Current Ph.D. Students

Xiaozhu An, Advisor: Curby |

Xiaozhu is an advanced doctoral student in Dr. Curby's DISC lab. She graduated from Qingdao University in China in 2012 with a B.S. degree in Applied Psychology. She then entered GMU’s ADP program and earned her M.A. degree in Applied Developmental Psychology in 2014 under Dr. Rojahn's advisorship. Xiaozhu's research interests include children’s social and emotional development within the school context, and teacher–student relationships and interactions.

Andrea Burchfield, Advisor: Rojahn/Curby |

I earned a BS in Psychology with a minor in Fine Arts from Radford University in 2006. I entered GMU's Applied Developmental Psychology program in 2010, and also aim to gain board certification as a behavior analyst. During the years 2006-2010, I worked as a Lead ABA Therapist at a center for children with developmental disabilities in the Roanoke Valley, where I spent the last 2 years providing consultation and recommendations for the Roanoke County Public Schools. I am interested in language development and social / self awareness in children with autism, as well as effective teaching methods for children with developmental disabilities.

Jordan Greenburg, Advisor: Winsler |

Jordan is a first-year PhD student in Dr. Winsler’s lab. She graduated from Emory & Henry College in 2017 with B.A.s in Psychology and French. During her time at Emory, she conducted a variety of research projects that ranged from understanding prejudicial attitudes toward the LGBTQ community to assessing how developmental variables affected children’s responses to psychological measures. Jordan found her niche in developmental psychology through her work as an after-school volunteer with children who were struggling academically and socially. This experience piqued her interest in pursuing developmental research in an educational context, particularly with at-risk populations. Her current research interests include the long-term academic outcomes associated with grade retention in both early and later school years.

Elpi Marchesini, Advisor: Curby |

Elpiniki is a first-year Doctoral student. Elpiniki earned her masters degree in School Psychology from George Mason, prior to becoming a doctoral student in the Applied Developmental Psychology Program. She completed her undergraduate work at Virginia Tech, where she majored in Psychology and minored in Biology. Her research interests include promoting whole-school improvement, specifically through promoting positive relationships across the classroom and the implementation of social-emotional curricula.

Alex Moffett, Advisor: Winsler |

Alex is a fourth-year PhD (returning MA) student in Dr. Winsler’s lab and the ADP program. While getting a B.A. in psychology at the University of Denver, he was involved with a victim advocacy organization in Denver that allowed him to work with public elementary schools in low-income areas around the city. The experience helped shape his current research interests, which include language development and self-regulation in the context of education, and ecological instability (specifically school mobility) among children in poverty. His masters thesis was on the predictors of school mobility, and now he hopes to expand on this topic in his dissertation examining academic outcomes associated with school mobility.

Mandana Mohtasham, Advisor: Pasnak |

Mandana is a fourth-year doctoral student in Dr. Pasnak's lab. She received her MA under Dr. Denham's advisory where she first learned about executive functioning and social emotional development in young children in classroom settings. Her research studies will continue to expand on this knowledge and will examine the specific relationship between cognitive and emotional development in preschool children.

Kaity Mumma, Advisor: Winsler |

Kaity is a third-year PhD student working in Dr. Winsler's lab. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Spanish, and received her MA in ADP from George Mason in May 2017. Her research interests include investigating the lasting benefits of attending different types of preschool programs, factors contributing to elementary school quality, and children's longitudinal academic outcomes. Last summer, she worked as an intern for the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). She is very passionate about improving the US education system and hopes that she can contribute to this cause through empirical research.

Mayra Parada, Advisor: Winsler |

Mayra is a third-year graduate student pursuing her PhD in ADP. She graduated with a BS in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in 2014. Prior to her time at Mason, Mayra has worked on various community-based participatory research projects in Richmond and spent time in Mexico City investigating on the influence of social contexts on adolescent drug-use. At Mason, Mayra’s master thesis focused on academic outcomes of immigrant students using longitudinal data from the Miami School Readiness Project (MSRP). Currently, Mayra is the SRCD State Policy Fellow at the Virginia Department of Education in the Early Childhood office working on the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) and Virginia Preschool Initiative Expansion (VPI+).

Ally Patterson, Advisor: Pasnak |

Ally is a fourth-year doctoral student working under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Pasnak. She graduated from Furman University in 2013 with a B.A. in psychology and communication studies. After graduation, she spent a year working at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Research Institute on a meta-analysis project assessing effectiveness of youth programs. Ally is interested in cognitive development and applied behavior analysis, particularly as they relate to early childhood and to those with developmental disabilities.

