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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.

Research Assistant Professor

Lorra Garey, M.A.

Lorra Garey

Dr. Lorra Garey is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Houston. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Houston. 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 tobacco use, in the context of transdiagnostic interventions. Within this model, Lorra 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.


Laboratory Coordinator

Pamella Nizio, B.S.

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Pamella Nizio graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Human Resources Management. Her research interests include mental health and trauma, and the way in which such factors might influence substance use and addiction. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. 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

Dr. Rubén Rodríguez-Cano is a current CPRTP Fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX) and AHRL/SUTC at University of Houston. He finished his PhD in Clinical Psychology in 2018 at the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). He has clinical and research experience in substance abuse disorders since 2011. He is an Accredited Clinical and Health Psychologist by the European Federation of Psychologys' Association (EFPA) and General Health Psychologist by Ministry of Education and Health in Spain. Currently, his research is focused on the incidence of emotional variables on addictive behaviors and medical problems such as cancer. Particularly, he is interesting in the study of the mechanisms that underlies addictive behaviors and emotional and medical problems. He is also interested in the translation and validation of new therapeutic approaches for minorities (e.g., Latinxs) in order to reduce and eliminate the disparities on health.


Pre-Doctoral Graduate Students

Brooke Kauffman, M.A.

Brooke Kauffman

Brooke Kauffman is a fifth-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 (e.g., emotional eating, physical inactivity). Specifically, she is interested in transdiagnostic vulnerabilities (e.g., anxiety sensitivity, distress intolerance) that may underlie these problematic health behaviors. Brooke is the recipient of a pre-doctoral National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.


Kara Manning, M.A.

Kara Manning, B.S.

Kara Manning is a second-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Houston. She graduated from Southwestern University in May 2015 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology. Her research focuses on understanding the complexities of severe fatigue, and fatigue disorders among adults. She primarily focuses on understanding the mechanistic effect of severe fatigue on substance using behaviors, and transdiagnostic vulnerability factors (i.e. distress tolerance, anxiety sensitivity) that may exacerbate such relations.


Angelina Mayorga, B.S.

Angelina Mayorga, B.S.

Ms. Angelina Mayorga is currently in her first-year as a doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Houston. She received her B.S. in psychology from the University of Houston in 2017. Her research interests focus on tailoring innovative treatment methodologies for substance users within the Latinx community. Specifically, she is interested in investigating the way certain transdiagnostic vulnerabilities may underlie problematic health behaviors, including substance use, among Latinx individuals. Ms. Mayorga is also interested in improving the integration of culturally tailored treatments among minority populations and examining predictors of treatment outcome.


Michael F. Orr, B.A., B.S.

Michael F. Orr, B.A., B.S.

Mr. Michael Orr is a first-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Houston. He completed his B.A. in psychology and his B.S. in human physiology at Gonzaga University in 2015. His research interests focus on innovative and integrative treatments methodologies aimed at comorbidity of anxiety, depression and legal(ish) substance such as alcohol, tobacco, opioids, and cannabis.


Andrew Rogers, B.A.

Andrew Rogers, B.A.

Mr. Andrew Rogers is a third-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Houston. He completed his B.A. in psychology at Tufts University in 2014, and completed his M.A. at the University of Houston in 2018. His research interests generally fall under the behavioral medicine umbrella, with an emphasis on the intersection of chronic pain and opioid use. He is also interested in identifying underlying psychological mechanisms (e.g. anxiety sensitivity, emotion regulation, pain-related anxiety) of these relationships, and use these findings to develop brief interventions to reduce the disease burden of chronic pain and opioid use. Mr. Rogers is also interested in understanding and addressing physical and mental health disparities among LGBTQ+ individuals.


Justin M. Shepherd, M.S.

Justin M. Shepherd, M.S.

Justin is a first-year graduate student in the clinical psychology program at the University of Houston. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 2013 with a B.A. in Psychology and from Rivier University in 2015 with a M.S. in Clinical Psychology. Justin then worked as a clinical research assistant in the Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Lab at McLean Hospital with Dr. Scott Lukas. He is particularly interested in transdiagnostic factors (e.g. anxiety sensitivity) and their role in the maintenance of alcohol and nicotine use. Justin is also interested in brief interventions that target transdiagnostic mechanisms for co-occurring affective symptoms and alcohol and nicotine use.


Tanya Smit, B.S.

Tanya Smit

Ms. Tanya Smit is a first-year doctoral in the clinical psychology program at the University of Houston. She completed her B.S. in Psychology at the University of Houston in 2018. Her research interests include substance use and anxiety-related disorders, particularly within chronic pain populations. Ms. Smit is also interested in exploring transdiagnostic vulnerabilities that may underlie substance use behaviors and problematic health behaviors.


Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistants

JeanFelix Chavez, B.S.

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JeanFelix Chavez obtained a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Medicine and Society from the University of Houston. 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.


Micheal Garza, B.S.

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Micheal Garza is a recent University of Houston Psychology B.S. graduate with minor(s) in LGBT Studies and Human Development and Family Studies. As a first generation, sexual and ethnic minority, his passion to assist the undeserved comes from a place of personal experience. His research interests focus on assessment and prevention/treatment of anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders as well as understanding horizontal hostility among the LGBT population (especially when focusing on serving underrepresented populations in the inner-city Houston area). Contact: mgarza33@cougarnet.uh.edu


Tatyana Garza, B.S.

Tatyana Garza

Tatyana obtained a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Biology from the University of Houston. Her interests include psychopathology and the life events/possible genetic basis that contribute to mood and personality disorders in adults. Tatyana is also attentive to the needs of children who have experienced trauma and is an active volunteer at the Children’s Assessment Center. She plans to further her education by pursuing a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology in the future.


Nina Glover, B.A.

Nina Glover

Nina Glover is a post-baccalaureate research assistant who graduated from the University of Houston with 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.


Karina Lopez, B.S.

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Karina is a post-baccalaureate research assistant at the University of Houston and UTHealth. She earned her B.S. in Psychology and a minor in History in 2017. Her current research interests involve working with the needs of underserved communities which include, but not limited to: ethnic and racial minorities, low-income families, the LGBT community, as well as working with chronic pain patients and opioid users. She plans to continue her education and pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.


Hannah Olofsson, B.A.

Hannah Olofsson

Hannah Olofsson completed a B.A in Psychology with a minor in German from the University of Houston. Her research interests include anxiety, depression, and substance abuse disorders. She plans on going to graduate school and eventually earning her Ph.D. in clinical psychology.


Sara Zare, B.A.

Sara Zare

Sara is a post Baccalaureate student who graduated at the University of Houston with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Her research interests include substance use and its relationship with trauma, specifically within underserved populations, such as racial minorities and members of the LGBT community. Sara plans to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and hopes to work towards incorporating minority representation within her field of research.


Undergraduate Research Assistants

Katia Alonso

Katia Alonso

Katia is a Senior at the University of Houston. She is currently pursuing a B.S. in Psychology, with a minor in Sociology. Her research interests include anxiety and depression, and substance-abuse disorders. After graduation she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.


Faith Banjoko

Banjoko

Faith Banjoko is currently a junior at the University of Houston pursing a B.S in psychology with a minor in Law, Values, and Politics. Her research interests include anxiety disorders in relation to drug abuse and in teenagers/young adults. She also interns at the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security which fights against drug and alcohol abuse.


Olga Cerda

Olga Cerda

Olga is a senior at the University of Houston, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Medicine and Society. Her research interests include anxiety, depression, stress, and the effects psychological dysfunctions have on an individual’s physical health. After graduation, she plans to further her education and hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Health Psychology


Bryce Clausen

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Bryce Clausen is currently a Junior at the University of Houston pursuing a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Medicine & Society. His current research interests include anxiety and trauma with an aspect of cultural and how culture impacts mental illness. He hopes to pursue a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology


Taylor Dao

Taylor Dao

Taylor Dao is currently a senior at the University of Houston seeking a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Biology. She is interested in topics such as mental health and illnesses among minorities, as well as bi-cultural identity. Along with being a research assistant at AHRL, she is also a research assistant at the PESC lab directed by Dr.Fetterman. Upon graduation, Taylor seeks to study Clinical Psychology and continue her career into research.


Natasha Eades

Natasha Eades

Natasha is currently a senior at the University of Houston. She is earning a B.A. in Psychology, with a minor in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. In addition to being a research assistant for the AHRL, Natasha is a research assistant in Dr. Rheeda Walker's Culture, Risk, and Resilience Lab at the University of Houston. In the CRR lab, Natasha is part of the authorship for a manuscript (in preparation) on non-suicidal self-injury and ethnic identity among Latinas. Natasha plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology, with a specialization in eating disorder maintenance and treatment, body dysmorphia, and intuitive eating as treatment for eating disorders and chronic dieting.


Antonella Gargurevich

Gargurevich

Antonella Gargurevich is a junior at the University of Houston pursuing a B.S. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology. Her current research interests include anxiety and depression, substance-abuse disorders, and psychosomatic disorders. She is interested in how these issues affect the LGBTQ community and other minority groups, with special interest in disadvantaged Latinx populations. She is also a research assistant for the UH Social Processes Lab. Antonella hopes to pursue a doctorate in Medicine and specialize in Plastic Surgery.


