Student Profiles - University of Houston
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Mycah Ayala

Hello! My name is Mycah Ayala, and I am a third-year student in the UH School Psychology doctoral program. I graduated from Oklahoma State University (Go Pokes!) in May 2018 with a B.S. in psychology and a minor in child development. I completed my school psychology practicum in Katy ISD last year, and this year I am in Hempstead ISD for my LSSP internship. My research interests broadly surround interdisciplinary collaboration between the medical and educational settings to improve screening, diagnosis and service delivery for children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder. Specifically, I am interested in the role that pediatric primary care providers play in early identification of autism within the primary care context, as well as developing educational tools and supplemental materials to assist providers with implementing best practices in-clinic. I am a member of the UH *sparc lab and have really enjoyed collaborating with my fellow peers and outside professionals on various projects. I am originally from a sunny beach town near San Diego and love everything that involves tacos, my two precious fur babies, Leia and Luna, and the outdoors! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions: mayala7@uh.cougarnet.edu.

Amy Barton

Hello! I am a fifth-year student in the School Psychology program. I graduated from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. with a B.S in brain and behavioral sciences with minors in human development and family studies and religious studies in May 2016. My research and clinical interests focus on improving the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across the lifespan. I completed my school psychology practicum at Katy ISD with the Developmental Assessment Team and primarily completed autism and PPCD assessments. The next year, I completed my LSSP internship at the UH Charter School, supervised by Dr. Kristen Hassett. After that, I completed my first AP rotation at the UTHealth C.L.A.S.S. Clinic, an outpatient clinic setting that provides full psychological assessments for adolescents and adults suspected of having ASD.

This year, I am completing my second AP rotation at the TCH Autism Center, where I am supervised by Dr. Sadiqa Cash and assisting with school-age assessment of ASD. My advisors are Drs. Milena Keller-Margulis and Sarah Mire, but I have also worked on various projects with Drs. Jorge Gonzalez, Bradley Smith and Julia Strait from UH-Clear Lake. Currently, I am the project manager for Drs. Keller-Margulis’ and Mire’s ASD4ASD project funded by the Spencer Foundation examining academic skill measurement for children with ASD. I have previously served as the project coordinator for Dr. Smith’s program evaluation for Letting Everyone Achieve Dreams (LEAD).

In addition to my research and practicum responsibilities, I am president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association at UH and the co-chair for the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Graduate Student Committee. In these roles, I advocate for graduate student needs across systems. After graduation, I hope to stay in academia and work to close the research to practice gap, while continuing to advocate for students. In my free time I enjoy baking and crafting. I am so thankful for the all of the research and clinical opportunities I have had at UH. Please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have at abarton@uh.edu.

Katherine Bergez

Hi! My name is Kat Bergez, and I am currently completing my pre-doctoral psychology internship at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital within the Clinical Child/Pediatric Health Psychology track. I entered the UH School Psychology program in 2014 after earning my B.S. in psychology from Santa Clara University. I have had a wonderful experience in the program and have had many fantastic training opportunities, including practicum placements at the Texas Children’s Center for Children and Women, UTHealth Science Center Department of Psychiatry CLASS Clinic, Texas Children’s Hospital Psychology Service Preschool Program, UTHealth Science Center Department of Pediatrics High Risk Children’s Clinic, Katy Independent School District and Sheldon ISD. I have also participated in various research experiences through the Texas Children’s Hospital Autism Center.

Clinically, I am focused on family-based behavioral intervention for young children with disruptive behaviors, with a specific focus on youth with complex medical conditions and developmental disabilities. My research during my time in the program has focused on the systems impacting youth with ASD and how to promote positive child outcomes by enhancing the capacities of the adults in their lives (e.g., service providers). I have been actively involved in research with my advisor, Dr. Sarah Mire, and the *sparc research team since entering the program. I have had the opportunity to present at state, national and international conferences and contribute to multiple peer-reviewed publications. I recently defended my dissertation project, which examined the perspectives of community mental health providers serving youth with ASD, and I am in the process of applying for post-doctoral fellowship. I really enjoy talking about the program and graduate school in general, so please feel free to reach out at katherinebergez@gmail.com!

Nayoung Choi

Hello! My name is Nayougn Choi, and I joined the program in 2017. I received my B.A. in English education from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea, and M.A. in second language studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Before joining this program, I worked as an English language teacher/instructor for five-and-a-half years in Seoul and Honolulu, Hawaii. I am currently completing my advanced practicum at the Texas Children’s Health Plan Center for Children and Women, and I have previously completed two years of school-based/LLSP practicums at Katy ISD and Galena Park ISD. Broadly speaking, I am interested in supporting children’s socio-emotional and behavioral functioning at an individual as well as at a system’s level (e.g., parent management training) and cultural sensitivity/diversity issues in research as well as in clinical practices in psychology. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, exploring local places and watching movies. I can be reached at nchoi3@uh.edu.

