Meet The Team!
Dr. Jillian Lee Wiggins: Director

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.

Maria Kryza-Lacombe: Doctoral Student

Career goals: As part of the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, I am currently working toward my PhD in clinical psychology with a concentration in neuropsychology, and a research focus in affective and developmental neuroscience. My long-term goal is to pursue independent research in a multidisciplinary academic setting.


Research interests: I am interested in the neural correlates of (mal)adaptive functioning, and the interplay of bio-psycho-social factors that support adaptive development and wellbeing (e.g., genetic, physiological, cognitive, socio-emotional, environmental influences). Specifically, I am interested in understanding how we can learn from research findings examining these factors in individuals with and without disorders, in order to better predict risk for maladaptive development, and to find ways to intervene before adulthood.

Qiongru Yu: Doctoral Student

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.


Ruiyu Yang: Master's Student


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.


Marvin Yan: Master's Student


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.

Lizzie Hodgdon: Master's Student

Career Goals: I am currently pursuing my Master’s of Arts in Psychology at SDSU. I plan to continue my education through a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology. Ultimately, I aim to work as a principal investigator on translational neuroimaging research and serve as a scientific advisor for evidence-based treatment programs for children and adolescents.

Research Interests: My primary research interests are examining transdiagnostic neural correlates of emotional and cognitive functioning in psychopathology. Specifically, I hope to contribute to the understanding of affective, neurodevelopmental, and obsessive-compulsive disorders in children and adolescents, with the goal of improving diagnosis and treatment for these individuals.

Gaby Ibarra: Research Assistant


Career Goals: After earning my BA in Psychology, I am planning to pursue a Master of Arts in Psychology. My long-term goal is to earn a PhD in clinical psychology and pursue a career in independent research in an academic setting.

Research Interests:My research interests lie within the development of psychopathology in adolescents and young adults. I plan to study how these different mental disorders affect brain development and how they differ in typical and atypical brains. I hope to contribute to the understanding of these mental disorders, specifically in minority populations. 
Lauren Bozzetto: Study Coordinator


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.
Yuet Wing Cho: Research Assistant


Career Goals: I am currently working towards my Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology at San Diego State University. My ultimate goal is to continue to pursue a research-focused Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology or School Psychology. Being trained to be a school psychologist has inspired me to incorporate my experiences with children in the school setting with clinical psychology. The interdependence of different psychology fields requires psychologists to have a broad knowledge of service emphases and client populations under our contemporary social system. Working with mental health children, youth and families has always been my passion and clinical psychology would definitely be the next step of my professional growth.

Research Interests: My primary interest is working with special education children with their families in the school setting. I am interested in understanding how brain activation patterns, structures, and functions affect children’s manifestation of psychological disorders and disabilities that impede their learning and socio-emotional and behavioral development at schools. While appreciating the indispensable effects of one’s ecological environment, the neural underpinnings and mechanisms of these disorders are truly fascinating and important in developing effective and efficient interventions and treatments for our precious kids. I am excited to incorporate my knowledge and experience in school psychology with clinical and neuropsychology and to explore the implications within schools.
Brianna Hernandez: Study Coordinator


Career Goals: After I earn my BA in psychology from San Diego State University, I aspire to attend graduate school in pursuit of a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. I also want to specialize in pediatric neuropsychology in the hopes of helping children and adolescents with a variety of neurological disorders, mental disorders, and developmental and learning disabilities. I aim to make major positive impacts in the lives of children and adolescents who are seeking help.

Research Interests: I’m interested in learning more about developmental pathologies of different disorders and disabilities in children and adolescents and how they can best be treated. I’m also specifically interested in studying cerebral palsy and autism spectrum disorder, as I’ve grown up with siblings with these disabilities and want to be able to be an advocate for others with the same problems. With the help of functional neuroimaging, I hope to be able to research and uncover solutions to help in restoring the functioning of children who struggle in school, at home, or generally in their daily lives with different disorders and disabilities.
Cassidy Owen: Research Assistant


Career Goals: After earning my BA in Psychology at San Diego State University, I plan to continue my education by obtaining my Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling or Social Work. I would like to eventually open my own practice to counsel students with special abilities and help them work through struggles that no one should have to endure on their own.

Research Interests: I am incredibly interested in studying the development of children with severe intellectual or developmental disabilities. In particular, I am fascinated with how these individuals differ in terms of emotional and social neurological development, and how we can use the knowledge we have gained from research to improve their lives.
Danielle Palumbo: Research Assistant

Career Goals: Providing help for others is what ultimately drew me to the field of psychology. However, the way the brain functions and its relation to behavior has always fascinated me, and has led me to want to pursue a career in neuropsychology.

Research Interests: I am interested in studying irritability, and how it plays into many different psychological disorders. I find it fascinating that irritability can manifest in many disorders such as depression and anxiety, yet it is not as commonly studied. I am interested in studying the effect irritability can have and how these studies could potentially give more information on treatments for psychological disorders.
Noah Bland: Research Assistant


Career Goals: I am interested in how we can model the brain and it’s functioning through fMRI analysis. Preception and the understanding of reality have always been very fascinating to me. I believe that through computer science and data analysis, we can accomplish these goals and help those in need.

Research Interests: I am currently persuing my B.S. in computer science with a minor in psychology. I would like to continue working in research involving computational neuroscience and help those with neurological disorders. My goal is the find better ways to understand brain disorders and how people interpret and perceive the world differently.

Ana Urena: Research Assistant


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.
Meg Robinson: Research Assistant


Career GoalsI plan to get my Masters in Applied Mathematics in order to use mathematical and computational techniques to study the brain. After that, I plan to either pursue higher education or go into a biomedical / research based industry position. 

Research Interests: I am interested in studying computational neuroscience to learn more about the brain! Certain areas of research I want to pursue are in signal and image processing and data analysis. I love to learn and am constantly fascinated by the workings of the brain. 
Sam Villavicencio: Research Assistant

Career Goals: From a young age, I became interested in the human mind and behavior, which lead me to chose Clinical Psychology as my career, and I truly believe I have found my passion. I would like to work on one on one interventions with children in the future. 


Research Interests: TENDLab combines the things I am most interested in the field of psychology: the brain, psychopathology, and development of kids. I think it is fascinating to learn how every little thing in the brain has its specific function and the fact that if there is any sort of damage to a specific part, it will directly affect a person’s behavior.