Former Graduate Students
Janice Disla earned her PhD in Psychology from UC Merced in 2022. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with her BA in Psychology and minors in Women’s Studies and Race and Ethnic Studies. Her research examines observed adolescent disclosure to parents in a variety of contexts with a focus on at-risk families, including managing chronic illness and conditions of socioeconomic hardship. Her work has been published in several high-impact journals and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal. During her time at UC Merced, she has received awards in recognition of excellence in leadership, research, and service. Janice has also made contributions to the campus community relevant to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts including serving on the Graduate Dean’s Advisory Council on Diversity. Janice’s next steps take her to the University of South Carolina Upstate where she will begin her career as an Assistant Professor of Psychology.
Shun Ting (Tammy) Yung earned her PhD in Psychology from UC Merced in 2021. She graduated from UC Berkeley with her BA in Economics. Her interests are examining social and emotional development of children and adolescents across cultures with an emphasis on family socialization. She currently works as a user experience analyst.
Carmen Kho earned her PhD in Psychology from UC Merced in 2020. Her research interests include children and adolescents’ social and emotional development, and how one’s cultural background and other cultural-related factors affect this course of development. Her dissertation focused on the dynamics of culture in daily life in parents and children and college students. Carmen is a recipient of the Dr. Donald and Effie Godbold Fellowship for international students and the Graduate Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship. Carmen is currently pursuing her postdoctoral training at Arizona State University under the supervision of Dr. Rebecca White and will begin an Assistant Professor position in Human Development and Family Science at North Dakota State Univeristy in Fall 2022.
Former Lab Coordinators
Sarah Gamez was born in Honduras and migrated to the United States at the age of 10. She earned her associates degrees in arts with an emphasis on behavioral science at El Camino College in Torrance, California. She graduated in 2017 majoring in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. After graduating she was the research coordinator at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for the UC Merced Family Communication About Type 1 Diabetes Study. She currently works at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles on the Teen Power intervention. She hopes to attend grad school to earn her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. During her spare time, she enjoys hiking, meeting new people, and exploring new places.
Maritza Miramontes graduated in 2018 majoring in Psychology and minoring in Cognitive Science and Spanish. She was born and raised in Merced, CA. She plans on going to graduate school for a PhD in Developmental Psychology and conduct research on empathy and adolescent brain development. In her spare time she loves to run, spend time with friends and family and take photographs.
Former Undergraduate Students
Jasmin Amezquita Roque graduated in 2019 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. She grew up in the Bay Area. She is hoping to go to graduate school and earn her degree in Marriage and Family therapy with a focus on Latino families. In her spare time she loves to read, spend time with friends and family and watch television.
Andrea Arrendondo Tovilla graduated from UC Merced in 2020 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Cognitive Science. Born in Mexico City, Mexico but raised in the Central Valley, she plans to attend graduate school to obtain a degree in Clinical Psychology. She hopes to focus her work on child development disparities through a clinical setting as well as through research. In her spare time she enjoys coaching competitive cheerleading, traveling to new places and watching cold case documentaries.
Miguel Barajas graduated in 2017 majoring in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. He is from the Central Valley and was raised in Oakdale, California. He plans to pursue a career as a nurse and hopes to provide health resources to low income families and minority populations.
Osmara Bautista graduated in 2019 majoring in Psychology in minoring in Sociology. She was born in Mexico and grew up in Escalon, California. She plans to attend grad school and getting a Ph.D. in Child Psychology. She hopes to have a career in which she will be able to help her community. She loves working and interacting with children. Her hobbies include reading, dancing, and spending time with her friends and family.
Michelle Contreras graduated from UC Merced in 2020 majojring in Psychology and minoring in Anthropology. She is from Anaheim, California and is going back after graduating this semester to hopefully complete her masters program to become a school social worker in hopes to help alleviate student’s challenges so their only focus can be their education. Her hope is to eventually get her PhD in Social Work to help develop strategies in the social work field. In her free time, Michelle loves to go to Disneyland and spend time with her friends and family.
Stephanie Curiel graduated in 2017 majoring in Psychology. She was born and raised in Oakland California and will be the first in her family to receive a Bachelor’s degree. She plans to attend graduate school to receive her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. She wants to work in a hospital setting to counsel children and families in hope of providing services to low income families. In her spare time, she likes to hike, listen to music, and spend time with family and friends.
Edelis Diaz graduated in 2019. She was born in Cuba and migrated to the United States when she was 10. She majored in Human Biology and minored in Psychology. She hopes to pursue a career in Nursing. In her spare time, Edelis loves to hang out with friends, spend time with family, and go to the beach.
Frida Escobar graduated in 2017 majoring in Psychology and minoring in Spanish. She hopes to receive her M.F.T. in the future in order to work with young adults. In her spare time she loves to bake with her friends and try new food places.
Haley Falzon graduated in 2018 and is from Redondo Beach, CA. She earned her B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Public Health. Haley loves to spend time with her family, go to the beach, and watch movies.
