Team Members

Lab Director:

resarch team pic Brandy Piña-Watson is from a small city in the south Texas gulf coast region: Port Lavaca (go Sandcrabs!). She received her Ph.D. in counseling psychology at Texas A&M University in 2014 (Whoop!). She is currently a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Counseling Psychology program within the Department of Psychological Sciences at Texas Tech University.  Dr. Piña-Watson’s research focuses on developing an understanding of how individual factors, family dynamics, culture and society impact Latinx adolescent and emerging adult depression, suicidality and well-being with a particular focus on the Mexican descent population.  Her research takes a holistic and resiliency approach acknowledging the complexity and intersection of various identities and contexts that may contribute to well-being and mental health disparities. In her spare time, Dr. Piña-Watson enjoys spending time with friends and family, watching Netflix, cooking, making arts & crafts, reading, and doing any activity outdoors that involves water and sunshine.

Graduate Students:

IMG_0601Ashley Martinez hails from Kansas and is an alumna of the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk!), where she earned her B.A. in Psychology in 2014. Before moving to Texas, Ashley was a volunteer counselor and trainer for two years at a crisis & suicide hotline connected with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). She was also an active research assistant for Dr. Charlene Muehlenhard. Her research interests include nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), suicidality, help-seeking behaviors, and gender roles with emerging adults. In her “free time,” she enjoys singing loudly, watching YouTube videos, playing with make-up, and trying new local restaurants with friends.

TTU Counseling Psychology Faculty Advisor: Dr. Brandy Piña-Watson

IMG 0612Abigail Cruz received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Central Arkansas in 2015. Before returning to Texas, Abigail was a research assistant for Dr. John Murphy and conducted independent research under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer Brinegar as part of the Undergraduate Scholar program at UCA. She previously served as the lab manager for the Latina/o Mental Health & Resiliency Lab for Dr. Brandy Piña-Watson. Her research interests include examining the influence of familial, cultural, and resilience factors on depression, suicidality, life satisfaction, and self-esteem in adolescents and emerging adults. Abigail’s favorite pastimes include cuddling with her pug, Bert, kayaking, reading, dreaming about traveling, and exploring different music genres.

TTU Counseling Psychology Faculty Advisor: Dr. Brandy Piña-Watson

IMG_5740Daisy Aceves is from a Southeast Los Angeles city in California: Huntington Park. She received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Chicana/o Studies from California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). Before coming to Texas Tech, she was an MBRS-RISE scholar, a MHIRT trainee, and actively involved in three labs: the Applied Psychology and Psychology-Law (APPL) lab at CSUDH, the Collaborative Adolescent Research on Emotions and Suicide (CARES) lab at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and the Cultural and Mental Health lab at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include mental health disparities, resiliency and familial factors in coping with a mental illness, and caregiver burden among Latinxs. Some of her hobbies include snowboarding, swimming, and attending concerts.

TTU Counseling Psychology Faculty Advisor: Dr. Brandy Piña-Watson

PWLGabriela Manzo is from Orange County, CA. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Social Behavior with minors in Education and Civic & Community Engagement from University of California, Irvine. During her time at UCI, she pursued various research involvements including research assistantships at the UCI Culture, Relationships, and Health Lab as well as the UCI Family Lab, and as a MHIRT Trainee. She has also worked in community mental health clinics as a clinic intern, a psychiatrist interpreter, and as an outreach intern. Her research interests focus on better understanding how familial, sociocultural and resiliency factors impact depression and general well being in Latino/a adolescents and emerging adults. Her hobbies include spending time with her son and fiancé, cooking, home design/decor, and exploring nature.

TTU Counseling Psychology Faculty Advisor: Dr. Brandy Piña-Watson

Iliana Pic

Iliana Gonzalez is a native Houstonian and graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in Psychology. As an undergraduate, she was involved in research in the Culture, Risk, and Resilience Lab and the Anxiety and Health Research Lab Substance Use Treatment Clinic (AHRL). After UH, she was a research coordinator at Baylor College of Medicine/Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. Her research interests include suicidal ideation and self-harm behaviors in Latino adolescents. In her spare time, Iliana enjoys going to new restaurants, visiting art museums, and reading.

TTU Counseling Psychology Faculty Advisor: Dr. Brandy Piña-Watson

image1Alexis Arevalo received his Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Texas. While at UNT, Alexis volunteered in the suicide and crisis hotline and learned interventions to reduce individuals’ suicidal ideation and distress. Alexis also worked for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for a few months before entering into graduate school. His research interests revolve around the connections between suicidality, cultural values (e.g., familism), and religiousness. However, when not working on research or clinical work, he enjoys playing soccer, ping pong, reading, or going out to the movies.

