Sarah AbughribSarah Abughrib, Research Assistant

Sarah Abughrib is a sophomore undergraduate psychology major at USF. In addition to being a research assistant, she is also a career planning peer at the USF Career Services Center, where she offers students the resources necessary to thrive in the professional workforce. After college she plans to continue on to graduate school in hopes of becoming a clinical psychologist. She strives to develop a career which assists in the de-stigmatization of mental health issues in order to promote a happier and healthier environment for all individuals. In her free time, she enjoys drafting short stories, jogging, and spending time with friends.






Rosana AguilarRosana Aguilar, Lab Manager

Rosana Aguilar is the lab manager for the FCRG and oversees the day-to-day administration of current research projects. Rosana’s involvement with FCRG initiated in 2000 as a volunteer junior research assistant while completing her undergraduate education in psychology and Latin American studies at USF. Rosana also provided one-on-one and group services to children and families who have experienced trauma.







Riley Kamriley kam, research assistant

Hi my name is Riley Kam and I'm a Junior Psychology Major with minors in Media Studies and Neuroscience at the University of San Francisco. I love exploring the intersectionality between different disciplines, specifically how the discoveries and doctrines of psychology influence our society's discussion on the standards for personal wellness. I'd like to contribute to this conversation by using video production as a medium for conveying these viewpoints and sharing the stories of those affected to the general public. Although I have yet to find a job market that supports these broad goals I hope to one-day take what I've learned back to my hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii to bring to light the various truths and realities of the community that ignited my passion for serving others.






June ClausenDr. June Madsen Clausen, Founder and Consultant

Dr. June Madsen Clausen is Associate Dean for Academic Effectiveness in the College of Arts and Sciences at the USF. She is Professor and former Chair of the Department of Psychology, where she has taught a variety of courses in clinical and research psychology. She is Consultant and past Director of the Foster Care Research Group, which focuses on evaluating mental health interventions for foster youth. She is a licensed psychologist with a clinical practice in which she provides evaluation, consultation, and treatment for children and adults who have experienced trauma.






Julia NelsonJulia nelson, Research assistant

I am from Santa Barbara and went to City College before transferring to USF in the fall of 2017. I was planning on attending law school and becoming a human rights attorney, but I have felt a strong pull towards a Ph.D. in clinical psychology the past year, and feel a strong sense of fulfillment when I envision working as a psychologist. My passion is working with those who struggle with alcohol and drug use, as well as those who have experienced trauma. I have worked with youth in the juvenile system and in high schools before providing counseling on alcoholism and drug addiction, and I am looking forward to working with and for that population again.






Saralyn RuffDr. Saralyn Ruff, Director

Dr. Saralyn Ruff is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department and the USF. She came to the FCRG after working as a licensed clinician with children and adolescents, with an interest in researching child maltreatment and compensatory relationships. She teaches courses on abnormal psychology, psychology of gender, child maltreatment, and advanced research methods.






Corie Schwabenland GarcíaCorie Schwabenland García, Assistant Lab Manager

Corie (Psychology '15) was a research assistant for FCRG for three years while an undergrad at USF. She couldn't quite bear leaving post-grad, so she stuck around to serve as assistant lab manager and train new RAs in the lab's many projects. As a U.S.-born Nicaraguan, Corie's culture and family history inspire many of her research interests, including: acculturation of Central American migrants, and narratives of resilience (especially in the context of forced migration). She hopes someday to practice clinical psychology with Latinx migrant populations, and is taking steps towards this through USF's Master in Migration Studies program.






Billy VithanageBilly vithanage, research assistant

My name is Billy Vithanage and I am a rising senior at USF.  I am a psychology major and on the pre-med track in hopes of going to medical school and ultimately becoming a psychiatrist. My family was a foster-care family for about a decade while I was growing up so I feel I have a unique perspective to this aspect of the field. Also, I am from the Bay Area and I am a huge sports fan!






Alumni Staff

Yasmeen AbedifardYasmeen Abedifard, Research Assistant

Yasmeen Abedifard is a research assistant for the Foster Care Research Group (FCRG) at the University of San Francisco (USF). She is a junior psychology student with a minor in middle eastern studies. She plans to bridge her two studies to bring very much needed research on Middle-Eastern Americans in the field of ethnic psychology. In her free time she enjoys illustrating and exploring the city for hidden gems and eateries.






