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Alumni


Staff


Alison Sweet

Alison graduated from University of California San Diego in June 2019 with a B.S. in Psychology with a specialization in Clinical Psychology. She currently attends graduate school in Boston in order to pursue her research interests in anxiety and depressive disorders and to become a licensed clinician. During her time at PEARL, she worked as a staff research associate. While she was a research assistant, she completed an honors thesis to study the effects of a computerized behavioral activation program and approach/avoidance training on participants with major depressive disorder. In her free time, Alison enjoys spending time with friends and family, volunteering, cooking, baking, and reading.


Tommy Tsai

Tommy graduated from UCSD with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and a minor in Psychology. He worked at PEARL as a research associate and a part-time research assistant. Tommy currently attends graduate school in Florida. He is interested in learning about the relationships between psychosocial processes (e.g. positive affect, resilience) and health outcomes of people coping with chronic illnesses. He wishes to use research findings in this field to improve our community and our healthcare system. In his free time, Tommy enjoys spending time with family and friends, going outdoors, playing board games, and trying new foods.


Matt Boland

Matt had his PhD and was a post doc at PEARL.


Sarah Dowling

Sarah had a B.A. in Psychology was a coordinator at PEARL.


Sarah L. Pearlstein, Ph.D.

Sarah worked at PEARL as a Ph.D. student at the SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. She graduated from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania with a major in Psychology and a minor in English Literature. Before joining PEARL, she lived in New York where she worked as a research assistant at Columbia University Medical Center. There, she coordinated studies in several research areas including the neural circuitry and treatment of individuals with OCD. Her current focus is on understanding the factors that contribute to positive social interactions, social approach motivation, and the formation of social relationships in individuals with low mood and anxiety. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to short story podcasts and making artwork for friends.


Kim Potter, M.A.

Kim served as a clinical coordinator. She joined PEARL in January 2018 after graduating with an M.A. in Psychology from San Diego State University. Her background is primarily in alcohol research and she has been involved in clinical as well as pre-clinical work during her career. She is originally from Georgia and her alma mater is the University of Georgia (go dawgs!). Part of her role at PEARL included managing psychophysiological data acquisition and maintenance. She is a trained fMRI operator and conducted neuroimaging for the lab. In her free time, she likes to ride all kinds of bikes from road bikes to mountain bikes.


Karalani Cross

Karalani’s research focused on the neural mechanisms of anxiety and mood disorders using fMRI technique. She worked on projects examining how computerized attention training affects neural pathways, specifically in areas of the brain that process social and reward cues. In addition to being a research coordinator at PEARL, she also assisted in a project at the Multimodal Imaging Laboratory at UCSD examining the relationships between lifestyle, cognitive function, and healthy and pathological aging using structural MRI and diffusion tensor imaging. Karalani intended to pursue a graduate degree to continue studying how mental health contributes to cognitive functioning and structural changes in the brain throughout the lifespan. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, traveling to new places, and spending time with her cat, Bali.


Research Assistants


Felipe Guerrero

Felipe recently obtained his B.S. degree in Physiology and Neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego. He plans on pursing a career in medicine and joined the PEARL team to gain exposure to the nature of clinical research studies. As an avid sports fan, he has taken special interest in the mental processes of the "championship mentality" of sports legends and wishes to understand how to extrapolate this to everyday living, especially with regards to anxiety. In his free time, he enjoys hopping on his bicycle and just going, hanging out with friends, catching up on sports highlights, daydreaming, eating, and taking long melancholic walks by the beach after the Padres lose.


Kate Elizondo

Kate attended University of California, San Diego with a major in Physiology & Neuroscience and a minor Psychology. After graduation, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Neuroscience and to research the effects of neurodegenerative diseases on movement and other motor functions. She joined PEARL February 2020 and volunteered as an experimenter. 


Anna Gruszka

Anna attended University of California, San Diego majoring in Clinical Psychology and minoring in Cognitive Science. After graduation, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in either Clinical Psychology or Neuropsychology to study anxiety and developmental disorders in children and their neurological basis. She joined PEARL June 2020 and volunteered there as a research assistant. Previously, she worked in Early Learning and Cognition Lab focusing on the developmental process of learning and reasoning in children. 


Sumire Lundell

Sumi attended the University of California, San Diego with a major in Human Biology. She plans to join the military after graduation and pursue a MD to become a Field Surgeon and assist injured soldiers on the battlefield. She joined PEARL in September 2019 and volunteers as a Research Assistant.


