Cohort - Class of 2025

Akansha Magal

As someone who has long been curious about the impacts of adversity on a child’s overall health, Akansha is fascinated by how people respond to adversity in different ways, how the brain plays a pivotal role in shaping our responses to life’s challenges, and most notably, why some individuals seem more resilient than others. Her previous experiences in a clinical psychology lab have provided her with firsthand observations of the enduring effects of early-life stressors and adverse childhood experiences on mental health and well-being, motivating her to delve deeper into the intricate connections between our experiences and the brain. She is drawn to the concept of viewing mental disorders as developmental brain disorders, with the goal of identifying signs or signals in the body that can help diagnose mental illnesses at an early stage, allowing for timely intervention and potentially mitigating their impact.

Alondra Razon

My name is Alondra Razon, and I am a third-year Psychology major with a minor in Brain and Behavioral Health. I am a research assistant for Dr. Karlsgodt’s Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience Lab. Last year, I had the opportunity to complete an independent project where I analyzed the relationship between symptom severity and cognitive functioning in early psychosis, and this year, I am analyzing white matter tracts that may mediate this relationship. In the future, I hope to pursue a career in neuropsychiatric rehabilitation and provide mental health services to individuals on the psychosis spectrum who live in under-resourced communities by creating a non-profit organization.

Angelina Meng

Angelina Meng is a third year Psychology major interested in studying the impact of early life adversity on one’s brain and behavioral health. In particular, she intends to specialize in examining different parenting styles’ role as a mediator between early life challenges and health outcomes. Her involvement with autistic children at a special education school in her hometown, Shanghai, drove her desire to join the minor in wish to learn more about how to enhance accessibility to helpful facilities for neurodivergent children. Angelina currently serves as a research assistant for the Parenting and Children’s Friendship Program at the Semel Institute, where she actively engages in an evidence-based social skills treatment program tailored for elementary school children.

Angie Eng

As a Psychology major with double minors in Brain and Behavioral Health and Gender Studies, my interest lies in exploring the ways women’s health and sexuality are intricately connected to the brain and body. Positioned uniquely by my academic background, I aim to delve into sexual psychophysiological research, bridging gender gaps and enhancing general health, psychological well-being, intimacy, and bodily autonomy. My dedication is rooted in the belief that sexual, mental, and physical health are intertwined forces that collectively shape our overall quality of life. With a profound understanding of our bodies, individuals, especially women, can unlock the vast potential benefits of sexual well-being. Access to pleasure becomes a form of empowerment, a birthright that every individual deserves and should embrace.

Anna Deng

Anna Deng is a third-year Psychology major with an interest in public health and translational approaches for treating mental health disorders. Her engagement in the Parenting and Children’s Friendship Program, aimed at improving parenting and children’s social skills, fosters her dedication to introducing accessible and effective mental health strategies for diverse communities and leading her to join the minor. She wishes to further her impact by pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health, with a commitment to integrating holistic approaches into mental health care.

Ariel Wang

Ariel Wang is a Psychobiology major from Toronto, Canada interested in the intersection of the biological foundation of neurological disorders. She currently works in the Flint Lab under Dr. Patrick Chen as a research assistant studying the neural circuits underlying anxiety and aggression. She hopes that through this minor, she will be able to integrate scientific knowledge with expertise in public health to create a more holistic view of patients suffering from mental health issues. In her free time, Ariel loves to dance, play badminton, ski/snowboard, and hang out with her family and friends.

Ashley Kang

My name is Ashley Kang and I am a third year double majoring in Psychology and Sociology with a minor in Brain and Behavioral Health. I aspire to be a forensic psychologist in the future and am very interested in how social and environmental stimulus impact children and their growth as they assimilate to their respective societies. My passion for this topic stemmed from various true crime podcasts, where I became interested in learning about how different childhood environmental factors can influence an individual’s decisions as an adult. I am currently working at Dr. Callaghan’s Brain and Body Lab at UCLA, where we are researching the effects of early life adversities and environment on a child and their development as well as Professor Paquette-Smith’s Teaching Learning and Communications Lab, where we are trying to find a link between speech perception and production.

Emma Kwang

Emma Kwang is a third year majoring in Psychology, she aspires to work in the field of behavioral health, and aims to become a behavioral therapist in the future. She has a strong passion for positive psychology interventions to improve resilience and well-being, and how to increase awareness in the concept of mental health, as many do not devote themselves to behaviors that prioritize well-being. As someone who has experienced education and life in Hong Kong and the US, she is greatly interested in the intersectionality of social aspects in behavioral development, as social context plays a complex role in how mental wellness is perceived.

