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Current Personnel

Director

Michael Zvolensy

Dr. Zvolensky is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at University of Houston and Director of the Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory and Substance Use Treatment Clinic. He has published over 400 scholarly works on the co-occurrence of anxiety and stress-related psychopathology with substance use disorders. In this line of work, he also has examined the physical health and health behavior correlates of anxiety-substance use disorder comorbidity, including such conditions as HIV/AIDS, asthma, cardiac disease, and chronic pain. Dr. Zvolensky's work is globally aimed at eliminating inequalities in psychopathology, addictive, and other health behaviors through translational research. He has utilized a variety of methodological tactics in his research program, including community-based participatory research (CBPR), laboratory studies, epidemiologic-field (cross-national and prospective), and randomized clinical trials. He has been involved in over 45 NIH grants as PI, Co-PI, or co-investigator, and therefore, has extensive experience leading large and multi-team projects. His research program has received awards from the numerous organizations, including the American Psychological Association, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and Association for Advancement of Cognitive and Behavior Therapy.

A major contribution of Dr. Zvolensky’s laboratory has been to elucidate why people who experience anxiety/depressive-related vulnerabilities are more prone to substance use disorders; and why people with substance use disorders are more prone to anxiety/depressive-related disturbances. His team has led efforts to develop integrative theoretical models of anxiety-substance use disorder comorbidity that identify (malleable) cognitive-affective mechanisms underlying their association. This work is important for designing targeted assessment batteries that can be used to identify high-risk individuals most in need of (specialized) intervention; elucidating mechanisms underlying anxiety/depressive-substance use disorder comorbidity; and developing 'next generation' treatments for these conditions that target the most etiologically potent facets. Within this context, Dr. Zvolensky’s work collectively falls in three, interrelated streams that deal with (a) transdiagnostic processes underlying emotional disorder-substance use disorder comorbidity; (b) mediating and moderating factors involved in the expression, onset, and maintenance of anxiety/depression psychopathology for groups subject to health inequalities; and (c) theoretically-driven and process-based treatment development work that is community-friendly.

Laboratory Coordinator

Angelina Mayorga, B.S.

Angelina Mayorga, B.S.

Angie Mayorga is a post-baccalaureate student that recently graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. degree in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. Angie joined the AHRL team as an RA in the fall of 2015 and has focused her studies on helping the underprivileged demographic within the Spanish speaking population of Houston. She has worked alongside the Lab and Legacy Community Health Clinic. Her research interests consist of the role anxiety sensitivity plays with underserved communities. She is interested in working to understand the underlying mechanisms of distress tolerance and resiliency within individuals in traumatic environments. Angie hopes to continue her education by pursuing a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Visiting Scholars

Dr. Daniel Bogiaizian

Dr. Daniel Bogiaizian

Dr. Daniel Bogiaizian is a visiting scholar from Argentina. He is a clinical psychologist and administers individual and group therapy for adults in Buenos Aires. Dr. Bogiaizian received his Ph.D. from Universidad del Salvador in Argentina. He is an associate professor and researcher at the Universidad Argentina de la Empresa. Dr. Bogiaizian is the current president of the Argentinean Association of Anxiety Disorders (AATA, Asociación Argentina de Trastornos por Ansiedad). He is also the Director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic "Asociación Ayuda". Dr. Bogiaizian serves as the AHRL-SUTC’s South American liaison and point person for co-morbid smoking and anxiety/stress work. Broadly, his research interests include the nature of and treatment advances for PD, GAD, and SAD, as well as the study of smoking cessation interventions for people with co-occurring anxiety disorders/symptoms.

Rubén Rodríguez, M.A.

Ruben Rodriguez

Mr. Rubén Rodríguez is a second-year predoctoral student, who works as Psychologist at Unit of Smoking Cessation and Addictive Disorders at University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). He has been enrolled in the Pre-doctoral Research Training Grant program of The Ministry of Spain of Economy and Competitiveness, since 2014. He received his B.A. in Clinical Psychology in 2011, and his M.A. in Clinical and Health Psychology and Neuropsychology, in 2013. He has the Accreditation of European Federation of Psychologys' Association (EFPA) and the Accreditation as General Health Psychologist (Psicólogo General Sanitario) in Spain. Currently, his research is focused on the incidence of depression, craving and nicotine dependence in smoking relapse. He is especially interested in the effect of emotion disregulation and others variables (i.e., alcohol’s effect or personality traits) in order to improve substance use disorders treatments

Pre-Doctoral Graduate Students

Jafar Bakhshaie, M.D.

