Research Labs

Adversities in Childhood and Trauma Studies (ACT) Lab

Dr. Ruby Charak

The UTRGV ACT lab aims on examining the effect of exposure to multiple types of childhood adversities. These include child abuse and neglect, the related consequences of revictimization during adulthood, and psychopathology, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and personality problems. We also investigate the nosology of PTSD and its comorbidity with other mental disorders (e.g., substance use, depression). Our team has worked with diverse populations, including those from underserved regions of the world (e.g., Burundi, India), combat veterans, forced migrants, orphaned and abandoned children, and survivors of conflict and natural disasters. Our research aims at harboring preventative strategies for reducing violence and victimization among adolescents and emerging adults, treating individual psychopathology, and family dysfunction. If you are interested in working on a research project in the ACT lab or volunteer, please feel free to contact Dr. Charak via our website


Basic Memory and Cognitive Processes

Dr. Jerwen Jou

I am interested in all basic human memory and cognitive processes. Currently I am conducting experiments on recognition memory using response time as a dependent measure. Other areas of interest are false memory, judgment and decision making, and serial-order memory.


Cognitive Science of Language & Education Lab

Dr. Yu-Cheng Lin

We are a growing team of cognitive science researchers working to understand the mechanisms underlying human language and cognition. In our lab, we conduct research on lexical processing (reading and listening), language development, and educational studies in bilinguals and monolinguals in the United States, Canada, and Taiwan. Other areas of research include numerical cognition, special education (dyslexia and learning disabilities), and health literacy. Our studies make use of a wide range of research methodologies, including real-time experimental techniques such as eye-tracking and mouse-tracking methods. The general goal is to achieve a richer view of cognitive processes by combining these research methods. If you are interested in working on a research project or Master’s thesis in the lab or would like to work as a volunteer, please feel free to contact Dr. Lin (


Clinical and Multicultural

Dr. Alfonso Mercado

Research in the Clinical and Multicultural Lab focuses on the etiology, assessment, and treatment of clinical disorders with the Latino population. Some of the ongoing research projects include:

  • Development of ADHD in Latino children
  • Spanish adaption of DBT group therapy with psychiatric population
  • Personality Type and Treatment Outcome
  • Clinical research collaboration with the Universidad de Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Clinical Neuropsychology

Dr. Philip Gasquoine

Specializing in investigations of the impact of Spanish/English bilingualism on neuropsychological test scores. (Have also supervised student theses on racism.)

  • What is the effect of bilingualism on cognition?
  • Are bilinguals more likely to be misdiagnosed in neuropsychological assessment?
  • What is the effect of bilingual education on children with learning disabilities?

Immigration and Mental Health

Dr. Joseph Hovey

Research in the Immigration and Mental Health lab is primarily devoted to the study of mental health-related issues among immigrant-ethnic groups, refugees from other countries, and other acculturating individuals. In addition, the lab examines little-studied areas in the field of psychopathology research, especially in the areas of measure development, stress, resilience, anxiety, and suicide behaviors. Ongoing research studies include:

  • Examination of the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide in individuals living in Mexico
  • Examination of risk and protective factors for PTSD and suicide in Central American refugees
  • Coping competence as a protective factor for Latino/a migrant farmworkers
  • Development of the Coping Inventory, which assesses coping styles of acculturating individuals
  • Relationship of suicide behavior and cyberbullying through social media
  • Rumination and suicide behavior

Lab Website:


Internalizing Disorders in Youth

Dr. Laura Seligman

Research in the Internalizing Disorders in Youth Lab focuses on the etiology, assessment, and treatment of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents as well as examination of the factors related to the accessibility of empirically supported treatments for individuals seeking treatment for anxiety.


Research Enhancing Access to Culturally-Informed Mental Health Services (REACH) Lab

Drs. Bianca T. Villalobos and Juventino Hernandez Rodriguez

The REACH lab is dedicated to increasing access to evidence-based mental health services to underserved populations. Our focus is on developing and examining unique service delivery models in the community (e.g., school-based, telehealth, primary care, etc.). We also seek to create and disseminate prevention and intervention programs that are culturally-sensitive and linguistically-competent. If you are interested in working with the REACH Lab, please visit our website: for more information.


Social and Political Behavior

Dr. Jason Popan

Our research investigates psychological aspects political engagement and voter turnout. Our goal is to investigate psychological barriers to political participation, particularly among young and low-income individuals, and to provide research findings that will inform interventions aimed at mitigating psychological barriers to political participation.

An additional research focus of our lab is on the effects of civility and reason-based argument during political communication on political attitudes and evaluations of political opposition groups.


Stress, Sleep, & Health

Dr. Grant Benham

Research in the Stress, Sleep, & Health Lab focuses on how psychological stress and inadequate sleep affect physical health, and factors that might influence this effect. Some of the questions asked include:

  • Can restingg heart rate variability (HRV) be predicted from measures of stress, perseverative cognitions, and sleep?
  • Are chronic poor sleep and psychological stress associated with skin healing?
  • What role do bedtime perseverative cognitions play as mediators of the stress-insomnia relationship?
  • What personality and behavioral traits moderate stress-sleep-health relationships?

For more information about the lab, head to Stress, Sleep & Health Lab Website.


Trauma and Anxiety Disorders

Dr. Michiyo Hirai

Research in the Trauma and Anxiety Disorders Lab focuses on the etiology, assessment, and treatment of anxiety disorders, particularly Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Phobias. Some of the ongoing research projects include:

  • Expressive writing for trauma consequences
  • Attention bias in trauma victims
  • Online assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders
  • Disgust propensity in specific phobia