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Our Team

SACH Director

Sack Director

Candice A. Alfano, Ph.D.

Dr. Candice Alfano is Professor of Psychology, a licensed clinical psychologist, and Director of the Sleep and Anxiety Center of Houston (SACH) at the University of Houston. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Maryland at College Park in 2005. Dr. Alfano's research program integrates several overlapping fields of study including the role of sleep-wake processes in the pathogenesis of psychopathology, especially anxiety disorders, and the development of evidence-based interventions for children and adolescents. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and the Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Dr. Alfano has served on the scientific council of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), the board of directors for the Society for Behavioral Sleep Medicine (SBSM), and as Associate Editor for Journal of Anxiety Disorders. She has published more than 70 scientific papers, chapters, and books, including the co-edited the book, Comprehensive Evidence-based Interventions for Children and Adolescents (2014; John Wiley & Sons).

Associate Clinical Director

Sack Director

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

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.

Graduate Students

Graduate student

Rogelio Gonzalez

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 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.

Simon Lau

Simon Lau

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.


Christine So

Christine is a graduate student in the clinical psychology doctoral program. Prior to moving to Houston, she worked for 5 years at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) just outside of Washington, D.C., and she also earned her Master’s in Biological Psychology from American University. At the WRAIR, Christine worked in two departments revolving around sleep research and military psychiatry research. Her current research interests broadly involve the bidirectional relationship between sleep and anxiety/posttraumatic stress disorder, particularly in the military population.