Skip to main content

Research Team


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 through a Statement of Equivalence with the British Psychological Society. 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. In 2014 Dr. Sharp became the Director of Clinical Training and in 2015 she was promoted to Full Professor.

Her published work includes over 220 peer-reviewed publications and numerous chapters 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 in youth. 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. Her work has been continuously funded since 2009 by the NIH and various foundations.

Lab Manager

Hui Song

Hui graduated from the University of Houston in the summer of 2020 with a B.S in Psychology and a minor in Medicine and Society. He joined the lab in the summer of 2019 as an undergrad and hopes to further his education by pursuing a postgraduate degree in psychological research.

Assistant Lab Director


Kiana Wall

Kiana is a fifth-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 served as a post-baccalaureate research assistant in the lab for one year and began her Clinical Psychology Ph.D. in the fall of 2017. Kiana's primary research interests include the assessment of personality disorders in adolescence, the role of attachment and social cognition in the development of borderline personality disorder (BPD), and translational research to inform the prevention and early intervention of BPD, and she has acted as the graduate student coordinator for multiple studies in the lab utilizing student, community, and patient populations. Her master's thesis examined the latent factor structure of the Personality Inventory for DSM-5 (PID-5) and she graduated with her M.A. in August of 2019. For her dissertation, which has been funded by a NIMH F31 fellowship, she is evaluating the feasibility and acceptability of the Mediational Intervention for Sensitizing Caregivers (MISC) for future adaptation for mothers with BPD. In 2020, Kiana was elected to serve as the Social Media/Relations Chair on the board of the Student Section Committee for the International Society for the Study of Personality Disorders (ISSPD), and she also serves as the student member of the ISSPD Congress Scientific Committee.

Clinical Psychology Graduate Students 

Madeleine Allman

Madeleine Allman

Madeleine is a second-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. Madeleine earned her B.S. in Psychology and Public Health from Tulane University in 2016 and her Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 2017. After graduating, she came to Houston to work in global health research at Baylor College of Medicine. Madeleine is interested in researching the impact of trauma exposure on parent-child relationships and in the translation of interventions for high-risk populations in the U.S. and globally. Her thesis examines the impact of a caregiving intervention on social cognition among orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa.

Bree Cervantes

Bree Cervantes

Bree is a first-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. In 2018, she earned her B.A. in Psychology and Social Behavior from the University of California, Irvine. After graduating, Bree spent three years as a research coordinator for a federally-funded investigation implementing an attachment-based family intervention for low-income Latinx mothers and youth, in collaboration with a non-profit community organization. She also coordinated an attachment-based intervention for clients receiving residential treatment for eating disorders and another parent-child intervention for parents of young children with autism spectrum disorder. Bree is broadly interested in examining parent-child attachment quality on child psychopathology and outcomes. To that end, she is interested in the development and implementation of culturally-sensitive, scalable interventions aiming to promote positive parenting practices.

Sophie Kerr

Sophie Kerr

Sophie is a third-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 2017, she spent two years working as a research assistant and diagnostic interviewer with the Methods to Improve Diagnostic Assessment and Services (MIDAS) Project at Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital. She is interested in caregiving factors related to the development of psychopathology and interventions that aim to interrupt intergenerational transmission of psychopathology. In particular, her work has focused on families with personality pathology and families impacted by the incarceration of a parent. Her master’s thesis examined relations between maternal borderline personality disorder features and parenting behaviors during in-vivo conflict discussions with adolescent offspring using the Observing Mediational Interactions (OMI) coding system from the Mediational Intervention for Sensitizing Caregivers (MISC).

Ronnie McLaren

Ronnie McLaren

Ronnie McLaren is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. She joined the DPL as an undergraduate research assistant in January 2017 and graduated from Rice University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a minor in neuroscience. Her research focuses on the components of self-other functioning, particularly social cognition, using three interrelated approaches: (1) developing valid and appropriate measurement tools, (2) investigating the relationships between the development of self-other functioning and of psychopathology in individuals with a diversity of backgrounds, and (3) adapting and implementing interventions tailored to address self-other deficits. Her master's thesis examined the specificity of hyper mentalizing to Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) using meta-analytic methods, and she graduated with her M.A. in August of 2020. Her dissertation will evaluate the possibility of racial bias in the Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition (MASC).