Chris Kagoo

Chris graduated from the University of California San Diego with a B.S. in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Clinical Aspects of Cognition in June 2020. He volunteered as a research assistant at PEARL where he is a confederate. In his free time, Chris enjoyed singing a capella with The Beat @UCSD, playing basketball, and watching Netflix.


Shaira Cruz

Shaira graduated from the University of California San Diego in June 2020 with a degree in Psychology with a specialization in Clinical Psychology, along with a minor in music. After graduation, she plans to continue her education in a master’s program for either clinical psychology or counseling. If not music therapy, she desires to pursue music from audio engineerin­g—specifically within the studio industry as she also currently works for Stage Crew at UCSD. As a research assistant at PEARL, she gained experience in both research and in interaction with various individuals and participants. During her free time, Shaira enjoys listening to music, watching YouTube and basically any other form of visual media, being involved in community service, and spending time with her friends.


Gage Chu

Gage was a fourth year undergraduate at the University of California San Diego and will graduate in June 2021 with a B.S. in Psychology with a specialization in Clinical Psychology. She joined PEARL in March 2019 where she is an experimenter and head of face coding. In her free time, she likes spending time with her dog.


Chris Heyman

Chris was a third-year undergraduate at the University of California, San Diego. He received his A.A. in General Science from Santa Monica College and expects to graduate with his B.S. in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, with a minor in Biology, in Spring of 2021. After graduation, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience with the aim of conducting translation research to better understand neuronal mechanisms behind mental health and cognitive disorders, identify biomarkers of said conditions, and in turn, increase efficacy of their diagnosis and treatment. Specifically, he is interested in investigating these subjects through functional neuroimaging. He joined PEARL October of 2019 and worked primarily with fMRI scan and related task data. In his time off, he enjoys mountain biking, meditating, and listening to podcast’s.


Natalie Dalton

Natalie graduated from UCSD with a business psychology major and has over 10 years of project and people management experience in a diverse range of industries. In addition to the management skills she has developed, her career path has given her an opportunity to cultivate excellent people skills, and it is within her studies in business psychology that she is able to marry these two passions.


Melea Thomas

Melea graduated from the University of California San Diego with a B.S. in Physiology and Neuroscience and a minor in Global Health in June 2020. Her research interests include neuro- and psychophysiology. She currently volunteers at PEARL, working closely with physiology data and interaction with participants. She also manages Triton Outfitters and works at Draft Republic in La Jolla. After graduation she plans on applying to MPH and MD programs. In her free time, Melea enjoys spending time with her puppy, going to fun brunch spots with her friends, and going to concerts.


Zoë Siddall

Zoë received her A.A. in Psychology from MiraCosta College and graduated with her B.S. in Psychology with a Specialization in Clinical Psychology in June 2020. After graduation, she plans to get a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in order to pursue her research interests in developing a treatment for sexual dysfunctions resulting from sexual assault in people with PTSD and understanding the etiology of paraphilias and paraphilic disorders. She volunteered as a research assistant at PEARL where she completed an independent research project to study the relationship between childhood trauma and attachment styles in adults with depression and anxiety. In her free time, she enjoys making Halloween costumes, practicing and teaching yoga, and working as President for UCSD Psi Chi and Psychology Club.


Jenifer Dorsett

Jenifer graduated from the University of California San Diego with a B.S. in Psychology with a specialization in Social Psychology and minoring in Human Development in June 2019. She plans on going to graduate school to earn a Master’s in either Clinical Psychology or Counseling to achieve her goal of wanting to help children with mood disorders. She volunteered as a research assistant at PEARL because mental health has always been an important topic to her, and she feels that the experience in this lab is invaluable and that it will help her reach her career goals. In her free time, she enjoys singing, playing tennis, hiking, reading, watching movies of any kind of genre, and spending time with her friends and family. 


Shayna Quach

Shayna graduated from the University of California San Diego in June 2019 with a B.S. in Psychology with a specialization in Developmental Psychology. She joined PEARL during her first year at UCSD because she was interested in research and learning more about mental health. She plans to apply to a Master’s program in Occupational Therapy. During her free time, she likes to hang out with her family and friends as well as explore new places for food. 


Maya Bunyan

Maya graduated from UC San Diego with a major in Public Health and minor in Math in 2019.
After graduation, she began attending Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, where she hopes to get her MPH in Epidemiology with a certificate in Biostatistics. Maya volunteered as a research assistant at PEARL because she was interested in looking into the public health aspects of mental health as it is often overlooked. In her free time, she likes to play the trumpet, watch TV, spend time with friends, hike, travel to new places, and learn new languages.