Becca Clayton

Hi! My name is Becca Clayton, and I am a sixth-year student. I earned my B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin and my M.Ed. in counseling through the University of Houston. I am currently completing my pre-doctoral internship at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. Previously, I completed practicum placements at Texas Children’s Hospital (Section of Adolescent Medicine), Monarch School, UTHealth PATH Program, Deer Park ISD and Katy ISD. My advisor is Dr. Jorge Gonzalez. Outside of school, I enjoy spending time with family and friends and taking advantage of all of the opportunities and experiences Houston has to offer. Please feel free to email me at  beccajohnsonclayton@gmail.com if you have any questions about the program!

Brian Dang

I am a first-year student in the School Psychology doctoral program. I received my B.A. in English and ecology and evolutionary biology from Rice University, as well as my Master of Arts in teaching. Before arriving at UH, I taught high school biology in HISD. I loved working with a diverse student body and became increasingly interested in addressing their mental health and working with students with learning differences. In my free time, I read books, climb rocks, play music and spend time with my cats. Feel free to email me at bddang2@cougarnet.uh.edu

Fre’Dasia Daniels

Hi, hello! My name is Fre’Dasia Daniels, and I am a first-year doctoral student in the School Psychology program. I graduated from the University of North Texas in May 2020 with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in Spanish and human development and family science. My research interests include non-academic protective and risk factors that impact educational outcomes for socioeconomically and culturally diverse students. I am also interested in factors that encourage and discourage parents from enrolling their child in treatment and services. My advisor is Dr. Sarah Mire, and I’m super excited to be a part of the UH *sparc lab and ASD4ASD! In my free time, I enjoy geeking out over all things Doctor Who and Star Trek, powerlifting and eating good food! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at fmdaniel@cougarnet.uh.edu!

Kade Downs

I am a first year doctoral student in the school psychology PhD program at the University of Houston. I recently finished an EdS degree in school psychology at Brigham Young University in Utah. Prior to that, I earned a bachelors degree in Psychology with a minor in Spanish at Utah State University. My research interests include the identification of language and literacy mechanisms, as well as relevant social emotional factors, that contribute to educational outcomes for English learners. I am part of Dr. Jorge Gonzalez’s Project WORLD lab, and I also work as a research assistant in Dr. Norma Olvera’s BOUNCE Latino Health Disparities lab. Outside of school, I contribute to projects focused on constructs such as religious freedom in our local communities. I also enjoy bouldering and playing music.

Kristen Erps

I am a third year in in the School Psychology Ph.D. program. Before moving to Houston, I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and completed my undergraduate at Western Kentucky University (Go Tops!). After graduating, I completed two years of an Ed.S. in school psychology before transferring to UH. My research interests broadly focus on the identification of at-risk youth and also mental health comorbidities for youth with neurodevelopmental disorders. My independent research centers on suicidality in youth and adolescents and has extended to focus on suicidal youth with autism spectrum disorder. My candidacy/thesis examined school psychologists’ role and competency in suicide risk assessment, and I plan on expanding upon this for my dissertation. In my free time, you will find me hanging with my Great Pyrenees or exploring new restaurants in Houston. Go Coogs!

Gulden Esat

Selam! I started the program in 2017. My bachelor’s is from Bosphorus University in Istanbul, which is my hometown. After I received my master’s from UMASS, I worked as a school psychologist in Iowa public schools. Later I ran a private practice, doing assessment, counseling and coaching children and their families. I am interested in developing preventive interventions to foster well-being, mindfulness and spirituality. Please feel free to contact me at gesat@central.uh.edu.

Adam Garcia

Howdy! My name is Adam Garcia, and I am a first-year doctoral student in the School Psychology program. I graduated from Texas A&M University (Gig ’em, Aggies!) in May 2020 with a B.S. in psychology, minor in business and certificate in healthy development. While in undergrad, I spent two summers working at UTHealth in the Developmental Neuropsychology Clinic. This shaped my primary research interest of parental involvement in parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. I am excited to pursue this research with my advisor, Dr. Sarah Mire, and her UH*sparc lab. I am also a research assistant for Dr. Julie Dunsmore and work in her Social Development Lab. Outside of school, I am a huge Houston Rockets fan and will read anything by Brian Sanderson. If you are interested in school psychology or have any questions, feel free to email me at acgarc29@cougarnet.uh.edu. Thanks, and go Coogs!

Stacey Grebe

Hello. everyone! I am Stacey Grebe, a fourth-year student in UH’s School Psychology doctoral program. Before coming to UH, I completed my B.S. in special education at Texas A&M University and my Ed.S. in school psychology at Baylor University. I completed my school psychology internship in the Houston area. My previous practicum experiences have been at the UTHealth Changing Lives through Autism Spectrum Services (CLASS) Clinic, where I completed neuropsychological and autism assessments for adolescents and adults, and The Harris Center’s Behavioral Feeding Program, where I conducted feeding assessments and intakes, feeding interventions and parent training for children with avoidant or restrictive food intake disorder.

I am currently accumulating practicum hours through a local school district, where I complete psychoeducational evaluations and provide related-service interventions. I am also applying to internship and working on my dissertation, which is focused on fathers’ perceptions of their child’s ASD diagnosis. In my spare time I enjoy working out, watching Netflix and going out to eat at all the diverse restaurant options available in Houston! Please feel free to contact me at sgrebe@uh.edu.

Karrie Hilliard

I'm in the final stretch of what has been an incredible experience as a doctoral student - I'm applying to internship sites and working on my dissertation this year. My practicum sites have included two traditional school districts for LSSP-type experiences, the University Speech, Language & Hearing Clinic as a behavior consultant, Houston Independent School District (HISD) as a member of the crisis intervention team, and the juvenile justice system where I conducted court-ordered evaluations of detained youth. I spent the first several years in the program working on a multi-year study identifying predictors of success in algebra with Dr. Tammy Tolar. My own research is on the identification of reading difficulties among young English Language Learners. This interest arose out of my time as a bilingual kindergarten teacher in HISD, which is where I spent my Teach For America corps commitment. Later, I went on to work for Teach For America, helping to manage the arrival and training of new TFA teachers in Houston, and then joined the Human Resources team at HISD, developing strategies to improve the training and retention of top teachers in underperforming schools. I grew up in Arizona and went to college at Claremont McKenna College in southern California but got to Texas as soon as I could! My husband and I have a toddler and second child due in the fall. kahilliard@uh.edu

Rainey Hughes

Hi! My name is Rainey Hughes, and I am a sixth-year student in the School Psychology Ph.D. program. I earned my B.A. in experimental psychology from the University of South Carolina. During my undergraduate career, I was awarded a research grant to examine early communication differences in infant siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and infants with fragile X syndrome. More recently my primary research interests have expanded to include parents’ treatment considerations for individuals with ASD and early identification/intervention efforts for children with ASD. I have had a wonderful training experience in the program.

I completed my school-based practicum in Katy ISD, LSSP internship in Galena Park ISD and advanced practicum placement at UTHealth C.L.A.S.S. Clinic (Changing Lives through Autism Spectrum Services). During the 2019-20 school year, I will complete a second advanced practicum at The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD. I have collaborated on several UH*sparc presentations/publications and have presented at multiple national conferences. In my free time I enjoy taking spin classes, running, reading (or listening to audiobooks) and hanging out with my animals. Feel free to contact me with any questions about the program or Houston in general at raineyhughes28@gmail.com.

Amanda Hut

Hello! My name is Amanda Hut, and I am a first-year student in the School Psychology Ph.D. program. I graduated from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in December 2019 with a B.S. in psychology. My research interests broadly include academic assessment among children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. In my spare time, I enjoy trying local coffee shops and spending time with my family and friends. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at arhut@uh.edu!

Emily Jellinek

Hi, everyone! I’m Emily, a third-year doctoral student in the School Psychology program. I’m originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and I recently graduated from Penn State University with a B.S. in psychology. My research interests include systemic approaches to intervention for children with ASD, such as teacher, family and parent factors that influence intervention and services for children with ASD. I am also interested in school readiness and parent training for children with ASD. My candidacy project specifically focuses on examining pre-service teacher training to work with children with ASD during the transition from preschool to kindergarten. I am a member of UH *sparc, ASD4ASD and PASS lab, where I have contributed to several conference presentations and posters, as well as manuscripts. 

I completed my school psychology practicum experience at Galena Park ISD. I am currently doing my advanced practicum at The Harris Center STARS clinic. I am also an RA for PASS lab on an IES grant, where we are investigating whether computer-based scoring of children’s writing samples is effective. I am also starting as a research coordinator/therapist at Baylor College of Medicine. There I will help deliver CBT via telehealth for youth with ASD and comorbid anxiety as well as assisting in content development for an online CBT intervention for children with ASD and anxiety. In my free time, I love to run at Buffalo Bayou park, do yoga, paint and be a mom to my adorable kitten, Dobby. If you have any questions about the program, please feel free to email me at ejellinek@uh.edu.

Anna Laakman

Hello! My name is Anna Laakman, and I’m a second-year student in the School Psychology Ph.D. program. I am originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, but I moved to Houston from Southern California, where I worked at the Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of California-Irvine as the education and training director. My B.A. is in communication and sociology from Wake Forest University in North Carolina. I have a master’s degree in special education with a focus in autism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Before starting this program, I worked at the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders on the Simons Simplex Collection and at Texas Children’s Hospital on the Simons Variation in Individuals Project. I am very interested in camouflaging in ASD and the female phenotype of autism spectrum disorders and how we can better identify girls on the spectrum. My advisors are Drs. Milena Keller-Margulis and Sarah Mire. Feel free to reach out at allaakma@central.uh.edu if you have any questions about the program!

