Meet the Team!

Headshot of Doctor Jillian Wiggins

Dr. Jillian Lee Wiggins

Director
Email: jillian.wiggins@sdsu.edu
Phone: (619) 594-2188

Research Interests: We study brain activation patterns involved in typical and impaired socio-emotional development (for example, social interaction with other people, reading people’s emotions, and reacting to people’s facial expressions). In particular, we are interested in understanding factors (e.g., genetics, social, family) that affect brain function in children and adolescents without disorders, in addition to youth with autism, depression, anxiety, and irritability symptoms. To accomplish this, we use functional MRI, functional connectivity, and genetic, behavioral, and neuropsychological tools. Dr. Wiggins is happy to talk with any interested students about these research topics.

Doctoral Students

Headshot of fourth-year Ph.D. student Qiongru

Qiongru Yu

Doctoral Student
Email: qyu5775@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am working towards my Ph.D. in clinical psychology in the SDSU/UCSD joint doctoral program with a focus on neuropsychology. I am planning to pursue a career in independent research in academic settings in the future.

Research Interests: I am interested in studying the neural correlates of child psychopathology using a combination of neuroimaging, genetics, and behavioral approach. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the neural underpinning of anxiety and mood disorders comorbidity in children and incorporating the research findings to develop an effective and precise treatment for children with distinct symptom profiles.

Headshot of second-year Ph.D. student Johanna

Johanna Walker

Doctoral Student
Email: jcwalker@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am working towards my Ph.D. in clinical psychology in the SDSU/UCSD joint doctoral program with a focus on experimental psychopathology. I am planning to pursue a career in independent research in a multidisciplinary academic setting in the future.

Research Interests: I am interested in the neural correlates of cognitive biases and emotion dysregulation that influence the development and maintenance of psychopathology in youth. Specifically, I am interested in using multimodal assessments (e.g., neural, physiological, cognitive, socio-emotional) to examine how these mechanisms explain the manifestations of issues such as changes in attention, memory, and information processing, that contribute to the experience of internalizing disorders and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Ph.D. student Ruiyu sitting on grass with trees in the background and her legs crossed

Ruiyu Yang

Doctoral Student
Email: ryang7428@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am currently a first-year doctoral student working toward my Ph.D. in clinical psychology in the SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program with a focus on experimental psychopathology. My career goal is to conduct independent research in the field of translational and affective neuroscience.

Research Interests: I am interested in examining the underlying mechanisms of neurodevelopmental and affective disorders with a combination of behavioral and neuroimaging tools. In particular, I look into the dynamic interactions among neurobiological processes, social and cultural conditions, and environmental factors, and how these interactions manifest along the developmental trajectories in children and adolescents.

Master’s Students

Headshot of master's student Tasmia

Tasmia Alam

Master’s Student
Email: tasmiaalam@hotmail.com

Career Goals: I graduated with a B.A. in psychology from CSU, Channel Islands, and started the M.A. program for psychology at SDSU in the Fall of 2021. I hope to enroll in a Doctorate program in the developmental psychology field after that. Ultimately, I would like to work as an academic researcher in a research-based university.

Research Interests: I am most interested in studying neural development and differences between genders in the Asian-American adolescent community. Specifically, I would like to investigate whether the frontal lobe and hippocampal volume between sexes are drastically different in the Asian-American population, compared to the findings in previously studied demographical groups.

Headshot of first-year master's student Valeria with orange poppy flowers on a bush in the background

Valeria Cordeiro

Master’s Student
Email: vcordeiromenac1664@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: To be updated soon!

Research Interests: To be updated soon!

Lab Staff

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Lauren Bozzetto

Lead Clinical Interviewer
Email: lbozzetto@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I plan to study how the experience of trauma in childhood shifts brain development in a Ph.D. program in the future. Specifically, I am interested in how trauma diverges from the pathway of typical brain development and the impact this shift has on socio-emotional development. Through translational research and clinical application, I will work towards developing treatment and support for children who have experienced trauma. I will use my knowledge to advocate for children at risk.

Research Interests: My research interests lie in the intersection of child development and neuropsychology. I plan to study how complex trauma affects typical and atypical brain development. Specifically, I will focus on studying how the experience of trauma impacts socioemotional development during childhood and adolescence.

Headshot of project coordinator Nathan in a black and blue plaid shirt standing on a bridge with a large tree and rocks in the background

Nathan Kirk

Project Coordinator
Email: nkirk2@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: After receiving B.A. in Psychology and Education & Social Transformation, I am working towards applying to a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology. My goal is to gain experience as a researcher and clinician to develop trauma-informed treatments and provide clinical services to at-risk youth and their families. Ultimately, I hope to attain a position in an academic healthcare setting, where I can continue conducting research on early life trauma and providing clinical services to youth and families in need.

Research Interests: I am interested in understanding how early life stressors and trauma impact development and the onset of behavioral problems, as well as determining protective factors leading to increased resilience. Through my research, I hope to develop mental health interventions that will help inform my clinical services to improve outcomes for those experiencing early life adversity.