Jessica Ortiz

Jessica Hernandez Ortiz

Jessica is a third-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. After graduating from Prairie View A&M University in 2018, she worked coordinating an immigration research project at a non-profit and as a data collector for UT Health. Her research interests center on risk and resilience factors for the psychosocial development and functioning of youth from marginalized communities, with a current emphasis on Latinx and immigrant youth. She is interested in this work from a translational perspective, with the end goal being scalable and culturally sensitive evidence-based interventions for underserved populations. Her thesis examines caregiver separation, resilience and peer attachment in recently immigrated Latinx youth.

Eric Sumlin

Eric Sumlin

Eric Sumlin is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab. After graduating from Baylor University with a B.S. in Psychology, Eric joined Dr. Sharp's lab as a post-baccalaureate research assistant in Fall 2016 and later served as lab manager. His research focuses on social-cognitive and interpersonal functioning, and how they contribute to the development of suicidal and self-injurious thoughts and behaviors in adolescents. His Master’s thesis investigated the differential impact of thwarted belongingness in the development of suicidal ideation in minority and non-minority adolescents. He currently coordinates a study of cultural risk and resilience factors for suicide in Black youth, from an emic perspective.

Students Currently on Internship


DPL Alumni

Francesca Penner, Ph.D.

Salome Vanwoerden, Ph.D.

Claire Hatkevich, Ph.D

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

Nabeeha Asim

Nabeeha Asim

Nabeeha graduated from the University of Houston in 2021 with a B.A. in Psychology and minors in Medicine and Society and Human Resource Management. She joined the lab in May 2018 as a research assistant and is also a project coordinator with the Emotions in Marriage Lab. Her research interests include interpersonal functioning, emotion regulation, and high-risk behaviors within the context of borderline personality disorder. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

Erin Dennis

Erin Dennis is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Human Resource and management. She joined the lab in 2021 and her research interest includes development of bipolar disorder and parent-child relationship of immigrants. She aspires to further her studies in psychology and lead a research team in the future.

Estefania Fernandez

Estefania Fernandez

Estefania is a post-bacc research assistant at the University of Houston. She graduated in May 2021 with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology and a Bachelors of Arts in Spanish. She joined the lab in January 2020 and her research interests include the mental health of minorities, especially Latinos, and personality disorders in children and adolescents



Kyle graduated from Texas A&M in the spring of 2020 with a B.S. in Psychology and minors in Business and Neuroscience. He joined the lab as a research assistant in August of 2020 to get research experience before applying to clinical Ph.D. programs. His current research interests include assessment and intervention for personality disorders and the role of attachment in developmental psychopathology. Kyle aspires to further his research career in a clinical Ph.D. program and work with adolescents with personality disorders.

Onyinye Obi-Obasi

Onyinye Obi-Obasi

Onyinye is a post-baccalaureate researcher with interests in personality disorders and the role of attachment in the development of psychopathology in children and adolescents; how attachment relationship between parents and children relates to risk and resilience during childhood and adolescence, particularly in minority and immigrant populations. She graduated from the University of Houston with a major in Psychology and a minor in Quantitative Social Sciences. She also completed and defended her senior thesis on the specificity of insecure attachment in youths with borderline personality disorder, using a three-group comparison with inpatients with or without BPD and healthy controls. She enjoys reading, dancing, singing aloud and exploring outdoor adventures.


Regina is a fifth-year undergraduate student at the University of Houston pursuing a B.S. in Psychology and Biochemistry. She joined the lab in October of 2020 as an undergraduate research assistant. Regina’s research interest includes mental health, especially within immigrant groups, parent-child relationships, and personality disorder. She plans to pursue medical school in the hopes of becoming a psychiatrist, bring awareness to mental health illnesses and make an impact in the medical community.