Jeannette Gomez graduated from UC Merced in 2016, obtaining her B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Business Management. After graduating she worked with AmeriCorps-Child Abuse Prevention Center as the Health and Wellness Assistant at First 5. Beginning in Fall 2019 she will be attending Fresno State University to pursue her Ed. S. in School Psychology. Her hobbies include singing and spending time with her loved ones.
Sami Gonzales graduated from UC Merced in 2017 majoring in Psychology. She is currently an HR Liaison in the Microbiology and Immunology Department at UCSF. She hopes to one day get published and have her own private research center. Some of her hobbies include reading fiction books, listening to music, and procrastinating.
Stephen Hillyer graduated in 2017 and majored in Psychology at the University of California, Davis. He plans to further his education and is currently applying to industrial organizational psychology graduate programs. In his free time, he likes to hang out with friends.
Rosa Hernandez graduated in 2017 majoring in Psychology. She is originally from Merced and is the first in her family to attend college. She has earned her Associates of Art to Transfer in Psychology and Associates of Art in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Merced College. Rosa’s mom had her at the young age of 15 years old and because of this she is very passionate about the Valley Teens as Parents project. Rosa is currently working to complete her Masters degree in Counseling at the University of San Diego.
Wendell Hollis is a 4th-year student at UC Merced majoring in Psychology. This central valley native from Le Grand, Ca plans on attending Sacramento State after completion of his undergraduate studies. He intends on pursuing a master’s degree in School Counseling to follow his passion for aiding students during the difficult time of adolescence. Outside of school, he enjoys fixing and building computers, video games, riding motorcycles, and hanging out with friends.
Cameron Howard was born in Apple Valley, in the high desert of Southern California. He attended Victor Valley Community College where he earned his associate’s degree with an emphasis in behavioral sciences, after which he transferred to UC Merced to continue his college education. Cameron majored in psychology and graduated in 2015. He hopes to move on to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in sports psychology. In his spare time he enjoys playing soccer, reading and hanging out with his mates.
Abby Jones graduated from UC Merced in 2020 majoring in Microbiology and Immunology. She is from Huntington Beach, California After graduating, she hopes to pursue a career working in the medical or public health laboratory field. In her free time, she enjoys baking, writing music, and playing video games.
Diana Juarez graduated from UC Merced in 2020 with a major in Psychology. She grew up in Santa Ana, California and strives to make a difference in young children’s lives by ensuring a happy, healthy future. She hopes to pursue a career in Clinical Child Psychology, helping young children and adolescents with a focus on Latino families. Her hobbies include painting, hanging out with family and friends, going to the beach, and reading.
Smitha Kashi graduated from UC Merced in 2019 and majored in Psychology. She was born and brought up in San Jose, California. She is currently pursuing her PsyD at the University of San Francisco. During her spare time, she loves to hang out at home, go out into nature, meet new people, and spend time with family and friends.
Simerpreet Kaur grew up in Selma, California. She graduated in 2018 and majored in Psychology and minored in Philosophy. She will be beginning graduate school in Fall 2019 at Sacramento State pursuing a degree in School Psychology. In her spare time, Simi loves to go on outdoor adventures, read, write, and cook. Simi is the recipient of a UCM FURS grant to support her research on family interactions and adolescent self-esteem and received the Outstanding Student Award in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts.
Luis Lara graduated in 2020 majoring in Psychology and Minoring in Cognitive Science. He is interested in anti-social personality disorders and is particularly interested in sociopathy and psychopathy. He wants to study resilience and protective factors in adolescence. He also wants to find more ways in which we can help adolescents who are at risk for developing anti-social personality. He is currently attending Humboldt State University pursuing a Masters in Psychology.
Lacye Lawson graduated in 2019 majoring in Cognitive Science with a minor in Public Health. She will be attending the School of Nursing at UC Irvine in Fall 2021.
Alexxis Louro graduated in 2016 majoring in Psychology with a minor in Public Health. Alexxis is originally from Livingston, CA. She is currently working toward an M.A. in School Psychology at Humboldt University. She hopes to establish a career as a K-12 school psychologist. In addition to her studies, Alexxis is employed part time as a Peer Academic Advisor for the UCM Bright Success Center, and as a K-12 Substitute Teacher in Merced County.
Vanessa Maldonado earned her BA in psychology from UC Merced in 2019. She plans to attend graduate school in pursuit of a PhD in social psychology. Though she has spent the majority of her life in the Central Valley, Vanessa was born in San Jose, California. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, going to concerts, and trying out new restaurants.
Yuriyah Manus graduated in 2018 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Cognitive Science. He is from the Inland Empire in Southern California. He plans to pursue a degree in PsyD Clinical psychology and plans to assist with children who have cancer. He hopes his involvement in this research will further his knowledge about children and their families involvement when it comes to an illness.
Arby Mariano was born in the Bay Area but has lived all over California and in Killen, TX. He graduated in 2019 majoring in psychology with a minor in natural sciences education. He plans to pursue a PhD in developmental psychology with a specialization in developmental psychopathology in hopes to become a professor. He currently works as a Research Associate for NetPop. Aside from school, he enjoys listening to music, cooking, and trying new things.