Sophi Whitman

Sophi Whitman is a third-year Psychobiology major who is very interested in neuropsychology and studying neurocognitive functions and behaviors. She is a board member of the UCLA Undergraduate Research Journal of Psychology and works with Interaxon, an organization that teaches Neuroscience to under-resourced schools. While she is not set on a career-path, she hopes to work in the field of health. The Brain and Behavioral health minor has given her great insight on the connection between the brain and body and applying her scientific knowledge to promote wellbeing.

Dafne Piña Castro

Dafne Piña Castro is a first-generation student and third-year Psychology major with a Brain and Behavioral Health minor at UCLA. She is the Director of Fundraising Outreach for Lift the Mask, a new organization at UCLA that aims to reduce the stigma around mental health and improve student wellness by promoting awareness and resources surrounding mental health. Her long-term goal is to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology to become a Clinical Psychologist and open her practice to provide diagnosis and treatment for adolescents and adults suffering from mental disorders. In addition, she is committed to partnering with health service organizations and community members to create programs for Latinx communities of low socioeconomic backgrounds, addressing issues such as addiction, mental health, and homelessness while promoting resources and destigmatization around mental health.

Henry Hsieh

Henry is a Psychobiology major with a strong interest in exploring the complex dimensions of depression and autism. With aspirations in adolescent and child psychiatry, he is part of AllBrains, a club dedicated to providing resources and fostering a space for neurodivergent students. Additionally, Henry is a researcher at the De Biase Lab, where he investigates the neurocircuitry of Parkinson’s disease within microglia cells.

Tia Patel:

Hi, my name’s Tia, and I am a Psychology major with a Specialization in Computing from Nairobi, Kenya. Intrigued by the interplay between the mind and the body, my research delves into the complexities of integrative psychology and somatic therapy, in particular, the impact of psychological trauma on physical health. As an advocate for accessible mental health support, I’m also drawn to holistic methods that value the synergy between conventional and alternative paths to wellness, such as creative behavioral therapy and mindfulness. Beyond academics, you can find me unwinding with my guitar, trying out a new coffee shop, or going on a long drive.

Claire O’Keefe

My name is Claire O’Keefe and I’m a third-year Psychobiology major with a minor in Brain and Behavioral Health. I’m passionate in learning about addiction and mental illness and the different interventions available to treat these disorders; further, I am wanting to pursue psychiatry in order to help improve individual’s well-being through pharmacological and psychosocial treatments.

Aanya Jajoo

Aanya Jajoo, a Junior at UCLA, is majoring in Psychobiology with a Minor in Brain and Behavioral Health and a Specialization in Computing. With valuable experience volunteering with foster youth and neurodivergent children, she is intrigued by peer relationships and aspires to work with adolescents and their parents. Aanya plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology, aiming to specialize as a clinical psychologist.

Katelyn Alvarado

Hi! My name is Katelyn Alvarado, and I am a Human Biology and Society major at UCLA. I decided I wanted to minor in Brain and Behavioral Health because I felt it was a perfect way to further explore my interests in adverse childhood experiences and the social determinants of health and how these experiences and societal acts play into our biological health. Outside of my studies, I love to read, play basketball, and spend time with my family located in South Central Los Angeles.

Christine Eun

Christine is a third-year student majoring in Psychology and double-minoring in Brain and Behavioral health and Global Health. In addition to her studies, Christine is an Undergraduate Research Associate for the Anxiety and Depression Research Center at UCLA and the Brain, Attention, and Data Science Lab at Semel Institute. She is broadly interested in using neuroimaging techniques to determine the biological bases and identify biomarkers of various neuropsychological disorders. In the future, Christine plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. In her free time, she enjoys discovering new music, baking, and window shopping at IKEA.

Dongfang Tian

I am Dongfang Tian from Beijing, China. I like dancing, the brain, and consciousness. My passion for brain and behavioral health lies in understanding anxiety-related mental disorders and how non-invasive approaches such as mindfulness practice and movement therapy could be helpful.

Emily Zhu

Emily is a third year neuroscience major from Vancouver, BC. Having worked with children in various teaching environments, she became interested in how kids learn and the disorders that can accompany those learning processes, memory, and/or socialization. Furthermore, she hopes to better understand how anxiety, depression, and learning/memory- elated deteriorations develop through a lifetime and how they are impacted by environmental and social conditions experienced at an early age. Outside of serving as Internal Communications Director for the Neuroscience Undergraduate Society and conducting quality control on fMRI brain scans in a brain atrophy focussed lab, Emily spends her time  erforming with ACA Lion Dance, playing badminton, reading, and bullet journalling.

Haven Roper

My name is Haven Roper and I am a neuroscience major. My studies in Brain and Behavioral Health lend directly to my primary research interest in the use of psychedelic therapy in the treatment of end-of-life anxiety. When I’m not in the lab, I love hiking, thrifting, and film photography.

