Student Profiles

Student Profiles

Liliam Castillo, 2020

Liliam Castillo is a first-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at John Jay and belongs to Dr. Rebecca Weiss’s lab. She graduated from Northeastern Illinois University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and thereafter served the lead technician and research assistant in the Neuropsychology Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Currently she is interest in cross-cultural neuropsychology, typical and atypical neurodevelopment, and social determinants of health. More specifically, she is interested in taking an interdisciplinary approach that focuses on community engagement and research dissemination and developing culturally sensitive, valid assessments that accurately aid in the treatment outcomes of racially/ethnically diverse populations. In addition to this, she has a strong interest in addressing diversity issues in the field of clinical psychology and aims to work towards strengthening the support for graduate education and diversifying the psychology pipeline.

Sheharyar Hussain, 2020

Sheharyar (pronounced as Sherry-Yaar) graduated magna cum laude from John Jay College with a BA in Forensic Psychology in 2017, and earned his MA in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2019. His master’s thesis focused on investigating the relationship between self-criticism and non-suicidal self-injury in individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. After graduating from Teachers College, Sheharyar worked as a psychology extern in a low-income charter school in Washington, D.C., where he conducted psychological assessment with middle school children and advocated for them to receive adequate mental health services. Additionally, he also worked as a Registered Behavior Therapist with children with autism in the Northern Virginia area. At John Jay, Sheharyar is working with Dr. Philip Yanos in the Mental Health Recovery Research Lab to assess stigma-related barriers to mental health treatment in Pakistani individuals living in Pakistan and the US.

Jennifer M. Jones, 2020

Jen graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with her B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Criminal Justice (2018) and her M.S. in Psychology (Forensic Option, 2020). During her time in Los Angeles, Jen worked with Dr. Mitch Eisen, investigating eyewitness identification procedures, jury biases, and interrogation methods that produce false confessions. She has collaborated with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to elucidate the dangers of showups and improve their eyewitness identification procedures, as well as with the Los Angeles Probation Department to evaluate their Juvenile Competency Remediation Program. Jen also has applied experience interning for a trial and jury consulting firm. She is passionate about disseminating research to those in the field, having co-authored papers published in the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ journal, The Champion, and IACP’s Police Chief Magazine, in addition to psychology journals (e.g. Law & Human Behavior; Applied Cognitive Psychology). Under the guidance of Margaret Bull Kovera and Steve Penrod, Jen intends to continue conducting research that will allow for empirically-driven policy and procedural change within police departments, courts, and correctional facilities.

Radha Kanchana Karthik, 2020 

Radha received her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018 with majors in Psychology and Neurobiology. Post-graduation, she worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator in a joint-appointment with the Kiehl Lab at the Mind Research Network and the Koenigs Lab at the Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute and Clinics on several NIH- and NIMH-funded studies investigating trauma and psychopathology, psychopathy, sexual sadism, and PTSD interventions in forensic populations. Radha’s clinical work includes over 4 years of assessment work with people who are incarcerated, support groups for patients in an inpatient psychiatric unit, and conducting intakes and individual therapy at the John Jay Counseling Services Center. At John Jay, Radha is working with Dr. Maureen Allwood in the Child and Adolescent Stress and Trauma Lab. One branch of her research interests is in the relationships between trauma exposure, emotional dysregulation, and externalizing behaviors in youth, particularly within a juvenile justice lens. Radha is also interested in investigating post-traumatic outcomes within South Asian communities and trauma-related behavioral implications for South Asian Americans and immigrants. Radha is passionate about translational research and, in the future, hopes to aid in the evaluation, development, and implementation of equitable, culturally sensitive treatments for people with trauma histories.

Stacey Morales, 2020

Stacey graduated summa cum laude from John Jay College with a BA in Forensic Psychology with an honors minor in Latin American studies in 2020. As an undergraduate, Stacey worked in Dr. Chitra Raghavan’s sex trafficking and domestic violence lab where they developed an interest in sexual coercion within interpersonal relationships. They also completed a McNair thesis examining sexual coercion experiences of college-age Latinx women. Stacey’s clinical experiences includes crisis counseling work through the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline. In their graduate work, Stacey will be working with Dr. Silvia Mazzula in the Racial and Cultural Inclusion and Social Change lab. They plan to continue their work focusing on sexual victimization in Latinx communities and the influence of cultural norms on disclosure, coping, and help-seeking behaviors.

