Research Assistants

Research Assistant

Bella Fascendini is a research assistant and social coach at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where she is involved in scoring and verifying various psychological assessments and performing role-plays and behavioral rehearsals during clinical groups. Bella graduated from Boston University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Bella is currently a graduate student at Pepperdine University, where she is pursuing a Master's in Psychology. After graduation, she plans to pursue a Doctorate in Psychology. Bella's research interests include autism spectrum disorder, social skills training for adults who are on the spectrum.

Research Assistant

Elsa Gay is a research assistant and behavioral coach at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where she is involved in scoring and verifying various psychological assessments, alongside coaching prosocial behavior in the preschool-age clinical groups. Elsa graduated from Northwestern University where she received a BS in Communications and Psychology. When not at PEERS, Elsa works as an educational therapist, helping students with learning disabilities learn to read and write. Elsa plans to pursue a doctoral degree at the PGSP-Stanford Consortium in the Fall.

 

Behavioral Coach

Nick Senofsky is a behavioral coach at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson. He primarily works with the PEERS® for Young Adults groups, but has worked with the PEERS® for Adolescents groups in the past, and has helped with PEERS® Boot Camps. Nick is currently a biophysics undergraduate student at UCLA.

 

Senior Communications & Outreach Research Assistant

Alexander Gigler is a Senior Research Assistant at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson. He recently completed his Masters in Psychology at Pepperdine University and plans to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology, where he hopes to research peer relationships and the implications of social deficits associated with ASD. His research interests also include the effects of technology and social media on social development and mental health outcomes.

Chief Research Assistant

Danielle Mund is the Chief Research Assistant at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic, where she has served for the past two years under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson. Danielle assists with the facilitation of clinic-based research groups, boot camp seminars and certified training seminars. She completed her Masters in Psychology at Pepperdine University and plans to start Pepperdine’s Clinical Psychology doctoral program this upcoming fall. Danielle is interested in the development of more effective trauma interventions for autism spectrum disorder.

Research Assistant

Simrina Desar is a research assistant at the UCLA PEERS Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where she is involved in scoring and verifying various psychological assessments. Simrina is involved especially with the PEERS for Preschoolers and Teens social skills group. Currently, Simrina is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience at UCLA and intends to go to medical school in the near future. She has previously been trained as an Emergency Medical Technician, in addition to various shadowing and volunteering experiences, and now hopes to gain more experience in the neuroscience and psychiatry fields. Her research interests include autism spectrum disorder and early childhood development.

Undergraduate Senior Research Assistant

Juliette Lerner is the Undergraduate Senior Research Assistant at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson. Juliette is an undergraduate student studying at the University of California, Los Angeles, majoring in psychology and minoring in disability studies and linguistics. She has been a behavioral coach in PEERS® for Preschoolers, PEERS® for Adolescents, and PEERS® for Young Adults, as well as all four PEERS® Boot Camps. She intends to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology after completing her undergraduate education. Her research interests include social skills training, mood and anxiety disorders, and the effect of parenting styles on learning and development.

Research Assistant

Isita Tripathi is a research assistant at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic, where she is examining long-term treatment outcomes of the PEERS® for Preschoolers program under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson. Her research encompasses program impacts on parent and child functioning, as well as parent-child relationships and perspectives on autism. She has previously served as a career coach in the pilot College-to-Careers Transition program and behavioral coach in all PEERS clinical groups. Isita is currently completing her Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience with a minor in Disability Studies. She hopes to pursue both medicine and public health in graduate school to improve clinical care for children with developmental disabilities in underserved communities.

Research Assistant

Christine Park is a research assistant at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where she is involved in scoring and verifying various psychological assessments. She has served as a career coach in the pilot College-to-Careers Transition program to guide young adults with ASD in acquiring social and practical skills to be used in the employment setting, and connecting to potential employers. She is also currently a social coach in PEERS® for Young Adults Program in which she provides individual assistance for a young adult in making and keeping friends by providing feedback in weekly homework assignments. She is interested in becoming a physician with a focus on identifying and addressing health and healthcare inequities faced by underserved communities, such as for people with developmental disabilities, and their interconnections with barrier of access to multitude of other opportunities and resources.

Research Assistant

Leah Savage is a research assistant at the UCLA PEERS Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where she is involved in scoring and verifying various psychological assessments. Currently, Leah is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Human Biology and Society (B.S.) at UCLA. She intends to pursue a multidisciplinary career through graduate school in medicine and anthropology. Her research interests center medical anthropology, especially the interaction of social determinants of health with psychological and developmental differences.