Lindsey Landry

Hey, y’all! My name is Lindsey Landry, and I am a fourth-year student in the program. I attended Louisiana State University before moving to Houston (Geaux, Tigers!). My primary research interest is early identification and intervention for at-risk kids and school readiness. I enjoy working with Dr. Milena Keller-Margulis and the PASS team’s CBM research, which informs best assessment and intervention practices in the classroom. I am currently working on my dissertation proposal, which focuses on universal screening of academics and social, emotional and behavioral skills in kindergarten. I have completed practicums at Sheldon ISD and Texas Children’s Health Plan: The Center for Children and Women. In my free time, I love to surround myself with friends, go shopping and eat all of the yummy food in Houston, of course! Feel free to contact me at llandry@central.uh.edu.

Seyenah Lopez

Hello! My name is Seyenah Lopez. I am a first-year student in the School Psychology program. I graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.A in psychology and human development and family sciences. My research interests include examining social determinants of health and how these factors affect underrepresented adolescents’ ability to excel in school. Before I graduate, I would like to create a bridge program for young students to enhance their desire in education. During my free time, you can find me working out at the gym, spending time with family/friends, cooking or exploring various places. Feel free to contact me with any questions about the program! My email address is slopez42@uh.edu.

Elias Loria

Hello! My name is Elias Loria, and I am a third-year student, advised by Dr. Zenaida Aguirre-Mu ñoz. I am originally from Costa Rica, but I moved to the United States after being awarded a full scholarship by the Walton Foundation to complete my undergraduate studies. I graduated from University of the Ozarks with a B.S in psychology and B.A in marketing in May 2018. My research interests broadly surround the development of more effective academic assessment tools for culturally and linguistically diverse students, especially Spanish-speaking students. I am currently working on my candidacy project, which investigates the reliability and validity of a Spanish scoring system for written expression curriculum-based measurement. I am also interested in public policy development to ensure adequate and equitable educational services. I am currently part of three research labs: Dr. Aguirre-Munoz’s lab, Dr. Milena Keller-Margulis’ PASS lab, and ASD4ASD with Drs. Sarah Mire and Keller-Margulis. In my spare time, I enjoy watching television shows, baking, cooking and playing with my cat, Link.

My-Linh Luu

Hi there! My name is My-Linh Luu, and I am a first-year student in UH’s School Psychology doctoral program. My B.S is in child development (child life) from Texas Woman’s University in Denton. I have a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in applied behavior analysis from Arizona State University. I am also actively involved with the Kochel Lab for Clinical Autism Research at Texas Children’s Hospital Autism Center. My research interests broadly surround pediatric psychology and systemic approaches to behavioral interventions. In my spare time, I enjoy being a plant mom, interior designing and never skipping leg day. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions: mylinh.n.luu@gmail.com.

Jamie Manis

I am entering my sixth year as a doctoral student in the UH School Psychology program. Before coming to UH, I attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, where I got my bachelor’s degree in bsychology and child development. As a doctoral student, I have completed practicum placements in Galena Park ISD, Katy ISD, the Texas Children's Health Plan Center for Children and Women and the UTHealth CLASS Clinic. Currently, I am gaining experience as a research therapist at Baylor College of Medicine delivering a parent-guided CBT intervention via telehealth which aims to address child distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I have had the opportunity to work on a number of research teams here at UH, including Project WORLD with Dr. Jorge Gonzalez, LEAD with Dr. Bradley Smith, and UH*sparc with Dr. Sarah Mire. My advisor is Dr. Gonzalez, and my own research focuses on treatment considerations for early, evidence-based, teacher-delivered interventions in the school setting. In my spare time, I love to spend time with family and friends enjoying all the sights, events, and food that Houston has to offer. In my experience, the UH School Psychology program has had no shortage of great opportunities and experiences! 

Ashley McDonald

I started the program in 2016. I am originally from Mexico, Missouri, but have lived in Houston since 2012. I attended the University of Missouri (Go Tigers!) for my B.A. in psychology and Ed.S. in school psychology. I relocated to Houston to complete my school psychology/LSSP internship. Following the internship, I became licensed and worked as an LSSP in the district for three years before entering the Ph.D. program here at UH. My primary responsibilities as an LSSP were assessment, counseling and behavior consultation. I entered the program to gain additional experience and increase my opportunities beyond the school setting.

I have completed practicum rotations at the UTHealth C.L.A.S.S. (Changing Lives through Autism Spectrum Services) Clinic, Texas Children’s Hospital Section of Adolescent Medicine and TCH Preschool Program, delivering parent management training with families of preschoolers with disruptive behaviors. I also participated in the UH program’s cultural immersion program to Querétaro, Mexico! My dissertation focuses on racial socialization practices for Black families raising a child with autism, specifically how they prepare their child to interact with law enforcement. Outside of school I enjoy teaching Jazzercise, watching Netflix and hanging out with my hubby and son! Feel free to contact me with any questions about the program, school psychology or Houston! My email address is amcdona3@central.uh.edu.

