The University of Texas at Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Family Research Lab

LAB MEMBERS

Faculty

Jackie Nelson

Dr. Jackie Nelson

Dr. Nelson, the director of the Family Research Lab, is an assistant professor of Psychological Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. She earned her BA in psychology from Elon University and her PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Dr. Nelson studies emotional family processes from a systems perspective, recognizing that family members and relationships are interconnected. Specifically, she is interested in parent-child relationships, how mothers and fathers influence one another’s parenting practices, negative spillover of family stress, parents’ beliefs and socialization of children’s emotion, and children’s emotional development.

Graduate Students

Brittany Boyer

Brittany Boyer

Brittany joined the Family Research Lab in August of 2011, and is currently working toward her PhD in Psychological Sciences. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in December of 2008 with a BS in Psychology.

Her research interests include the long-term effects of early experiences on children’s health, the unique and combined influence of mothers and fathers in their children’s social and emotional development, and relations between parenting and children’s biobehavioral stress responses.

Olivia Smith

Olivia Smith

Olivia joined the Family Research Lab in August 2014 and is currently working towards her PhD in psychological sciences. She graduated from the University of Kentucky in May 2014 with a BA in Psychology. Her research interests include parent-child conflict and how this affects child development, while also looking at different child outcomes such as emotional development.

Deyaun Villarreal

Deyaun Villarreal

Deyaun joined the Family Research Lab in August 2014 and is currently working toward her PhD in Psychological Sciences. She graduated from the University of North Texas in August of 2013 with her BA in Psychology.

Undergraduate Students

Sara Ahmed

Sara Ahmed

Sara Ahmed joined the Family Research Lab in the Fall of 2017 and is currently a sophomore who is pursuing a BS in Psychology. In the future, she plans to attend medical school in order to become a psychiatrist as well as providing support for individuals who are faced with the stigma of mental illness. Her interests include learning how a child’s environment and family relationship shape his or her identity and overall quality of life.

Zarin Akhter

Zarin Akhter

Zarin Akhter joined the research lab in January 2018 and is currently a sophomore majoring in Healthcare Studies. She plans on attending medical school after graduation and has an interest in pediatrics. Her research interests include how parent-child relationships influence child development.

Nina Alton

Nina Alton

Nina joined the Family Research Lab in January 2017. She graduated from UT Dallas in December 2017 with her BS in Psychology and Child Learning and Development. She is interested in educational reformation, particularly in regards to mandated curriculum.

Pranathi Chitta

Pranathi Chitta

Pranathi Chitta going the Family Research Lab in Summer 2017 and is a Neuroscience major. She hopes to continue learning more about the subject by going to medical school after college in hopes to become a doctor in the near future. From her experience in lab and research, Pranathi hopes to learn more about more about the different clinical factors that can affect children and their relationships with their family members.

Deema Izzat

Deema Izzat

Deema Izzat joined the Family Research Lab in January 2018 and is currently a junior pursuing her BS in psychology. She hopes to attend graduate school an obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

Irina Kavrakova

Irina Kavrakova

Irina (“Ina”) joined the Family Research Lab in the Spring Semester of 2017. She is a freshman Speech Pathology and Child Development major interested in parent-child relationships and children’s development and behavior.

Grace Koontz

Grace Koontz

Grace joined the Family Research Lab in January 2018. She is currently a junior pursuing a BS in Psychology and Child Development. She plans to continue studying psychology in the future by earning a PhD in clinical psychology with a focus on psychotrauma. Her interests include childhood trauma, the effects of video games on youth, and the relationship between mental health disorders and juvenile homelessness.

Lacey Lowrance

Lacey Lowarance

I’m double majoring in Speech Pathology and Child Development, and my interests include children with speech issues due to cleft lips/palates.

Cleo Medina

Cleo Medina

Cleo joined the Family Research Lab in January 2018 and is a sophomore pursuing a Speech-Language Pathology and Child Development double major. She plans to pursue an MS in Communication Disorders and has an interest in children’s development and behavior.

Amanda Trevino

Amanda Trevino

I graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas in May 2017 with my BS in Psychology and Child Learning & Development. I plan on pursuing an MS in Counseling, with an interest in family and children. My research interests are family dynamics and mental health disorders.

Emily Umstead

Emily Umstead

Emily Umstead joined the Family Research Lab in January 2018 and is currently working on her BS in Psychology at UT Dallas. She plans on pursuing a Masters in Social Work with a focus on issues such as domestic violence.