Jafar Bakshaie

Dr. Jafar Bakhshaie is a third-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Houston. He received his MD from Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Currently, Dr. Bakhshaie is examining the impact of emotional reactivity upon smoking behavior in smokers with and without anxiety/mood disorders. His research is focused on exploring emotional regulatory mechanisms and cognitive processes underlying substance use disorders and panic/PTSD comorbidities. He is especially interested in emotional regulatory and reactivity processes as underlying processes of substance use-anxiety/stress comorbidity with important clinical implications.

Charles Jardin, M.A.

Charles Jardin

Mr. Jardin recently completed his second year of the clinical psychology doctoral program at the University of Houston, in Houston, Texas, and is a graduate research assistant with both the Developmental Psychopathology Laboratory and the Anxiety and Health Laboratory / Substance Use Treatment Clinic, under the supervision of Drs. Carla Sharp and Michael Zvolensky, respectively. His research interests focus on risk behavior across the transition from adolescence to adulthood, including substance use and sexual HIV-risk behavior. Informed by a developmental psychopathology framework, his present research efforts are exploring risk and protective factors that influence decision-making across development, with an emphasis on attachment and trauma; investigating transdiagnostic mediators and moderators of risk behavior, such as positive/negative reinforcement and emotion processes; and examining risk behavior dimensionally and categorically to better understand the transition from normative to pathological risk-taking. As an incoming student, he received the University Presidential Graduate Fellowship. Currently, he is a clinical research assistant at the Harris County Psychiatric Center and the Thomas Street Health Center.

Prior to beginning the UH doctoral program, Mr. Jardin completed the Master of Divinity at Duke Divinity School, Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, and served as a congregational pastor in Durham and a clinical hospital chaplain in Houston

Lorra Garey, M.A.

Lorra Garey

Ms. Lorra Garey is a third-year doctoral candidate in the clinical psychology program at the University of Houston. She completed her B.A. in psychology at The University of Texas in 2009. Her primary research interests focus on elucidating and attenuating health disparities among underserved and vulnerable populations by examining the interplay between substance use and psychological vulnerabilities and addressing malleable risk factors, including smoking, in the context of transdiagnostic interventions. Within this model, Ms. Garey is particularly interested in the efficacy of brief, personalized feedback interventions to reduce tobacco use, alcohol use, and symptoms related to anxiety and depression among smokers with co-occurring psychopathology and tobacco dependence. Ms. Garey is the recipient of a pre-doctoral National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Daniel J. Paulus, M.A.

Daniel J. Paulus

Mr. Daniel J. Paulus is a fourth-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Houston. He received his B.S. in psychology from Northeastern University in 2011 and M.A. in psychology from the University of Houston in 2014. His research focuses on the comorbidity and treatment of emotional disorders (anxiety and depression) and hazardous drinking. He is particularly focused on the processes and mechanisms underlying these problems. Currently, his research is aimed towards developing brief low-cost interventions targeting transdiagnostic vulnerabilities common to comorbid affective symptoms and drinking (e.g., anxiety sensitivity and emotion dysregulation). In line with this, Mr. Paulus is the recipient of a pre-doctoral National Research Service Award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to study a brief personalized feedback intervention for affectively vulnerable drinkers. 


Brooke Kauffman, M.A.

Brooke Kauffman

Ms. Brooke Kauffman is a second-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Houston. She completed her B.S. in psychology at Florida State University in 2012. Her research interests focus on innovative and integrative treatment methodologies aimed at improving health behaviors. Specifically, she is interested in transdiagnostic vulnerabilities that may underlie these problematic health behaviors. Ms. Kauffman is also interested in improving patient adherence and examining predictors of treatment outcome.


Andrew Rogers, B.A.

Andrew Rogers, B.A.

Andrew is a first-year graduate student at UH. He graduated from Tufts University in 2014 where he completed a thesis under Dr. Heather Urry examining attentional and cognitive mechanisms implicated in anxiety. Following graduation, Andrew worked as a research coordinator for two years at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital under Dr. Naomi Simon. Andrew is interested in affective mechanisms that contribute to alcohol and substance use, with a particular focus on emotion regulation and anxiety. He hopes to conduct longitudinal research to begin to understand temporal relationships between emotion regulation difficulties and how breakdowns in emotion regulation lead some people to turn to alcohol and other substances.


Kara Manning, B.S.

Kara Manning, B.S.

Kara Manning is a first-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Houston. She graduated from Southwestern University in May 2015 with a degree in Psychology. Her research interests include substance use disorders and anxiety disorders within the adult population. More specifically she is interested in the underlying mechanisms of psychological disorders such as self-efficacy, distress intolerance, and affective vulnerabilities. She is also interested in treatment techniques targeted at treating comorbid psychopathology.

Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistants

Sahar Anjum, B.S.

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Sahar Anjum is a post-baccalaureate research assistant a double major in Biology and Psychology and a minor in Medicine and Society. She was President of Psi Chi Honor Society for the 2016-2017 academic year. Sahar intends to pursue a Ph. D. in Neuroscience, with a research focus in drug addiction. She wants to investigate the causes of addiction, preventative measures, and effective treatments for those suffering with addictions.

Reem AL Brahim, B.Sc, MD

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Reem is a foreign trained physician. She got her B.Sc and MD degree from the Arabian Gulf University in Bahrain. Currently she is working at the Anxiety and Health research lab as a research assistant. At the same time she is enrolled at the University of Houston Clear lake for Psychology classes. Her research interests include child development, child neuropsychology, children with learning difficulties and Autism. She plans to pursue a PhD in clinical Psychology.

Tuyen Dinh, B.S

Anjali Ferrer

Tuyen Dinh graduated from the University of Houston, with a major in Psychology and minor in Biology and in Human Resources Management. Some of her research interests include autism spectrum disorder, personality disorders, and depression. She plans to pursue a Ph.D in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Anjali Ferrer, B.S.

Anjali Ferrer

Anjali is currently a post-baccalaureate student taking prerequisite courses for a Clinical Psychology Master’s program. She received a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Biology at the University of Houston in the fall of 2016. Her research interests include anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, and panic attacks. Her main objective is to obtain a better understanding of contributing factors underlying these disorders and improve treatment methods. She plans to pursue a Master’s degree in clinical psychology before applying to Ph.D. programs in the same field.

Alicia Lopez, B.S.

Alicia Lopez, B.S.

Alicia Lopez is a post-baccalaureate research assistant who graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S in psychology and a minor in sociology. Alicia has an interest in anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. She plans to pursue her Ph.D in clinical psychology. 

Ana Cristina Ruiz, B.S.

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Ana Cristina Ruiz is a post-baccalaureate student that graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. degree in Psychology with a minor in Biology and Spanish for the global professions. Ana joined the AHRL-SUTC team as a Research Assistant in the fall of 2013. She has been working on several projects analyzing health disparities and cultural barriers among the Hispanic population of Houston. She also volunteers in the emergency department at Methodist Hospital and at Texas Children’s Hospital. Ana hopes to continue her education by pursuing a doctorate of medicine and of philosophy.

Niloofar Tavakoli, B.S.

Niloofar Tavakoli

Niloofar Tavakoli is a graduate student in the college of Education, studying Counseling Psychology. She received her B.S in Psychology at the University of Houston in spring 2016. Her research interests include family therapy, children with psychological and anxiety disorders, and divorce counseling. She also volunteers at the Crisis Intervention of Houston and Children Assessment Center. Her long-term goals consist of pursuing her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology as well as opening her own practice.

Nhan Tran, B.A.

Nhan Tran, B.A.

Nhan Tran is currently a graduate student at Houston Baptist University pursuing a M.A. in Counseling. He received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin (2015). His research interests include child development, ADHD, Depression, PTSD, Anxiety, Autism, & sexuality. His research goal is to better understand the root cause of the psychological illnesses listed above and how to increase treatment’s efficacy through research. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Prior research experience includes 1 year of undergraduate research in the Twin Development lab of Dr. Elliot Tucker-Drob (UT Austin).

Zachary Wood, B.B.A.

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Zachary is a post-baccalaureate student with a B.B.A. from Texas A&M. He also works as a private tutor for high school students. His research interests include anxiety, substance abuse, and depression. Zachary plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

Masha Zhebrak, B.S.

Masha Zhebrak

Masha Zhebrak is a post-baccalaureate research assistant who graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in psychology and a minor in biology. She has worked in various UH labs throughout her undergraduate career and has joined the AHRL lab in the summer of 2016. Her research interests include mood disorders, object relations and attachment theory. Masha plans on advancing her education by pursuing a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

JeanFelix Chavez:

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JeanFelix Chavez is a junior at the University of Houston currently pursuing a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Medicine and Society. He volunteers in the neurology wing of the Texas Children’s hospital and interns for the Delta Omega Chi medical service organization on campus. His research interests include anxiety, factors attributing to addictive behaviors, memory, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. He ultimately plans to be admitted into medical school to continue his education.