Aiyana Porter, 2020

Aiyana recently graduated from Williams College, where she earned a BA in Psychology, Political Science, and Africana Studies. She is now a Psychology and Law doctoral candidate at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Her research experience includes fieldwork (recruitment and affirmative, semi-structured interviews) in impoverished communities, secondary analyses of work on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and varied assistance in Dr. Steven Fein’s Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination Lab at Williams College.
Her research interests center on the dialectal nature of narrative exchange and the psycho-political consequences of cultural and structural displacement. Headed into her first year at John Jay, Aiyana looks forward to working with her advisors, Dr. Mark Fondacaro and Dr. Charlie Stone, and intends to focus specifically on the relationship between intergenerational, racialized conceptions of criminality, control, and social welfare policy.

Lili Ramos, 2020

Lili Ramos is a first-year Clinical Psychology doctoral student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She graduated from Bowdoin College in 2018, with a major in Psychology and a minor in Hispanic Studies. Before starting at John Jay, Lili spent two years as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Juvenile Justice Behavioral Health Lab at the University of California, San Francisco, where she worked on multiple studies aimed at improving behavioral health outcomes for justice-involved youth, with a specific focus on evaluating novel, gender-responsive behavioral health interventions. At John Jay, Lili is interested in conducting research that examines the impact of childhood trauma on justice-involved adolescents’ legal and behavioral health outcomes and has the potential to inform practices and policies within the juvenile justice system.

T'awna Williams, 2020

T’awna received her B.A. in Psychology (2018) and M.S. in Forensic Psychology (2020) at California State University, Los Angeles. While an undergraduate, she was a member of the Honors College and a research fellow for the NIH-funded RISE program, which extended into her master’s program. Throughout her academic career, she studied under Dr. Mitchell Eisen as a research assistant, from which she gained an extensive experimental background in eyewitness memory and identification. Her experience also extended into other areas where psychology and law intersect, including jury decision-making, child suggestibility, and false confessions. Outside of the research lab, she has also interned with the Los Angeles dependency court as well as a trial consulting firm. As a first-year doctoral student entering Dr. Saul Kassin’s lab, she hopes to further explore her interests in false confessions and plea bargaining as well as explore and gain experience from organizations that provide assistance to the wrongfully convicted.

Amanda Benjamin, 2019 

Amanda graduated from Elon University in 2017 with a BA in Psychology and Public Health. Amanda spent the past two years working at UNC Chapel Hill as a Research Coordinator for the Developmental Social Neuroscience Lab (PI: Dr. Eva Telzer). While at UNC, Amanda led a longitudinal NIDA neuroimaging study exploring adolescent development, family relationships, and substance use. She has worked on a paper exploring alibi believability and juror decision-making, as well as a paper that delved into the relationship between deviant behavior and parent-child relationship quality. While at John Jay, she is interested studying juvenile law and evidence-based policy reform. 

Gayathri Cheran, 2019 

Gayathri graduated cum laude from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Psychology and a B.S. in Human Development, and recently received her M.S. in Neuroscience & Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. Prior to coming to John Jay, Gayathri worked at the Taub Institute at the Columbia University Medical Center in a lab studying familial frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), where as research coordinator, she oversaw and managed operations for a longitudinal multi-site international R01-funded study investigating biomarkers and the clinical prodrome of FTLD in families carrying pathogenic gene mutations.  Gayathri's clinical experience includes her time answering crisis calls through the RAFT Crisis hotline of the New River Valley in Virginia, and the Victims Assistance Services helpline in Westchester County, NY. She has also served as a certified Rape Crisis Hospital Advocate, providing in-person advocacy and support at emergency rooms for sexual assault survivors undergoing forensic examination. Gayathri is thrilled to be joining Dr. Widom's lab, studying long-term outcomes associated with childhood abuse and neglect.

Emmanuel Garcia, 2019

Emmanuel (Mani) received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Stony Brook University; a Master of Arts in Psychology from Stony Brook University, and a Master of Philosophy in Psychology from CUNY-Graduate Center. Advised by Dr. Kevin Nadal, Mani is interested in improving access to physical and mental health education, assessment, and interventions for underserved groups—always in close partnership with the communities he serves.  Mani utilizes digital research methods and cognitive-affective-social neuroscience methods heavily to engage in and inform his research and practice. His current goals are: (1) to streamline the dissemination of best practices and resources across cultures using valid, sustainable, and open methods; (2) to creatively use and develop digital tools that help educators, researchers, and practitioners meet their goals faster and better (e.g. accessible smart phone apps, wearable psychophysiology devices); and (3) finally, Mani is passionate about improving statistical and data analysis education for all.

Alexis Hardy, 2019 

Alexis is a third-year doctoral student in the Psychology and Law program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  She received her bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. Prior to John Jay, she served as a research assistant for Dr. Miller and Dr. Busath at Northern Arizona University. With Dr. Miller, she aided in research studying the relationship between spatial rotation skills and success in tasks given in a virtual reality setting. She served as lab manager and head research assistant, running daily lab operations and serving as a liaison between primary investigators and other research assistants. With Dr. Busath, she aided in research investigating the relationship between sexual harassment and eating disorders. Currently, her research interests are centered around jury decision-making and coerced eyewitness accusations with Dr. Leippe and Dr. Kovera as her mentors.    

