Female faculty making an impact

For Women’s History Month, the FIU Center for Children and Families (CCF) is celebrating the female faculty who are making a tremendous impact on child and adolescent mental health.

Approximately 50 percent of the faculty at the center are female and each year, they publish many scientific research papers in top journals and generate millions of dollars in external funding to continue gaining new insights about the cause, process, effects and treatment of child and adolescent mental health disorders.

Here are the 23 female scientists making a difference in our community and around the world:

Amanda Allen, Assistant Professor, Department of Counseling, Recreation and School Psychology

Allen is a certified school psychologist in the state of Florida. Her research focuses on the early identification and intervention for youth who are experiencing difficulties with their emotional and behavioral functioning. The emphasis of her current prevention-research pertains to enhancing the skillset of educators to conduct universal screening, targeted intervention, and create mentally healthy classrooms. 

Amy Altszuler, Research Assistant Professor, Center for Children and Families

Altszuler is the assistant clinic director at the Center for Children and Families and the director of the ADHD and Behavior Disorders Clinic. Her research focuses on improving long-term outcomes for children diagnosed with ADHD and related behavioral concerns. Specifically, she is interested in how behavioral interventions, stimulant medication and their combination can be used to improve functioning across home, school and peer contexts for this population.

Janellie Azaret, Research Assistant Professor, Center for Children and Families

A developmental and behavioral pediatrician, Azaret works on grants that require a physician to prescribe medication for ADHD and provides clinical services in the CCF clinic.

Lorraine Bahrick, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Psychology

As director of the Infant Development Lab at the Center for Children and Families, Bahrick conducts research on the early development of attention, perception, learning and memory for social and nonsocial events in typically developing infants and children, as well as in children of atypical development.

Melissa L. Baralt, Associate Professor, Department of Modern Languages

Baralt’s funded studies explore how bilingualism moderates executive function in children born prematurely. She and her team are working with FIU’s biomedical engineering faculty to use Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy to explore the neural recruitment of executive functioning in preterm-born children with different language environments. Her research also focuses on language-development interventions for young children, with a focus on bilingual language development.

Tana Carson, Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy

Carson has a Ph.D. in Psychology in the area of Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience as well as a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. Her research interests include evidence-based practices, sensory processing and neurodevelopmental disorders. She has ongoing projects aimed at developing treatments to better address auditory hyper-reactivity sensory features of autism spectrum disorders.

Stefany Jean Coxe, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Coxe’s research focuses on evaluating and applying advanced statistical methods to behavioral data. Her applied research takes place largely in the context of clinical and psychosocial interventions at the center.

Michelle Cumming, Assistant Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning

Cumming’s research focuses on improving the social, emotional, and academic outcomes of students with disabilities, with a focus on students with or at-risk for emotional and behavioral disorders.

Nicole Fava, Assistant Professor, Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, School of Social Work

Fava’s research bridges the child maltreatment and sexuality fields from a developmental, trauma-informed, resilience-based framework in order to highlight the importance of protective factors across various environmental contexts to support wellbeing and sexual health among those who have experienced trauma or childhood maltreatment.

Jami Michele Furr, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Furr is the associate clinical director of the center. Her clinical expertise and research interests are in cognitive-behavioral treatment of childhood anxiety and disruptive behavior disorders, with a focus on preschool mental health. Specifically, she concentrates in weekly and intensive treatment programs for preschool aged children with selective mutism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder and other anxiety disorders, as well as in parent-child interaction therapy for young children with disruptive behavior disorders.

Shayl Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Counseling, Recreation and School Psychology

Griffith’s research interests center on the behavioral and academic functioning of at-risk young children, with special interests in early identification and intervention in problems of development, parent-child interactions, child media use and the use of mobile technology to support interventions. She is also collaborating with the Miami-Dade Family Learning Partnership to develop and evaluate caregiver guides including tips for positive educational media use for families participating in a county-wide book distribution program, with funding from The Children’s Trust.

