The Team

Clinical Faculty

Founder and Director

Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Laugeson is the Founder and Director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic, which is an outpatient program providing evidence-based social skills training for individuals from preschool to adulthood. Dr. Laugeson is also the Director for the UCLA Tarjan Center, which is a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and Program Director for the Predoctoral Psychology Internship Program in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities at UCLA. Dedicated to supporting those with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families, she has also held positions as Founding Director of The Help Group – UCLA Autism Research Alliance (2007 – 2017), Training Director for the UCLA Tarjan Center (2014 – 2021), Director of the UCLA Early Childhood Clubhouse Program (2007 – 2010), and Associate Director for the UCLA Parenting and Children’s Friendship Training Program (2007 – 2010).

Dr. Laugeson received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University and completed her pre-doctoral psychology internship in developmental disabilities at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. She was a two-time recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health in 2004 and 2006, the 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 been a principal investigator and collaborator on a number of nationally funded studies investigating social skills training for youth with social difficulties from preschool to early adulthood and has authored four books related to social skills including the critically acclaimed, The Science of Making Friends.

As the developer of PEERS, Dr. Laugeson has trained tens of thousands of mental health professionals, educators, and families worldwide, and is dedicated to developing, testing, and disseminating evidence-based treatments to improve social skills for individuals across the lifespan and across the globe. As one of the only empirically supported and internationally recognized social skills programs for neurodivergent youth, her programs are currently used in over 150 countries and have been translated into over a dozen languages. Her work has been featured is numerous media outlets, including People Magazine, USA Today, the Washington Post, LA Times, New York Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and the Netflix series, Love on the Spectrum.

Clinical Instructor/Attending Psychologist/Director of Training/Certified PEERS Trainer

Shannon Bates, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist with a private practice in Los Angeles. Dr. Bates facilitates our parent/social coach groups across our preschool, teen, and young adult programs. She also leads PEERS Training Seminars for the adolescent, school-based, and young adult curricula. 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.

Attending Psychologist/Clinical Neuropsychologist  

Leila Glass, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist specializing in comprehensive, evidence-based assessment in private practice as well as serving as a clinical attending in the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. Dr. Glass is PEERS® certified and has experience working across preschool, adolescent, and young adult programs. 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 and postdoctoral training at the UCLA Semel Institute. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Glass has been the recipient of several NIH grants and her research has focused on understanding the academic, behavioral, and cognitive outcomes associated with prenatal alcohol exposure, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and other developmental disabilities. Her primary interests lie in understanding individual neurobehavioral profiles to guide treatment planning for best outcomes.

Attending Psychologist

Deanna Dow, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist who facilitates the UCLA PEERS for Preschoolers Program. She is also the Founder and Clinical Director of Spectrum Psych LA, a private practice that specializes in working with children through adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and mood concerns through outpatient therapy, medication management, and assessment services. Dr. Dow has trained with the leading experts in ASD across the country, contributing to research in the field related to early detection and diagnosis of autism, parent-implemented treatment strategies, and co-occurring disorders including anxiety and depression. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, completed post-baccalaureate training at the University of North Carolina, and earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Florida State University. Dr. Dow completed her internship training and postdoctoral fellowship at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, where she worked in the Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental (CAN) Clinic, Parent Training Program, JASPER Baby Bears intervention study, Family STAR (Stress Trauma and Resilience) Clinic, ABC Child Partial Hospitalization Program, Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Program, and Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital Inpatient Service.

Director of Research

Christine Moody, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and the Director of Research at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. In her role, Dr. Moody facilitates many of our research efforts on the efficacy and implementation of the various PEERS® social skills programs. She also coordinates a large team of research assistants and contributes to the professional development of these aspiring clinicians and researchers in the field through various forms of mentorship. Dr. Moody is also a licensed clinical psychologist and serves as a group leader in our programs. Dr. Moody first joined the UCLA PEERS® team in 2018 and has experience in all of our groups, including the newer PEERS® for Careers and PEERS® for Dating research interventions. Outside of PEERS®, Dr. Moody leads the postsecondary education and employment initiatives at the UCLA Tarjan Center. Specifically, she is involved with multiple partnerships with the California Community College Chancellor's Office and California Department of Rehabilitation to support those serving young adults with developmental disabilities in these systems. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from UCLA and has been working with youth and young adults with neurodevelopmental disorders and their families for over ten years. She completed her predoctoral clinical internship at St. John's Child and Family Development Center and her postdoctoral fellowship here at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior in a split appointment between the PEERS® Clinic and UCLA TIES for Families, which provides mental health services for youth in foster care or who have been adopted from foster care. She is especially passionate about the importance of mental health, positive relationships, and bolstering systemic supports and awareness at all levels (e.g., families, schools, society) to promote positive outcomes.