Catherine Harris, 2019 

Catherine received her B.S. in Psychology from Tulane University in 2012. Her undergraduate research focused on the prevalence of depressive symptoms among individuals living with HIV and substance use. After graduating from Tulane, Catherine remained in New Orleans for several years and worked at an inpatient psychiatric hospital for adults, an inpatient psychiatric hospital for children, and a law firm that represents plaintiffs in cases of Title VII civil rights violations. Catherine has also worked in a variety of research capacities at Emory University in Atlanta and has contributed to a number of grant-funded research projects related to trauma, PTSD, and substance use among high risk urban populations. Catherine is currently a third year student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at John Jay. Her current research interests include complex trauma, perceived discrimination, and other mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of externalizing behaviors over the lifespan.

Kristin Lynch, 2019

Kristin is a third-year doctoral student of Clinical Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY Graduate Center. Kristin earned her B.A. in Psychology from College of the Holy Cross in 2015. She then worked as a clinical research coordinator at a psychiatric drug research site, where she worked on various trials testing treatments for mood and substance use disorders. She was also lead coordinator on a Phase 3 clinical trial testing a ketamine-based medication for treatment resistant depression. In 2018, Kristin earned her M.A. in Psychology from Brandeis University; her Master’s thesis explored the long-term effects of trauma exposure and resilience on cognitive functioning in adulthood. After graduating, Kristin joined the Memory Disorders Research Center at the Boston VA, where she worked on several research studies examining memory in individuals with hippocampal amnesia and individuals with PTSD. In her graduate studies at John Jay, and under the mentorship and supervision of Dr. Cathy Widom, Kristin is continuing to explore the lasting effects of trauma exposure. Her current research is focused on the relationship between early life trauma and cognitive decline in adulthood.

Ella Merriwether, 2019 

Ella graduated from Macaulay Honors College at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2019 with a BA in Forensic Psychology and a minor in Gender Studies. Her thesis, under the supervision of Dr. Deryn Strange, focused on how people remember and make judgements about ambiguous body-worn camera footage. Ella’s current research is focused on the intersection of cognitive and developmental psychological processes in the legal setting. Recently, her work with Dr. Kelly McWilliams’ Children and the Law Lab has focused on how children and adults make relative temporal judgments and how adults interpret the relative temporal judgments of children. Ella also serves as Social Chair for SARMAC’s Student Board, in which she aims to increase and diversify student and young professional involvement. While she loves research, Ella is equally passionate about equitable teaching and mentoring, and uses her teaching assistantship at City College and her senior position in the Children and the Law Lab to make the changes she wants to see in the higher education space. 

Daniel Samost, 2019

Dan is a newly matriculating first year PhD student at John Jay College, who will be working in the Mental Health Recovery Research lab under Dr. Philip Yanos. Dan earned his BA in English and Theater from Dartmouth College in 2014, and earned his MA in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2017. Dan’s MA thesis focused on the phenomena of concealment and disclosure in therapeutic settings among court-involved adolescents. In conjunction with his graduate research and studies, Dan spent the past several working in various clinical roles with justice-involved populations at different non-profits throughout the Bronx. Most recently Dan worked as a Clinical Case Manager for the Bronx CIRT alternative to incarceration diversions program.  His clinical research interests include forensic psychotherapy, community mental health, substance abuse disorders, trauma and emotional dysregulation, and the stigmatization mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Miriam Woodruff, 2019

Miriam received her B.S. in Criminal Justice from Seattle University in 2017 and her M.A. in Forensic Psychology from the George Washington University in 2018. Before joining the doctoral program, she assisted on empirical research projects related to guilty-plea sentencing in rural Virginia, juvenile understanding of rights in plea-proceedings, and labor-trafficking in nail salons. Miriam has prior experience working in leadership roles at non-profit organizations and collaborating with government agencies to provide training and technical assistance to forensic mental health practitioners. Her passion lies in using research to inform policy and system change that benefits marginalized communities. Miriam’s research with Dr. Rebecca Weiss as John Jay seeks to: (1) understand how culture and language impact the reporting and treatment of trauma; (2) examine the effects of culture and language proficiency on the assessment of Spanish-English bilinguals; and (3) explore inequities in the provision of school-based mental health care to minority youth in New York City.