Johanna Coreas

Johanna Coreas

Johanna is a senior at the University of Houston, pursuing a double B.A. in anthropology and psychology. Her research interests include: psychology within the Latino and minority populations, lowering the stigma related to mental health concerns, and in making psychological education more available to the general population. Johanna plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Brenda Duran

Brenda Duran

Brenda is currently a senior pursuing a psychology BS degree with a double minor in human development and family studies and business management. Her interests include learning more about anxiety and depressive disorders in children and how they develop well into adulthood having gone through them. She would also like to work with cancer surviving children and their families on how the events of one of their children having cancer has the affected the families’ mental health. She is planning on pursuing a degree in clinical psychology with a specialization in pediatric psychology. Later, in the future she would like to also obtain her PHD in clinical psychology and conduct her own research on children with mental disorders and the importance of family support

Micheal Garza

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Micheal Garza is currently in his 3rd year as an undergraduate student at the University of Houston. He is pursuing a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. His current research interest include drug/substance addictions, anxiety and depression. He is especially interested in how these issues affect LGBTQ and the urban minority population. Micheal currently volunteers time at the Harris County Psychiatric Center where he enjoys building positive rapport with patients. He is also a Research Assistant for the UH Yoga and Mindfulness Lab and is observing how yoga affects attention for school aged students during classroom instruction. Micheal joined the Anxiety and Health Research lab as a Research Assistant in the fall of 2017 and hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Nina Glover

Nina Glover

Nina Glover is currently a senior at the University of Houston, pursuing a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in African-American Studies. She completed her first two years at the University of Iowa. She currently volunteers at her church, the Red Cross, and Northwest Assistance Ministries (NAM). Recently, Nina has become interested in the Autism Spectrum Disorder, particularly in Asperger’s Syndrome. Additional interests include studies of the cultural and social dynamics of mother and child relationships and how personal interactions are formed, maintained, and negatively affected by one’s behavior. She plans to ultimately pursue a Ph.D. in Social Psychology.

Gerald Hallford

Gerald Hallford

Gerald is a junior at the University of Houston pursuing a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Leadership Studies. He is a recipient of the Terry Scholarship and a member of the U.H. Honors College. After completing his undergraduate degree, Gerald plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, with a focus on substance abuse diagnosis and treatment.

Juan Huerta

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Juan Huerta is a senior at the University of Houston currently pursuing a BS in Biochemistry and a BS in Psychology. His research interests include biomolecular interactions and the role they play on various psychological aspects of an individual such as emotion and mental health. Juan plans to attend medical school and practice as a psychiatrist.

Jenna Jones

Jenna Jones

Jenna is currently a sophomore at the University of Houston, pursuing her B.S. in psychology with a minor in medicine in society. Her research interests include anxiety and mood disorders in adolescents, child development and eating disorders. After graduation, Jenna plans to pursue her Ph.D in clinical psychology.

Hantin Lam

Hantin Lam

Hantin Lam is a junior at the University of Houston majoring in psychology. He is currently assisting with research involving the Hispanic community and works at a clinic serving as a translator for Spanish speaking patients. His research interests include anxiety, depression and substance abuse. He plans to attend medical school in the future.

Karina Lopez

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Karina is currently a senior at the University of Houston. She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in History. Her current research interests involve personality disorders, substance abuse, anxiety and depression and their effects on communities of color. After graduation, she plans to continue her education and pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

Charles Neill

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Charles Neill is pursuing a BA in Psychology with a minor in Spanish at the University of Houston. His research interests include PTSD, anxiety and depression disorders, and substance abuse. His focus is on understanding of these disorders and developing a practice based on the most current research available. He plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Health Psychology.

Pamella Nizio

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Pamella Nizio is a senior at the University of Houston. She is currently pursuing a B.S in Psychology with a minor in Human Resources Management. Her research interests include anxiety and stress, relationships, and mental health disorders. After graduation, she plans on pursuing a master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology.

Natalia Peraza

Natalia Peraza

Natalia Peraza is a senior at the University of Houston pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. Her main research interests are in neuropsychology, substance abuse, and mood disorders. She plans to pursue a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology

Tahira Raza

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Tahira is a junior at the University of Houston pursuing a B.S in Psychology with a minor in Medicine and Society as an affiliate of the Honors College. Her research interests include child development and anxiety and mental illness within minorities. Following graduation, Tahira plans to pursue a Master’s in school psychology.

Tanya Smit

Tanya Smit

Tanya Smit is currently a junior at the University of Houston, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in Medicine and Society as an affiliate of the Honors College. Her research interests include substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and child development disorders. She plans on eventually earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.