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Research Team

Director

Carla Sharp

Carla Sharp

Dr. Sharp trained as a clinical psychologist (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa) from 1994-1997, after which she completed a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge University, UK, 1997-2000. In 2001, she obtained full licensure as a clinical psychologist in the UK. From 2001-2004 she was appointed as a Research Post-doctoral Fellow in Developmental Psychopathology, Cambridge University. In 2004, she moved to the United States to take up an appointment as Assistant Professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine. She obtained provisional licensure as Clinical Psychologist in Texas in 2008. In 2009, she was appointed as Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston.

Her published work includes over 100 publications reflecting her interests in the social-cognitive basis of psychiatric problems and problems of behavioral health, and the application of this work in developing diagnostic tools and interventions. She has co-authored three books: An edited volume with Springer titled The Handbook of Borderline Personality Disorder in Children and Adolescents, an edited volume with Oxford University Press titled Social cognition and developmental psychopathology and a book with MIT Press titled Midbrain mutiny: Behavioral economics and neuroeconomics of gambling addiction as basic reward system disorder. She was promoted to the full professor rank in 2015.

Assistant Lab Director

Salome Vanwoerden

Salome Vanwoerden

Salome is a fourth-year doctoral graduate student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab working toward her PhD in Clinical Psychology with a minor in Quantitative Methods. She received her undergraduate degree from Rice University and worked as a research coordinator at The Menninger Clinic for two years prior to graduate school. Her primary research interest is social cognition, involving both self and other processes. She is interested in exploring how attachment and family dynamics contribute to the development of social cognition. Her master’s thesis, which she defended at the end of her second year, was an investigation of the intersection between person perception and theory of mind using a novel task in an inpatient sample of adolescents. For her dissertation, she is developing an observational coding scheme for mentalizing as it occurs during parent-adolescent interaction. Salome is a recipient of the Presidential Graduate Fellowship and the James Leslie McCary Award. Additionally, she has received grant funding from the American Psychological Foundation to evaluate outcomes for a group psycho-education program for teens and their parents and a pre-doctoral F31 fellowship from the NIMH to fund her dissertation project.

Lab Manager

Eric Sumlin

Eric Sumlin

After graduating from Baylor University with a B.S. in Psychology, Eric joined Dr. Sharp’s lab as an RA in Fall 2016 and has served as the lab manager since Summer 2017. His research interests include depression, personality disorders, and suicide in adolescents, and he plans to pursue a PhD in Child Clinical Psychology.

Clinical Psychology Graduate Students

Jake Leavitt

Ronnie McLaren

Jake is a first-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. After graduating from Brown University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, he worked as a research assistant in the Belief, Learning, and Memory Lab in the Psychiatry Department at Yale School of Medicine, focusing on social cognition in serious mental illness, including Borderline Personality Disorder and Psychotic Disorders. His main research interests revolve around peer relationships and their effects on adolescent psychopathology and long-term wellbeing.

Francesca Penner

Francesca Penner

Francesca is a second-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and her Master’s degree from Vanderbilt University, where she was also a research assistant for a preventive intervention trial for families with a history of parental depression. In the Developmental Psychopathology Lab, Francesca is involved in the Menninger ATP and ADAPT treatment studies, the MISC-CBO project testing a community-based intervention for HIV-affected children in South Africa, and in our studies with typical adolescents. Her main research interests are in parenting and social cognition as risk and resilience processes in the development of psychopathology during adolescence. She is also interested in translational research to improve prevention and intervention for adolescent psychopathology, particularly by enhancing parent interventions.