Coordinators

Clinic Coordinator

Abigail Ragasa is a Clinic Coordinator at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. She coordinates the PEERS® Training Seminar series conducted offsite in various domestic and international locations. She is also a behavioral coach in the PEERS for Young Adults, PEERS for Adolescents, and PEERS for Preschoolers groups. Abigail graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Science in Biopsychology and graduated from Pepperdine University with an Master of Arts in Psychology. Abigail intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology in the future. Her research interests include stress mitigation and social interventions for those with autism spectrum disorder and assessing the long-term effects of pre-psychosis and/or psychotic disorder comorbidities due to preadolescent brain injury or neurodevelopmental disability.

Clinic Coordinator

Josh Chou is a Clinic Coordinator for the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. He coordinates and leads behavioral coaching in the PEERS® Social Skills Classes and the PEERS® Summer Boot Camps, as well as assisting aspects of the PEERS® for Young Adults and PEERS® for Dating programs. Josh graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles where they earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology with double minors in Disability Studies and Global Health. His career interests focus on researching, delivering care, and amplifying the voices of racially-, culturally-, and gender-diverse neurodivergent individuals, specifically focusing on autism, ADHD, OCD, and PTSD.

Clinic Coordinator

Juliette Lerner is a Clinic Coordinator for the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. She manages aspects of the PEERS® for Young Adults, PEERS® for Adolescents, and PEERS® for Preschoolers social skills interventions, as well as acts as the research coordinator for the College to Career research study and PEERS® for Careers social skills intervention. Juliette graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Disability Studies. Juliette intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology in the future. Her research and clinical interests include exploring and implementing best practices for supporting adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum in achieving their social, vocational, and independent living goals.

Clinic Coordinator

Kyra Fisher is a Clinic Coordinator for the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. She manages aspects of the PEERS® for Adolescents, the PEERS® for Preschoolers, and the PEERS® Virtual Boot Camp. She serves as a behavioral coach in these groups. She has also been involved with the PEERS® Social Skills Classes for Adolescents and Young Adults and has done research for the PEERS® Dating and the PEERS® for Careers Research studies. Kyra graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles where she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and disability studies. Kyra intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology in the future. Her research interests include the early assessment and intervention of young adults and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder, mood and anxiety disorders, and the intersection between these disorders and chronic illnesses.

Clinic Coordinator

Stephanie Gonzalez is a Clinic Coordinator for the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. She manages aspects of the PEERS® for Young Adults, PEERS® for Adolescents, PEERS® for Preschoolers social skills intervention, and the PEERS® for Careers research study where she serves as a behavioral coach. She coordinates the UCLA PEERS® Certified Training Seminars as well as the PEERS® for Dating research study. Stephanie graduated from Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology where she earned her Master of Arts in Psychology. Prior to that, she graduated from California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development and a minor in Spanish. Stephanie intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology in the future. Her research and clinical interest include assessments and interventions for underserved adolescents with trauma history along with the impact parenting styles have on development.

Trainee, Post-doctoral Fellows

Postdoctoral Clinical Psychology Fellow

Dr. Rebecca Kammes is a postdoctoral clinical psychology fellow at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior in the UCLA PEERS® clinic. She completed her doctoral degree in Couple and Family Therapy as well as postdoctoral research training at the Center for Research in Autism, Intellectual, and other Neurodevelopmental Disabilities both at Michigan State University. Rebecca has 9 years of experience working as a couple and family therapist for individuals with Autism and other intellectual or developmental disabilities and their families. Rebecca’s research and clinical interests focus on the systemic risks and challenges of developing a positive sexual identity for older adolescents and adults with Autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities. This includes understanding healthy intimate relationship experiences from a family context, providing sexuality education for adults with disabilities and their families, as well as advocating for sexuality rights including access to comprehensive education and health care. Her work is based in the principles of community-based participatory research, with an emphasis on program evaluation to inform wider policy and practice issues. Rebecca has experience with PEERS® for Young Adults, Adolescents, and the PEERS® for Dating groups.