Iliana Favila-De La Trinidad

Iliana graduated from University of California San Diego in (June 2019 with a B.S. in Psychology with a specialization in Clinical Psychology and a minor in Cognitive Science. Iliana got involved in PEARL during her third year because she was interested in learning more about depression and anxiety. At PEARL, she ran experiments, conducted phone screens, as well as assisted at fMRI scans. She will be continuing her education at California Lutheran University pursuing a Psy.D. During her free time, she enjoys running, playing with her dog, and reading a lot of books!

Jasmine Ramirez

Jasmine graduated from University of California San Diego in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She worked as a research assistant at PEARL and was an active member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She planned to get a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy or Clinical Psychology to become a licensed therapist. In her free time, Jasmine loves hanging out with friends and family, working out, and exploring this beautiful city.


Sarah Knapp, M.A.

Sarah earned her M.A. in Psychology from Pepperdine University. Her research interests include anxiety disorders and anxiety-related issues. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s Public Education Committee, traveling, and walking her three dogs.


Sarah Huang

Sarah graduated from San Diego State University in 2011 with a B.A. in Psychology. Sarah got her start as a research assistant for the Anxiety & Traumatic Stress Disorders Research Program, headed by Dr. Murray Stein, while completing her undergraduate degree and, after graduation, assumed the position of research coordinator. She was, thus, introduced to the Positive Emotion and Anxiety Research Lab where she assisted with research coordination. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys listening to local live music and spending time with her family and friends.


Mercy Lopez

  • Education: Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA in the Developmental Cognitive and Social Neuroscience Lab, RA at PEARL, therapist at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders
  • Academic interests: clinical and behavioral psychology
  • Future directions: attend graduate school


Atiyeh Samadi

  • Education: B.S. in Human Biology and a minor in Humanities from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL
  • Academic interests: different facets of human behavior, positive emotion


Angelica Estrada

  • Education: B.S. in Biophysics and a minor in Math from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA in V.S. Ramachandran’s lab, RA at PEARL, ABA Behavioral Tutor at Novata CARES, part of the Trauma and Intervention Program (TIP) of San Diego

 
Gregory Pak

  • Education: B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Business from 
  • Experience: RA at PEARL, waiter at a local restaurant
  • Future directions: pursue a graduate degree in psychology, career as a psychologist


Allison Endo

  • Education: AP Psychology at La Jolla High School
  • Experience: RA at PEARL
  • Academic interests: psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety, accepted to study psychology at Tufts University, pursue a graduate degree in psychology


Eleni Kapoulea

  • Education: B.S. in Cognitive Science with an emphasis in Neuroscience and a minor in Theatre from UC San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL, Co-Cultural Coordinator of the Cambodian Student Association


Sanskruti Kakaria

  • Education: B.S. in Psychology from University of California, San DiegoEducation: B.S. in Psychology from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL, Autism Volunteer Association
  • Future directions: graduate school for psychology, open up own clinical practice as a psychologist


Aaron Tay

  • Education: B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Science from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL, involved with UCSD’s Psi Chi/Psychology Club
  • Future directions: gather more research experience, apply to graduate school for clinical psychology


Vivi Dang

  • Education: B.S. in Physiology of Neuroscience from University of California, San Diego (2015) 
  • Experience: RA at PEARL Lab, worked in labs researching autism and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Academic interests: physical and mental health, holistic approaches to healing outside of traditional Western medicine
  • Future directions: work with children


Stephanie Zepeda

  • Education: double majors in Psychology and Human Development at University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL, worked at the bookstore on campus, site-leader for Alternative Breaks
  • Academic interests: psychopathology and personality disorders
  • Future directions: obtain a Ph.D. in clinical psychology with a track in forensics


Joanna Chen

  • Education: Psychology at University of California, San Diego.
  • Experience: RA in an implicit learning cognitive psychology lab at UCSD, member of the Psychology Honors Program through, conducted an independent research project in her senior year, RA at PEARL
  • Future directions: pursue a PhD in clinical psychology


Carl Bolano

  • Education: B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Statistics from San Diego State University
  • Experience: PEARL as a summer intern through the Sally Casanova Pre-doctoral Fellowship and UCSD STARS Program, instructor of SDSU’s Pre-MARC Learning Community for Psychology students, research associate at SDSU’s Child and Adolescent Anxiety and Mood Program
  • Academic interests: evidence based intervention programs for anxiety and depression, their dissemination and implementation in community settings
  • Future directions: pursue a PhD in clinical psychology


Anna Chen

  • B.S. in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Neuroscience from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at Kutas Cognitive Electrophysiology Laboratory, RA at Clark Memory Laboratory, RA at PEARL
  • Academic interests: the brain in both health and disease
  • Future directions: career involving radiology and neuroimaging science, either by earning a Ph.D. in neuroscience or obtaining an M.D.


