The Team

Clinical Faculty

Founder and Director

Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Laugeson is the Founder and Director of the UCLA PEERS® Clinic, which is an outpatient hospital-based program providing parent-assisted social skills training for preschoolers, adolescents and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other social impairments. She also serves as the Training Director for the UCLA Tarjan Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD).

Dr. Laugeson has been a principal investigator and collaborator on a number of studies funded by the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigating social skills training for youth with developmental disabilities from preschool to early adulthood and is the co-developer of an evidence-based social skills intervention for teens and young adults known as PEERS®. She was the two-time recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the NIH from 2004-2007, recipient of the Semel Scholar Award for Junior Faculty Career Development in 2008, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pepperdine University in 2010. Dr. Laugeson has presented her research at international conferences throughout the world including the U.S., Canada, England, Italy, Australia, and Finland. Her groundbreaking work has been featured on national and international media outlets such as People Magazine, USA Today, the LA Times, New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC, and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.

Clinical Instructor

Vindia G. Fernandez, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist with a private neuropsychology practice in Los Angeles and faculty member in the Michael D. Eisner College of Education at CSU Northridge. She facilitates social coaching groups in the UCLA PEERS Clinic, where she teaches caregivers strategies for helping young adults develop meaningful friendships and romantic relationships. Dr. Fernandez obtained her undergraduate degree at Yale University and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Houston, where she conducted research on structural differences in the brains of children with dyslexia. Dr. Fernandez completed her internship and postdoctoral training at the UCLA Semel Institute. As a recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Health, she studied language and neurocognitive functioning in young adults with schizophrenia.

Clinical Instructor

Shannon Bates, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist, who facilitates teen and young adult groups in the UCLA PEERS Clinic. Within this role, she teaches teens strategies for developing and maintaining friends, and young adults strategies for developing meaningful friendships and romantic relationships. Dr. Bates was the UCLA PEERS Clinic Coordinator from 2010 to 2012, during which time she led teen, young adult, and parent/caregiver groups. She also co-led domestic and international PEERS Training Seminars alongside Dr. Laugeson. Dr. Bates obtained her undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech and her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. She completed her internship training at the VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center and her postdoctoral fellowship at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System, where she specialized in the treatment of young adults and adults with severe mental illness, including trauma, chronic depression, addiction, suicidality, and self-harm. Dr. Bates will be opening a private practice in Los Angeles in Fall 2018.

Dr. Hajal received her PhD in Child Clinical Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University. She completed her pre-doctoral clinical internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine & Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, with an emphasis on the prevention and treatment of child and family traumatic stress.

She is currently a clinical researcher and attending psychologist in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Her primary interests are in parenting and young children’s emotional development in the context of stress, trauma, and developmental challenges. Her research, housed within the Nathanson Family Resilience Center, focuses on parent and family processes that hinder or promote child resilience in the face of stress. She is involved in translation of basic science and efficacy trial findings to inform interventions for children and families, as well as implementation of programs into large systems that serve children and families.

Dr. Hajal is a licensed clinical psychologist who supervises clinical psychology and child psychiatry trainees in two UCLA clinics: the PEERS for Preschoolers Program, which provides parent-assisted social skills training for preschool-aged children with developmental disabilities and social challenges, and the Family STAR (Stress, Trauma, and Resilience) Clinic, which focuses on the prevention and treatment of traumatic stress in children ages 0-18 and their families.

Coordinators

Clinic Coordinator

Nicole Rosen is the Clinic Coordinator for the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. She manages all aspects of the PEERS® for Preschoolers, PEERS® for Adolescents, and PEERS® for Young Adults social skills intervention groups, and serves as a behavioral coach in these groups. Nicole also coordinates the PEERS® Training Seminar series conducted offsite in various domestic and international locations. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with Bachelor’s degrees in PNP (psychology-neuroscience-philosophy) and Spanish, and a minor in children's studies in 2017. During her undergraduate career, Nicole implemented the PEERS® Program at the Washington University School of Medicine in the William Greenleaf Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry under the mentorship of Dr. John Constantino. She then coordinated and led two successful cohorts of the Washington University PEERS® Program. Nicole also worked as a research assistant in Dr. Constantino’s lab examining social gaze patterns between identical and fraternal twins to show the large influence of genetics on social gaze behavior. Nicole intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology or Neuropsychology in the future. Her research interests include the development of social cognition, early assessment and intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder, and the development of evidence-based interventions for individuals with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Clinic Coordinator

