Lab Members

Lauren C. Ng, PhD
Lab Director
laurenng@ucla.edu
 

Dr. Lauren Ng is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at UCLA. She conducts translational psychological science and health disparities research for children, adolescents, and adults. The goal of her research is to reduce mental health disparities for underserved, minority communities in the US and in low- and middle-income countries. She is currently conducting research studies in the US and in Ethiopia. Her research spans many areas along the translational science pipeline including using qualitative and mixed-methods to develop and adapt interventions, evaluating intervention efficacy and process, and using hybrid effectiveness-implementation methods to increase the likelihood of implementation and sustainability in real world settings. In addition, her research emphasizes bi-directional learning between global and local research and practice settings to improve access to, and quality of, care in the US and around the world.

Caroline E. Shanholtz, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
cshanholtz@psych.ucla.edu
 

Dr. Caroline Shanholtz is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Psychology at UCLA. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Arizona and completed her predoctoral internship at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Shanholtz’s program of research involves developing, evaluating, and implementing evidence-based interventions targeting stress and trauma for youth and families involved in the legal system. Dr. Shanholtz also has a special interest in utilizing telehealth and technology to enhance treatment outcomes and increase treatment accessibility. The goal of her research is to utilize the legal system to provide evidenced-based care to improve outcomes for historically marginalized youth and reduce the disparity of mental health service utilization for underserved communities. Dr. Shanholtz conducts community based participatory research to adapt evidence-based interventions to meet the needs of key stakeholders and increase the likelihood of implementation and sustainability of evidence-based treatments within the legal system.

Gray Bowers, MA
Lab Manager
Graybowers@ucla.edu
 

Gray is a graduate from the California State University, Long Beach Master’s in Psychological Research Program with an emphasis in stress and coping research. Gray’s research has examined the effects of stress in vulnerable populations, particularly the relationships between trauma, stress, and use of coping strategies. They have experience working with diverse populations such as homeless youth, undocumented immigrants, and veterans with SMI. Their research goals include taking an intersectional and interdisciplinary approach to understanding how trauma and identity relate to mental illness development and treatment in underserved populations. Through their research, Gray hopes to contribute to a better understanding of the impacts of stress on well-being and the improvement of individualized care in vulnerable populations.

Christine Bird, MA
Graduate Student
christinebird@ucla.edu
 

Christine is a doctoral student in the TRUST lab, who is interested in the contextual factors of trauma (e.g., identity, neglect vs. abuse, negative cognitions, social factors) and the development of mental health outcomes. Her research goals are to inform treatment, particularly for underserved minorities, through better understanding of the complexities of trauma and trauma classification. Christine earned her MA in Psychology from the University at Buffalo and her BA in Art Conservation and Art History from the University of Delaware. Christine is also a cofounder of the hiring assessment firm, Plum, and co-creator of Stronger Together WNY, a non-profit organization that aims to advance the voices of targeted minorities. She is also the creator/co-editor of the PCSAS Newsletter, designed to inform and inspire advocacy for the Clinical Science movement.

Gia Chodzen, MA
Graduate Student
giachodzen@g.ucla.edu
 

Gia received her undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies from Depaul University in Chicago, IL. Gia is currently a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program at UCLA and is co-advised by Dr. Lauren Ng and Dr. Denise Chavira. Gia’s research focuses on examining malleable factors that may improve psychological treatment outcomes among LGBTQ+ individuals and racial minorities. She is particularly interested in examining intersectional minority identity in the context of increasing the efficacy of trauma-focused interventions.

Rddhi Moodliar, BA
Graduate Student
rddhim@g.ucla.edu
 

Rddhi received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Washington – Seattle. A series of formative undergraduate and post-baccalaureate research experiences motivated Rddhi to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology. As a graduate student in UCLA’s Clinical Psychology program and a member of the TRUST Lab, Rddhi is interested in understanding how marginalized groups react to and cope with trauma. In particular, she is curious about the influence of culture and context on the utilization, engagement, and effectiveness of interventions. Ultimately, Rddhi hopes to develop accessible and culturally sensitive interventions for trauma exposure.

Yesenia Aguilar Silvan, BA
Graduate Student
yaguilarsilvan@ucla.edu
 

Yesenia received her undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Latin American Studies from UCLA. For post-baccalaureate, Yesenia worked as a clinical research coordinator focusing on the implementation and dissemination of evidence-based mental health interventions for vulnerable populations, such as ethnic and racial minorities, first-generation immigrants exposed to trauma, and high-risk urban youth. Yesenia is currently a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program at UCLA and is advised by Dr. Lauren Ng. Her research focuses on identifying and addressing mutable factors that contribute to documented healthcare disparities in care access, continuity, quality, and outcomes for vulnerable populations. In particular, Yesenia is interested in using community-driven strategies to develop, culturally adapt, and implement trauma interventions for hard-to-reach, underserved, minority communities.

