Dr. Michael J. Zvolensky is the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory and Substance Use Treatment Clinic (AHRL-SUTC) at the University of Houston (UH). He is also a research professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center at The University of Texas. His research program cuts across basic and applied work in the areas of anxiety, substance use disorders, and physical health problems (medical disease). He has published over 350 scholarly works. He has received numerous career awards for his scholarship, including the David Shakow Early Contribution to the Field Award (American Psychological Association), the President’s New Researcher Award (Association for Advancement of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies), and the Early Career Award (Anxiety Disorder Association of America). He is the Associate Editor of two journals in his area of expertise, currently sits on 10 editorial boards for other journals, and regularly reviews grants for national funding agencies. His research has been continuously funded by NIH since receiving his doctoral degree in 2001. Examples of some of his current grant-funded projects include (a) exercise-based smoking cessation for smokers with mental illness; (b) cognitive-behavioral treatments for anxiety/stress among tobacco using populations with and without HIV/AIDS; (c) enhanced smoking cessation program for first responders to the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11; and (d) integrated psychosocial treatment for cannabis dependence and anxiety/stress disorders. A growing aspect of his research program involves health disparities in the form of studying substance use-anxiety/stress relations among minority populations in the United States (e.g., Latino, African American).
Zuzuky Robles, B.A.
Ms. Zuzuky Robles is the laboratory coordinator for the AHRL-SUTC and project director of the transdiagnostic anxiety-management/smoking cessation grant project. She completed her B.A in Psychology at The University of Houston in spring 2013. After graduating, Ms. Robles re-enrolled at U of H to complete an Honors Thesis, in which she investigated the effects of mother’s stress-based job demands on children’s behavior. During this time, she also worked in multiple laboratories, including the AHRL-SUTC, as a research assistant. She has assisted in the study of the influence of distress tolerance on marijuana cessation and the study of prevention of PTSD among the Hispanic population. Her research interests include improving employee’s well-being in the workplace, through reducing job-stress and increasing job satisfaction, as well as investigating negative health outcomes related to job stress (i.e. substance-use & depression). Ms. Robles intends to pursue a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.
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.
Pre-Doctoral Graduate Students
Jafar Bakhshaie, M.D.
Dr. Jafar Bakhshaie is a first-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 P. Brandt, M.A. - NIH Predoctoral Fellow
Mr. Charles P. Brandt is a fourth-year UH clinical psychology graduate student under the mentorship of Dr. Zvolensky. Currently, Mr. Brandt is a Psychology Intern at the Legacy Community Health Clinic in Houston, Texas, a collaborative partner of the AHRL-SUTC. Mr. Brandt's work has examined psychological factors affecting the interpretation and tolerance of distress and their individual and combined effects on mental and physical health. Examples of Mr. Brandt's current work include (a) the examination of psychological risk factors on mental and physical well-being in HIV+ individuals in a longitudinal study; (b) a computerized intervention to lessen reactivity to aversive bodily sensations among HIV+ individuals (a collaboration with Dr. Brad Schmidt and Daniel Capron at Florida State University and the AHRL-SUTC); and (c) development and implementation of group-based transdiagnostic anxiety reduction treatment among persons with HIV (a collaboration with Dr. Peter Norton at UH and the AHRL-SUTC). His scholarly and clinical interests center on the role of emotional sensitivity, tolerance, and reactivity processes as they relate to psychological well-being among persons with chronic medical illnesses, especially HIV/AIDs.
Julianna Hogan, M.Ed.
Ms. Julianna Hogan is currently a fifth-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Vermont and is completing her doctoral work in Houston, Texas, in collaboration with UH (due to Dr. Zvolensky moving to UH). She earned her Master of Education in Psychological Studies from Cambridge College. Ms. Hogan is in the process of completing her dissertation; her project seeks to examine the role of distress intolerance in terms of perceptions about quitting, past quit success, and related factors. Clinically, Ms. Hogan has worked in a variety of outpatient settings, conducting assessment, individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, and evaluations for those seeking services for anxiety and related disorders in the communities of Vermont and Texas. In addition, while working as a pre-doctoral clinician for New England Survivors of Torture and Trauma, Ms. Hogan gained experience providing assessment, individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, and asylum-seeker evaluations for refugee, immigrant, and asylum-seeker communities. Ms. Hogan's research interests center on underlying cognitive and behavioral mechanisms in the maintenance and relapse of problematic substance use.
Samantha Farris, M.A. - NIH Predoctoral Fellow
Ms. Samantha Farris is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the clinical psychology program at the University of Houston. She received her B.A. in psychology and sociology at Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey in 2009 and M.A. in psychology from the University of Houston in 2012. Her research broadly focuses on the interplay between tobacco use, emotional processes, and health. Specifically, her work using experimental laboratory methodologies is aimed at examining underlying, explanatory mechanisms related to the maintenance of cigarette smoking and bodily arousal. Ms. Farris completed a cancer prevention fellowship from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and is the recipient of a pre-doctoral National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (F31-DA035564).