Ava Zwolinski, 2019

Ava completed her undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal where she studied Honors Cognitive Science with a focus on neuropsychology and philosophy. Her undergraduate thesis involved researching cognitive functioning and decline in rodent models of Alzheimer’s Disease. Ava developed a passion for psychology and law while volunteering in Dr. Victoria Talwar’s lab at McGill University investigating lie-telling behaviors in children, and from studying criminal justice during a semester at the University of Amsterdam. Ava’s current research project involves investigating judgements of eyewitness credibility when the testimonies vary in level of detail, time lapsed since the event in question, and context. Her other interests are in conspiracy beliefs and deception. Throughout her undergraduate career Ava worked as a photographer for McGill University and held various other multimedia leadership positions. She has worked as an archivist intern for several photography and architectural/design databases while pursuing a minor concentration in art history at McGill.

Dylan Abrams, 2018

Dylan received his Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Southern California in 2016. During his time at USC, he worked at the Center for Research on Crime and Social Control and completed a senior thesis investigating the relationship between gang identity, gang-related crime and perceptions of law enforcement. Following graduation, Dylan worked as a clinical research coordinator in the OCD and Related Disorders Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. At John Jay, he is a member of the Sex Offender Research Lab and works under the mentorship of Dr. Cynthia Calkins. Dylan’s primary research interests include coping styles following sexual victimization,  implicit bias in sex offenders, and the impact of sexual victimization on religiosity.


Sydney Baker, 2018

Sydney graduated from The University of Maryland, College Park in 2015 with degrees in Psychology and Criminology/Criminal Justice. Then, she worked as a Social/Clinical Research Assistant at the Biobehavioral Research on Addiction and Emotion Lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where her main duty was coordinating an NIH-funded study examining the effectiveness of technology-enhanced behavioral activation treatment for substance use. Now, at John Jay, Sydney works with Dr. Emily Haney-Caron in the Youth Law & Psychology Lab, where she conducts translational research that has direct implications for public policy reform. Her research is aimed at making juvenile justice system procedures, such as the Miranda warning and plea bargaining processes, more equitable and bringing them in line with adolescent development science.


Dina Baky, 2018

Dina is an advocate working with survivors of gender-based violence, in particularly adolescent survivors of forced marriage and female genital mutilation / cutting. She has worked on these issues in the United Kingdom at the Foundation for Women’s Health, Research and Development (FORWARD) and in the United States at the Tahirih Justice Center, where she provided direct social services, delivered technical assistance and training for other professionals, and created resources and best practice guidance. Dina has also worked as a gender-based violence case manager with refugees in her birth country of Egypt and speaks Arabic and French. Dina graduated from John Carroll University in 2009 with a major in Political Science and a self-designed concentration in Political Psychology and completed a masters in Comparative Politics of Nationalism and Ethnicity at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Dina is an incoming first year student working with Dr. Chitra Raghavan.


Alexandra Bonagura, 2018

Alexandra is originally from Philadelphia, PA. She attended the George Washington University from 2012-2015 and the University of Maryland from 2015-2016. She also interned at the APA Office of Violence Prevention in 2014. Alexandra worked as a research assistant on Menhood study for Dr. Bowleg from 2014-2015 and a research therapist for Breathing-based Mindfulness study from 2016-2017. In addition, Alexandra interned at the DC Children's Advocacy Center from 2015-2016, volunteered at the Metropolitan Police Department as a Domestic Violence Liaison from 2017-2018, and worked as an ABA Therapist and Field Assistant from 2015-2018. At John Jay, she has worked in the Sex Offender Research Lab and the Development Through the Life Cycle Lab on issues related to sexual violence. Her current research interests include inappropriate online sexual behaviors, college and juvenile sexual assault, and sexual assault prevention programs.


Braden Campbell, 2018

Braden is 23 years old and studied for four years at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He graduated with a Bachelor of science with a major in Psychology in 2015 and a Bachelor of Arts with first class Honors in Psychology in 2016. Braden took a break from his studies after graduating in 2016 and has been working and travelling for the past year and a half. Beginning this Fall he will be a part of the Law and psychology Doctoral program.


Melanie Fessinger, 2018

Melanie Fessinger is a doctoral student dual-specializing in Psychology and Law & Basic and Applied Social Psychology. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University, Northridge and her master’s degree in legal studies from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She has experience working in applied settings, including an internship as a courtroom advocate for survivors of domestic violence and an assistantship as an evaluator for programs designed to help maltreated young children. Her research interests focus on interactions between legal professionals and laypeople, with an emphasis on when those interactions lead to waivers of constitutional rights (e.g., plea deals, Miranda waivers). She has conducted research on a variety of psycholegal topics, including jailhouse informants, child witnesses, problem-solving courts, eyewitness identification, and juror decision making. She has published her work in outlets for both psychology audiences (e.g., Law and Human Behavior) and legal audiences (e.g., Capital University Law Review) and hopes to continue working toward integrating science and practice.  