Megha Nagaswami, BA
Graduate Student
mnagaswami@ucla.edu
 

Megha received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating, Megha worked as a clinical research coordinator in a lab focused on developing evidence-based treatments for depression. She is currently a graduate student in the Clinical area and is advised by Dr. Lauren Ng. Her research focuses on understanding experiences of interpersonal violence and its related trauma in underserved populations with an emphasis on long-term mental health outcomes of survivors. She aims to understand the role of culture and other factors in perceptions and experiences of both interpersonal violence and trauma. Megha’s ultimate research goal is to contribute to culturally-sensitive, community based approaches to addressing interpersonal violence.

Irene Lee
Undergraduate Research Assistant
ireneseolee@ucla.edu
 

Irene Lee is a third-year undergraduate student at UCLA double majoring in Psychology and International Development Studies. In the future, she hopes to combine these passions to work with families, especially children, who have been forced to flee their home states. Through this work, she hopes to focus on psychological first aid and impact policies and strategies on crisis response.

Angela Somantri
Undergraduate Research Assistant
 

Angela Somantri is a third-year undergraduate psychology student at UCLA. She works as a research assistant at the TRUST lab, with the goal of someday going into research herself.

Raksha Narasimhan
Undergraduate Research Assistant
 

Raksha Narasimhan is a third-year undergraduate Pre-Human Biology and Society major and Applied Developmental Psychology minor at UCLA. In the future, she hopes to serve in the medical field as a public health director. She is particularly interested in research on health policy and on minority mental health.

Seerat Chawla
Research Assistant
schawla45@ucla.edu
 

Seerat Chawla is a third-year undergraduate Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology major at UCLA. She is particularly interested in research on public health efforts and intersectional identities. In the future, she hopes to combine these interests to serve minority populations, working to improve access and quality of care.

Nicole Belton-Mercado
Undergraduate Research Assistant
 

Nicole Belton-Mercado is a fourth-year undergraduate Psychology major and Gender Studies minor at UCLA. They are particularly interested in intersectionality and minority mental health. In the future, they hope to serve their community as a clinical psychologist aiding foster youth and survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV).

Gena Huynh
Undergraduate Research Assistant
 
Gena Huynh is a third-year undergraduate majoring in Psychology and minoring in Global Studies. She is interested in intergenerational trauma within minority communities and providing culturally informed mental healthcare. Through this work, she hopes to provide psychological services to underserved populations.
Elizabeth Marquez
Research Assistant
lizzymarquez99@gmail.com
 

Elizabeth received her undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Education Studies from UCLA. She is particularly interested in research that focuses on understanding the effects of trauma and the client-therapist relationship on pathways to incarceration. In the future, she hopes to utilize her research efforts to inform public policy on how to promote mental health services for individuals who are at risk of incarceration.

Dessery Arreola
Undergraduate Research Assistant
desseryca@ucla.edu
 

Dessery Arreola is a third-year undergraduate Psychology major and Education Studies and Chicana/o Studies double minor at UCLA. She is interested in the mental health disparities that marginalized communities experience, especially children. In the future, she hopes to improve the quality of, and access to treatment in underserved communities.

Vidhi Jain
Undergraduate Research Assistant
vidhijain18@gmail.com
 

Vidhi is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology. They are interested in exploring how Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), attachment issues, and trauma impact mental health outcomes across the lifespan. In the future, they aspire to serve marginalized communities as a mental health practitioner while continuing to engage in research and advocacy work in the aforementioned areas.

Sara Fardeheb
Undergraduate Research Assistant
sarafardeheb@gmail.com
 

Sara Fardeheb is a third-year undergraduate majoring in Psychology and minoring in Public Affairs and Community Engagement and Social Change. She is interested in optimizing mental health outcomes for overlooked populations, such as children of immigrants. Her future goals may also include crafting sustainable interventions in schools to improve mental health access and outcomes.

Sarah Hamza
Undergraduate Research Assistant
sarah1120@g.ucla.edu
 

Sarah Hamza is a third year Psychobiology major at UCLA. She is particularly interested in refugee and immigrant mental health, as well as the factors that affect their access and utilization of healthcare services. In the future, she hopes to serve her community as a clinician.