Morgan Jolliffe is the Clinic Coordinator for the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. She manages all aspects of the PEERS® for Preschoolers, PEERS® for Adolescents, and PEERS® for Young Adults social skills intervention groups, and serves as a behavioral coach in these groups. Morgan also coordinates the UCLA PEERS® Training Seminar series conducted onsite at UCLA for mental health professionals and school-based educators. Morgan graduated from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and a minor in mathematics. Morgan is currently attending Pepperdine University to obtain a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology and intends to later pursue a Doctorate degree. Morgan is interested in researching neurodevelopmental disorders. She is particularly interested in autism spectrum disorder and its comorbidity with other neurodevelopmental disorders as well as the effects of childhood trauma on brain physiology.

Project Coordinator

Niki Bahri is the project coordinator at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. Niki coordinates the UCLA PEERS® Training Seminar series conducted onsite at UCLA for mental health professionals and school-based educators. Niki also coordinates the PEERS® Training Seminar series conducted offsite in various domestic and international locations. Niki also manages the lab and research assistants. Niki attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where she received her B.S. in Psychology with a concentration in Developmental Psychology. Niki has prior experience working at a DIR Floortime agency as a developmental interventionist where she worked with children with developmental disabilities and their families on social skills. She intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. Her research interests include early assessment, social skills and the benefits of various therapies for children with developmental disabilities.

Project Coordinator

Megan Hanson is the project coordinator at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. Megan coordinates the UCLA PEERS® Training Seminar series conducted onsite at UCLA for mental health professionals and school-based educators. Megan also coordinates the PEERS® Training Seminar series conducted offsite in various domestic and international locations. Megan manages the lab and research assistants while also being a behavioral coach in the PEERS for Preschools and PEERS for Young Adult clinical intervention groups. Megan graduated from UCLA in 2016 with a Bachelors degree in Psychology and a minor in Applied Developmental Psychology. She has prior experience working in UCLA’s Infant Development Program and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in School Psychology. Her research interest include assessment for children with autism spectrum disorder, specific learning disabilities, and mood disorders. Additionally, she is interested in school-based intervention for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Post-doctoral Fellows

Postdoctoral Clinical Psychology Fellow

Deanna Dow, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Clinical Psychology Fellow with the UCLA PEERS® Clinic, the Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental (CAN) Clinic, and the Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART). Dr. Dow earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Florida State University, specializing in early detection and parent-implemented intervention for toddlers with ASD. She completed her Predoctoral Psychology Internship at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Behavior. She has 15 years of experience working with individuals with ASD and other neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders through assessment, intervention, educational, and research programs.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Marc Weintraub, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute. Dr. Weintraub received his bachelor’s degree in psychology and social welfare from UC Berkeley. He received his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Miami following the completion of his clinical internship at the UCLA Semel Institute. Dr. Weintraub’s primary position is in the UCLA Child and Adolescent Mood Disorders Program (CHAMP), where he conducts research on emotional dysregulation, the course of bipolar disorder, and treatments for serious mental illness for adolescents and families. As a postdoctoral fellow for the UCLA PEERS® Clinic, he co-facilitates PEERS® for Adolescents social skills training groups as well as PEERS® for Careers and PEERS® for Dating.

Postdoctoral Clinical Psychology Fellow

Emily Moulton, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Clinical Psychology Fellow with the UCLA PEERS clinic and the Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental (CAN) Clinic. Dr. Moulton earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Connecticut, specializing in the early detection of Autism Spectrum Disorders, and developmental trajectories following early diagnosis. She completed her Predoctoral Psychology Internship at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior within the Pediatric Neuropsychology track. In addition to a background in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Dr. Moulton has experience working with individuals with other neurodevelopmental, neurological and psychiatric disorders through assessment, intervention and research programs.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Leila Glass, Ph.D. is a neuropsychology postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior in the lifespan track at the Medical Psychological Assessment Center (MPAC). She also works as a postdoctoral fellow within the UCLA PEERS clinic, facilitating social skills groups and conducting clinical intake interviews. Dr. Glass received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and previously worked at the NIH as a trainee. She completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in San Diego and completed her internship at UCLA in the Pediatric Neuropsychology track. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Glass has been the recipient of several NIH grants and her research has focused on the academic, behavioral, and cognitive outcomes associated with prenatal alcohol exposure and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Her primary interests lie in understanding the neurobehavioral profiles associated with developmental disabilities to inform targeted intervention.