Jacqueline Katzman, 2018

Jacqueline Katzman is a fourth-year doctoral student dual-specializing in Psychology and Law & Basic and Applied Social Psychology. Jackie graduated from Cornell University in May, 2018 with majors in Psychology and Government. At Cornell, Jackie was a member of Dr. Ceci’s Child Witness and Cognition Lab as well as Dr. Gilovich’s Social Psychology laboratory. At John Jay, Jackie focuses on the way in which social psychological principles —such as attributions, attitudes, and heuristics—affect police, attorney, and juror decision making. Jackie has presented her work at conferences across the country and has had her research funded through the American Psychology-Law Society, the American Academy of Forensic Psychology, and CUNY. In addition to her research, Jackie has consulting experience (e.g., DOAR trial strategy firm) and a background in media (e.g. Business Insider, WVBR FM).

Gabriela Rico, 2018

Gabriela received her B.A. in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College in 2018. As an undergraduate, Gabriela worked in Dr. Deryn Strange’s memory lab where she developed an interest in the role of memory errors in criminal investigations. She received an award for Best Capstone in Criminal Justice for her research on the impact of inaccurate confessions on source monitoring accuracy. As a second year doctoral student, Gabriela is continuing research on false confessions with her advisor Dr. Saul Kassin, though her research interests broadly include plea bargaining, jailhouse informants, and observers’ evaluations of interrogation videos and practices.

Currently, Gabriela serves as a Diversity Representative for the Psychology Doctoral Student Council.



Gina Sissoko, 2018


Gina is a first-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program. At John Jay, she works with Dr. Kevin Nadal and Dr. Maureen Allwood. Broadly, she is interested in how systemic inequalities interact with race-related stress and trauma and affects mental health in Black communities and criminal justice involved women. Her current research focuses on the experience of colorist microaggressions in Black women. Gina is a graduate of Hunter College where she studied Psychology and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.


Anna Vaynman, 2018

Anna Vaynman is a PhD student in the Psychology & Law program at John Jay College. She graduated Barnard College in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a passion for criminal justice. Throughout college Anna served as a research assistant exploring implicit biases and sowed the seeds of her passion at the National Network for Safe Communities, where she worked closely with her team on implementing violence reduction strategies in vulnerable communities. Upon graduating, Anna worked for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office as a paralegal, investigating criminal cases, preparing cases for trial, interviewing witnesses, defendants and victims, and testifying in front of grand jurors.

As a doctoral student Anna studies plea bargaining behaviors and motivations, with a particular interest in the role of attorneys throughout the plea process. Anna deeply values creative thinking and the ability to discover and appreciate new perspectives. The desire for justice and equality continue to motivate her every day. 


Shane Adams, 2017

Shane earned his B.A. in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012 and his M.A. in psychology from San Francisco State University in 2017. His early research investigated the neuropsychological effects of environmental and occupational exposure to manganese. Since 2013, Shane has collaborated with the World Trade Center Health Registry investigating longitudinal sequelae of trauma in those exposed to the events of 9/11. Since 2017, Shane has also worked in collaboration with Dr. Maureen Allwood studying community and home violence among NYC youth, and their psychological and physiological correlates. Broadly, his research interests include the multidimensional investigation of traumatic stress, including PTSD, resilience, and related outcomes, as well as associated physical comorbidities. Using advanced statistical methods, the goal of his research is to improve our understanding of the symptomatology and phenomenology of traumatic stress that result in an improved nosology and treatment of trauma-related disorders. 

Jacqueline Douglas, 2017

Jacqueline Douglas is a third year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at John Jay College, under the mentorship of Dr. Peggilee Wupperman. Jacqueline received her B.A. in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina and her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychological Science from the University of Maryland. Her research interests lie in the implementation of mindfulness-based treatments for emotional and behavioral dysregulation. Specifically, her current research focuses on the mediating role of emotion dysregulation in the relationship between mindfulness and negative urgency. Through her clinical work, Jacqueline has gained experience treating individuals with a variety of dysregulated emotions and behaviors in community, college, inpatient, and outpatient settings.


Elise Juraschek, 2017 

Elise is a first year at John Jay. She moved from Missoula, Montana where she had attended the University of Montana. She graduated with a second BA in psychology with high honors. She also received a BA in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. While at the University of Montana she worked as research assistant in the sexual violence lab that was involved in the University’s Safe Campus Survey, which was designed to gather information on the status of the campus related to sexual assault. As part of this lab, she presented numerous posters and presentations.