Shannon McKee

I am in my seventh year in the program and am currently working full time in my pre-doctoral internship in a local school district. Before starting the doctoral program at UH, I completed my B.A. in psychology at Harding University and my M.A. and Ed.S. in school psychology at Middle Tennessee State University. I worked as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP) in a school district in the Fort Worth area after graduating and before beginning the program at UH. My research interests revolve around children with autism spectrum disorder and the family system. I have worked on many projects as part of UH*sparc (School Psychology Autism Research Collaboration) and have enjoyed presenting research at a variety of conferences throughout my time at UH, including NASP, APA and INSAR. I have also gotten the opportunity to work on research at Texas Children’s Autism Center.

My previous practicum sites included UTHealth in the High-Risk Clinic, providing developmental assessments and outpatient therapy to children and adolescents with complex medical issues; Memorial Hermann Children Hospital, participating on the Chronic and Palliative Services team and serving patients and families in the NICU and PICU; UH’s Speech Language and Hearing Clinic, providing evaluations for ASD and providing parents with the Incredible Years parent training; Texas Children's Autism Center, doing ASD evaluations; Texas Children’s Psychology Service, doing Brief Behavior Intervention with families of preschoolers with challenging behavior; and The Harris Center Feeding Clinic, providing feeding therapy and feeding evaluations. I also have a wonderful husband and two amazing kids, so my time spent out of school is occupied by my family. Feel free to contact me with any questions at slmckee2@uh.edu.

Morgan McNeel

Hi! My name is Morgan McNeel, and I am a fourth-year student in the UH School Psychology program. I grew up in Tampa, Florida, but have been in Houston since 2011. I graduated from Rice University in May 2015 with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in neuroscience. Following graduation, I worked with children with neurodevelopmental disorders and their families as a research assistant and clinic coordinator at UTHealth Science Center’s Developmental Neuropsychology Clinic. I have continued working with this population during my time at UH through my work with Dr. Sarah Mire and the UH*sparc team as well as through my practicum experiences. My research interests include systemic approaches to autism intervention —understanding what impacts treatment choices and outcomes and how that knowledge can be used to develop more integrated, effective and affordable treatment options. I have completed practicum rotations at the Harris Center and in Katy ISD. My current practicum is at the Texas Children’s Autism Center where I provide parent management training for families of children with ASD and disruptive behaviors. Please feel free to contact me with any questions at mmmcneel@gmail.com!

Allison Meinert

Hi, friends! I am a fifth year in the School Psychology program at UH. I graduated from Clemson University (Go Tigers!) with a B.A. in psychology and minor in education. My advisor is Dr. Sarah Mire, and I am excited to be a part of the UH*sparc team that conducts research on the different systems surrounding children with autism spectrum disorder. Specifically, my research interests involve psychotropic medication use for children with ASD, prescriber use of risk-benefit analysis in treatment decision-making, and primary care screening psychosocial comorbidities for children with developmental delays and disorders. I am particularly interested in pediatrician-psychologist collaboration and have assisted with a research project at Texas Children’s Hospital to explore this interest, which eventually turned into my dissertation.

I have completed practicum experiences through Galena Park ISD, Texas Children’s Health Plan: The Center for Children and Women and the Texas Children’s Autism Center. This year, I am completing my LSSP internship at the UH Charter School. I also engaged in the UH cultural immersion practicum in Querétaro, Mexico, where I was able to practice behavioral consultation with culturally and linguistically diverse populations. In my free time, I love exploring Houston and spending time with my dog, Hallie. Please feel free to contact me at  ameinert12@gmail.com.

 

Caroline Mousa

Hello! I am a first-year doctoral student in the School Psychology program. I recently graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in creative work from The Honors College at UH. I have been involved in Dr. Bradley Smith’s Yoga and Mindfulness Lab since 2018, where I have helped implement mindfulness practices in undergraduate classrooms. My research interests include mindfulness interventions in K-12 classrooms. In my free time I enjoy playing sports, creating art and hanging out with friends. I love Houston, and I love UH! You can connect with me at cmousa@uh.edu.

Erin Reid

My name is Erin Reid, and I am a sixth-year student. I am originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and attended the University of Virginia. Upon graduating, I joined Teach For America and taught middle school special education at a KIPP charter school in New Orleans. Before starting graduate school, I also taught sixth grade at the Briarwood School, a private school for children with learning differences in Houston. At UH, I have continued my pursuit to equip students with disabilities with the tools that they need to be successful students and thriving members of society. In Dr. Keller-Margulis’ lab, I study the role of writing and behavior in student achievement. With the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities, I study how factors such as attention and executive functions impact academic skill development and response to intervention. This year I am completing my practicum rotation with the OCD & Anxiety Disorders Program at Texas Children’s Hospital. Please contact me with any questions you may have about our program at ereid@uh.edu.

Georgette Richardson

Greetings! My name is Georgette Richardson, and I entered the program fall 2014. I previously conferred a  master’s in clinical psychology at The University of Texas at Tyler. In 2016, I was named the inaugural UH College of Education Holmes Scholar, as part of a national program made up of AACTE member institutions that provides mentorship, peer support and professional development opportunities to doctoral students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds who are pursuing careers in the professoriate.