Katie C. Hart, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Hart is director of the School R.E.A.D.Y (Readiness Interventions to Improve Early Learning and Disruptive Behaviors in Young Children) Lab at the center and program director of the Reading Explorers Program and the FIU Summer Academy in Liberty City. Her research focuses on school readiness in young children with or at-risk for ADHD and related disruptive behavior disorders and early learning problems.

Kellina Lupas, Research Assistant Professor, Counseling, Recreation and School Psychology

Lupas’ research focuses on school-based interventions for children with attention and behavioral difficulties, including those with ADHD and Autism. Her work emphasizes the creation and use of interventions at varying intensities (multi-tiered systems of support), the development of training programs for educators, and disseminating our interventions to those who need them the most. Pyle’s work strives to create a continuum of support across contexts, with the goal of improving children’s social, academic, and behavioral functioning.

Dana McMakin, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

McMakin is director of the REMEDY (Research Exploring Motivational and Emotional Development in Youth) Lab, where her and her team use conceptual models and tools from developmental neuroscience to inform interventions for adolescents with, or at risk for, problems related to controlling emotion and behavior such as suicide, depression and anxiety. She also holds a dual appointment at the Brain Institute in the Department of Neurology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

Erica D. Musser, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Musser is director of the ABC-ERICA (Assessment of Behavior, Cognition, & Emotion Regulation In Children and Adolescents) Lab, which focuses in furthering the understanding of a multitude of childhood and adolescence behavior problems, including those involving disruptions in behavior, cognition, and emotion.

Mei Yi Ng, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Ng is the director of the Mechanisms Underlying Treatment Technologies (MUTT) Lab and conducts research with the goal of advancing the science and practice of psychotherapy for youths, especially adolescents with depression.

Kristin A. Nichols, Associate Chair, Department of Psychology

Nichols is the program director of the Professional Counseling Psychology Master’s Program and the associate chair in the Department of Psychology at FIU. She has 10 years of experience in research and evaluation in the areas of developmental, counseling and clinical psychology, as well as in K-12 and postsecondary education.

Ilke Oztekin, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Oztekin is an experimental psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist. Her ongoing projects at the center focus on enhancing our understanding of the specificity of ADHD-related deficits in working memory and executive function, as well as computational modeling approaches that utilize cognitive and neural predictors to improve classification of ADHD.

Shannon Pruden, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Pruden’s research program, the Project on Language and Spatial Development, aims to understand how children acquire language, particularly those words that describe the spatial and relational world such as motion verbs, spatial prepositions and dimensional adjectives such as running, under, and big. She explores the causes and consequences of individual and sex differences in spatial language and spatial cognition in both child and adult populations.

Ashley Shaw, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Shaw is the clinical director, a licensed clinical psychologist and a postdoctoral research associate in the Mental Health Interventions and Technology (MINT) Anxiety Program, within the Center for Children and Families at FIU. Shaw has extensive clinical training in cognitive and behavioral treatments for children and adults, with a special emphasis on emotional disorders, including anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (and related conditions) and depression.

Nicole Schatz, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Schatz is the clinical director at the Center for Children and Families and her research focuses on evidenced-based interventions for children and adolescents with ADHD. This work includes an emphasis on family-based behavioral interventions designed to improve communication and problem-solving strategies for adolescents with ADHD and their parents with a goal of helping adolescents achieve greater success at home, at school, and with peers.

Adela C. Timmons, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Timmons is the director of the Technological Interventions for Ecological Systems (TIES) Lab. Her research examines how childhood stress, trauma, and adversity become biologically embedded and impact stress reactivity and emotion regulation capacity in the context of interpersonal relationships.

Elisa M. Trucco, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Trucco is the director of the Research on Adolescent and Child Health (ReACH) Lab, which is committed to identifying biological, social, and personality factors that lead to alcohol, e-cigarette, and drug use among adolescents and young adults. Her research is focused on understanding early risk and protective factors that lead to adolescent delinquency and substance use.

The FIU Center for Children and Families is a world-class clinical research center dedicated to improving the lives of children and families struggling with mental health problems.