Courtney Ricciardi, Advisor: Winsler |

Courtney is a second-year PhD student in Dr. Winsler’s lab within the ADP program. She graduated from the University of Alabama in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Human Development. Her current research interests involve academic outcomes in at-risk populations, specifically the influence of early factors like school readiness and neighborhood effects on later outcomes such as educational achievement and advanced course selection.

Alexa Roth, Advisor: Curby |

Alexa is in her second year of the doctoral program at George Mason. She received her MA in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University and BA in Psychology at Emory University. She has also served as a Special Education teacher in both elementary and high school settings. Alexa’s research interests include children’s social and emotional development within the school setting, specifically for children from low-income communities.

Max Shear, Advisor: Curby/McKnight |

Max Shear graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, earning a B.A. in Psychology and a B.F.A. in Fine Arts: Photography. Max is currently working in Dr. KcKnight's research lab. He has a passion for research, specifically fatherhood involvement, prevention and intervention-based programs (e.g. head start), and learning disabilities. Outside of school, he enjoys: art, his dog (Ozcar), Detroit sports, traveling, and photography.

Amber Shriver, Advisor: Winsler |

Amber Shriver is a 5th-year PhD student now in Dr. Winsler’s lab. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology. She has a Master's of Education and Master's of Psychology degree from George Mason University. Her research examines the executive function and language profiles of elementary school aged Latino children participating in obesity interventions.

Lucia Stillerova, Advisor: Curby |

Lucia is a third-year doctoral student working in Dr. Curby’s DISC lab within the ADP program. Previously, she earned her MA in psychology from University of St. Cyril and Methods in Slovakia. After graduating she has worked in a non-profit organization and in the public school system with children. This experience allowed her to better understand the classroom environment, teaching strategies, and teacher–student interactions. Her research interests are teacher–student interactions and children's social-emotional development within the school setting, particularly the role teacher–student interactions have in promoting children's social–emotional development.

Laura Stokes, Advisor: Curby |

Laura is a third-year PhD student in the Applied Developmental Psychology program under the guidance of Dr Tim Curby. She completed her undergraduate degree at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA where she majored in Marketing and Psychology and obtained her Masters degree at Mason. Upon graduation of undergrad, she was a research analyst and teacher's assistant at Tulane's A.B. Freeman School of Business. Laura currently focuses her research on teacher professional development, such as Lesson Study, and classroom quality.

Tanya Tavassolie, Advisor: Winsler |

I graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in 2011 with a B.A. in Neuroscience. While at Franklin and Marshall, my research focused on developmental and biological aspects of behavior using animal models. After graduating, I began working as a Faculty Research Assistant at the University of Maryland's Child Development Lab. While there, I worked on a project exploring neural correlates of action understanding in infants. I am finishing my dissertation which explores profiles of school readiness among low-income children and how these profiles longitudinally predict student performance in 3rd grade.

Brittany Thompson, Advisor: Goldstein |

Brittany is a second-year doctoral student in Dr. Goldstein’s lab. She graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2012 with a B.A. in psychology with a minor in educational studies. While at St. Mary’s, she researched the impact of parental communication on self-esteem in emerging adulthood, and also assisted a professor with research on emotional regulation. Her current research interests include variables impacting social and emotional development in young children, especially those with developmental disabilities.

Reba Troxler, Advisor: Curby/Winsler |

Reba is a second-year doctoral student originally from North Carolina. Her background is in the areas of psychology, sociology and family studies. Her research interests include social-emotional development, school readiness, prevention/intervention both in and out of the classroom, and at risk populations.

Angelique Williams, Advisor: Winsler |

Angelique is a second-year graduate student pursuing her PhD in ADP. She graduated with her BS in Psychology from Morgan State University in 2016. While at Morgan State University, she worked as an NIH NIGMS-RISE undergraduate student researcher. As such, she examined the effects of factors such as social problem solving ability and perceived stress levels on academic performance. Her current research interests include elementary school outcomes for children with autism spectrum disorders, and children's private speech in Head Start settings.


Current M.A. Students

Kristen Carpenter, Advisor: Winsler |

Kristin has a BA from Louisiana State University and a MA from Georgetown University. She has spent the last 9 years working with children with learning disabilities and behavioral issues through her company, Linder Educational Coaching. She has worked in schools to advocate for 504/IEP accommodations. She is very excited to join Dr. Winsler's lab to study the neuroscience of cognitive development and reading disabilities, as well as the real world applications of interventions, particularly in the classroom.

Jihyae Choe, Advisor: Pasnak |

Jihyae is a graduate student seeking the Master's degree in Applied Developmental Psychology. She received her Bachelor's degree at Liberty Univeristy in Teaching English as a Second Language and a minor in Chinese. During her undergraduate studies, she travelled overseas coordinating ESL workshops and teacher training as well as creating curriculum for underprivileged Indonesian college students. Her research interests include language acquisition, school readiness, and cognitive intervention among ESL, minority, and special needs populations.

