Current Ph.D. Students

Alena Alegrado, Advisor: Winsler

I am a first-year PhD student in Dr. Adam Winsler’s Lab. I graduated from George Mason University in 2016 with a B.S. in Psychology and concentration in Applied Developmental Psychology. Through the Honors Psychology program and the OSCAR Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, I completed an undergraduate honors thesis focused on identifying pre-existing child characteristics that predict enrollment in middle school music classes. After graduating, I worked as a research specialist for the University of Virginia Curry School of Education. I conducted child and classroom assessments at the pre-K and kindergarten level for a longitudinal study focused on understanding the long-term effects of pre-K programs. I will continue my research on predictors, persistence, and outcomes of in-school music enrollment at George Mason University with primary interest in the unique differences between music classes (Band, Chorus, Guitar, Orchestra).

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.

Marissa Davila, Advisor: Kornienko

Marissa is a first-year PhD student in Dr. Kornienko’s lab. She earned her Master’s in Psychology at American University in 2018 and her Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University in 2014. Between undergraduate and graduate school, Marissa worked at the Center for Deployment Psychology as part of the program evaluation team. While attending American, her research focused on adolescent risk behaviors with particular interest in substance use and its associated risk factors including childhood maltreatment. Additionally, she has assisted on research projects addressing bullying and various types of aggression during adolescence and cancer risk behaviors among late adolescent and young adult women. Her current research interests include various outcomes of deviant peer group selection throughout development.

Jordan Greenburg, Advisor: Winsler

Jordan is a second-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 second-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 5th-year PhD 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.

Kaity Mumma, Advisor: Winsler

Kaity is a fourth-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 fourth-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 fifth-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 third-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 third 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.

Laura Stokes, Advisor: Curby

Laura is a fourth-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. Prior to entering graduate school, she was a scientific research analyst at Tulane's A.B. Freeman School of Business. Laura currently teaches Educational Psychology (PSYC312) and works as an Undergraduate Academic Advisor in the Psychology Department. Laura focuses her research on teacher professional development and classroom quality.

Brittany Thompson, Advisor: Goldstein

Brittany is a third-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 third-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 third-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.

DaSean Young, Advisor: Goldstein

DaSean is a first-year doctoral student in Dr. Goldstein's lab. He graduated from Pace University where he majored in Psychology and minored in Queer Studies. He previously conducted research for the Social Justice & Health Equity Psychology lab. There he studied intersectionality and stigma toward marginalized groups. His current interests are in how the arts and play impact social, emotional, and identity development in young kids and adolescents.


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 excited to be in Dr. Winsler's lab working on her thesis which links between anxiety and reading disabilities in the context of an on-line reading intervention.

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.

Kaylee Chulla, Advisor: Goldstein

Kaylee is a first-year MA student in Dr. Goldstein’s lab. She received her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Religion from High Point University in North Carolina. Her previous research includes work on the production effect and study methods in elementary aged children. Her current research interests include appropriate classroom engagement and learning strategies for children with developmental disabilities.

Ashley Clark, Advisor: Curby

I graduated 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.

Karen Cordova, Advisor: Winsler

Karen is a second-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.

Briana Francis, Advisor: Kornienko

Brianna is a first-year Master’s student. She completed her undergraduate work at Quinnipiac University where she majored in Behavioral Neuroscience. After graduating, she was a postgraduate associate at the Yale Child Study Center with projects focused on the neural transition from pregnancy to parenting and how that is influenced by substance use. Her current research interests include the influence of peer networks on adolescent health and development.

Mehreen Hassan, Advisor: Pasnak

Mehreen is a second-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.

Kristen Hayes, Advisor: Winsler

Kristen is a first-year MA student in Dr. Winsler’s lab. She graduated with a BA in Liberal Arts specializing in math and language arts education with a minor in Spanish. Since graduating in 2016, she served as an AmeriCorps member in Tulsa, OK where she provided academic and behavioral support to underperforming students. She then moved to New York and taught at an environmental education center. She is interested in understanding how classrooms can be adjusted to better support the developmental needs of students in low-income communities.