Headshot of project coordinator and lab manager Peyton in a tan wide shoulder tank top with green leaves of a nearby tree in the background

Peyton Brock

Project Coordinator/Lab Manager
Email: pabrock@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: After gaining post-baccalaureate research experience here at SDSU, I plan to pursue a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology. My ultimate goal is to conduct cutting-edge research in developmental psychopathology in a clinical or academic setting.

Research Interests: I seek to understand how we can better identify, classify, and assess psychopathology in young people. More specifically, I’m interested in interpersonal dysfunction as a risk factor for mood and personality disorders. Additionally, I’d like to explore also how dimensional models of diagnosis can improve research and clinical practice.

Headshot of lab staff Erin

Erin Peterson

Lab Staff
Email: eopeterson@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: Already having earned my B.S. in Psychology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I hope to one day pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and be a professor, and researcher, and have my practice working with children with ASD and other developmental conditions.

Research Interests: I am interested in the socio-emotional development of children with neuro-developmental conditions and the neural underpinnings of how they process and express emotions and socialize with others. I hope to better understand these neural processes using fMRI to improve diagnosis and treatment for these individuals.

Research Assistants

Headshot of Ana with a whiteboard calendar in the background

Ana Urena

Research Assistant
Email: anaurenarosario@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am currently working towards my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on Family and Child Psychology. My goal is to obtain advanced research and clinical expertise and collaborate in the development of mental health support services for children in diverse communities and work alongside families as well as professional institutions. Ultimately, I would like to use my knowledge and clinical expertise to further contribute to the awareness of child psychopathology by working on public policy.

Research Interests: Among the applied clinical areas I would like to focus on are depression and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. I am particularly interested in the areas of prevention of trauma and the development of evidence-based treatment while addressing biological, cultural, and social differences and stressors.

Headshot of computational neuroscience research assistant Conner

Conner Swineford

Computational Neuroscience Research Assistant
Email: cswineford@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am currently working towards my Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. Once I graduate, I plan to pursue my master’s and use my computational skills to pursue research in mental disorders.

Research Interests: I am interested in understanding the mental illnesses that affect developing minds. I would like to understand how they originate, persist, and potentially can be mitigated.

Headshot of research assistant and specialist Hailey with large green leaves in the background

Hailey Adney

Research Assistant/Research Specialist
Email: haileyadney@gmail.com

Career Goals: I am currently working towards a Bachelor’s degree in psychology with a focus on child/family development. My next goal is to attend graduate school for my Master’s degree. My ultimate goal is to work with children in a setting that supports their holistic healthy development.

Research Interests: I am drawn to the connection between neuroscience and behavior, particularly as it relates to atypical development. I feel that utilizing both neuroscientific and behavioral information provides an integrative approach that is necessary to properly provide care for suffering individuals. Additionally, I am fascinated by emotions—both their cognitive and physiological basis—and how they interact with social functioning in a way that influences—and is influenced by—atypical development.

Headshot of research assistant Nicola in a red shirt with a black formal jacket

Nicola Schmelzer

Research Assistant
Email: nschmelzer@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am currently working towards a Bachelor’s degree in psychology with a focus on behavioral neuroscience. I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. As someone with ADHD, I would ultimately one day like to contribute to research as well as treatment for neurodivergent people and their families.

Research Interests: My interests mainly lie in ADHD and spectrum disorders. I believe that better treatment is in the future by developing a more thorough understanding of cognitive processes, neuroscience, and behaviors. In addition, I would like to have a better understanding of different therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, and explore the relationship to neurologically driven behavioral deviance.

Headshot of research assistant Sabrena in a dark green floral dress in front of a green tree background

Sabrena Tuy

Research Assistant
Email: stuy@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: Having received a BA in Psychology, I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on Neuropsychology. I would like to open a private practice as a Clinical Neuropsychologist where I can provide individual and group therapeutic services and also conduct psychological and neuropsychological assessments. I am interested in continuing research related to Autism and Neuropsychology to see if there are ways to improve treatments specific to individuals and their diagnoses.

Research Interests: I am interested in researching the anatomical differences in functioning, social, and empathy influences in people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Through the research I produce, I would like to be able to better develop or specify treatment options for neuroatypical and neurotypical individuals based on their brain functioning.

Headshot of computational neuroscience research assistant Krupali

Krupali Patel

Computational Neuroscience Research Assistant
Email: krupali.patel9918@gmail.com

Career Goals: After earning an undergraduate degree in Psychology, I accepted a position working at the San Diego VA as a study coordinator for clinical research involving PTSD in veterans. I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical neuropsychology to combine evidence-based and experimental treatment for those experiencing early life trauma and brain injury.

Research Interests: My research interests focus on exploring the benefits of combining experimental treatments for trauma with existing evidence-based methods for children suffering from the effects of early life adversity incorporating machine learning into diagnostic tools.

Headshot of research assistant Shelbie holding a transparent glass award

Shelbie Nelson

Research Assistant
Email: snelson7289@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: After earning my bachelor’s in Psychology with an Emphasis on Neuroscience, I look forward to pursuing a Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology. After completing my education, I would like to provide psychological expertise within legal systems by testifying in courtrooms.

