LAB DIRECTOR

 

ALVIN THOMAS,  PhD.

Dr. Alvin Thomas is a Clinically trained Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he explores positive youth development, especially among Black Families, and father involvement. He completed his undergraduate education at Morehouse College with a semester exchange at St. John’s University in Minnesota where he conducted research on male identity construction in the Caribbean. Upon graduation from Morehouse College, he co-directed an undergraduate research team to India and Nepal to work among Buddhist monks around the Dalai Lama’s monastery.

 

Dr. Thomas received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His dissertation:  Bad boys or bad odds? - Race, context and social influence: An investigation of youth violence in African-American boys, encapsulates his focus on positive youth development and Black youth and their families. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry in the Child and Adolescent Outpatient Unit, with special rotations in trauma, community mental health, and underserved populations.

 

Dr. Thomas' research and clinical work explore risk and protective factors for Black boys in conditions that imperil them toward negative outcomes. The role of neighborhood/context, family, parenting practices, fathers (nonresident fathers specifically), and youths’ individual strengths as contributors to positive youth development, are key elements to his work. He investigates resilience, youth violence and exposure to violence, mood problems, suicide-related outcomes, and academic performance as outcomes of social and developmental processes.

Dr. Thomas is an alumni fellow of the prestigious International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course, and Phi Beta Kappa national honor society among others. He has received numerous awards including the Rackham International Student Fellowship, Patricia Gurin Research Award, is the first male to receive an award from the Center for the Education of Women, and the Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant, the last which he used to pilot an intervention aimed at addressing mental health needs of juveniles in state custody in a Caribbean island. In 2010 Dr. Alvin Thomas was invited, via the Assembly of Scientist/Practitioner Psychologists (ASPP) Learning APA Governance Award, to attend the American Psychological Association’s (APA) general meeting in Washington, DC – an honor bestowed annually on one trainee. Dr. Thomas has presented his research at conferences across the US, the Bahamas, Switzerland, and Germany.

Amardeep Khahra is a 5th-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program with interests in children, families, and culture. His advocacy and research experiences have focused on mental health disparities of Latinix as well as African American children and transition age youth. He is currently researching the positive attributes of non-parental mentors for children as it relates to psychological well-being and academic achievement.

DEONTE WILLIAMS

Graduate Research Assistant

Deonte Williams is a 3rd-year doctoral student from the Washington, DC area. His research interests center on intra-racial versus interracial relationships, focusing on the mechanisms that predict stay-leave behavior in each relationship dynamic as well as the factors that influence relationship longevity. He is also currently conducting research that explores the impact of racial discrimination on the potential for violent behavior in adolescent and young adult African American males. This comes in addition to another research inquiry he is exploring, where he is analyzing the impact of one's social media presence on the overall satisfaction outcome of one's romantic relationship. Deonte is also a recipient of the coveted Health Professions Scholarship from the U.S. Air Force and is on track to practice as a military psychologist graduation. ​

COURTNEY BEASLEY

Graduate Research Assistant

ERIC TAYLOR

Graduate Research Assistant

Eric Taylor is a 3rd-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at Palo Alto University. Prior to enrolling at Palo Alto University, Eric worked for several years as a case manager with adults and adolescents. Eric earned his Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at the University of San Francisco and his Bachelor’s degree at Minnesota State University.

RICHARD VALENCIA

Graduate Research Assistant

Richard is a 3rd-year PhD student at Palo Alto University interested in health psychology. He received a BS in Education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He is a member of Dr. Thomas’ Ethnic Youth Resilience Lab, exploring interpersonal and societal factors that influence health outcomes among Black and Latix populations. His goals are to enter psychology practice in integrative healthcare, research, and teaching. Currently, he is a psychology trainee at the Institute on Aging San Francisco’s Integrated Behavioral Health Department.

SARAH CAFFREY

Graduate Research Assistant

Sarah is a 5th-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program with interests in the cross sections of culture and neuropsychology. Her clinical and research experiences have spanned the areas of substance abuse, geriatric psychology, neuropsychological assessment, and cognitive rehabilitation. 

 
 
 
 

AMARDEEP KHAHRA

Graduate Research Assistant

Cortney Beasley is a 5th-year Psy.D. in the PGSP-Stanford Consortium, who received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Nevada Reno.  Her research interests have been primarily focused on understanding the manifestation of psychopathology in Black communities. Her previous work includes exploring the relationships among gang membership among Black adolescent girls, and resilience and psychopathology. Additionally, she has worked with other lab members to understand the role of specific coping techniques in relation to the link between racial discrimination and depression among emerging adults. Her current research examines the relationship between Black women’s perception of a shortage of available Black men and psychosocial functioning.

SIMIN GHAHGHAHI 

Graduate Research Assistant

Simin is a 2nd year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program with interests in juvenile delinquency, bullying victimization, and adolescents with mood disorders and suicidal ideation. She is currently a practicum student at The Gronowski Center where she is a student therapist. She also worked as a research assistant at New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University’s Eating Disorders Research Unit. She worked on various studies including a 10-year longitudinal study examining former inpatient participants with acute eating disorders. She also created a youth and parent version of eating disorder diagnostic interview EDA-5.  Simin received her Master’s degree in General Psychology from Pace University and her Bachelor’s degree from the University of San Diego.

TERISHA SIMMONS

Graduate Research Assistant & Web Manager

Terisha is a 2nd year clinical psychology doctoral student at Palo Alto University within the Diversity and Community Mental Health area of emphasis. She completed her undergraduate coursework at Hampton University earning a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. Her research interest include: resilience measures in justice involved women, multi-racial ethnic youth psychological outcomes, Latinx detention effects, and marginalized populations seeking community mental health services. This school year, Terisha is fulfilling her practicum experience as a student therapist at the Gronowski Center. She also serves a professional role as a Clinic Manager I.

AYANNA PAYNE

Graduate Research Assistant & Web Manager 

Ayanna Payne is a 2nd-year doctoral student who received her Master of Arts in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2015 and her Bachelor of Arts from Clark Atlanta University in 2013. As a graduate student, she worked full-time as a Court Advocate for a residential substance abuse agency in New York City. As an undergraduate student, Ayanna worked as a Research Assistant on different research topics that focused on Black Mental Health. In this capacity, she administered assessments to college students to assess for depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and substance use. In 2017, she started the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Palo Alto University, where she is completing the Forensic Area of Emphasis. Her primary research interests include recidivism in the African American community and psychopathy.  At Palo Alto University, Ayanna is the current Vice- President for the Forensic Mental Health Student Group. Ayanna is presently a student affiliate of APA Divison 41 (American Psychology-Law Society) and The Association of Black Psychologists. 

 
 

KIARA DIXON

Graduate Research Assistant

Kiara is a 3rd-year doctoral student who graduated from California State Polytechnic University.  She is interested in understanding how culture influences responses on assessments, whether culture affects the validity of assessment measures, and in how to make assessments more culturally sensitive. She is also interested in issues concerning underrepresented populations: increasing access to mental health services for members of these groups through contributing to the development of interventions and treatments that consider culture and ethnicity and assisting communities with implementing these interventions. Kiara is now at her second practicum site, where she does neuropsychological and forensic assessments. In addition to assessments, Kiara provides competency training.  

MATTHEW STULL

Lab Manager and former Web Manager

Matthew Stull is a 4th-year doctoral candidate in clinical psychology who graduate his undergraduate from George Mason University. Matthew’s research/clinical interests include adolescents, emerging adults, civic engagement, social media, correctional populations, attachment, and recidivism rates.

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