Gabrielle AranetaGabrielle Araneta, Research Assistant

Gabrielle Araneta is currently a sophomore psychology major from Los Angeles, CA. She is interested in pursuing medical school and hopes to be a behavioral pediatrician. In the past year, she interned for the cultural organization Kasamahan at USF and is currently the public relations and political affairs co-director. She was also involved in the Learning and Writing Center’s Families and Youth in Transition Tutoring program where she tutored students in the SFUSD. Gabrielle also loves dogs and wishes to own a corgi one day.






Sarah AshleySarah Ashley, Research Assistant

Sarah Ashley is currently in her senior year majoring in psychology and minoring in child and youth studies. Sarah has been working in the lab for about two and a half years and is now overseeing the Inception project. She also works on campus as a student assistant in the Office of the Provost. In the future, she hopes to become a clinical child psychologist. With her free time, Sarah enjoys both participating in and watching theater.






Kalmia BeetsKalmia Beets, Research Assistant

Kalmia is a junior psychology, pre-med major with a minor in child and youth studies. She hopes to someday practice clinical psychology with a focus in helping chronic and terminally children to find coping mechanisms to deal with their hardships and adversities. She would like to explore the mind-body connection further and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of mental health in the holistic healing approach to physical illnesses. Kalmia currently loves volunteering with organizations like Family House and Ronald McDonald House at UCSF Mission Bay Children’s hospital. She also works alongside the behavioral health team at Larkin Street Youth Center, helping young adults find a balanced life. In her free time Kalmia loves exploring the city, dancing, and taking part in any outdoor adventure.





Emily BlackwellEmily Blackwell, Research Assistant

Emily Blackwell is currently a junior psychology major with a focus on neuroscience. Additionally, She is spin instructor at USF’s Koret Health and Recreation Center. In her free time she enjoys drinking earl grey tea, flower arranging, running through the panhandle, making playlists on Spotify, and documenting the funniest parts of her life in an ongoing list. She describes herself as an old soul embracing everything San Francisco has to offer. She has many plans for the future and she feels that by working for FCRG she is going in the right direction. Her motto is, “ all adventurous women do.”






Erica Greene, Research Assistant

Erica Greene is currently a junior premed student majoring in psychology with an interests in neuroscience and child development. Erica also works as a Career Planning Peer in the Career Services Center at USF to help other incoming and current students find their dream jobs and relevant internships in the city. After graduation, she plans on going to medical school in hopes of becoming a pediatric neurologist. In her free time, Erica loves to journal about her adventures in the beautiful city of San Francisco and explore the endless unique restaurants and neighborhoods it contains.






Shaya KaraShaya Kara, Research Assistant

Shaya is a fourth year psychology major with a minor in philosophy. Apart from working as a research assistant in the FCRG, she also serves as the undergraduate student body (ASUSF) President. Shaya has a passion for justice-focused leadership that embodies all of her work. She plans to obtain a master’s degree in public policy and PhD in psychology after she graduates from USF. She hopes to fuse her knowledge of psychology with her public policy work in the future.






Matthew MorishigeMatthew Morishige, Research Assistant

Matthew Morishige is a third year psychology and performing arts and social justice major at USF. He is currently taking the lead on the Genesis project at the FCRG and is interested in studying transition age youth, as well as arts interventions for foster youth. In his free time Matt enjoys playing guitar, watching tv, and eating inordinate amounts of food.






Julia RippertonJulia Ripperton, Research Assistant

Julia Ripperton is a sophomore at USF, Julia is a psychology major and is simultaneously earning her Master's in Teaching in the Dual Degree Teaching program at USF. She also works as a lead tutor in the University Ministry Tutoring program at a K-8 school in the Mission District. She hopes to have a career in which she can make a difference in the lives of children. Along with her tutoring job, Julia works as an athletic event manager at USF. Born and raised in San Diego, CA, she loves going to the beach, spending time with friends & family, and exploring her amazing new home of San Francisco.