Pre-Doctoral Interns

Clinical Psychology Intern

Hillary is a Clinical Psychology Intern in the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Assessment Track at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Marquette University. She is currently involved in the Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental Clinic (CAN Clinic) and the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills Clinic (PEERS® Clinic) in the PEERS® for Dating and PEERS® for Careers groups. Hillary completed her master’s degree in Child Development at the University of California, Davis and was a trainee in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities program (LEND program) in Wisconsin. She has worked with neurodiverse youth and adults for the past 15 years in multiple clinical and research settings. Her research interests are largely centered on the measurement, trajectories, and mechanisms of well-being among autistic youth and adults within various family and social contexts.

Clinical Psychology Intern

Eric Riklin is a Clinical Psychology Intern in the Stress, Trauma, and Resilience (STAR) Clinic at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and a doctoral candidate in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at Fordham University. Eric's psychology training has spanned a wide variety of settings, including hospitals and community mental health centers, providing brief and long-term psychotherapy to children, adolescents, young adults, and families with a wide range of psychiatric, medical, and behavioral concerns. He has over 40 publications and presentations, and has given several talks at various conferences on resilience and the mental health of youth with chronic medical conditions. He is conducting research examining the psychosocial needs of youth with craniofacial conditions and determining efficacious psychotherapeutic interventions for this population. Eric is currently the psychologist for the Craniofacial Clinic at UCLA, and has created and led in-person and online support groups for adolescents with craniofacial conditions. He is expected to receive his PhD in summer 2022 and continue his work in pediatric psychology.

Research Assistants

Senior Research Assistant

Chase Keyler is a Senior Research Assistant and Coach at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic, where he has served as a coach in the PEERS® for Young Adults groups, PEERS® for Dating groups, and PEERS® for Careers groups. Chase assists with certified training seminars, boot camp seminars, and is involved in coding projects related to PEERS® for Careers. Chase earned his M.A. in Psychology from Pepperdine University and will begin Pepperdine’s Clinical Psychology doctoral program this fall. His clinical interests include behavioral treatments for mood disorders within the ASD community.

Research Assistant

Nathan is a research assistant and behavioral coach at the UCLA PEERS Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson. He is involved with the PEERS for Young Adults social training groups and is a member of the PEERS for Careers Employment Team. Nathan has several years of experience working in applied behavioral analysis and clinical assessment of individuals with developmental disabilities. He is completing his Master’s in Psychology at Pepperdine University and hopes to pursue a Clinical Psychology doctoral program. His clinical research interests include treatments for ASD, applications of music therapy, and cognitive effects of video games.

Research Assistant & Career Coach

Mia Kim is a biology and education pre-major, who is passionate about promoting equal opportunities for education. She is interested in studying research-based pedagogical strategies, as well as working to implement these strategies in real-world settings. She enjoys volunteering in classrooms or other learning environments, because she gets to grow and learn alongside the people that she works with. In the future, she hopes to work as a teacher in public schools serving low-income communities, while also researching in the field of education.

Research Assistant & Career Coach

Rose Malki is a second-year student at UCLA. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Psychobiology and plans to attend Medical or PA school upon completing her undergraduate education. She has previous experience as a teaching instructor and hospital volunteer, and hopes to utilize her genuine love for science and helping others in all of her future work. Her research interests include neurological and developmental disorders and the effect of stress on health behaviors.

Research Assistant & Career Coach

Liorit Kohanbash is a recent graduate of UCLA and plans on becoming a physician. Currently, she is taking her pre-med courses while working at different programs in order to broaden her experience and develop her skills. Some of the organizations that she works with include Cedar Sinai, UCLA KidsConnect, and Chai Lifeline. During her free time, she likes to spend time with friends and family, play sports, and go to the beach. She is excited to be a part of the Peers for Careers research team.

Research Assistant, Dating Coach & Career Coach

Anushka Chauhan is a third year at UCLA, currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and hopes to attend medical school or PA school. She loves contributing to and supporting various underserved communities and enjoy exploring new fields of lab research. During her spare time, she enjoys spending time with friends, family, and cooking.

Research Assistant & Dating Coach

Kimiya Aframian is currently an undergraduate student at UCLA pursuing a degree in Psychobiology (B.S.) and minor in Disability Studies. She intends to continue in a health care professional career following graduation. Kimiya's past research experience involves neuroscience and she has an interest and prior engagement in the neurodiverse community.

