College at the University of Houston. Currently her research focuses primarily on personality pathology and interpersonal communication. Previously Madison studied water quality and conservation in the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. Following undergrad she intends to pursue a PhD in Social Psychology.


Onyinye Obi-Obasi

Onyinye Obi-Obasi

Onyinye is a third-year undergraduate of Psychology with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. Her current research interest include the etiology of mental and personality disorders in children and adolescents, and their effects on development and social cognition. 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. Her goal is to become a Child Clinical Psychologist.


Caroline Pearson

Caroline Pearson

Caroline is an upcoming third year undergraduate student pursing 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 is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a BS in Psychology with a minor in medicine and society. He joined the lab in the summer of 2019 and hopes to further his studies into psychological research.


James Wang

James is a post-bacc research assistant who graduated from Northwestern University in 2016 with a BA in psychology and theatre. For 3 years, James pursued an acting career in the city of Chicago, during which he was a massage therapist to pay his rent. Now he is taking the prerequisites for medical school. He is currently a research intern at MD Anderson Cancer Center, in the department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative medicine. His research interests include relational closeness within the family and its potential associations to BPD pathology.