Katelyn Gutierrez

Katelyn Gutierrez is a third year, first generation Psychology major with an interest in studying psychiatric disorders within young adolescent populations. She is currently the Director of Recruitment for Lift the Mask that follows the mission statement, “Fostering, understanding, and promoting open conversations about well being.” As a member of the Hispanic community, she is dedicated to empowering Hispanic youth from low-income backgrounds, specializing in researching and addressing psychiatric disorders prevalent among them. Interested in investigating the influence of culture on mental health, Katelyn is committed to breaking down internal barriers and promoting mental health equity, to foster a future where mental health education is integrated from an early age.

Kayla Barton

My name is Kayla Barton, and I am a third-year Psychology major with a minor in Brain and Behavioral Health. I have always been passionate about the inner workings of the brain and how these inner workings connect to overall human mental health, which is why I have become a research assistant in Dr. Steve Lee’s ADHD Developmental Lab here at UCLA. Our lab’s goal is to investigate the causes, development, and implications of ADHD and other related child behavioral disorders, with a focus on advancing the creation of treatments to alleviate the heavy burden associated with these conditions. My desire to make a positive difference in the lives of those around the world has inspired me to pursue a career as a forensic psychologist in the future.

Lisa Ramos

Lisa Ramos is a psychobiology major originally from the Bay Area. Her current areas of interest regard the environmental and biological factors that contribute to youth development. She is interested in exploring the role of parental health in child development and the application of pharmacology to help with their mental health, as well as the consequential effects of physical and verbal abuse on children. She hopes to pursue a field in pediatric psychiatry, working concurrently with advocacy organizations to contribute to policies that benefit children’s wellbeing beyond clinical care.

Marleyna Adler

My name is Marleyna Adler and I am a third year Psychology major with a particular interest in the fields of developmental and behavioral psychology. I am enthusiastic about discovering the “so what” in the data we collect as scientists, connecting with people over the aspects that make us most human, and supporting individuals as they gain the skills they need to thrive. In addition to my academic pursuits, I am involved in the UCLA community as a UCLA Campus Tour Guide, a member of the Student Alumni Association, Social Media Manager for the UCLA Student Media Team, and the Director of Engagement at Hillel.

Luca Mcdonnell

My name is Luca McDonnell, and I am a third-year psychology major with a minor in brain and behavioral health studies. I am active in an adolescent development lab and a clinical lab, doing work ranging from exploring how prosocial behavior affects adolescents’ daily wellbeing to how virtual reality can help with memory specificity and reward training in depressed individuals. My research interests examine how parent support can affect adolescent wellbeing, and how perceived beliefs of control over one’s life can improve anxiety symptoms.

Nadia Ghanbari

Greetings! I am Nadia, a third-year pre-medical student at UCLA majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Brain and Behavioral Health. I have a keen interest in the brain and am currently working in a psychiatry lab studying the effects of pain and addiction in mice. In my free time, I enjoy running, yoga, cooking, and DJing for my friends.

Selene Lam

Hi! I am a third year Human Biology and Society major, double minoring in Film and Media Studies and Brain and Behavioral Health. I am honored to be part of the BBH’s 4th cohort, and my experience with the minor’s classes so far has cemented my passion in improving accessibility to both social and medical services. With my experience of working with the unhoused and at CalFresh Initiative at UCLA, I have an avid interest in exploring the public health aspect of housing and food insecurity. This minor has provided a solid foundation for my interdisciplinary exploration in the biological sciences and behavioral health, which will contribute to my long term career goal as I aim to be a physician with a specialization in addiction science.

Sila Sozeri

I’m Sila, a 3rd-year majoring in Psychology and minoring in Brain and Behavioral Health from Istanbul, Turkey. In addition to aspiring to become a clinical psychologist, my current research interests lie in the intersection of clinical psychology, brain and behavioral health, and neuroimaging research. To that end, I am primarily interested in exploring autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and personality disorders, using neuroimaging technologies. I am interested in how environmental protective and risk factors impact women and gender diverse individuals in terms of symptom development, manifestation, and treatment trajectories.

Wenyue (Lily) Li

Lily Li is a third year psychology major who aspires to become a bilingual mental health practitioner in English and Mandarin Chinese. She is excited to partake in the Brain & Behavioral Health minor for its intersectionality between neuroscience and health psychology and its emphasis on research and clinical applications. Lily is interested in applying her studies to develop culturally situated, well-translated, and well-developed clinical interventions in the future.

Ian del Rosario

Ian del Rosario is a third year psychobiology major. He hopes to pursue a career in psychiatry and is interested in addiction sciences and the future of pharmacological interventions. He believes that the brain and behavioral health minor will expand his understanding of how to promote better healthcare for those who struggle with mental health.