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

Family Research Lab

PEOPLE

Faculty

Jackie Nelson

Dr. Jackie Nelson

Dr. Nelson, the director of the Family Research Lab, is an associate 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

Megan Adelson

Megan Adelson

Megan joined the Family Research Lab in the summer of 2018, and is currently working towards her PhD in psychological sciences. She graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 2011 with a BA in psychology, and from the University of Dayton in 2015 with an MA in clinical psychology.

Her research interests include how parent-child conflict affects the marital relationship, and how features of the marital relationship then go on to impact parent-child relationships.

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 studying family processes (i.e. marital conflict, relationship stress, co-parenting) that influence parent-child relationships. Specifically, her dissertation focuses on daily influences of relationship stress and parents’ perceptions of co-parenting on parent-child conflict interactions.

Ruhama Tollossa

Ruhama Tollossa

Ruhama Joined the Family Research Lab in the Fall 2018 and is currently working towards her MS is psychological sciences. She graduated from the University of North Texas at Dallas with a BA in psychology in August 2017. Her research interests include a research interest for culture, conflict management, women studies, and close relationships specifically in the family. Currently, she is interested in identifying the impact of one’s perception of their bi-cultural identity in how they navigate through conflict in close relationships.

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 2013 with her BA in psychology. Her research interests include the influence of mothers’ and fathers’ parenting behaviors on children’s emotional development into the transition to adolescence and the transactional associations of internalizing symptoms within the family.

Undergraduate Students

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.

Fiona Cherian

Fiona Cherian

Fiona Cherian joined the Family Research Lab in Summer 2018 and is currently a junior pursuing a BS in biology. She plans to attend medical school after graduating and would like to specialize in pediatric oncology. Her research interests include how different family dynamics influence child development.

Pranati Chitta

Pranati Chitta

Pranati Chitta joined 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, Pranati hopes to learn more about more about the different clinical factors that can affect children and their relationships with their family members.

Justina Ghali

Justina Ghali

Justina Ghali joined the Family Research Lab in Spring 2019. She is currently a freshman speech language pathology major who plans to obtain her masters degree in speech pathology to work with children in a clinical and school setting. Justina’s interests include how family dynamics influence a child’s development and behavior.

Kyle Hensley

Kyle Hensley

Hi, I’m Kyle and I am a junior child development and psychology major. My hope is to eventually obtain my PhD in developmental psychology.

Aksheta Kuttuva

Aksheta Kuttuva

Aksheta Kuttuva joined the Family Research Lab in Fall 2018. She is currently a senior psychology major who plans to obtain her doctorate degree in clinical psychology to work with individuals dealing with mental illnesses. Her research interests include how certain behavioral and personality characteristics during children’s development (particularly internalizing vs. externalizing symptoms and introversion vs. extroversion) later correlate with the development of psychological disorders.

Jack Partain

Jack Partain

Jack joined the Family Research Lab in January of 2019. He is a junior double-majoring in psychology and child learning and development. He plans on obtaining a PhD and becoming a clinical psychologist after he obtains his undergraduate degree. His research interests include observing family dynamics and how they affect the psychological well-being of those involved in these relationships.

Michelle Philip

Michelle Philip

Michelle Philip joined the lab in the Summer of 2018. She is currently a junior majoring in psychology and plans to continue with medical school after graduation. Her interests include different childhood mental health disorders, their causes, and how family relationships can impact the course of both normal and abnormal development. She hopes to learn more about these factors through her studies and research.

Faith Portuphy

Faith Portuphy

Faith joined the Family Research Lab in the summer of 2018 and is currently a senior majoring in neuroscience. She plans to attend medical school after graduating and is interested in better understanding how different psychosocial factors can influence a child’s development.

Taqwa Ramadan

Taqwa Ramadan

I am currently a Junior, majoring in psychology and child development. After acknowledging my newly-found passion for a subject that hits close to home, I joined the Family Research Lab in the fall of 2018. I aspire to increase my knowledge in the field of family dynamics, including parent-child relationships and their psychological and behavioral effects. Upon graduating, I plan on attending Law School to later combine both my passion for helping others and my deep understanding of family relationships to implement and enforce laws that better serve the children of our future.

Erendira Ramirez

Erendira Ramirez

Hello! I am a sophomore majoring in psychology and child learning and development with EC-6 teacher certification. I plan on attending graduate school after graduation in order to become a school counselor. I am interested in how parent-child relationships affect child social and emotional development.

Mia Sustek

Mia Sustek

Mia is currently pursuing her BS in psychology with a minor in Spanish. In addition to the Family Research Lab, she works in the Close Relationships and Health Lab with Dr. Kane. Mia’s research interests include the stability of personality over the lifespan, adolescent attachment and development, and conflict styles within families and couples. After completing her bachelor’s, she hopes to earn a PhD in counseling psychology.

Jenny Thai

Jenny Thai

My name is Jenny Thai and I joined the lab in May 2018. I am currently a junior working towards a BS in biology. After fulfilling my four years of undergrad, I plan to attend medical school where I can pursue my dreams as a family physician. In this lab, I plan to observe and learn how parenting affects a child’s development in terms of thought process and formation of their own personality.

Shraddha Trehan

Shraddha Trehan

Shraddha joined the Family Research Lab in the fall of 2018. She is a freshman at UT Dallas pursuing a double major in neuroscience and child learning and development. After graduation, she plans to attend medical school in hopes to become an Obstetrician-gynecologist or a Pediatrician. Her research interests include parent-child interactions related to different parenting styles and how the introduction of mindfulness can influence child development.