Lorra Garey, B.A.
Ms. Lorra Garey is a first-year doctoral student 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 the efficacy of brief interventions for substance use and psychopathology from a harm-reduction approach. Ms. Garey is particularly interested in the efficacy of personalized feedback in reducing tobacco use, alcohol use, and symptoms related to anxiety and depression. Ms. Garey is also interested in the the comorbidity of risky behaviors, including excessive legal substance use, illegal substance use, and risky sexual behaviors, and psychopathology.
Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistants
Ammara Abedi, B.S.
Ammara Abedi is a post-baccalaureate student who graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S in psychology (Summa cum Laude) in May 2013. She is currently working at Asian American Family Services- a non-profit mental health agency. She works closely with their department of Administration and Operations. Her research interests include criterion development, decision-making (individual and organizational), interviewing, leadership, recruitment, and work motivation & productivity. She will be pursuing her Ph.D. in industrial/ organizational psychology.
Lucinda Andrade, B.S.
Lucinda Andrade is a post-baccalaureate research assistant who graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in psychology and a minor in human development and family studies in fall 2012. Her research interests include child and adolescent development, depression in teenage girls and the effects of parenting skills within the Hispanic community. She plans on continuing her education in school psychology.
Connie graduated Cum Laude from the University of Houston in May 2014, with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Her research interests include Children and family development. She also plans on continuing her education in Psychology and attending Grad school next year.
Daniel Green, B.S.
Daniel Green is a post-baccalaureate research assistant who graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in psychology and a minor in anthropology. His research interests include substance use, addiction, and the integration of meditation into therapy. He plans on pursuing a Ph.D in psychology.
Luke Heggeness, B.A.
Luke Heggeness is a post-baccalaureate research assistant who graduated from the University of Miami in Florida with a major in psychology and a double-minor in philosophy and English in 2012. Luke's research interests are broad but include cognitive dissonance theory and ego-dystonic behavior as they relate to both anxiety and depression. Luke plans to pursue a Ph.D in clinical psychology.
Huma Javaid is a post-baccalaureate Research Assistant with a B.S. in psychology and a minor in biology. She is currently a research assistant for the Panic Sensation and Smoking Study at AHRL-SUTC. Her research interests include addictive behaviors, delayed gratification studies, self-control and persuasion studies. She plans to pursue her doctoral degree in psychology.
Leah Jorewicz is a post-baccalaureate research assistant at the AHRL, assisting in a cross-sectional study involving marijuana and anxiety. She graduated from The University of Texas at Tyler with a B.S. in Psychology. Her future research interests are in neuropsychology or clinical psychology and clinical work on chemicals that affect mental disorders at the PhD level.
Travis Lilley, B.S.
Travis Lilley is a post-baccalaureate student who graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a B.S. in psychology and minor in math in 2011. He is currently a crisis counselor at the Crisis Intervention of Houston and is pursuing an M.S. in statistics from Texas A&M. His research interests are focused on the treatment of mood disorders in older adults. He intends to pursue a Ph.D in clinical psychology.
Patricia Cristina Morales, B.S.
Patricia Cristina Morales is a post-baccalaureate research coordinator who graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S in psychology and a minor in human development and family studies (Magna Cum Laude) in 2013. She is currently the primary research coordinator for the Panic-Relevant Sensations and Smoking Motivation Study. She is also a research assistant at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Vice President of Psi Chi Honor Society in Psychology at the University of Houston. Patricia is currently volunteering at the Harris County Psychiatric Center in the adolescent unit. Her research interests include mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and addiction. Specifically, her concentration lies within the Latino population. She plans to pursue her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.
Muqaddas Sarwar, B.A.
Muqaddas Sarwar is a post-baccalaureate research coordinator at the AHRL. She graduated Summa Cum Laudefrom the University of Houston's Honors College with a B.A in psychology and a minor in health in 2013. She is currently working as a research coordinator for the Panic Sensation and Smoking study at the AHRL-SUTC, where she began working in January of 2013. Additionally, she works at the Crisis Intervention of Houston as telephone counselor. Her research interests include anxiety disorders like panic disorder and social phobia, with an emphasis on co-morbid mood disorders and substance use. Ms. Sarwar plans on continuing her education and obtaining her Ph.D in clinical psychology.
Shahrzad Yekta, B.S.
Shahrzad Yekta is currently pursuing her Masters of Science in Mental Health Counseling. She works for Crisis Intervention of Houston and as a bilingual interpreter for the Texas Medical Center. Her research interests are the relationship between mental and physical health, stress and coping, and family along with the role of other relationships’ on personality development. Her passion is in understanding individuals as a whole and she hopes to be able to make great contributions to the field of psychology in the future.
