Meet the Team!

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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, 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, genetic, behavioral, and neuropsychological tools. Dr. Wiggins is happy to talk with any interested students about these research topics.

Doctoral Students

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Qiongru Yu

Doctoral Student
Email: qyu5775@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am working towards my PhD 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 effective and precise treatment for children with distinct symptom profiles.

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Johanna Walker

Doctoral Student
Email: JCWalker@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am working towards my PhD 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.

Master’s Students

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Ruiyu Yang

Master’s Student
Email: ryang7428@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am currently working toward my Master of Arts in Psychology at SDSU and I aim to continue my study in a clinical psychology doctoral program and eventually, become a researcher in an academic setting or provide evidence-based psychological services to people in need.

Research Interests: I am interested in the underpinning relationship between neural pathways and different psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders. I plan to further my understanding using different neuroimaging tools. I would also like to incorporate cultural and social factors (e.g., sexual minority status, socioeconomic status, cultural differences) into the research of psychological pathology and conduct interdisciplinary research in this field.

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Marvin Yan

Master’s Student
Email: myan5421@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am currently a student in SDSU’s Psychology MA program. I plan to continue my studies in a clinical psychology PhD program, with the final goal of conducting research as a psychology professor.

Research Interests: I am interested in understanding the neural and cognitive underpinnings of psychiatric disorders. More specifically, I am interested in how we can use neuroimaging to better predict the onset of psychiatric disorders and the efficacy of different treatment options for an individual. Also, I would like to explore how we can use technology to improve and optimize treatments.

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Tasmia Alam

Master’s Student
Email: tasmiaalam@hotmail.com

Career Goals: I graduated with a B.A. in psychology from CSU, Channel Islands and will be starting the M.A. program for psychology at SDSU in the Fall of 2021. I hope to enroll into 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 within 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.

Lab Staff

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Lauren Bozzetto

Lab Manager
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 socioemotional 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.

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Nathan Kirk

Project Coordinator
Email: natekirk41@gmail.com

Career Goals: After receiving B.A.s 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.

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Peyton Brock

Family Coordinator
Email: peytonb1@vt.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 interactions between interpersonal relationships, adverse life experiences, and neural underpinnings contribute to the development of mood and personality disorders in children and adolescents. I am also interested in how transdiagnostic approaches to psychopathology and dimensional models of diagnosis can improve research and clinical practice.

Research Assistants

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Ana Urena

Research Assistant
Email: anaurenarosario@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am currently working towards my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in 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.

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Valeria Cordeiro

Research Assistant

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Kassidy Tolbert

Research Assistant
Email: kasstolb@gmail.com

Career Goals: Once I earn my undergraduate degree in Psychology at SDSU, I plan to pursue a Master’s or Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology. My long-term goal is to earn licensure and open my own private practice as a Child/Adolescent Psychologist specializing in mood, anxiety, and eating disorders.

Research Interests: I am interested in working with children and adolescents with mood, anxiety, and eating disorders. I hope to learn about the inner workings of the brain in relation to each of these disorders and what the best steps to treatment are based on these findings.

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Conner Swineford

Computational Research Assistant
Email: conner.swineford@gmail.com

Career Goals: I am currently working towards my Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. Once I graduate, I plan to pursue my masters 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.

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Erin Peterson

Research Assistant
Email: erin.olivia.peterson@gmail.com

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, researcher, and have my own 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.

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Hailey Adney

Research Assistant
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.

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Nia Alexis

Research Assistant
Email: walkernia16@gmail.com

Career Goals: I received my B.S. in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and now plan to pursue a PhD in Social Neuroscience. I have a deep passion for literature and academia and so I am excited to one day combine the two. My lifelong goal is to write neuroscientific literature for the general public specializing in human interactions and interpersonal relationships.

Research Interests: Ever since I was in High School, I was drawn to the human mind and its inner workings. This curiosity was later honed into one of interpersonal relationships and why we as people do the things we do; namely, what drives us to behave in different or similar ways? Most uniquely, I strive to learn why we fall in love and how the emotion of “love” or infatuations are coded in the brain. Working with behavioral issues such as irritability, anxiety, and depression through a neuroscientific lens in the TEND Lab especially excites me as I feel it is a huge leap in the right direction!