Elise also has worked in several clinical settings. She worked in a therapeutic youth home for teenage boys, worked with parents doing supervised visitation, and a wilderness therapy program. She was also involved with the local domestic violence shelter doing support groups, in person crisis counseling and answering the 24 hour crisis line.  

Jenny "Em" Mitchell, 2017

Jenny “Em” Mitchell received her Bachelors degree from Johns Hopkins University, and her masters in Clinical Psychology from American University. Em’s research focuses on improving domestic violence interventions, particularly how batterer intervention programs can be reformed to be more effective at preventing abuse. Em has aided with a randomized clinical trial for alternative family mediation interventions for those affected by domestic violence, and is currently working with an alternative to incarceration program in New York to evaluate an evidence-based intervention with domestic violence perpetrators. Em is interested in investigating the efficacy and accessibility of mindfulness and third wave therapies for individuals who experience chronic invalidation, psychological abuse, complex trauma, borderline personality disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and related symptoms. Her work has also included projects related to sexual coercion, identity disturbance, difficulties in emotion regulation, trauma coerced attachment, couples’ aggression and emotional functioning, and borderline personality disorder symptomology. Em is passionate about using research and technology to learn how to mitigate the impact of socialized biases in therapy, increase accessibility to evidence-based treatments, and improve therapists’ cultural competence regarding individuals with marginalized identities in clinical treatment.  

Nawal Muradwij, 2017 

Nawal Muradwij received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in creative writing from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. She then graduated with a Masters of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is currently a third year in the Clinical Psychology PhD student at John Jay working under the advisement of Dr. Maureen Allwood and works in the Child and Adolescent Stress and Trauma Lab (CASTL) conducting diagnostic interviews with a community sample of adolescents and parents. Her research interests include the role meaning making in traumatic exposure and response among adolescents, as well as the use of community-based participatory action research to examine of how culture intersects with trauma and influences our understanding of traumatic response, specifically in the context of war trauma, political violence, and mass displacement in Arab communities in the Levant region (e.g. Lebanon, Syria, Palestine). As a clinician-in-training, she is passionate about delivering culturally sensitive intervention to children and families, and has worked therapeutically with young adults and is currently providing trauma-informed assessment and treatment to children and adolescents at a foster care agency in NYC.  

Alexandra Ponce de Leon-LeBec, 2017

Alexandra Ponce de Leon-LeBec is a doctoral candidate in Psychology and Law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters Degree and Advanced Certificate in Multicultural and Bilingual School Psychology from Brooklyn College.  Alexandra worked as a bilingual School Psychologist in New York City’s public school system for several years before beginning her doctoral studies.  She has co-authored book chapters on social ecological approaches to preventing juvenile justice system involvement, and on the psychological vulnerabilities associated with second language learning in childhood, emphasizing the distinction between typical development and disability.  Her dissertation research is on the psychological mechanisms that underlie teachers’ discipline decisions and their role in disability-based overrepresentation in the School-to-Prison Pipeline.  She hopes that her research can translate into concrete and testable interventions to inform education policy and improve outcomes for historically disadvantaged students.


Anna Stenkamp, 2017

Anna is a third-year PhD student within the Psychology and Law program working under the direction of Dr. Mark Fondacaro and Dr. Charlie Stone. She obtained her BA from the University of Oregon where she studied perceptions of procedural justice of judicial selection methods. Her current research focuses on how free will beliefs affect perceptions of procedural justice of police suspect interactions. This research is funded by The Graduate Center. Her research interests include procedural justice and improving police-community relations. Additionally, Anna was a Summer Research Fellow for the Vera Institute of Justice where she helped to conduct a comparative analysis of police reforms in the United States and the United Kingdom. She is continuing to assist with this project during the school year as well. Anna currently serves as the John Jay College’s Psychology and Law Doctoral Student Council as the Co-Chair.

Therese Todd, 2017

Therese is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program. She graduated from the University of California Los Angeles with latin honors. Therese is broadly interested in mental health disparities in the criminal justice system. Under the mentorship of Dr. Preeti Chauhan, Therese is studying how officer, incident, and individual characteristics impact arrest, involuntary commitment, and referral to services in police encounters with persons in crisis. Relatedly, she is interested in how Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for police officers can promote diversion away from the criminal justice system and toward the mental healthcare system as well as improve safety.

Therese is also examining bias against persons with mental illness in the general public and law enforcement in order to better understand and improve police encounters for this group. This interest inspired her application to the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program for which she was awarded in 2019. Therese was also a Research Fellow at the Vera Institute of Justice and contributed to a report on improving responses to suicide and self-harm in jails. Finally, at the Data Collaborative for Justice she is examining factors that contribute to charge reductions in drug offense cases in New York City. Clinically, Therese has worked at Manhattan CRAN and Mt. Sinai’s CBT for Psychosis program. 