Aleesa PanisAleesa Bautista Panis

Apart from working as a research assistant in the FCRG, Aleesa worked as a research assistant the Mass Emotion and Intergroup Conflict lab on campus and held two teaching assistant positions in abnormal psychology and child development. Her plan for the future is to work with at-risk and homeless youth and their families on a clinical level. In her free time, Aleesa enjoys watching the sunset over Ocean Beach in San Francisco, searching for the most hipster coffee shops in the city, and ultimately aspires to draw, write, paint the moments that make her feel alive.






Nicole CalvelloNicole Calvello

Nicole Calvello completed her undergrad at USF in psychology with a minor in child and youth studies, and now is a first-year graduate student at USF for counseling psychology with a concentration in marriage and family therapy. After, she plans on getting her PhD in clinical psychology where she can continue to grow as a clinician and researcher. She is particularly interested in looking at the mental health of youth and risk for suicide specifically within the family and school context. She would like to continue research in hopes for finding a more proactive approach and intervention for families and schools to identify youth experiencing thoughts of suicide. In her free time, she enjoys running, yoga, and spending time with her dogs.






Tzipporah DangTzipporah Dang

Tzipporah is currently at the University of Chicago pursuing her MA under Dr. Jasmin Cloutier and Dr. Jennifer Kubota. She is interested in person perception and social neuroscience, specifically social categorization based on facial cues or limited information. She examines how people form impressions of human targets based on social information or person-knowledge using behavioral measures (e.g., reaction time and ratings), hormonal indicators, and neural methods (e.g., fMRI). Her previous research experience includes how processing of social information influences the use of stereotypes and the outcomes of attachment based therapy for foster children. She also enjoys olive-free foods, dogs (especially huskies and dachshunds), and music.






Alicia EscobedoAlicia Escobedo

Alicia worked in the Foster Care Research Group from Spring 2014 to Spring 2016. Alicia plans on continuing on to graduate school after completing her bachelor's at USF. In her spare time, she enjoys being a part of the Mexican cultural dancing group at USF and exploring the city with friends.






Mollie KhachadoorianMollie Khachadoorian

Mollie (Psychology '16) is chiefly interested in abnormal psychological development in children and adolescents. In her free time, Mollie enjoys long walks off short piers, singles night at the ornithology club, and dry humor.






Breniel LemleyBreniel Lemley

Breniel Lemley (Psychology ’14) was a research assistant for the Foster Care Research Group during her time at USF. During her time at USF, she was involved in the Psychology Department as a teaching assistant for research design and advanced research methods. Currently, Breniel is a research analyst in the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International. She is involved in the overall research process, with a focus on data management, data collection, and data validation and analysis. In the future, she hopes to enroll in graduate school.






Alfonso Molina

Alfonso was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He graduated from the University of San Francisco in 2013 with a bachelor's in biology with minors in chemistry and neuroscience. Being a first-generation pre-medical student and the first born in his family, Alfonso had few relatives whom he could ask for academic guidance. This taught him to be aware of how his present thoughts and actions affect not only his own future but also the people around him, which helped hone his sense of social responsibility from an early age. His conversations with families without health insurance during health fairs and his volunteer experiences throughout undergrad showed him the need for Spanish-speaking doctors. He saw that his cultural awareness could help reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes. After graduating from USF, he enrolled in the UC Davis post-baccalaureate program and is currently in his first year of medical school as a part of the Drew/PRIME leadership program at UCLA.






Audrey RhodesAudrey Rhodes

Audrey Rhodes graduated from USF in 2014 with a bachelor's in psychology. She was grateful to have worked with FCRG for three years, during which time she gained valuable research experience, and developed close relationships with her colleagues. She is currently attending the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York City, pursing an MSW with a focus in public policy practice. She is interning as a policy fellow at the drug policy alliance, the nation's leading organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. After graduation in May of 2016, she plans on continuing her career in social policy while maintaining social and racial justice lenses in her work. She loves cooking with her husband, and playing with her adorable dog, Sugar.






Patricia SchererPatricia Scherer

Patricia Scherer graduated from the University of San Francisco in 2016 with a bachelor's in psychology and minor in neuroscience. While at USF she worked as a senior research assistant for the FCRG, as a peer advisor for the Psychology department, and as research coordinator for USF's chapter of Psi Chi. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD, after which she hopes to work as a university professor and conduct research of her own. In the meantime, she is working as a research assistant at the Mather Emotion and Cognition lab at the University of Southern California and studying the short-term effects of estradiol on cognition.