Research Assistants

Senior Database Research Assistant and Behavioral Coach

Steven Lograsso is a senior database research assistant at the UCLA PEERS clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where he is involved in the coding team, and the scoring and verification of various psychological assessments. Steven attended California State University, Los Angeles, where he received her B.A. in Psychology. Steven has 5 years of experience working at a DIR Floortime agency as a developmental interventionist where he worked with children with developmental disabilities and their families on social skills. He intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Neuroscience.

Research Assistant and Social Media Representative

Remington Rebeil 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. Additionally, Jade-Remington manages the UCLA PEERS® Clinic website and social media pages, including the PEERS® Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages to publicize clinical services for families, training opportunities for mental health professionals, publications and tools available to the public, and additional clinic events. Remington attended the University of Southern California where she received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Communication and a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy degree. Her research interests include parenting styles and adolescent anxiety.

Research Assistant

Nicole Yeroushalmi 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. Nicole graduated from University of California, Los Angeles where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Nicole is currently practicing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as a Registered Behavior Technician. She intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology.

Senior Research Assistant

Caroline McDonough is a senior 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. Caroline graduated from Columbia University in New York City where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Psychology at Pepperdine University and intends to later pursue a Doctorate degree. Caroline is interested in researching the implications of early childhood stress and trauma on the physiological development of the brain as well as its effect on neurocognitive development.

Research Assistant

Danielle Mund 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. Danielle graduated from New York University where she received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology. She now intends to pursue a Doctorate degree in Psychology. Danielle is interested in research focused on identifying effective interventions to lower the risk of developing subsequent mental disorders as a result of childhood trauma.

Senior Research Assistant for Preschoolers

Nicky de Nocker is the Senior Research Assistant for Preschoolers at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where she is involved in scoring and verifying various psychological assessments. Nicky graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She intends to pursue a PhD in Psychology in the near future. Her research interests include child and adolescent anxiety and the impact of both parenting and teaching styles on early development.

Research Assistant

Juliette Lerner 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. Juliette is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in psychobiology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She intends to pursue a Master’s degree in psychology after completing her undergraduate education. Her research interests include social skills training, mood and anxiety disorders, and the effect of teaching and parenting styles on learning and development.

Research Assistant

Eden Peykar is a research assistant at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where he is involved in scoring and verifying various psychological assessments. Eden is currently a Pre Med Undergraduate student at University of California, Los Angeles. Eden wants to become a doctor and specialize in pediatrics. He has previously volunteered at Cedars Sinai Medical Hospital in the Pediatrics Department for 3 years.

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.

Research Assistant and Social Media Representative

Brittany Murphy 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 serves as a behavioral coach in the PEERS® for Adolescents, PEERS® for Young Adults, and PEERS® for Preschoolers social skills groups and helped launch the PEERS® for Careers pilot program. Additionally, Brittany manages the UCLA PEERS® Clinic website and social media pages to publicize clinical services for families, training opportunities for mental health professionals, publications and tools available to the public, and additional clinic events. Her research interests include early childhood development and comorbid conditions associated with ASD. Brittany graduated from UCLA with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Sociology.

Research Assistant

Katherine Sung 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. Additionally, Katherine serves as a behavioral coach in the PEERS® for Adolescents, PEERS® for Young Adults, and PEERS® for Careers social skills groups held at UCLA. Katherine is currently an undergraduate student at UCLA, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience. Her research interests include cross-cultural interventions for adolescents with developmental disorders and brain and behavioral health during childhood development.

Research Assistant

Isita Tripathi 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 performing role plays and behavioral rehearsals during clinical groups. In addition, she is excited about working as a career coach for the new College-to-Careers Program, in which she hopes to connect young adults on the autism spectrum with career opportunities that cater to their interests. Isita is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at UCLA, with minors in Disability Studies and Global Health. In the future, she aspires to work as a physician in the public health field. As such, her research interests include identifying structural factors that impede people with developmental disabilities from accessing resources and opportunities in the community.