Stephanie Cardenas, 2016

Stephanie is a Ph.D. student working with Deryn Strange and Saul Kassin. Previously, she received her B.A. in Psychology and German from Williams College (2014), was a Postbaccalaureate Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health, and a research assistant for the Yale Justice Collaboratory where she interviewed criminal justice workers about issues relating to fairness and procedural justice. She has served as the Diversity Chair and Experimental Deputy Co-Chair for the Psychology Doctoral Student Council and as Social Chair for the Society for Research in Memory and Cognition.

Her research focuses on the impact of cognitive and social psychological factors—such as identity, emotions, and morality—on memory, perception, and decision-making along several stages of the criminal justice system, including police-citizen interactions, investigative interviewing, plea bargaining, and criminal trials. Stephanie is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and has had her research funded through the NSF, the American Psychology-Law Society, and CUNY.

Kendra Doychak

Kendra Doychak, 2016


Kendra Doychak is a fourth-year doctoral student of Clinical Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY Grad Center. She earned her BA degree from Ithaca College in 2013 after majoring in Psychology and minoring in Politics and Legal Studies. She earned her MA degree in Forensic Mental Health Counseling from John Jay College in 2016.
Kendra works under the advisement of Dr. Chitra Raghavan, researching gender-based violence, trauma, and interpersonal abuse dynamics. Her dissertation aims to examine sex-trafficker/trafficking-victim relationship dynamics, with specific emphasis on coercion and traumatic attachment. Psychological—as well as broader sociocultural and political—factors inform all research development, design, and interpretation. Clinically, Kendra is interested in psychodynamic therapeutic interventions, as well as trauma-informed psycholegal assessments regarding asylum, battered spouse waivers, T- and U- visas.


Natalie Gordon

Natalie Gordon, 2016

Natalie is a doctoral student in Dr. Margaret Kovera’s lab and has collaborated on research with Dr. Saul Kassin and Dr. Charlie Stone. Previously, she received a B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of California at Santa Barbara and an M.A. in Psychology with a concentration in Psychology and Law from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Natalie’s Master’s thesis was funded by the American Psychology-Law Society and examined the impact of a gene-environment explanation of the defendant’s behavior on jurors’ sentencing decisions in death penalty cases. Her dissertation is funded by the National Science Foundation and examines how conformity and social desirability factors undermine jurors’ ability to accurately self-report bias during jury selection, as well as methods for attenuating the prejudicial impact of pretrial publicity on jurors’ verdicts. She has done research on attributions of liability in cases involving proximal and distal causes, emotions and attributions associated with evidence of childhood abuse in death penalty cases and examined how collateral consequences influence defendant’s decisions to plead guilty. Natalie is an advocate of restorative justice and has facilitated restorative justice conferences for petty crimes and misdemeanors

Cody Stitzel, 2016

Cody Stitzel is a fourth-year doctoral student of Clinical Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY Graduate Center. She earned her BA from Indiana University in 2009 after majoring in Psychology and Criminal Justice. She earned her MA degree in Clinical Psychology from Dayton University in 2016.

Cody is studying under the supervision of Dr. Cathy Widom, broadly researching the consequences and causes of child maltreatment, which is a departure from her previous research that examined empathetic response patterns of individuals with primary and secondary psychopathy. Her dissertation aims to examine potential mediating factors that might increase risk of intergenerational transmission of child neglect. Clinically, Cody is interested in providing individualized need-based interventions for persons with severe and persistent mental illness, as well as forensic evaluations centered on diagnostic clarification, violence risk, competencies, and mental state at the time of the offense. Cody currently serves on the John Jay College Psychology Doctoral Student Council as the Student Mentoring Chair and as the American Psychology-Law Society Campus Representative for John Jay. She has taught Undergraduate and Masters level courses on Psychology and Law and Abnormal Psychology. Personally, Cody enjoys spending time with her dog, being outdoors, doing creative arts, and having good conversation, food, and drinks with friends.

Patricia Y Sanchez, 2015

Patty works with Dr. Saul Kassin in the psychology and law Ph.D. program. Her dissertation focuses on the effects of wrongful conviction documentaries on viewer attitudes and legal decision-making. She also does research on plea bargaining and interrogation techniques. Her collective program of research uses social psychological theory to understand how contemporary popular media can drive social change and criminal justice policy reform. In addition to researching this topic scientifically, she has taken a practical approach informing the public by serving as a guest on an episode of Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom podcast (S8E8) telling the story of Kenzi Snyder's false confession along with Dr. Kassin. Her research has been funded by the Future Initiatives at the Graduate Center and Professional Staff Congress, CUNY. She obtained her en-route M.A. in Forensic Psychology from John Jay in 2018 and her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. She has presented her work at annual meetings of the American Psychology-Law Society and the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. In her spare time, she is a professional cat sitter and has a feline daughter named Olive. 

