Former Graduate Students
Lukas Lopez, PhD
Lukas completed his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology in 2021. Before coming to UC Merced, he graduated in 2014 from San Diego State University with a B.A. in Psychology. He is interested in infant and child social learning and more specifically focused on socio-emotional development and infant language environments. Dr. Lopez is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah.
Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Knothe, PhD
Jennifer completed her PhD in Developmental Psychology in 2019. Before arriving at UC Merced, she graduated from California State University, Channel Islands with a B.A. in Psychology. Her research focuses on social and emotional development and emotion perception across the lifespan. In her dissertation, Jennifer examined how adults, parents, and young children talk about emotional contexts, particularly the specific elements of emotion contexts (e.g., the emoter, the referent). Dr. Knothe is now a Protocol Coordinator with the Children's Oncology Group.
Contact info: email@example.com
Peter Reschke, PhD
Peter completed his PhD in Developmental Psychology in 2018. Before arriving at UC Merced, Peter graduated in 2011 with a BS in psychology with a Spanish minor from Brigham Young University. Dr. Reschke is now an Assistant Professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University. You can visit Peter's lab website here.
Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Undergraduate Research Assistants
Cassandra is from San Diego, CA. She graduated from UC Merced in 2018 with a double majoring in Biology and Psychology and plans on pursuing Medical School in hopes of becoming a Pediatrician. When she is not at school she enjoys dancing, traveling, swimming, and muy thai.
Arielle Canoza calls the Central Valley home - she was born and raised in Lemoore and attended high school in Fresno. Arielle graduated from UC Merced in May 2013 with a dual degree in human biology and psychology. Arielle was recently accepted to the UCSF School of Dentistry and will begin in Fall 2015. Congratulations, Arielle!
Mayra Cazares was raised in Avenal and graduated from UC Merced in the spring of 2014. Mayra plans to work as a behavioral therapist helping children with autism before attending graduate school.
Diana is from Petaluma, CA and graduated from UC Merced in 2018, majoring in human biology with a minor in psychology. She is interested in working with children in the future and becoming a pediatrician.
Chris grew up in Fresno, CA. He graduated from UC Merced in 2016 majoring in Psychology and minoring in Public Health. He plans to pursue a degree in Clinical Psychology and wants to work with adolescent populations.
Josh Espano grew up in the Philippines and moved to the United States when he was 8 years old. Josh graduated from Northview High School in Southern California and was accepted to UC Merced with the goal of becoming a history teacher. That changed after he heard a cognitive science lecture that prompted him to pursue a career in research. Josh graduated from UC Merced in the spring of 2014 and plans to apply his knowledge of psychology and passion for working with children by pursuing a masters degree in social work at California State University, Fresno.
CONGRATULATIONS: Josh was named a 2014 Outstanding Graduating Student for SSHA. Way to go, Josh!
Megan Frank graduated from UC Merced with a degree Psychological Sciences and a minor in Public Health. Since graduating she has worked as a research assistant at UCSF and was the Clinical Research Coordinator of Clinical Trials in the Memory and Aging Center at UCSF. In Fall 2018 Megan began a Neuropsychology PhD program at Palo Alto University. Great job, Megan!
Desiree Garcia is from Downey, CA. She graduated from UC Merced in 2018, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Psychology. Desiree plans to attend graduate school to continue her studies in developmental psychology. In her spare time, she enjoys eating and traveling.
Nancy is from Los Angeles, CA. She graduated in 2017 with a major in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. Nancy plans to obtain an MA in Social Psychology so that she can assist and council young parents. When she's not at school, Nancy enjoys spending time with her son.
Willie Hardeman is originally from Los Angeles, and moved to the high desert when he was 12 years old, later graduating from Apple Valley High School. Willie went on to Victor Valley College before transferring to UC Merced, where he graduated in 2014 as a psychology major. Willie is currently a Ph.D. student at Loma Linda University studying Clincial Psychology.
Cameron Howardwas born in Apple Valley, in the high desert of Southern California. He attended Victor Valley Community College where he earned his associate's degree with an emphasis in behavioral sciences, after which he transferred to UC Merced to continue his college education. Cameron graduated from UC Merced in the winter of 2014, majoring in psychology. He hopes to move on to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in sports psychology.
Joanna Jay hails from from San Francisco. She graduated in 2014 with a degree in psychology. Joanna would like to pursue a career involving working with children in a clinical setting.
Laura is from Sacramento, CA. She graduated from UC Merced in 2018 majoring in Psychology and is minoring in Spanish. She plans to attend graduate school to pursue a degree in developmental psychology or social work. During her free time Laura loves to watch That 70’s Show on Netflix or go to Quickly’s (taro is her favorite flavor). She loves traveling and hopes to one-day return to Spain.
Xitlali is from Sacramento, CA and graduated form UC Merced in , majoring in biological sciences and minoring in Psychology. She plans to attend medical school and become a Neonatologist (a doctor that specializes in infants, specifically premature infants).
Jaspreet Johal is from Hilmar, CA. She graduated from UC Merced in 2017 as a Human Biology major with a minor in Psychology. She hopes to pursue medical school or graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. In her spare time, Jaspreet enjoys playing volleyball with her friends and family and traveling to new places.
Kiran is from Ceres, CA. She graduated from UC Merced in 2017 with a major in Human Biology and minor in Psychology. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuro-psychology or go to Medical School to further the study on the human brain. In her spare time, Kiran loves to play tennis, watch horror movies and Criminal Minds, and most importantly spend valuable time with her family and friends.
Penny is orginally from Santa Clara, CA. She graduated from UC Merced in 2018 majoring in Biological Sciences with Human Emphasis. She hopes to attend medical school at her dream school, The University of California, San Francisco, or somewhere in California. She is interested in the field of Pediatric Oncology. She enjoys listening to music, playing basketball, spending time with family and friends, and tutoring other students.