Joshua Garcia

Joshua Garcia

Joshua Garcia is currently a Junior pursuing a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. Outside of AHRL, Josh volunteers with the Collaboration on Aging Research and Multicultural Assessment, and the Masculinity and Gender Issues in Culture Lab. His research interests include culture, mood dysregulation, neurodegenerative, and substance-related disorders. Upon graduation, Josh hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.


Natalie Hosseini

Natalie Hosseini

Natalie Hosseini is currently in her second year as an undergraduate at the University of Houston. She is pursuing a B.S in Psychology with a minor in Human Development. Her research interests include anxiety and stress management, child development, and developmental disorders. In addition to volunteering at AHRL, she also works at the Psychology Research and Services Center on the UH campus. Upon graduating, Natalie plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and hopes to work as a child psychologist serving underrepresented communities.


Katherine Kabel

Katherine Kabel

Katherine Kabel is a Junior pursuing a B.S. in Psychology with minors in Creative Work and Sociology at the University of Houston. She is also a research assistant at the Trauma and Stress Studies Center. Her research interests include the comorbidity of trauma and substance use disorders, particularly in underserved populations. In the future, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.


Luis Leyva

Luis Leyva

Luis Leyva is currently a junior at the University of Houston pursuing a B.S. in Biochemistry with minors in Chemistry and Public Health. He plans on attending medical school and conducting research on neurodegenerative diseases and pediatric cancer. His current research interests include anxiety and depression, and substance-abuse disorders. Aside from being a research assistant, he tutors for the American Chemical Society and volunteers at St. Joseph’s Hospital.


Nirvi Mehta

Nirvi Mehta

Nirvi Mehta is Junior at the University of Houston, pursuing a dual degree of a B.S. in Psychology with a Biology and Medicine and Society minor on the Pre-Medical track and a Master’s degree in Public Policy. My research interests are mental illnesses and addiction. She plans on earning a M.D. in Sports Medicine.


Jessica Montalvan

Jessica Montalvan

Jessica Montalvan is a sophomore at the University of Houston, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Religious Studies. She is working with Study Team 17 in the Anxiety Health Research Lab. Her research interests include health, mental illness and child development. Her plans after college are to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.


Jacob Moya

Moya

Jacob Moya is a senior at the University of Houston pursuing a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Health. His current research interests include substance use, sleep, emotion regulation, and mood disorders. After completion of his bachelor’s degree, he plans to obtain a Ph.D. in clinical psychology with the intention of becoming a practicing clinical psychologist.


Anamika Patel

Anamika Patel

Anamika is currently a senior at the University of Houston. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in Medicine and Society. Her interests include anxiety and depression and its effects on the entire family. After graduation, she plans to get her Masters and eventually earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.


Anna Pena

Anna Pena

Anna is currently pursuing a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Biology. Her research interests include anxiety and suicidality. She is especially passionate about working with the underrepresented Latino population. After graduation, she plans to pursue medicine.


Arianna Portillo

Arianna Portillo

Arianna Portillo is currently a senior pursuing a B.S in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. Her research interests include anxiety, parent-child relationships, and the detrimental effect trauma has on the development of children. Following graduation, Arianna will pursue a PsyD in clinical psychology.


Jan Rivas

Jan Rivas

Jan A. Rivas is a sophomore at the University of Houston. He is pursuing a BA in Psychology and Spanish. His research interest include mental illness within the Hispanic community, and substance abuse. He plans to pursue a PhD. in clinical psychology.


Frances Saubon

Frances Saubon

Frances is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Public Health. Her current research interests are anxiety, substance-use, parent-child relationships, trauma and how factors like these influence psychopathology development. After graduation, she plans to continue her education and pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. She wants to dedicate her work on enhancing preventive interventions for psychopathology development and provide personalized resources for the community.


Elizabeth Uribe

Elizabeth Uribe

Elizabeth Uribe is currently pursuing a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in education. In addition to being a research assistant at the Anxiety Health and Research Laboratory, she is part of the University of Houston Cougar Dolls Dance Team. In the future, she hopes to work as a child psychologist in a low socioeconomic status community.



Joellen Zvara

Joellen Zvara

Joellen is a senior at the University of Houston pursuing a B.S in Psychology with a minor in Biology. Her research interests include understanding the etiology and course of anxiety disorders. After completing her bachelor's degree, she plans to further her education by obtaining a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology.