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Doctoral Students

Always fun to spend time with former doctoral students. I'm so lucky that chance has led many to still be in the DC area. Getting to see them raise their own families has been so special to me!

Jess Nysenbaum, Christina Gee, Claudia Reyes, and Colleen Varga


Alyssa Poblete successfully defended her dissertation, "Parental Self-Efficacy in Low-Income, Ethnically Diverse Mothers".  Former labmates Lyzaida Rivera-Bauer and Sunny Hwang, and current lab member Barunie Kim came out for a celebratory Thai lunch!


Fun time seeing former doctoral student advisees Colleen Varga and Claudia Reyes (and other Ph.D. alums) at Claudia's son's birthday party. So lucky to have many former students stay in the area!


We had the first-ever lab reunion in July 2018. All of my current and former doctoral advisees and their families/significant were invited for dinner.  Many had never met before - it was a lot of fun!


Current and Former Grad Student Bios

Maya Cook [2019-present]

Maya joined the lab in 2019. She attended George Mason University and received her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology in 2016, and then spent three years working in the Early Childhood Development department at Child Trends, a non-profit research organization based in Bethesda, MD that is focused on improving the lives of vulnerable children and youth. Her current research interests include the impact that co-parenting behaviors, parent stress, and successful parenting interventions have on children’s behavior and emotional development. Outside of school, Maya enjoys exploring D.C. with friends, trying new coffee shops and restaurants, and relaxing with a good Netflix binge.


Barunie Kim [2017-present]

Barunie graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Psychology in 2014, then worked at NYU Langone Health for two years, coordinating implementation research of ParentCorps, a family-centered, school-based intervention for PreK children living in high-poverty neighborhoods. Her current research interests include predictors of parenting behaviors, coparenting relationship quality, and father involvement in low-income, ethnically/racially diverse parents of young children. Barunie spends her free time playing board games, biking around the DC area, and exploring vegan/vegetarian restaurants.

Rachel Mack  [2014-present]

Rachel graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. with Honors in Human Development in 2010 and served as a Teach For America corps member in Baltimore, Maryland. Her research interests include the influence of intimate partner violence, coparenting, and parenting style on child adjustment. Outside of work, Rachel enjoys group fitness classes, live music, and trying new restaurants. Rachel is completing her clinical internship at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.


Alyssa Poblete  [2013-2019]

Alyssa graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Psychology in 2011, then worked in a psychology lab at UNC Chapel Hill for two years, coordinating a study on depression and self-injury in adolescent girls. Her research interests include romantic and coparenting relationships among young, ethnically diverse couples, as well as help-seeking attitudes and behaviors among Asian American youth. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with friends and family (including her dog Bentley!), reading, traveling, and exploring new places through food! 

Sun Young (Sunny) Hwang  [2010-2018] 

Sunny graduated from University of Michigan with a B.A. in Psychology and Applied Statistics. Her interests are seeing how father's involvement change over time and how that affects the relationship quality with the child's mom, psychological factors such as parenting stress, depression, anxiety disorders in moms and attitude towards parenting roles. During her free time, she enjoys being with her friends and going to new places in Washington, DC!  Sunny completed her internship at Children's Mercy in Kansas City.

Lyzaida Rivera [2009-2017] 

Lyzaida graduated from Stetson University with a B.S. in Psychology in 2009. Her general research interests include early childhood development and disorders, parenthood and factors affecting parenting skills and parent perception of competency, particularly in minority and adolescent parents. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family by cooking new meals, game nights, and exploring D.C. through photography.  Lyzaida completed her internship at Temple University.

Jessica Nysenbaum [2005 - 2017]

Jessica graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a B.A. in Psychology in 2003 Her research interests include exploring the associations between direct and indirect sex communication among parents, children, and older siblings, relationship quality, and contraceptive use. When she is not working, Jessica enjoys spending time with family and friends and reading. Jessica completed her clinical internship at the George Mason University Counseling Center.

Claudia Ximena Reyes [2007-2014]. Claudia completed her undergraduate degree at George Mason University. While at GW, she conducted research on maternal depression.  She completed her clinical internship at the Virginia Tech Counseling Center. She is currently conducting psychological evaluations of Latino families that inform legal decisions regarding immigration and deportation.
Colleen Varga [2007-2011]. Prior to coming to GW, Colleen completed her Master's degree in psychology at Towson University. Colleen's dissertation focused on coparenting in adolescent mothers' relationships with their children's fathers. She completed her internship with the United States Air Force.

Suzanne Leaman  [2004 - 2009]. Suzanne completed her undergraduate degree at the College of William and Mary. Her dissertation focused on intimated partner violence in adolescent mothers and religious coping among African survivors of torture and trauma.  

Michael Reiter [2003-2007]. Mike completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Rochester. His dissertation focused on inter-ethnic and inter-religious couples. He currently specializes in the treatment of anxiety, ADHD, executive functioning, & depression.

Christopher McNerney [2002-2007]. Chris's dissertation focused on interracial and inter-ethnic relationships. Following the completion of his Ph.D., he earned his Master's of Divinity degree.