I am most interested in understanding how to improve health and well-being in children most at risk for adverse developmental outcomes. My approach is to better understand how a child’s immediate environments, such as home context or health systems, may contribute to a healthy developmental trajectory. My previous work has focused on understanding how African American mothers’ role beliefs impact their young child’s cognitive development. Currently, I am examining relationships between maternal depression, integrated behavioral health utilization and neonatal outcomes such as preterm birth or low-birth weight. 

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with friends, family and my dogs, Biggie Smalls and Cooper. I would really enjoy talking to you about professional aspirations or research collaborations. Please reach out at grichardson4@uh.edu.

Christopher Rivera Carvajal

My name is Christopher Rivera and I am a first-year student in the School Psychology program. I received a B.S in psychology and minor in statistics after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University. My research interests involve dual language learning and Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). I also enjoy working with statistical software known as R.

Syed Rizvi

Hey, my name is Syed Rizvi, and I am a fourth year in the UH school psychology program. I am from New York City and am a first-generation college graduate. I received my Bachelor of Science in psychology from UH with honors (cum laude). I have worked in a few labs researching a variety of topics from the causal effects of sleep deprivation on children’s emotions to the effects of prejudice through media. I am interested in the areas of spirituality, mindfulness and compassion and seek to work with the Muslim community in Houston to better understand a correlation between specific religious practices and better life achievement (school grades, happiness, etc.) In my free time I enjoy outdoor activities, writing, watching films and working out. I am also a writer and editor for The Muslim Vibe (online platform for Muslims) and run my own YouTube channel geared toward understanding the intersection of psychology and spirituality. You can email me at Syedarizvi134@gmail.com.

Georgina Rosenbrock

Hey there! My name is Georgina Rosenbrock, and I am a third-year student in the UH School Psychology program. I graduated from Texas Tech University with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in addictive disorders and recovery studies. My current research interests center around how parents and families influence the early identification and early intervention of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Additionally, I am interested in improving the identification and treatment of ASD-affected families from socioeconomically, culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. My candidacy project explored whether parents’ sociodemographic factors (e.g., race/ethnicity, education, income) predicted their cognitions about their children’s ASD diagnosis or their family coping behaviors.

As a member of UH*sparc I have had the opportunity to contribute to manuscripts concerning school readiness for children with ASD and the influence of parental affective states and cognitions on treatment acceptability of parent-mediated interventions. I have also served as a research volunteer at Texas Children’s Autism Center and helped develop a research database for a study concerning parents’ perceptions of genetic testing for their children on the spectrum. I’m currently working on a scoping review in this area as well. Finally, I’ve completed cognitive and language skills testing for young child participants (ages 3-9) for a research project focused on social dynamics and early visual experiences of children with ASD. My practicum experiences thus far have been amazing. In my second year, I completed my school psychology practicum in Galena Park ISD, where I serviced diverse students with a range of emotional and behavioral concerns. I also co-facilitated a bilingual parent training series. This year, I am completing an advanced practicum at the Harris Center for Mental Health & IDD in their Feeding Intervention clinic, where I serve families and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who also have feeding disorders by training parents in behavioral feeding therapy. In my free time, I enjoy working out, hanging out with my husband and our dog, cooking, painting, and learning about toxin- and waste-free living. Talking with new/prospective students is also one of my favorite things to do, so please feel free to reach out if you have any questions ( grosenbrock@uh.edu)!

Patrick Sajovec

Prior to coming to Houston, I received my B.S. in psychology from the University of South Carolina. I completed my school practicum in Deer Park ISD and LSSP internship in Galena Park ISD. I have completed advanced practicum rotations at the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, where I conducted forensic evaluations for detained youth, and at the Texas Children’s Center for Children and Women, where I conducted diagnostic intakes, parent management training, individual therapy, and consultation/liaison with pediatrics and OB/GYN. I also did the Summer Treatment Program in Miami, so ask me about that! Most recently, I completed a rotation at Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin, where I worked with the consult/liaison team and conducted therapy to bridge care between the hospital and long-term outpatient care. Please contact me at psajovec@uh.edu if you have any questions!

Rebecca Sanchez

Hi! My name is Rebecca Sanchez, and I am a first-year student in the program. I am a first-generation college graduate and first-generation American. I graduated with a B.A. in psychology from Trinity University in 2019. My research interests center around the influences of the early identification and early intervention of children with autism spectrum disorder. More specifically, I’d like to improve early identification and intervention in culturally and linguistically diverse families and children. Outside of school, I enjoy watching Netflix, going to the movies and spending time with my nieces and nephews. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at rjsanch5@cougarnet.uh.edu.

Jelisa Scott

Hey there! My name is Jelisa Scott, and I am a second-year doctoral student in the School Psychology program. I am originally from Bossier City, Louisiana, but have made Houston my home since 2011. Before beginning my doctoral journey, I became a board-certified behavior analyst, started my own behavior management consulting company, and am the host of a podcast called Be Better. My research interests include understanding how implicit biases impact educators’ disciplinary decision-making toward students at the intersections of race and disabilities. When I’m not focusing on school, I’m surviving this pandemic by watching old ’80s and ’90s movies and sitcoms, listening to music, laughing at podcasts like The Read and Gettin’ Grown, or playing with my dog.  If you have any questions about the city or my experience as a student, feel free to email me at jscott1428@gmail.com.