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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 PhD 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.

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Samar Gilani

Research Assistant
Email: samargilanii@gmail.com

Career Goals: After earning a bachelor’s in psychology and minor in public health I plan on pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology, and further continuing my education with a fellowship in neuropsychology. I hope to one day work as a clinical neuropsychologist treating adolescents with mental health and brain disorders.

Research Interests: I am interested in the physiological causes and development of addictive, anxiety, and bipolar disorders in both adolescents and adults. I hope to incorporate research regarding the onset of addictions seen in adolescents through a public health lens in order to initiate public policies based on neuropsychological evidence of addiction.

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Sara Thornbrough

Research Assistant
Email: sthornbrough2323@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am currently in the process of getting my Bachelor’s degree in psychology at SDSU. I plan on attending grad school to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. Overall, I look forward to continuing research and having a career working with children.

Research Interests: I am very intrigued in development psychology and neuropsychology. I have always had a job either coaching children in sports or doing behavior therapy with them, which is where my passion for developmental research has come from. I hope to learn more about children’s developing brains and how in the future I can continue in this field of research. 

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Jayvee Soriano

Research Assistant
Email: jsor2876@gmail.com

Career Goals: I am currently working towards my B.A. in Psychology at SDSU. My future goals involve pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, where I then plan on becoming a practicing clinician. One day, I hope to offer a helping hand to those with psychological problems and facilitate their growth as a person.

Research Interests: I have always been interested in the study of psychological disorders, particularly anxiety and mood disorders. With every individual that is involved with mental illness being unique in how they experience and express their symptoms, I hope to identify psychological processes or regions that underlie anxiety and mood disorders in order to develop more effective treatment approaches.

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Sabrena Tuy

Research Assistant
Email: stuy@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: After receiving my BA in Psychology, I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on Neuropsychology. I would eventually like to open a private practice as a Clinical Neuropsychologist where I can provide individual and group therapeutic services, as well as conduct psychological and neuropsychological assessments. I would love to continue research related to Autism and Neuropsychology as well to see if there are ways to improve treatments specific to the individual and their specific diagnoses.

Research Interests: I am specifically interested in researching the anatomical differences of functioning and social influences in people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My goal is that through the research I produce, I would like to be able to better develop or specify treatments options for neuroatypical and neurotypical individuals based on their brain functioning.

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Tina Madani

Research Assistant
Email: tmadani9243@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: Once I earn my Psychology with an emphasis in Neuroscience Bachelor’s degree at SDSU, I plan to pursue a Master’s or degree in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience or a Doctorate degree in Clinical Neuropsychology. In the future, I plan to conduct research on professional NFL players in order to optimize safety protocols for young athletes.

Research Interests: I am very interested in cognitive, behavioral, and neuropsychology. My area of interest resides in understanding cognition and behavior in children as they experience brain damage through full-contact sports.

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Shelbie Nelson

Research Assistant
Email: snelson7289@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: After earning my Bachelors in Psychology with an Emphasis in Neuroscience, I look forward to pursuing a Ph.D in Forensic Psychology. After completing my education, I would like to provide psychological expertise within the legal systems through 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 own research in the future.

 

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Katie Risher

Research Assistant
Email: krisher5724@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I recently graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. in Psychology. In the near future, I plan on pursuing my master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I have a passion for working with children and adolescents, and I am confident that one day I will open a private practice that treats youth with psychological disorders.

Research Interests: My research interests include investigating the nature, causes, and treatments of different mental disorders and how one’s upbringing and family system may correlate with different disorders. In the future, I hope to incorporate and apply various research findings to treat children and adolescents with different psychological disorders.

 

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Sarah Shipherd

Research Assistant
Email: sshipherd4206@sdsu.edu

Career Goals: I am studying at SDSU to get my bachelors degree in biology. I currently work as a patient care assistant at Scripps Mercy Hospital after working as an EMT on an ambulance for a year. After graduation, I hope to pursue my Masters 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.

 

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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.

 

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Krupali Patel

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 PhD in clinical neuropsychology to combined 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 in to diagnostic tools.

 

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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 masters 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 for how our brains work in order to find better solutions in mental health. I am so excited to be working in the TEND Lab with other people who find psychology as fascinating as I do.