Nana Amoh, 2015 

Nana is a doctoral student in the clinical psychology Ph.D. program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She completed her undergraduate career in 2013 at Columbia College, Columbia University where she majored in Psychology and concentrated in English. Nana then earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2015. At John Jay, Nana works under the supervision of her advisor, Dr. Maureen Allwood, in the Child Adolescent Stress and Trauma Laboratory. Nana 's research broadly examines the relationship between violence and trauma exposure and negative psychosocial sequelae among diverse children and adolescents. She is also interested in researching prevention methods that focus on enhancing protective factors among diverse youth exposed to community violence and violence within the home. Nana currently serves on the John Jay College Psychology Doctoral Student Council as the Diversity Committee Representative. She is also the Coordinator of the Diverse Leadership in Education and Academic Pursuit (D-LEAP) Mentorship Program at John Jay College.

Lauren O'Connor, 2015

Lauren is a fifth year clinical psychology doctoral student working with Philip Yanos, PhD. Prior to graduate school, Lauren earned her B.A. in Psychology and Economics from Tufts University (2012) and worked as a research coordinator at McLean Hospital in labs focused on psychosis and trauma. Broadly, Lauren’s research interests include psychological and interpersonal impacts and motivators of oppression. Most specifically, Lauren is interested in experiences of alienation and self-alienation and to date, has predominately explored how these experiences apply to individuals with serious mental illness (SMI). Her dissertation aims to explore how doctoral student’s attitudes toward those with SMI are informed by a lack of understanding (i.e. training factors) and/or a “fear of understanding” (i.e. individual, psychosocial factors). Clinically, Lauren is interested in relational psychodynamic theory and practice, with a particular interest in applications to trauma and work with marginalized groups

Amanda Reed, 2015

Amanda is a student in the clinical psychology doctoral program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Amanda received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wellesley College and a Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. During her time in the doctoral program, Amanda has served as the Chair of the American Psychology-Law Society Student Committee. Her research interests include cognitive bias in forensic evaluations and training for professional evaluators. She is currently conducting research on factors affecting completion of a mental health diversion program. 

Amanda Rosinski, 2015

Amanda is a doctoral candidate in the clinical psychology Ph.D. program hosted at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center, as well as an adjunct lecturer in the department of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She is currently on clinical internship at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center, a New York State psychiatric hospital for patients with severe and persistent mental illnesses. In 2013, she graduated with her B.S. in criminal justice from Utica College of Syracuse University. In 2015, she graduated with her M.A. in forensic psychology from John Jay College. As a Ph.D. student under the mentorship of Dr. Rebecca Weiss, Amanda's dissertation examines the ability of mental health experts to successfully simulate symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia when compared to psychiatric patients diagnosed with genuine paranoid schizophrenia. Her additional research explores the impact of feigning in mental health diversion settings, as well as the impact of cross-cultural factors in clinical forensic assessment. Amanda has presented her research at several national and international conferences. Amanda maintains clinical forensic interests as well. In addition to her current clinical internship at Manhattan Psychiatric Center, she has previously externed at Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, Metropolitan Correctional Center - New York, Queens TASC/CRAN, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, The Albert Ellis Institute, and John Jay College Counseling Center. Amanda has previously served as the Clinical Co-Chair, Clinical Deputy Co-Chair, and Diversity Committee Representative on the John Jay College Psychology Doctoral Student Council."

Justin Balash

Justin Balash, 2014

Justin is a doctoral student in The Graduate Center’s Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Justin graduated summa cum laude with his B.A. in Psychology from the University at Buffalo , where he also minored in Philosophy. He received his M.A. in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College, where he received the Robert S. Morrow Prize. He currently works with Dr. Diana Falkenbach, researching “successful” psychopathy in various non-forensic populations. Justin’s research interests include psychopathy, behavioral ethics, and the relationship between personality and morality. 




Alexa Hiley

Alexa Hiley, 2014


Alexa is a PhD student in the Experimental Psych & Law program. She graduated in 2012 with a BA in psychology from Bates College, where she did research on how the dynamics of an interview affects the quality of witness's accounts of an event. After college, she spent two years working at the BIDMC Transplant Institute as a clinical RA with the Surgical Outcomes Analysis & Research team. At John Jay, Alexa primarily works with Dr. Steve Penrod, doing research on factors that affect defense attorney decision-making during plea bargaining. She also works with Dr. Margaret Bull Kovera and Dr. Saul Kassin on issues relating to alibi witnesses and forensic confirmation bias, respectively.