Angela Serrano

Hey! My name is Angela Serrano, and I am a third-year student. I graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in psychology. I am currently completing my LSSP internship at Hempstead ISD and completed my school psychology practicum at Katy ISD. My advisor is Dr. Bradley Smith, and I am involved in the LEAD lab, providing program evaluation to the LEAD nonprofit community organization that aims to promote positive academic and behavioral outcomes of at-risk youth. 

My research interests include evaluation of preventative and intervention programs delivered in school settings for positive social, emotional, behavioral and academic outcomes for adolescents. I’m also interested in researching teacher and school personnel training and delivery of school-based interventions. My populations of interest include adolescents (especially the transitionary period from middle school to high school), at-risk and vulnerable students, and Hispanic/Latinx students. Outside of school, I enjoy playing with my dog, spending time with friends and cheering on my nephews in their little league games.

Caroline Silva

Hi! My name is Caroline Silva, and I am a third-year student in the School Psychology program. I received a B.S in psychology from Fordham University in New York. My research interests revolve around early literacy intervention in dual language learners, with a focus on the home literacy environment. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, working out and reading. Feel free to contact me with any questions at casilva4@uh.edu.

Kimberly Smoots

Hello, my name is Kimberly Smoots, and I am a first-generation college graduate from El Paso. I am currently a fifth-year student in the doctoral program. I received my B.A. in psychology from Texas A&M in Corpus Christi. I am bilingual, bi-ethnic and biracial. I am hoping to graduate with a focus on bilingual service delivery.

My advisor is Dr. Bradley Smith. My research interests include school-based mindfulness and cultural factors in service delivery, family-school relationships and family-focused service delivery such as parent management training. I am also generally interested in intervention research for mood, behavior, and emotional disorders and/or challenges. I am passionate about reducing mental health and/or disability stigma and hope to increase knowledge, awareness and acceptance among the families and communities.

I enjoy working in schools and have focused most of my training in this setting. I completed my school practicum in Katy ISD, my LSSP internship in Deer Park ISD and worked in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD for my advanced practicum training. In these practicums, I gained wonderful experiences doing assessments, interventions and consultation in both English and Spanish, primarily with elementary school students. Currently, I am an extern at Texas Children’s Hospital in their Brief Behavioral Intervention Program for preschoolers with behavioral challenges.

While I enjoy working in schools, I am also knowledgeable about the challenges faced by individuals and families in communities that are marginalized, and I use an equity lens to explore aspects of cultural humility with research and practice. I am currently also a HEARTspeak© (Holistically Engaging in Anti-Racist Transformation) co-facilitator with Full Circle Strategies, a consulting firm in Houston, that addresses equity and racism within organizations.

In my free time, I enjoy singing, dancing, cooking, reading, spending time with my family and friends and working out! If you have any questions about the application process or the program, you can email me at kdsmoots@uh.edu.

Christian Stewart

I am currently in my third year in the School Psychology program. Before coming to UH, I earned my M.S. in marriage and family therapy from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and my undergraduate degree in behavioral science, with an emphasis in family studies from Utah Valley University. My ever-evolving research interests currently include the relationship between self-perception and well-being in adolescents with ADHD, the impact of parental stress and involvement on school success, and the role shame plays in the socioemotional development of children and adolescents with ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders. I have been involved with various research teams, and I look forward to expanding my research base while in this program. I spend most of my free time catching up on some self-care and quality time with my family. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at cstewartpsych@gmail.com.

Samantha Tan

Hello! My name is Samantha, and I’m a third year Ph.D. school psychology student. I’m originally from Singapore, an island state in Southeast Asia. I graduated from the University of York (United Kingdom) with a BSc. in psychology, completed an M.Ed. in the psychology of education at the University of Bristol (United Kingdom) and did my teacher training at the National Institute of Education (Singapore). Before pursuing my Ph.D. in school psychology, I taught at a Singapore elementary school and worked at the Singapore Ministry of Education on developing national programs and policies to raise the quality of special education in Singapore.

My interests broadly surround autism spectrum disorder, teaching English to second language learners, and the development of systems-level interventions and programs to promote inclusivity for students with special needs. With regard to clinical training, I’ve completed my school psychology practicum at Katy ISD and am now doing my advanced practicum at The Center for Children and Women (Greenspoint). Research wise, I participate in PASS lab, ASD4ASD and *sparc, and am a research assistant for a program evaluation of a community-based social skills training program for children and youth with autism. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, reading, music, Pilates and being a dog mum to my 1 ½-year-old Husky mix. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the program or living in Houston!

