2020 Cohort Profiles

Yasmin Ali


My current thesis research is focused on the effect of alcohol use and the role of gender and culture on risk perceptions among Hispanic/Latina women. My current research projects with Dr. Perrotte in her SCCAERAB Lab focus on the cognitive aspects of risk perception and alcohol use across sociocultural contexts. I am also interested in areas of Psychology such as Neuropsychology and Biology, specifically focused on Autism Spectrum Disorder in Early Childhood. My main goal in my research is to learn how culture affects cognition, and in the future, I’d like to focus on how sociocultural backgrounds play a role in the development and early intervention of Autism Spectrum Disorder among minority children.

Supervisor: Dr. Perrotte

Nicholas Anstead


My research interests are in the fields of neuropsychology and metacognition. I will be studying aspects of memory acquisition, retention, and retrieval with the goal of designing novel methods of promoting memory retention in individuals with cognitive impairments as a result of traumatic brain injuries. My prior research has been done in a clinical setting and I intend to return to such a field. As such, my goals after completing this program are to pursue a Ph.D in neuroscience and to become a clinical neuropsychologist. 

Supervisor: Dr. Kelemen

Katherina Arteaga


My research interest is primarily in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and predictors for treatment-seeking. More broadly, my research interests lie in the accessibility of treatment and treatment adherence within the mental health setting and marginalized populations. While at Texas State, I hope to expand existing knowledge about barriers to mental health treatment. For my thesis, I aim to explore the relationship between having insurance and treatment-seeking in individuals with PTSD and a comorbid substance use disorder (SUD). Upon completion of my master’s degree, I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and continue research within an academic setting.

Supervisor: Dr. De Nadai

Kaitlin Brunett


In general, my research interests fall within clinical, social, and behavioral psychology as well as neuropsychology. Specifically for my thesis, I am studying rape myth acceptance based on certain demographics and social groups that individuals tend to be part of. I hope to use this research to bring to light the deep-seated issues that our society has with endorsing rape and in turn call for a change in the way these biases and the victims are treated. In the future, I am interested in doing research on the likelihood to develop mental illness and more effective treatment and testing. I plan to pursue a Ph.D. to continue developing these research interests and then either continue my research in an academic setting or run my own research lab.

Supervisor: Dr. Howard

Alexandra C. Contreras


My research interests are in cognitive, developmental, and social psychology. I’m specifically interested in children’s cognitive and social development across different cultural settings.

Another research interest of mine involves looking at children’s social behaviors in the context of the family. Finally, I am also interested in children’s and adults’ deviant social behavior. For my thesis project, I plan to examine the socialization of prosocial lying in Euro American, Mexican American, and Chinese American families. Prosocial lying develops over the course of childhood and is a cultural variable in different families. My goal is to look at the contrast cultures based on theoretically driven criteria. I want to see if there is a difference in prosocial lying between these specific cultural groups. After earning my Master’s, I either plan to pursue a joint degree in Law and Behavior Science, Ph.D./J.D., or a Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology. I plan to either be a professor and run my research lab or work for the FBI (Federal Bureaus of Investigation). Regardless of either path I pursue I plan to enhance the quality of life for families and individuals through the research I conduct.

Supervisor: Dr. Clegg 

Christopher Danysh


My general research interests are rooted in developmental psychology, consciousness studies, transpersonal psychology, integral psychology, positive psychology, and parapsychology. Underlying said research interests is the need to understand consciousness and subtle energy, specifically comprehending the relationship between attention and subtle energies and how this interaction informs our understanding of consciousness. Other considerations for research comprise testing selective theories of consciousness and exploring the neural correlates of consciousness of self-transcendence. Essentially, the goal is to understand the neurophysiological process of self-transcendence to the extent of developing an effective streamlined therapy. Overall, I am interested in testing various theories of consciousness, investigating the flow state, investigating a specific meditative framework, investigating the effects of subtle energy, developing a clearer understanding of meditation’s end goal, and understanding self-transcendence. I plan to earn another Masters in Mental Health Counseling, a Doctorate in Cognitive Neuroscience, or a similar focus, and a post-doc in Consciousness Studies or Transpersonal Psychology. I would like to pursue a career in research, whether I must serve in academia or at an institute.

Supervisor: Dr. Trujillo

Adine Deleon


My research interests include child psychology, child development, social psychology, and the psychology of religion and spirituality. For my research project, I will be continuing previous research analyzing the relationship between secular belief and design bias. More specifically, I will be transitioning this research toward a child population, as I am interested in uncovering views on creation and intentional design in children raised in secular or non-religious households. After earning my master’s degree, I plan to pursue my doctorate so that I may someday teach at the university level.

Supervisor: Dr. Clegg-Petz

Cheryl F Fox


My future research interest is primarily trauma and PTSD related. Mechanisms within PTSD and the effects of hyper-aroused states both offer the opportunity for large amounts of research to be conducted to understand the function and dysfunction within. My research opportunities currently involve sleep studies looking at how moods influence memory and sleep physiology's contribution to superior memory. After completing my degree at Texas State, I plan to pursue a Ph.D.