Ashley Clark, Advisor: Curby |

I graduated last year from GMU with a bachelor's in psychology after realizing my passion for children and psychology. During my senior year, my research focus was in operant conditioning in young children. The year after graduation, I spent as a preschool teacher where my interest in attachment and young children's behavior developed. I couldn't be more excited to start this new chapter in my life!

Karen Cordova, Advisor: Winsler |

Karen is a first-year masters student in Applied Developmental Psychology. She graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Developmental Psychology from George Mason University in May of 2016. Her research interest lies in culture and its effect on socio-emotional development of children and parent/child interactions and relationships in adolescence.

Katrina Gagliano, Advisor: Pasnak |

Katrina is a second-year Master’s student working in Dr. Pasnak’s lab. She graduated from Frostburg State University with a B.S. in Psychology. Her undergraduate research experience in cognitive psychology meshed with her background in early childhood education to produce an interest in early intervention for children experiencing developmental delay. She is particularly interested in early literacy skills, language acquisition and bilingualism, and more broadly in helping to narrow the achievement gap in our country using evidence-based pre-K programs.

Mehreen Hassan, Advisor: Pasnak |

Mehreen is a first-year M.A. student in the Applied Developmental Psychology program. She graduated in 2016 with a BS in Psychology, concentration in Developmental Psychology, and a minor in Applied Behavior Analysis from George Mason University. During her undergraduate studies, Mehreen worked as an ABA therapist and was also a research assistant in Dr. Pasnak’s lab. Now, as a graduate student, she is excited to continue in Dr. Pasnak’s Cognitive Interventions lab as a research manager for the new kindergarten research project.

Christina Hong, Advisor: Winsler |

Christina graduated from University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a BA in Psychology, concentration in Developmental Psychology, and minor in English. During her undergraduate career, Christina spent several years working alongside children with disabilities, specifically as a(n) 1:1 educational assistant, special education teacher, and in-home ABA therapist. While conducting undergraduate research in Baltimore, Christina investigated processes through which parental stress was linked to Asian American children’s effortful control. Her research interests stem from field experiences and previous research lab positions, and moving forward looks to examine children’s self-regulatory abilities, immigrant populations, and academic and developmental outcomes.

Jerry Mize, Advisor: Winsler |

Jerry L. Mize is a graduate student of Applied Developmental Psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. His research interests are in social relationships during childhood and adolescence and how these may serve as predictors and intervention components for various maladaptive behaviors such as bullying, aggression, drug use, and delinquency. He is currently working toward his MA, but aspires to pursue a PhD in Developmental Psychology and continue working to better the experience of children and teens.

Katie Orth, Advisor: Curby |

Katie is a second-year Master’s student. She completed her undergraduate work at Longwood University where she majored in Psychology and Social Work. After graduating, she worked as an adoption social worker at Roanoke County DSS. Katie is interested in social and emotional development, and applied behavior analysis, particularly during early childhood and for those with developmental disabilities.

Christina Nguyen, Advisor: Curby |

Christina is a first-year Master’s student working in Dr. Curby’s lab. She received her Bachelor’s degree at Penn State with a major in Psychology. After graduating, Christina worked as a Research Assistant for Johns Hopkins University, where she worked with students in Baltimore City School Districts who were enrolled in the PATHS to PAX Plus! Program. Her research interests include teacher-student and parent-child interactions and how they affect children’s social and emotional growth, as well as how children learn language.

Brittany Pierceall, Advisor: Pasnak|

Brittany is a second-year graduate student pursuing her Master’s degree in Applied Developmental Psychology under the direction of Dr. Robert Pasnak. She completed her undergraduate studies at Hood College in 2014, where she received her B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Gerontology. Her research interests pertain to early intervention programs for children diagnosed with developmental disabilities, and have led her to pursue certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in Applied Behavior Analysis.

Ashley Wood, Advisor: Curby/Winsler |


Qingyuan Xie, Advisor: Curby |


Monica Yassa, Advisor: Pasnak |

My name is Monica Yassa. I was born in Cairo, Egypt and I immigrated to the United States with my parents when I was four years old. I earned my B.A in Psychology from George Mason, and I am a M.A student in the ADP program. I work in Dr. Pasnak's cognitive psychology lab which is currently looking at patterning in kindergarten students. I am interested in learning more about school readiness- what is successful or not successful in preparing children for entering school and how best they learn. I am also interested in learning more about social and emotional readiness in children entering school.