Michelle Chang

  • Education: B.S. in Clinical Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Science from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL 
  • Future directions: graduate school, become certified as a marriage and family Therapist


Sarah Tran

  • Education: Psychology with an emphasis on Human Health and a minor in General Biology at University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL, part of the Policy Subcommittee of a UCSD organization called Active Minds
  • Academic interests: mood, anxiety, and personality disorders, relationship between mood and neural pathways
  • Future direction: pursue a medical degree in psychiatry, destigmatize the topic of mental health


Jennifer Alcalde

  • Education: Clinical Psychology with a minor in Human Development at University of California
  • Experience: RA at PEARL
  • Future directions: pursue a masters or Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, become a practicing therapist, destigmatize mental health, change the disparity of mental health treatment in minority communities


Nora Asi

  • Education: B.S. in Psychology with a focus in Human Health and minor in Theatre from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: certified as a medical assistant, RA at PEARL
  • Academic interests: social anxiety and depression, how positive emotions can help those who suffer from it
  • Future directions: become a physician’s assistant


Melissa Perez-Ruan

  • Education: B.S. in Clinical Psychology with a minor in Business from University of California San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL in addition to the Pines Dining Hall at UCSD
  • Future directions: pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, work with patients with eating disorders


Jessica Foster

  • Education: Psychology at San Diego State University
  • Experience: RA at PEARL


Dina

  • Education: Psychology at the University of California San Diego. 
  • Experience: RA at PEARL
  • Future directions: graduate school


Joelle

  • Education: B.S. in Human Biology with a minor in Psychology from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL
  • Academic interests: clinical psychology
  • Future directions: becoming a psychologist and/or researcher


Alexis Andom

  • Education: Public Health major and Cognitive Science minor at University of California, San Diego 
  • Future directions: become a researcher or clinical research coordinator


Katie Price

  • Education: Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations at University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL 
  • Academic interests: effects of social anxiety on communication skills


Katie Socha

  • Education: Psychology from San Diego State University (2014)  
  • Experience: interned at the Institute for Behavior and Community Health, a branch of SDSU’s Research Foundation, RA at PEARL
  • Future directions: attend graduate school, become a clinical psychologist, work with children with mental disorders


Lucia

  • Education: double major in Psychology and Cognitive Science at University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL
  • Future directions: graduate study in clinical psychology, both conduct research and work with mentally ill patients


Tiara Alvarado

  • Education: Psychology from San Diego State University (2014)
  • Experience: RA the Infant and Child Development laboratory at SDSU, RA at PEARL
  • Academic interests: abnormal psychology and counseling
  • Future directions: career in neuropsychology


Deborah May

  • Education: B.S. in Psychology from University of California, San Diego (2015) with concentrations in Neuroscience and Behavior, Cognitive Psychology, and a minor in Cognitive Science, transfer student from Sacramento, CA
  • Experience: RA at PEARL
  • Academic interests: neuroscience, behavior, and cognition
  • Future directions: attend graduate school


Robyn

  • Education: psychology for a year at University of California, San Diego, international exchange student from University College Dublin, Ireland
  • Experience: RA at PEARL
  • Academic interests: psychopathology, specifically anxiety disorders


Ethan Averbukh

  • Education: B.S. in Cognitive Science from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL
  • Academic interests: human behavior and their triggers
  • Future directions: attend medical schoo, pursue a career in pediatrics, surgery, or psychiatry


Gabby Arellano

  • Education: B.S. in Psychology and minor in Educational Studies from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL
  • Future directions: obtaining a MFT and/or master’s in education studies


Megan

  • Education: B.S. in Psychology from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL 
  • Future directions: teach English abroad, apply to physician assistant school


Ari Goodman

  • Education: B.A. in Psychology from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL
  • Future directions: teach English through music in Israel


Alyson Johnson

  • Education: B.A. in Psychology from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL
  • Academic interests: anxiety and mood disorders, specifically PTSD and trauma in veteran populations
  • Future directions: Ph.D. in clinical psychology


Elizabeth Tran-Nguyen

  • Education: B.A. in Human Development from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL 
  • Future directions: attend graduate school, career in medical field


Lina Choi

  • Education: B.A. in Psychology from University of California, San Diego
  • Experience: RA at PEARL, RA at a biomedical laboratory at UCSD’s School of Medicine
  • Academic interests: psychological disorders
  • Future directions: master's degree in social work, become a licensed clinical social worker