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 with neurodevelopmental disabilities and other social challenges across the lifespan. Dr. Laugeson is also the Interim Director for the UCLA Tarjan Center, which is a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Program Director for the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Internship Program at UCLA, and Program Director for Dissemination, Outreach, and Education at the prestigious UCLA Autism Center of Excellence. 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 those with neurodevelopmental disabilities across the lifespan and across the globe. As one of the only empirically supported and internationally recognized social skills programs for autistic youth, her programs are currently used in over 125 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.

Coordinators

Project Coordinator

Brittany Murphy is the Project Coordinator at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. She coordinates the PEERS® Training Seminar series conducted offsite in various domestic and international locations. She has been a behavior coach in the PEERS for Young Adults, Adolescents, and Preschoolers clinical intervention groups, and was a career coach in the PEERS® for Careers pilot study. Brittany graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Sociology. Her research interests include neurodevelopmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorder with comorbid psychiatric diagnoses in adolescents and young adults.

Clinic Coordinator

Daliah Baertschi is the Clinic Coordinator for the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. She manages 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. Daliah graduated from the University of California, San Diego where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience. Daliah intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology in the future. Her research interests include the early assessment and intervention of children with autism spectrum disorder, mood and anxiety disorders, and the impact both parenting and teaching styles have on early development.

Clinic Coordinator

Juliette Lerner is the 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

Phoebe Josephson is the 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 coordinates the PEERS Training Seminar Series conducted offsite in domestic and international locations. Phoebe graduated from Barnard College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Her research and clinical interests include interventions for underserved adolescents with trauma history and how parenting styles affect emotional regulation in adolescence.

Post-doctoral Fellows

Postdoctoral Clinical Psychology Fellow

Reina Factor, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Clinical Psychology Fellow in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, with current involvement in the Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental (CAN) Clinic and Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) Clinic. She completed her predoctoral clinical internship last year in the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities track at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Reina has been working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for over 17 years, starting at a summer camp for children with speech delays, and working in various research and clinical settings. She completed her undergraduate degree at Emory University and after graduating worked as a research associate in the Kasari Lab at UCLA for two years, focusing on the JASPER intervention developed at UCLA by Dr. Kasari. After this, she completed her M.S. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Virginia Tech. Her research interests focus on social and emotional development in children with ASD, highlighting the impact of systems (e.g., peers, parents, the family) and how they inform interventions, by looking at mechanisms of change and treatment outcomes. She has experience with PEERS® for Preschoolers, Adolescents, Young Adults, and the PEERS® for Careers groups.

Post-doctoral fellow

Christine Moody, Ph.D., is a Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Moody has a split appointment at the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) Clinic and UCLA TIES for Families, which serves youth in foster care or who have been adopted from foster care. She completed her predoctoral clinical internship at St. John's Child and Family Development Center. Dr. Moody has been working with youth and young adults with neurodevelopmental disorders for over ten years, receiving specialized training prior to graduate school from Dr. Ann Kaiser at Vanderbilt University and Dr. Catherine Lord at the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at Weill Cornell Medical College. She then completed her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at UCLA, under the mentorship of Drs. Bruce Baker and Jan Blacher. Her research interests have focused on identifying factors that promote positive outcomes for young people with neurodevelopmental disorders. She is especially passionate about the importance of mental health, positive relationships, and parenting for youth. Dr. Moody first joined the UCLA PEERS® team in 2018, gaining experience with leading and co-facilitating our PEERS® for Preschoolers and PEERS®Young Adults programs. Currently, Dr. Moody is involved in the PEERS® for Careers and PEERS® for Dating groups, and plays a significant role in our research efforts.

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.

Postdoctoral Clinical Psychology Fellow

Megan Ichinose, Ph.D., is a Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Ichinose has an appointment at the Child & Adolescent Mood Disorders Program (CHAMP) in addition to the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) Clinic. She completed her predoctoral clinical internship in the Adolescent Serious Mental Illness track at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior 2 years ago, where she first became involved with the PEERS®Adolescents program. She completed her undergraduate degree in psychology at Northwestern University, followed by a research assistantship at Yale University School of Medicine. She then completed her doctoral degree at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Ichinose has been working with youth and young adults with neurodevelopmental disorders for over 8 years in both research and clinical settings. Her research and clinical interests focus on identifying and treating youth at risk for serious mental illness, particularly through family interventions. Currently, Dr. Ichinose is involved in the PEERS® for Dating groups.

Pre-Doctoral Interns

Clinical Psychology Intern

Hadley McGregor is the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Treatment Track intern at UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience. She is a PsyD Doctoral Candidate at the Loma Linda University, graduating June 2022, where her research focuses on evidenced-based interventions for families of young children with neurodevelopmental disorders and co-occurring internalizing symptoms. For the past three years, Hadley has also been a part of the PEERS® Clinic at UCLA where she has worked as a behavioral coach and led adolescent groups. She 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 for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders with co-occurring disorders (e.g., anxiety, OCD, tic disorders) from culturally and gender diverse backgrounds. As an intern in the PEERS® Clinic, Hadley continues to lead PEERS® for Adolescents groups as well as assist in PEERS® for Dating groups and act as master coder for coding projects related to PEERS® for Careers.

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

PEERS for Young Adults Senior Research Assistant

Nick Senofsky is the PEERS for Young Adults Senior Research Assistant 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.

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.

Senior Research Assistant

Kyra Fisher is the Senior Research Assistant for the PEERS® for Adolescents at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson. She is in her fourth year at UCLA as a Psychology major with a Disability Studies minor. She plans to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology in the future. Kyra primarily works in the PEERS® for Adolescents groups and PEERS® for Preschoolers groups, but has worked with the Educational PEERS® for Adolescents and Young Adults groups in the past, and is involved with research for PEERS® for Careers.

Senior Research Assistant

Josh Chou is a 4th year UCLA student majoring in Psychobiology and double-minoring in Disability Studies and Global Health. Throughout his college career, Josh has acquired experience in Autism research and advocacy through organizations such as the UCLA PEERS® Clinic and Autism Advocacy UCLA. His interests focus on researching, delivering care, and amplifying the voices of neurodivergent individuals, specifically those from racially and culturally marginalized backgrounds and those who are LGBTQ+ identifying. As a senior research assistant in the PEERS® Clinic, Josh co-organizes training for upcoming research assistants, leads PEERS® for Dating behavioral rehearsals, partakes in coding projects related to PEERS® for Careers, and serves as a social coach in PEERS® for Young Adults.

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.

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.