Jaboa Lake was born in Merced, but grew up in Maine, Oregon and the Central Valley of California. She graduated from UC Merced in the Fall of 2013 as a psychology major and sociology minor. Jaboa is currently a PhD student in the Applied Social and Community Psychology Program at Portalnd State University. She has been featured in the Rookie Spotlight by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Additionally, she was recently named a Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress. Keep up the good work, Jaboa!
Maley Llerenas graduated from UC Merced in the Spring of 2014. She received her degree in Management with a minor in Psychology and plans to pursure a career in marketing.
Arby is from Union City, CA. He graduated from UC Merced in 2019 with a major in Psychology with a minor in Natural Sciences Education. He plans to apply to graduate school in hopes to become a Professor of Psychology.
Melissa is from Riverdale, CA, and gradauted in 2021 as a Psychology and Sociology double major. Outside of the lab, Melissa was the Lead Student Coordinator for the STEP Scholars Program and the President of the Social Work Club on campus. Melissa hopes to obtain her MSW and become a social worker working with fostered youth in the Central Valley.
Jillian Mead graduated from UC Merced in the Spring of 2015 as a Psychology major and a minor in Cognitive Sciencen and Public Health. After graduating she worked as a Behavior Interventionist with ABRITE Center in Sherman Oaks, CA. Jill completed the Master's Program in Psychology at Trent University.
Iman graduated from UC Merced in the Winter of 2015 as a Psychology major and a Writing minor. She hopes to pursue graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in clinical psychology or forensic psychology.
Yarelin graduated from UC Merced in 2017 after majoring is Psychology. She plans to attend graduate school so that she may obtain a degree in either clinical or developmental psychology. When she is not working or at school, Yarelin enjoys spending time with her friends playing board games, planning fun outings, and writing poetry.
Rachel is from Hayward, CA. She graduated from UC Merced in 2019, majoring in psychology. She hopes to attend graduate school to obtain her Masters Degree in Forensic Psychology and Counseling. She is interested in working in family courts and helping with mediation cases.
Alexus is from Clovis, California. She graduated from UC Merced in 2018 with a major in Psychology and minor in Cognitive Science. Alexus is currently a graduate student at the University of Deleware working with Roberta Golinkoff. She enjoys painting, playing soccer, and reading, when she has free time from school and work.
Lirio is originally from Crows Landing, CA. She graduated from UC Merced in 2018 majoring in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology. In her spare time, Lirio enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends.
Melissa K. Reyes is from Boyle Heights, California. She graduated from UC Merced in 2019, majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology. Melissa plans to attend graduate school and ultimately start her own non-profit organization that assists students and families in undeserving communities.
Katerina Rocker Heppe
Kat is from Humboldt County, CA and graduated from UC Merced as a Psychology major and Sociology minor. She plans to pursue an MA in Child Development and Therapy to provide counseling to mentally and physically disabled children. Katerina also played soccer and served as captain of the UC Merced women’s team. She enjoys traveling, hiking, and riding horses.
Vanessa Romo Ortega
Vanessa graduated in 2017 with a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Merced. She has been actively involved with the Interpersonal Development Lab for over 3 years and loves contributing to research. She is currently a gradaute student at Sacramento State University and hopes to become a school social worker. During her spare time, Vanessa loves to travel and spend time with friends and family.
Jazmin is from Los Angeles, CA. She completed her degree in 2022, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Natural Science of Education. After obtaining her bachelor's degree from UC Merced, she plans to attend graduate school for her masters in School Psychology. During her spare time, Jazmin loves to explore new places and try new foods.
Rocio graduated from UC Merced in the Spring of 2015 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Natural Science Education.
Denis Shakhnovich is originally from Belarus and grew up in San Francisco. Denis graduated from UC Merced in May 2013 with a bachelor's of science in biology (developmental emphasis). Denis is currently a Master's student in the School of Nursing at Samuel Merritt University.
Itzcoatl (Izzy) Silva
Itzcoatl Silva (Izzy) graduated from UC Merced in 2019, majoring as a Human biology and Psychology major. Izzy plans to apply for medical school and would like to work as a pediatric psychiatrist.
Camella Taylor is from Castro Valley, CA. She was a double major in Psychology and Human Biology, and plans on pursuing a Ph.D in Neuro-psychology or an area involving the brain. When she is not at school she enjoys drawing, taking road trips with friends, or volunteering with animals.
Hilda is from Montclair, CA. She graduated from UC Merced in 2019 as a sociology major with a psychology minor. Currently, Hilda is a Behavioral Therapist but plans to obtain her MSW and become a LCSW one day.
Andie Tran was born and raised in Union City. She graduated from UC Merced in the winter of 2014, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. Andie recently completed her Master's degree in Family Therapy at Drexel University, and is currently working toward her doctorate in marriage and family therapy at Loma Linda University.
Tseng Vang graduated from UC Merced in Spring 2014 with a degree in Psychology and Sociology minor. Tseng hopes to pursue a graduate education in psychology with the goal of becoming a professor in social psychology at a research institution.
Stefanie Wang graduated from UC Merced in Spring 2014 with a degree in Human Biology and a Psychology minor. Stefanie is now considering graduate schools to pursue her goal of becoming a dentist or an orthodontist.
Bailey gradauted in 2021 as a Psychology and Cognitive Science double major. She is orginally from Glendale, CA. Bailey compelted her Honors Thesis in the id Lab, studying emotional labor. She is interested in emotion regulation research and served as the UC Merced Psychology Club as Vice President. Outside of school, she enjoys musical theater and fostering kittens.