TTU Counseling Psychology Faculty Advisor: Dr. Brandy Piña-Watson

PPhoto for Labarker Donner is from Bedford, Texas and received a B.A in Psychology from the University of North Texas in 2014. At UNT Parker served as a research assistant for Dr. Joshua Hook and helped with his research on positive psychology, humility, and religion/spirituality. His research interests include religion/spirituality, religious coping, health outcomes, and stress. Parker enjoys spending time with his wife and son, cooking, camping, following BYU sports, and reading nonpsychology related texts.

TTU Counseling Psychology Faculty Advisor: Dr. Brandy Piña-Watson


Ashley Neduvelil is from Irving, Texas and received her B.S. in Psychology and Child Learning & Development from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2015. At UTD, Ashley was a research assistant in the Family Research Lab and in the Infant Learning Project Lab. She has also worked as a student intern UT Southwestern’s Mood Disorders Research Program and Clinic. Her research interests include stress, depression and coping mechanisms. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys baking, reading, sketching and spending time with friends and family.

TTU Counseling Psychology Faculty Advisor: Dr. Steven Richards

Undergraduate Research Assistants:

Cristina.pngCristina Armendariz was born and raised in Chihuahua,México. She is a junior undergrad student and is planning to graduate in December of 2018. Her major is psychology and she is minoring in Human Resources. Her goal is to get her Bachelors degree and apply to a graduate program to receive a masters degree . She enjoys spending time with her friends, watching drama movies and going shopping.


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Esteisy Escalera is an undergraduate research assistant who transferred from El Paso Community College in 2015. She is a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Forensic Sciences. She also works as a research assistant for Dr. Thoen’s lab at the Texas Tech University’s Forensic Science Institute. After graduating, Esteisy plans to attend graduate school to receive her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Some of her research interests are multicultural issues in assessments and treatments of offenders, forensic assessments and evaluations, and diversity issues in forensic psychology. Some of her hobbies include yoga, hiking and watching movies.

Mercedez Fuentes

Mercedez Fuentes is a third year undergraduate student at Texas Tech University and is a long since, resident of Lubbock Texas. She is currently pursuing her major in Psychology and will be minoring in Forensic Sciences. She is a member of mentor tech and also works as a student assistant in the Classical and Modern Languages department. After graduation she plans on attending graduate school in Chicago.



Alejandra Gonzalez is a senior undergrad from Boerne, Texas. She is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Addictive Disorders and Recovery Studies. She plans on using her experience studying abroad, interning at a women’s shelter, and taking online crisis calls on her pursuit for a Master’s degree in Counseling. She enjoys watching horror movies by herself, eating out with her friends, and watching soccer games with her family.


Paige GonzalezPaige Gonzalez was born and raised in Houston. She is an undergrad Junior, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Spanish. She plans to attend graduate school and achieve a masters degree, after she graduates in May 2019. She is involved in the University Research Scholars program through the Honors College. She is an Honors College Ambassador. She is also the Fundraising chair for Texas Tech Miller Girls. In her free time, she likes to read and spend time with her friends.

Vanessa Loredo

Vanessa Loredo is an undergraduate student born in Weslaco, Texas but raised in Lubbock, Texas. She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. After graduating she plans to use her B.A. in Psychology towards a career in Criminal Law. She is a 2017 Terry Scholar.  During her down time, she enjoys watching crime shows and movies, spending time with her big family as well as attending the occasional music festival.


Cynthia Perez

Cynthia Perez is from a small town near the Lubbock area called Amherst. She is currently a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development and Family Studies. After graduating, she plans on applying to graduate school focused on pediatric neuropsychology. Cynthia likes to spend her time by practicing on her photography, playing with her Chihuahua named Penny, or relaxing after a long day.


Ariana Rivero

Ariana Rivero is a senior research assistant from Lovington, NM and plans to graduate in May of 2018. She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Biology and also plans to attend graduate school to receive a Master’s degree. On campus she is a member of Raiders Helping Others, and outside of campus she volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Ariana enjoys spending time with friends and family, exercising, and traveling.


Karen Urbano is from from Del Rio Texas. She is a psychology major and this is her last year in undergrad. She is currently the president of her sorority, Lambda Theta Alpha, Latin Sorority Inc, works at the Burkhart Autism Center at Texas Tech, and she is currently in her third year of learning Mandarin. After she graduates, she plans on going to grad school to get her PhD in Clinical Psychology. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her dog and cooking.

miranda-west.jpgMiranda West is from Fort Worth, TX. She is a Senior Psychology major with a Spanish minor. After graduation she plans to further her education by attending graduate school. She hopes to be accepted into the Counseling Psychology or Marriage and Family Therapy programs at Texas Tech University. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband, playing music, and running her photography business.