Research Assistant

Emma Chang is a second-year undergraduate student at UCLA. She is currently pursuing her bachelor's degree in psychology and hopes to continue studying psychology in graduate school. Her research interests include autism spectrum disorder and social psychology.

Research Assistant

Ricardo Garcia is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Psychobiology (B.S.) at UCLA. He intends to pursue medical school with the intention of entering the field of pediatrics. He currently writes for the Daily Bruin as a sports reporter.

Research Assistant & Dating Coach

Tyler Samuelson is a third-year undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Psychobiology and minoring in Disability Studies. She hopes to attend dental school after graduating from UCLA in a few years. She is involved in some pre-health clubs on campus, as well as leadership for her sorority. Outside of school, she likes to run, shop, eat, and spend time with friends.

Senior Research Assistant

Sania Tuli is a senior research assistant at the UCLA PEERS Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Laugeson. She is currently a student at UCLA pursuing a major in Human Biology and Society and a minor is disability studies. After she graduates, she hopes to pursue a career in medicine and also continue working with kids with ASD. Sania primarily works in the PEERS for Adolescents groups and PEERS for Preschoolers groups. Aside from her work in PEERS, Sania is an intern for the Indian Health Services and loves to engage in community service throughout the Los Angeles area.

Post-doctoral Fellows

Postdoctoral Clinical Psychology Fellow

Dr. Elina Veytsman is a postdoctoral clinical psychology fellow at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior in the UCLA PEERS Clinic. Dr. Veytsman earned her PhD in School Psychology at UC Riverside, where she studied the experience of parents of youth with developmental disabilities during their transition into adulthood under the mentorship of Dr. Jan Blacher. Dr. Veytsman completed her Doctoral Psychology Internship at The Help Group, where she worked with youth with a range of neurodevelopmental conditions at the Village Glen School and outpatient department conducting individual therapy, parent training, and diagnostic assessments. Dr. Veytsman began working with the UCLA PEERS Clinic in 2014 as a clinic coordinator and has since conducted the PEERS program in both group and individual formats across clinical and school settings, and has researched the efficacy of the PEERS intervention for Latinx teens with ASD in the Inland Empire. Dr. Veytsman’s research and clinical interests center around supporting youth and parents during the transition out of high school and into adulthood. Currently, Dr. Veytsman facilitates the PEERS for Young Adults clinical groups, as well as the PEERS for Dating and PEERS for Careers research programs. Dr. Veytsman also conducts PEERS certified training seminars, bootcamps, and workshops for mental health professionals and educators.

Postdoctoral Clinical Psychology Fellow

Hadley A. McGregor, M.A., PsyD is a Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. McGregor has a split appointment at the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®), the Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental (CAN) Clinic, and Childhood OCD, Anxiety & Tic Disorders Program. She completed her doctorate in clinical psychology at Loma Linda University where her research focused on evidenced-based interventions for families of young children with neurodevelopmental disorders and co-occurring internalizing symptoms. She completed her internship in clinical psychology at UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience’s Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Treatment Track. Dr. McGregor has extensive experience in intervention and assessments with individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and psychiatric disorders and their families. Her interests revolve around researching and providing evidenced-based treatments and assessments for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders from culturally diverse backgrounds who have co-occurring tic disorders, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder. In PEERS® Dr. McGregor leads PEERS® for Adolescent Teen groups and the PEERS® Educational groups, as well as assist with PEERS® Certified Provider Trainings at UCLA.

Volunteers

Clinical Volunteer

Emily Ward is a UCLA PEERS® Clinic volunteer working with the Teen and Young Adult groups. Emily is also the study coordinator for the UCLA Baby Brain Imaging and Behavior Study (Baby BIBS). She graduated from the University of California, Davis in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Women’s Studies. She intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology in the near future. Her research interests include the social-emotional development of typically and atypically developing children. She is particularly interested in exploring how early life experiences and risk factors affect the brain-based and physiological underpinnings of neurodevelopment.

Clinical Volunteer

Valerie Burgess is a Behavioral Coach for the UCLA PEERS Clinic. She volunteers with PEERS for Young Adults and PEERS for Teens. Outside of volunteering with the PEERS groups, she is a Staff Research Associate at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center conducting research using MRI imaging with autistic youth and young adults. Valerie graduated from the University of Southern California with a dual Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science and English. Her research and clinical interests include developing interventions to support healthy identity formation in underserved adolescents and resilience against early life stressors throughout the lifespan.