Supervisor: Dr. Westerberg

Breanna Franz

My research interests are in clinical and social psychology. I am interested in learning more about depression, specifically, post-partum depression. There is so much to explore in this area, and I would like to conduct research to specifically see what variables coincide with a new mother that may or may not have PPD or the baby blues. I am also interested in learning how prepared we are as a society to handle and identify this specific form of depression. For my thesis project, I will be conducting an experiment to determine if there is any correlation between breastfeeding and women that have been diagnosed with PPD. After completing my master’s degree, I am planning on pursuing a Ph.D. and continuing with my research. 

Supervisor: Dr. Hu

Michael Goodwin


I am interested in examining Big 5 personality traits as they relate to the inaccuracy of self-reporting injuries among collegiate athletes. Many times, athletes can be tempted to leave out specifics of their pain and severity of injury because time spent injured is time off the field. My goal is to observe the possibility of specific Big 5 personality traits contributing to higher rates of inaccurate self-reporting. Upon approval, I plan to survey a select number of Texas State University starting football players in which I will examine the correlation of their Big 5 personality characteristics to cognitive functioning in order to obtain possible inaccuracies. By surveying the players on Big 5 personality characteristics on a scale and obtaining a baseline cognitive score I hope to generalize which characteristics allude to players misreporting injuries based on discrepancies between their baseline cognitive score and cognitive test scores obtained periodically during the season. In the event of a head injury, players will be assessed when medically ready. In addition to the cognitive assessments, I hope to conduct an EEG scan on each participating player in order to detect changes in function over time. 

Supervisor: Dr. Osborne

Kaitlin Frances Grelle


My research interests include Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and how these diseases affect those who provide care to individuals diagnosed. Specifically, I am interested in investigating the caregiver burden, that is, the stress related to providing at-home care to an Alzheimer’s patient. This stress can impact a caregiver’s ability to sleep, interpersonal relationships, overall wellbeing, as well as the quality of the care they provide. Reducing the stress or burden would not only increase the quality of life of the caregiver but also the individual to whom they are providing care. I would like to research if there is a relationship between certain moderators and the reduction of caregiver burden. These moderators include social support, information and knowledge of the disease, and behavioral interventions. By acquiring this knowledge, more support could be provided to assist caregivers in lowering their stress levels. Alzheimer’s is an extremely difficult disease whether you are the person diagnosed with it or the one caring for that person. My overall goal for this program and my career is to make the journey through Alzheimer’s just a little bit easier any way I can. 

Supervisor: Dr. Deason

Tanya Herrera


My research interests lie in the realm of clinical neuropsychology and neuroscience. More specifically, I am interested in the neuropsychological functions in mood disorders and the linkages between neuroscience and psychopathology relating to those disorders. My secondary interests include validity and reliability in neuropsychological assessment. While in Texas State, my main project is in Misophonia. I plan to review the dimensions of its current diagnostic criteria and have a better understanding of the unique characteristics of the disorder, such as the emotion regulation aspect. After I earn my Master’s in the MAPR program, I plan to pursue a doctorate in Neuroscience and become a professor in a university to mentor curious students just like me.

Supervisor: Dr. Abramovitch

Donald MacPhail


Generally, my areas of interest are sport and exercise psychology, social psychology, personality psychology, and legal psychology. My research interests include the impact of social dynamics in sports and exercise, as well as social dynamic influence on the strength of political opinions. Additionally, I am interested in attitudes towards COVID-19 and the perception of teammate actions during pandemic among athletes involved in either team or individual sports. Also, assessing the open-mindedness of jury members has recently become a research interest of mine. The focus of my thesis concerns the role of certain social dynamics and personality traits have in uniform-color bias in combat sports, specifically Tae Kwon Do.

Supervisor: Dr. Osborne

Derek Mangino Sirvent

Decades ago, humanity realized that it was generating a lot of pollution on Earth. Scientists warned that this could become a problem in the future and some ideas were proposed. Yet, little was done to address the problem, and urbanization and pollution grew exponentially. Today, scientists have concluded that irremediable environmental damage has been done and within a few decades, humanity will witness catastrophic environmental changes. This research will constitute the first of a series of researches focused on predicting, and eventually adjusting, human behavior as the end approximates. The ultimate goal is to find a way to keep humanity from extinguishing itself but to do that, research must clearly identify the problematic behaviors.

Supervisor: Dr. Etherton

Haley Marcell

My research interests currently fall into the categories of addiction and criminal behavior. What I’d like to do is combined my two research interests and see how addiction and criminal behavior correlate with one another. With addiction, I would like to focus on substance abuse, specifically addictive stimulants such as methamphetamine, heroin, and crack cocaine. With these hard stimulants, I would like to see how they are predictors for harder crimes such as murder, attempted murder, and rape. Along with addictive hard stimulants, I’d like to understand early childhood substance abuse such as pills, alcohol, and marijuana use. I would like to see how this early childhood substance abuse can be a predictor of criminal behavior in the future, specifically multiple felony offenses and run-ins with the law.