Kiana Wall

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Kiana is a first-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. She joined the DPL as an undergraduate research assistant in May of 2014 and graduated from the University of Houston in May of 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology. Kiana currently serves as the graduate coordinator of DPL research studies assessing personality characteristics in college students, community perceptions of borderline personality disorder and the interaction between moods and social interactions in young adults. Her main research interests include social-cognition, identity development and interpersonal dysfunction in BPD, as well as assessment of personality disorders, in adolescents.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Amanda Palo

Amanda Palo

Dr. Palo is a postdoctoral fellow who recently received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. She is serving as the clinic coordinator for the Center for Adolescent Diagnosis, Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment (ADAPT) at UH, which is directed by Dr. Carla Sharp. She is also the clinic coordinator for the Sleep and Anxiety Center of Houston (SACH), which is directed by Dr. Candice Alfano. Her clinical training focuses on assessment and treatment with children and adolescents, and she plans to pursue licensure as a clinical psychologist.

Students Currently on Internship

Claire Hatkevich

Claire Hatkevich

Claire is a fifth-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program and Developmental Psychopathology Lab. Claire completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Delaware. During this time, she assisted with a clinical trial at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia on family-based treatments for suicidal adolescents and their caregivers. As a graduate student, her research interests focus on the interpersonal context for suicidal and self-injurious symptoms in high risk adolescents. Claire completed externships at Harris County Psychiatric Center and the DBT Center of Houston. Claire is comprehensively DBT trained and coordinated the inpatient study, Early Markers of Suicidal Behaviors, from 2014-2017. Claire is currently completing her doctoral internship at UC Davis Children's Hospital, where she will work at both SacEDAPT and the CAARE Diagnostic and Treatment Center.

DPL Alumni

Allison Kalpakci, Ph.D.

Will Mellick, Ph.D.

Carolyn Ha, Ph.D.

Tyson Reuter, Ph.D.

Amanda Venta, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Ross, Ph.D.

Robert Seals, Ph.D.

Heather Pane, Ph.D.

Kelly Green, Ph.D.

Stephanie Kovacs, Ph.D.

Teona Amble, Ph.D.

Ilya Yaroslavlsky, Ph.D.

Dan Mortenson, Ph.D.

Research Assistants

Miana Graves

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Miana joined the lab December 2017. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Human Performance from Howard University and a Masters Degree in Public Health from Loma Linda University. As an undergraduate Miana served as a research assistant at the Howard University College of Medicine where she was part of a team that assisted with the implementation of a screening tool for first year medical students to assess identify, reduce, and prevent problematic use, abuse, and dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs. After serving as an Officer in the military and completing an Executive Leadership program Miana made the decision to return to academia and begin the journey to pursue her PhD in Clinical Psychology. Her research interests include how attachment and family dynamics contribute to pathology and exploring potential intervention methods in adolescents to reduce poor relationship outcomes in adulthood.

Shimei Nelapati

Ronnie McLaren

Shimei joined the Developmental Psychopathology Lab in August 2017 after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with an undergraduate degree in Human Development & Family Sciences. She plans to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology with the intention to support underrepresented and vulnerable populations, particularly adolescent populations with experiences of trauma or social deviance.


Ronnie McLaren

Ronnie McLaren

Ronnie McLaren is a Senior at Rice University pursuing a B.A. in psychology with a minor in neuroscience. She joined Dr. Sharp's lab in January 2017 and now coordinates the EMA and MBT studies. She is interested in the changing model for personality disorders especially from a developmental perspective. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.


Samuel Hassell

Samuel Hassell

Sam joined the Developmental Psychopathology Lab in April 2017. He is currently a senior at the University of Houston pursuing a B.S. in Psychology. Upon graduation, he wishes to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. Though he is still refining his career interests, some of his initial areas of interest include: mood disorders (depression, in particular), personality disorders, suicidality, and parent-child dynamics.


Bri'Ana Gardiner

Bri'Ana Gardiner

Bri'Ana recently graduated with her masters degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Houston Clear Lake. She joined the developmental psychopathology lab in April 2017. Her research interest is minority and at-risk communities, specifically evaluating how environmental factors affect these individuals behaviorally and mentally. She plans to continue her education by pursuing a PhD in Counseling Psychology.