Research Interests: My research interests lie in neuroscience & criminology. Understanding behaviors & how they correlate with brain activity is incredibly interesting to me. I hope to learn more about how mental disorders interact with criminal behaviors through my research in the future.

Headshot of research assistant Sarah

Sarah Shipherd

Research Assistant
Email: sshipherd4206@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am studying at SDSU to get my bachelor’s degree in biology. I currently work as a patient care assistant at Scripps Mercy Hospital after working as an EMT in an ambulance for a year. After graduation, I hope to pursue my Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and specialize in psychiatry. My goal is to work with the psychiatric patient population, which is often underserved. I want to provide healthcare that is compassionate and informed on the ever-growing knowledge and research of the brain.

Research Interests: I’m interested in researching the neurological and chemical pathways of the brain that control and cause different kinds of behavioral and mental disorders. I’m very excited to be working in the TEND Lab and to be able to contribute to research that is expanding our knowledge of the “final frontier”. There is so much that is yet to be discovered about the brain, I plan to be a lifelong learner as more research uncovers the truth.

Headshot of research assistant Julayne with a bandana and yellow circle earrings

Julayne Kilcullen

Research Assistant
Email: jkilcullen7844@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: After receiving my bachelor’s degree in Psychology, I plan on furthering my education with a master’s in either social work or counseling. I hope to help those who are struggling with mental health. I greatly look forward to continuing to learn more about people and how our brains work.

Research Interests: I have always been very interested in understanding the brain. I hope to develop a better knowledge of how our brains work to find better solutions to mental health. I am so excited to be working in the TEND Lab with other people who find psychology as fascinating as I do.

Headshot of research assistant Andee in a white turtle neck long-sleeve with a photo frame reading bible verse I thank my God, Philippians 1:3 in the background

Andee Choi

Research Assistant
Email: achoi0735@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am currently studying at SDSU to obtain my bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I am also minoring in Counseling and Social Change. After completing my undergraduate degree, I plan on pursuing a Master’s degree in some form of counseling or therapy. I am particularly interested in Marriage Family Therapy and School Counseling at the moment.

Research Interests: My research interests are mostly centered around those suffering from various mental health illnesses. What drew me to psychology, in general, was the idea of understanding why people act or feel the way that they do. If we can understand the motive and reasoning behind this, we are also better equipped to help and encourage people through whatever mental health difficulties they may face. I’m also excited to dive deeper into the neurological side of psychology and mental health with the TEND Lab.

Headshot of research assistant Michelle in front of an all white background wearing a black suit jacket over a white low-neck shirt and a small gem necklace

Michelle Sumida

Research Assistant
Email: msumida8151@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am currently working towards a Bachelor’s degree in psychology with a focus on neuroscience. I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical neuropsychology and would like to serve the military and veteran communities. As a veteran, I am mindful of our service members’ issues and would like to conduct research that will help improve care and treatment options.

Research Interests: I’m interested in researching the biological, cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal factors associated with trauma and other significant adversities. I would also like to focus on understanding the vulnerability, resilience, and recovery processes of PTSD to improve treatments and provide counseling and psychological services to those who need it.

Headshot of research assistant Anna with dyed red hair, a black dress, and a red with black edge SDSU stole in front of green bushes with blossoming pink roses

Anna Munguia

Research Assistant
Email: annamunguia7@gmail.com

Career Goals: I recently graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I plan to pursue a Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology to have a more integral role in the assessment process of psychological disorders.

Research Interests: As a behavioral technician that works with children with autism, I have seen the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. I aspire to investigate atypical brain circuits within autistic children from patterns observed in typical development. This will demonstrate the function and structure of cortical networks and display the initial behavioral signs until full symptom manifestation occurs. In addition, I am interested in researching the comorbidities and complications that children and adults carry due to their diagnosis of autism and the treatment they follow. This research area has become incredibly understudied and will bring awareness to the impact of being on the spectrum.

Headshot of research assistant Cassidy in a grey tank top with her hair over her shoulders while seated on a light green/grey couch

Cassidy Loya

Research Assistant
Email: cloya7000@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am currently working towards obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an Emphasis in Neuroscience. Later, I plan on pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. My end goal is to work with children and families to help them break the cycle of and heal from intergenerational trauma.

Research Interests: I’m currently interested in the connection between mental and physical health, and how we can integrate existing treatments to be more effective in both disciplines.

Headshot of research assistant Grace in front of a glass window wearing a jean jacket off her shoulders over a silver silk dress

Grace Huynh

Research Assistant
Email: ghuynh6753@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: Currently I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Counseling and Social Justice. I am passionate about becoming a licensed clinical counselor because I would like to impact people by helping them reach their mental health goals. I hope to one day open my practice and create a podcast that discusses maintaining good mental health. My dream is to help clients through Telehealth while traveling around the world.

Research Interests: My research interests mainly focus on mental disorders, particularly in the age group between 16-25 years of age. Specifically, I would like to study what is causing anxiety, especially since it has become one of the most common mental illnesses in young adults. In addition, I would like to discover better methods of crisis intervention to allow the licensed therapist to be better equipped when facing those challenges.