Dieu Truong

I am currently in the fifth year of the School Psychology Ph.D. program. I am originally from Saigon, Vietnam. Prior to entering the program, I completed my B.A. in human development and family studies and B.S. in psychology at UH and my M.A. in psychology at Houston Baptist University. My employment as a service coordinator for the Texas Home Living Medicaid Waiver at the Harris Center motivated me to join the UH program and specifically UH*sparc because of my interest in improving the well-being and quality of life of multiply marginalized families caring for children with autism. The lab has provided me many opportunities to serve as the lead researcher or collaborator on projects focusing on understanding the disparities in Asian American and Pacific Islander families and African American families caring for children with autism; applying cultural humility in school psychology; and conducting a systematic review for research strategies that have effectively or ineffectively recruited and retained socioeconomically, culturally and linguistically diverse families caring for children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

I also get to serve on the Research Advisory Board for the SPARK study at the Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital Autism Center to promote effective research recruitment and retention of socioeconomically, culturally and linguistically diverse families to join autism genetic research.  Similarly, I selected practicum experiences that expanded on my primary interest: (1) the Harris Center S.T.A.R.S. Clinic, providing individual and group therapy for children, adolescents and adults with autism, IDD and co-occurring mental health diagnoses, (2) The Center for Children and Women, providing parent management training for families and children with various neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., autism, ADHD, IDD) and disruptive behaviors as well as individual therapy with children, adolescents and adults with mental health diagnoses, and (3) the Galena Park and Deer Park school districts.

My dissertation centers on understanding parents’ perceptions and causal beliefs of autism in Vietnam and to validate the Vietnamese Illness Perception Questionnaire-Revised-Autism Spectrum Disorder to systematically examine the cognitive representation of these parents of autism. With the honor of being selected as an APA Minority Fellowship MHSAS Fellow, I am excited and committed to addressing systemic issues and promoting equitable access to high quality behavioral health care for multiple marginalized families. Lastly, I love traveling, trying out new restaurants, eating hotpot with my partner and binge-watching a lot of Vietnamese, Hong Kong, Chinese and Korean shows! I’d love to talk with prospective students, so please feel free to reach out at dmtruong@uh.edu.

Lena Twitchell-Heyne

I am a third-year student in the program and was born and have lived most of my life in Houston, Texas.  I graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston Honors College where I received my B.S. in psychology. My research experience includes working in the Pediatric Psychopharmacology team looking at prenatal, perinatal and pediatric use of psychotropics.  I recently presented a poster on FDA psychotropic drug safety communications at the 2014 Convention of the American Psychological Association along with Dr. Kubiszyn and Dr. Mire.  I am also involved in Dr. Smith’s Yoga Research lab where I am interested in looking at educational outcomes of regular yoga practice for children and adolescents. After graduation I hope to work in a medical or academic setting where I can pursue a career in research. I enjoy spending my free time traveling, practicing hot yoga, and reading science fiction novels. Please feel free to contact me by e-mail: lttwitchell-heyne@uh.edu.

Mariana Vazquez

¡Hola! My name is Mariana, and I am part of the 2018 cohort in the UH School Psychology program. I graduated from Texas A&M University in December 2017 with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in Spanish and sociology. My advisor is Dr. Jorge E. Gonzalez, and my research interests broadly surround parent involvement among Latinxs, literacy development of dual language learners and the influence of cultural factors on Latinx students’ academic achievement. I am particularly interested in contributing to research focusing on the Latinx community and working with Spanish-speaking parents and children. I completed my school psychology practicum in a school district just outside of Houston, where I gained valuable skills engaging in bilingual service delivery. I am currently completing my LSSP internship at Katy ISD, where I actively use my bilingual skills and continue learning about the social, educational and psychological needs of the Latinx community.

Katherine Zopatti

Hi! I am a fourth year in the program. I am a San Diego, California, native and graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in psychology in 2016. Before graduate school, I had the joy of teaching early elementary, working as a learning specialist and tutoring at-risk readers through USC’s Joint Educational Program. At UH I’ve had the pleasure of externing/interning at Galena Park ISD and Texas Children’s The Center for Women and Children. My clinical interests are broad. I love working with all children and families, largely around early childhood, early intervention and parent management training. This year, I am completing my LSSP internship at Deer Park ISD. As for research, I’m particularly interested in early screening and prevention at school, clinic and public policy levels. In my free time, you can find me traveling, exercising or spending time with friends. If you have any questions about school psychology or just want to chat about graduate school life, feel free to email me at klzopatti@uh.edu!

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COLLEGE SNAPSHOT

Learn more about the College of Education’s programs, research, community engagement and more in our new magazine. Prospective students won’t want to miss this useful guide! Read on.

Outside Farish Hall

The School Psychology doctoral program is a member of UH's Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences department.

Program Director: Dr. Milena Keller-Margulis

UH College of Education
Stephen Power Farish Hall
3657 Cullen Blvd., Room 491
Houston, TX 77204-5023

Undergraduate: coeug@uh.edu or 713-743-5000
Graduate: coegrad@central.uh.edu or 713-743-7676
General: coecomm@uh.edu or 713-743-5010

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