Undergraduate Research Assistants
Sahar Anjum is currently a junior at the University of Houston, with a major in psychology and minor in biology. Her research interests include learning & memory, and memory retrieval. She has had previous experience working with Alzheimer's patients; and she will be returning to work with them soon. Sahar plans on obtaining a Ph.D. in neuropsychology
Kevin Banks is a junior at the University of Houston majoring in psychology and is currently working towards a BS in psychology. His research interests include deception detection, addiction, jury decision-making, and risk assessment. Kevin’s career goals are to conduct research in areas affiliated with forensic psychology, while also working as a consultant in the criminal justice system.Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Rita Diaz is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in psychology, with a minor in sociology. Her research interests include anxiety disorders, emotional regulation, social cognition, and mood disorders within Latino populations. Rita plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Stephanie Daumas is a junior at the University of Houston, majoring in psychology with a minor in sociology. Her research interests include anxiety disorders, depression, substance use, and mental health among those with serious illnesses, with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS. She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in counseling psychology, focusing on anxiety disorders, drug abuse, and the promotion of physical and psychological health among adolescents and young adults.
Iliana Gonzalez is a senior at the University of Houston, majoring in psychology with a minor in health. Her research interests include mental illness, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide. Iliana hopes to work with Latino communities to promote healthy living. Upon graduation, she plans to continue her education by pursuing a doctoral degree in clinical psychology
Kevin Kock is currently a sophomore at University of Houston. He is a double major in Psychology as well as Communication Sciences and Disorders. His areas of interest include depression, anxiety, mental processes that affect behavior, and language disorders that result from stroke. Upon completing his undergraduate degree, he wishes to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical or cognitive psychology.
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.
John McKirahan is a senior at University of Houston, majoring in psychology and minoring in Spanish. His fields of interest include anxiety and stress, as well as social cognition. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Mayra Ortiz is a senior at the University of Houston, majoring in psychology with a minor in Spanish. Among her research interests are anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders. Additionally, she has an interest in industrial/organizational psychology, specifically related to employee selection and performance. She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.
Tanveer Otal is currently a senior at the University of Houston. She will complete her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Health Education in the Summer of 2014. Upon graduation Tanveer plans on continuing her education through research in psychology and pursuing a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. Tanveer joined the AHRL-SUTC as a research assistant in January 2014. She also works at Dr. Sharp’s Developmental Psychopathology Lab as the Lab Manager and at Dr. Tackett’s Personality Across Development Lab as a Project Coordinator. Tanveer has a wide range of research interests, which include substance abuse and addictive behaviors, juvenile perpetrators and victims of child abuse, emotional self-regulation, and borderline personality disorder.
Rebecca Pham is currently a sophomore at the University of Houston. She is currently majoring in psychology. Her interests include addiction, eating disorders, and other psychological disorders. Upon completing her undergraduate degree, she plans on pursuing her doctoral degree. Her goal is to one day become a research professor at a university.
Ana Ruiz is a junior at the University of Houston majoring in psychology with a minor in biochemistry. Her research interests include anxiety, the development of gender identity, addictions and the relationship between physiological and mental pathologies. She is currently preparing to enter medical school. Her career goals are to become a neuroscientist and a psychiatrist.
Adriana Salazar is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in psychology with a minor in biology. Adriana’s research interests include: anxiety disorders, behavior-related illnesses, and the interaction between neuro-immune factors and psychological processes. Upon graduation, she plans to attend a physician’s assistant program, and specialize in surgery or psychiatry.
Olaguibel Sampogna is a sophomore at the University of Houston. He is majoring in psychology and biology. His areas of interest include mental disorders, substance abuse, and the biochemical aspects in relation to psychology. Olaguibel is following the pre-med track and plans to specialize in psychiatry.
JoAnn Sanchez is a junior at the University of Houston, pursuing a BS in psychology as well as communication disorders and sciences, with a minor in Spanish. Some of her research interests include personality disorders, depression among adolescents, psychogenic voice disorders, and gender dysphoria. JoAnn hopes to work with GLBT and Hispanic communities to promote psychological and emotional well-being. In the future, she plans to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Bailee Schuhmann is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in psychology with a minor in sociology. She has a wide range of research interests including personality disorders, anxiety, substance abuse, and witness testimony. After graduation, she plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.
Johnisha Smith is a senior at the University of Houston majoring in chemistry. She plans to complete a research project encompassing the biochemical as well as psychological effects of Tetrahydrocannabinol on the human brain. Her interests are child and educational psychology, as well as anxiety, substance abuse, and antisocial personality disorder. Upon completing her Bachelor of Science, she plans to attend medical school and have a career as a Child Psychiatrist.