Bailey Hill, Advisor: Goldstein

Bailey is a first-year Master’s student working in Dr. Goldstein’s lab. He completed his undergraduate education at Wheaton College (IL), earning a B.A. in psychology. During his undergraduate career he completed training as an ABA therapist, working specifically with individuals who have autism spectrum disorders. His interests include Applied Behavioral Analysis, the transition of individuals with developmental disabilities into independent living, and social development of those with ASD.

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.

Courtney Holmberg, Advisor: Pasnak

Courtney is a first-year Master's student working in Dr. Pasnak's lab. She received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Childhood Studies and Criminology at George Mason University. As an undergraduate, she completed training to become a Registered Behavior Technician and continues to provide behavioral therapy to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her interests include Applied Behavior Analysis, as well as the impacts of nature versus nurture on individuals with various mental disorders.

Summer Hughey, Advisor: Winsler

Summer is a first-year Master's student in the Applied Developmental Psychology program under the supervision of Dr. Adam Winsler. She received a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2017. Post graduation, she worked in mental and behavioral health treatment centers for children and adolescents. Her research interests include cultural influences and outcomes for low-income and minority populations.

Kayla Keith, Advisor: Winsler

Kayla is a first-year master’s student in Dr. Winsler’s lab. She graduated from Virginia Tech in December of 2017 with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. During her undergraduate career, Kayla spent the majority of her time examining two different episodic memory processes: recollection and familiarity. Her novel findings suggest that recollection, in addition to working memory, should be considered when examining academic achievement in children, specifically 6 year-olds. Kayla’s current research interests include pinpointing how these memory processes contribute to academic achievement, self-regulation, and school readiness in typical children and children with autistic spectrum disorders. She is also interested in assessing the roles that parents and teachers play in facilitating or directing their learning inside and outside of the classroom.

Christina Nguyen, Advisor: Curby

Christina is a second-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.

My Nguyen, Advisor: Winsler

My (pronounced /mee/) is a first-year MA student in Dr. Winsler’s lab. She graduated from Liberty University in 2018 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Photography. Previously, she conducted research projects and experiments in a variety of topics, including the influence of sugar addiction on rodent behavior and cognitive function, neonatal imitation, attitudes toward sex trafficking victims, and perception of stress and its impact on cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses. She is currently interested in neural mechanisms of bilingualism and language acquisition. Eventually, My aspires to pursue a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience to further study the relationship between cortical structures and different language processes by applying different imaging techniques.

Reem Shawkat, Advisor: Kornienko

Reem is a first-year Master’s student in Dr. Kornienko’s lab. She graduated in 2017 with a B.S. in Psychology from Virginia Tech. During her undergraduate studies she worked on a project that focused on religious, cultural, and identity influences on the decision to wear a hijab in Muslim female college students. She is excited to continue to pursue her research interest in immigrant youth with a focus on first-generation Arab-Americans.

Rachel Stephenson, Advisor: Curby

Rachel Stephenson is a first-year graduate student in Dr. Tim Curby's lab. She graduated in 2016 with her degree in Psychology from Saint Mary's College of California. Following graduation, she worked as a behavior interventionist with children who have autism. Then she received her early childhood teaching license in California and taught preschoolers at a Catholic school in Monterey. Afterwards, she moved to Alaska and taught kindergarten for a year. Her main interests include student and teacher relationships as well as the early development of military children.

Gullnar Syed, Advisor: Curby

Gullnar is a first-year masters student in Applied Developmental Psychology. She received a B.S in Psychology and a minor in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to joining the program, she worked as a Research Technican in the Motor Development lab at VCU, studying motor and cognitive development in both typical and atypically developing infants. She focused specifically on problem-solving skills and parent-child interactions. Her current research interests include parent-child interactions and emotional development in infants and toddlers.

Ashley Wood, Advisor: Curby/Winsler

Ashley Wood is a second-year Master’s student in both Dr. Winsler and Dr. Curby’s labs who graduated from George Mason University with a Psychology B.S. degree in Spring of 2017. She pursued continuous education, using her summers to work with innovative summer camps that focused on supporting child development using different approaches. She has recently worked with a Non-Profit Organization to close the achievement gap for preschoolers, as her focus is improving student academic and developmental outcomes in the classroom.