Emily Martinez graduated in 2018 with her undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. She was born in Mexico City and migrated to the United States at the age of 5. She was raised in Lynwood, CA. She is the first in her family to attend a 4-year institution. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree she plans to continue studying. She is currently an intern for Merced Organizing Projects (MOP) and is working on projects related to health within schools. She plans to apply to both masters and PhD programs. At the moment, she is undecided on the specific area she would want to work in, but hopes to realize what her passion is by being involved in research. This will help her narrow her options and also help her grow both professionally and personally.
Sandra Mendoza-Ortiz graduated in 2016 majoring in Psychology. She grew up in Santa Cruz County and her family moved to Merced county a little before she started Kindergarten. She will be attending Fresno State to obtain her MA in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling with a Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) scholarship.
Dana Morales graduated in 2017. She is from Oakland, California. She received her Bachelors of Science in Developmental Biology and Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. She is interested in a career in the health field. Beyond academics, she loves basketball, traveling, and music.
Joana Mari Narvarte graduated in 2018 with a major in Psychology. She aspires to become a Child Psychiatrist and a Pediatrician.
Luz Panduro graduated in 2017. She is the first in her family to attend college. She is currently working as a Behavioral Interventionist for ACES in the Central Valley. She plans to go to grad school and would like to work with victims and help them get through the process of going to court and testifying against their attackers. In her spare time she enjoys to spend time with her younger siblings and dance.
Heisel Paredes graduated from UC Merced in 2019 majoring in Psychology. In the future she plans on pursuing a PsyD to work as a clinical psychologist. She wants to work with young kids and parents to teach parents about different rearing methods and what may work best for their child. She also wants to bridge the gap between what parents know about raising their child and the research that is available. Her hobbies include hiking and reading
Brandi Phillips graduated in 2017. She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling at Fresno State and working for an adolescent group home.
Daniela Portillo graduated in 2017. She is currently working in San Jose as an art teacher for young children and is interested in pursuing a Masters in Art Therapy.
Angie Ramirez graduated from UC Merced in 2020 majoring in Psychology. She is from Santa Rosa, California and plans on returning home after completing her undergraduate studies to continue her career at Sonoma State’s University Psychology Department Masters program. She hopes to become a licensed clinical social worker for children and adolescents. Her future career and education is driven by her passion for working with children to help them overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges. In her free time, she enjoys going to the gym, binge-watching Netflix series, and eating good food.
Evelyn Ramirez graduated in 2017 majoring in Psychology and minoring in Public Health. She grew up in Dos Palos, California. She is also a member of Psi Chi- The International Society in Psychology. She is currently attending graduate school to pursue a Master’s degree in Child Development at CSU Stanislaus, and possibly a PhD in Developmental Psychology. During her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, go shopping, and meeting new people.
Adriana Rodriguez graduated from UC Merced in 2020 majoring in Psychology and minoring in Spanish. She grew up in Oxnard, CA and plans on continuing her education in Speech Language Pathology in hopes to work with elementary school children and ensuring that they are given the necessary tools to excel in their future. In her spare time she enjoys being with her family, finding new adventures and watching tv shows.
Valeria Rodriguez-Del Rio graduated in 2017 from UC Merced and is from Sacramento, CA. She earned her Associate of Arts degree in Social Sciences from American River College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She plans to attain a Master’s in Social Work and wants to be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. In her spare time, she likes to hang out with her boyfriend, go on walks with her miniature schnauzer, and travel with her family. d
Sydney Ruport graduated in 2018 as a Psychology major. She is from a small town near Sacramento named Woodland. She enjoys reading, spending time with her dog, and hiking. She will pursue a Masters in Commuity Development at UC Davis beginning Fall 2021.
Ariana Sanchez graduated in 2018 with a Public Health major and a minor in Psychology. She was involved in the Family Development Lab and the Interpersonal Development lab on campus and the Public Health Society.
Roisin Shannon graduated in 2018 and is from Albany, CA. She majored in Psychology and minored in Community Research and Service. Eventually, she hopes to earn her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, and research neurodevelopmental disorders, as well the development of empathy. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and playing guitar.
Faith Taylor graduated in 2018. She was born and brought up in Winton, California and is currently a Psychology major with a minor in Arts. She plans to go to graduate school to get her Masters, and is currently in Psi Chi. During her spare time she loves to sing, go on adventures, meet new people, and spend time with family and friends.
Andie Tran graduated in 2015 majoring in Psychology and minoring in Sociology. She was born and raised in East Bay Area where she had the opportunity to perform for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She obtained her M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy at Drexel University in Philadelphia and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy at Loma Linda University. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, working with kids, and spending time with her German Shepherd.
Vanessa Zelaya graduated from UC Merced in 2020 majoring in Psychology and minoring in Political Science. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. After completing her undergraduate studies at UC Merced, she plans to attend graduate school and then pursue her PsyD in child and adolescent psychology. She hopes to use her degree to work with children from low income families and provide assistance that will allow the child to experience a safe and healthy transition into adolescence, as well as adulthood. In her spare time, she loves to watch documentaries and spend time with loved ones.