Supervisor: Dr. Oberle

Steven Mesquiti

My research interests primarily lie in the fields of social and personality psychology – specifically decision-making related research. I would like to research how we may improve our field’s understanding of collegiate-level athletes. While at Texas State University, I plan to study how psychological constructs like grit. I’m also interested in linguistic analysis and expressive writing and how we can use them to improve well-being. My thesis centers around observing the influence grit, growth-mindset, and counter-factual thinking have on a college student-athletes levels of satisfaction My ultimate goal is to increase our field’s understanding of the internal mechanisms behind these phenomena through exploring them in college-level athletes. After Texas State, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in social psychology to further explore my interest in decision-making research. 

Supervisor: Dr. Osborne

Natalie Noebel


My research interests primarily encompass a multidisciplinary approach to investigating eating disorders, intersecting the subfields of health, clinical, and cognitive psychology. At Texas State University, I am currently working on two projects exploring whether orthorexia nervosa is associated with executive function deficits and substance dependency. For my thesis project, I will examine whether the relationships between anorexia nervosa and executive function are moderated by vitamin supplementation. After completion of my master’s degree, I plan to pursue an MMSc in Physician Assistant Studies with the long-term goal of becoming a Psychiatric Physician Assistant specializing in the treatment of eating disorders.

Mentor: Dr. Oberle

Emmanuel Reyes


A prominent theory regarding human intertemporal choice is the principle of delay discounting: the idea that people will sometimes decide to accept smaller rewards immediately and delay bigger rewards. This idea is also applicable to punishment; people can choose to accept bigger punishments much sooner and delay smaller punishments. My research will be centered around anxiety, specifically focusing on dread and its influence on delay discounting.

The term “dread” is important. Fear and dread are similar and are likely to be associated with the same thing. Dread refers to the anticipation of an unpleasant event while fear refers to the immediate emotion during the event. People who suffer from higher levels of anxiety typically experience dread to a higher degree. In my research, I will be exploring what scenarios elicit the most dread and to what degree, whether it be walking through the woods at night or having one’s wisdom teeth pulled out. The thesis I am developing will come into play when I incorporate delay-discounting. I will be looking into what factors will affect a person’s decision to experience a very unpleasant event at a greater magnitude at a closer date as opposed to a lesser, undesirable event at a later date.

Supervisor: Dr. Graham

Alessandra Rizzo-Esposito

My research interest is in social and cross-cultural psychology. More specifically, I am interested in learning about the effects of acculturation and bias on the interactions between native-born Americans and Latinx immigrants. For my thesis project, I will be examining how the implicit and explicit bias of future health care providers influences their attitudes towards future encounters with Latinx immigrants that have varying degrees of acculturation to the U.S. After completing the Psychological Research MA program, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology where I can continue researching Latinx immigrants and their interactions with mental health care. I hope to one day have the opportunity to open an affordable practice and specialize in working with immigrant populations 

Supervisor: Dr. Mendez

Neha Shrestha


My research interests are in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Social Psychology, Testing and Assessments, and Cognitive Psychology. More specifically, I am currently interested in women in leadership, implicit gender and racial biases, and motivation. 

Implicit gender biases are prominent in the work environment that further negatively affects the careers of high-achieving women. I am interested in understanding the solutions for creating gender-diverse leadership positions. While at Texas State University, I will study if young women are motivated by female leaders. I will examine if exposure to women in leadership roles positively associate with leadership achievement motivation in female college students. 

In the future, I plan to pursue a Ph.D., continue research, and work in a corporate setting.  

Supervisor: Dr. Etherton

Sarah Tanner


My research interests are in children's socioemotional and cognitive development and cultural psychology. Specifically, I am interested in a better understanding of how children develop emotion comprehension through different media platforms and exploring this across cultures. For my thesis project, I will be examining parent scaffolding of prosocial lies in comparison to parent scaffolding of other social behaviors. After earning my master's degree in Psychological Research, I plan to pursue a doctoral degree in developmental psychology. Ultimately, I would like to become a professor and continue my research in an academic setting. 

Supervisor: Dr. Clegg

Natalie Tucker


My research interests are primarily in developmental psychology and social cognition. More specifically, I am interested in how resilience develops in children, and how resilience affects achievement and social relations with others. For my thesis project, I plan to examine how resiliency scores are related to challenge seeking behaviors, academic success, and social relationships. Upon completion of the MAPR program, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in developmental psychology. Professionally, my goals are to teach at the university level while also maintaining an active status in the research world. 

Supervisor: Dr. Warnell

Ahkwekegbe "Aqua" Uwadiale


My primary research interest is on the mechanistic effects of stress, cognition, and affect and how they play a role in the maintenance of OCD and related psychopathologies. I am also interested in the link between OCD and Trichotillomania (TTM), the causes, and the mechanisms that result in this disorder. After completion of my master’s degree, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Neuropsychology or apply to an MD/Ph.D. program. My long-term career goal is to work in a laboratory setting conducting experiments that shed light on brain-based conditions that impact behavioral functioning and advance the understanding of TTM’s psychopathology and underlying neurobiology.

Supervisor: Dr. Abramovitch