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Graduate Students
Graduate Students
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Sherry Woods, M.S.

​Sherry Woods is a sixth-year graduate student in Dr. Dixon-Gordon’s lab. Before joining CASL, Sherry received her MS at Western Kentucky University and her BA at Pepperdine University; she also spent 2 years working in the Mechanisms of Affect Dysregulation Lab at Temple University. Sherry’s research mainly focuses on maladaptive emotion regulation mechanisms, particularly nonsuicidal self-injury, and the factors that promote and maintain the cessation of these behaviors.

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Elle Waite, M.S.

Elle Waite is a fifth-year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at UMass Amherst, working with Dr. Dixon-Gordon. Before joining the lab, she received her BA in psychology and women’s studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she worked as a research assistant for several labs researching borderline personality disorder and dialectical behavior therapy. She is interested in borderline personality disorder and suicidality, particularly among adolescent populations. Currently, her research is focused on deficits in social learning among people with borderline personality disorder.

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Clara DeFontes, M.S.

Clara is a fourth-year graduate student in the clinical psychology doctoral program. She graduated from
the University of Rochester with a B.A. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Psychology. Prior to
graduate school, Clara completed a post-baccalaureate at Yale University and the West Haven VA,
studying fear learning, emotion regulation, and the efficacy of clinical drug and psychotherapy trials in
populations with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Her interests broadly include the intersection of
emotion dysregulation, impulsivity, and psychophysiological changes within populations who have experienced various forms of trauma.

Master's Thesis: Borderline Personality Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Unique Patterns of Emotion Reactivity and Regulation.

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Dominic Denning

Dom is a first-year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a BA in psychology-research and anthropology. Dom completed a post-baccalaureate research coordinator position at University of California San Diego, Eating Disorder Center for Treatment and Research under the mentorship of Dr. Tiffany Brown. His program of research aims to understand the course, phenomenology, treatment, and prevention of BPD, transdiagnostic emotional dysfunction, and self-damaging behaviors (e.g., suicide, NSSI, and disordered eating) in traditionally underrepresented groups (e.g., men and SGM populations).


Elijah Lawrence

​Elijah is a first-year graduate student in Dr. Dixon-Gordon’s lab. He received his Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Before joining this lab, he volunteered as a research assistant for several years in the Health & Human Performance Lab at Carnegie Mellon University. Elijah is interested in researching emotion regulation and coping strategies. He also wants to investigate the various components that make dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) efficient and effective, in order to help close the gap between science and service. 

Staff and Research Assistants
Research Assistants
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Sarah Huffman

Study Coordinator

Sarah graduated from Seattle University in 2017 with a BA in Psychology and a minor in English. Post graduation, she worked for a Seattle-based mental health clinic and coordinated their DBT program. In 2021, Sarah moved to Massachusetts to join Dr. Dixon-Gordon's lab as the study coordinator. Sarah hopes to eventually pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and is particularly interested in developing more accessible and equitable interventions for emotion dysregulation and high-risk behaviors.

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Nadia Palafox

Undergraduate RA

Nadia Palafox is a senior psychology and sociology double major, due to graduate in the spring of 2023. They joined the lab in the summer of 2020 and are looking to get their Masters of Social Work. After graduating, they would like to work with members from marginalized groups, specifically queer youth and people of color.

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Xiara Calderon Santana

Undergraduate RA and Honors Student

Xiara is a Junior Psychology major in the Commonwealth Honors College, due to graduate in the Spring of 2023. She is also pursuing a Sociology minor and Criminal Justice certificate. She joined the lab in the fall of 2021 and is planning on obtaining a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

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Lindsey Wyner

Undergraduate RA and Honors Student

Lindsey is a sophomore in the Honors College double majoring in psychology and biology on the neuroscience and pre-med tracks. She joined CASL in the Fall of 2021 and has found a love for research through her time in the lab so far. She plans to pursue a career in the medical field while hopefully conducting research as well.

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Connor O'Brien

Undergraduate RA

Connor graduated UMass, Amherst in December 2021 with his B.S. in psychology and a minor in economics.  He joined the lab in Fall 2021, and plans to continue his work at the lab during an interim period before pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.  He is currently working towards a career in research with special interest in risk-taking behaviors and BPD features.

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Adam Klem

Undergraduate RA

Adam is a junior Psychology major, due to graduate in spring 2023. He is hoping to pursue graduate school for Clinical Psychology, and is interested in a career in psychotherapy for depression,PTSD and addiction.

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Athena Sarafoglou

Undergraduate RA

Athena is a senior in the Commonwealth Honors College at UMass Amherst, studying biology and psychology and due to graduate in the spring of 2023. She joined the lab in Fall 2021. She is still currently exploring her interests to narrow down what she’d like to pursue after her undergraduate years. 

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Aline Castro

Undergraduate RA

Aline is a senior Psychology major, on the neuroscience track, due to graduate in the Spring of 2023. She joined the lab in the Fall of 2021. Once she graduates, Aline plans on pursuing a career in the medical field as a Psychiatrist.

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Samantha Jaffe

Undergraduate RA

Samantha is a senior pursuing a BS in Psychology at UMass. She is minoring in Judaic Studies and is working towards a certificate in Social Work and Social Welfare. After graduation, she hopes to continue her education by studying Clinical Psychology in graduate school. Samantha is particularly interested in DID, intergenerational trauma, and other dissociative and trauma-related disorders.

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Emily Gaddy

Undergraduate RA and Honors Student

Emily is a sophomore Psychology major pursuing a minor in Biochemistry in the Commonwealth Honors College. She is due to graduate in 2025 and joined the lab Fall 2022. She plans to obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology after undergrad with the hopes of entering a career in research.

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Rhea Mukherjee

Undergraduate RA

Rhea is a Junior Psychology major with a double minor in Biology and English and a Certificate in the Study and Practice of Writing (SPOW). She is due to graduate in the Spring of 2024. She joined the lab in the Fall of 2022 and is planning on pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

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Esther Muhlmann

Undergraduate RA and Honors Student

Esther is a junior in the Commonwealth Honors College pursuing a degree in psychology and English and a certificate in Civic Engagement and Public Service. She joined the lab in the Fall of 2022 and is due to graduate in the spring of 2024. After graduating, Esther plans on joining a Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology and hopes to become a psychologist and maybe even teach one day.

Lab Alumni

Caroline Ball

Greg Barysky

Ilhan Braxton

Tyler Carey

Brianna Cast-Clifton

Claire Chang

Grace Cho

Jenna Comer 

Carolyn Cole

Lindsey Conkey

Elizabeth Eberlin

Ruby Ferro

Nathan Fitzgerald 

Kristina Fushi

Olivia Gebsky

Lauren Harnedy

Lauren Haliczer, PhD, Fellow, Mass General Hospital

Danielle Hart

Serena In

Colten J. Karnedy, MS, Academic Advisor, George Washington University

Patricia Keeley

Mary Koontz

Brenna Manning

Patrick McGonigal

Meghana Nair

Anne Neary

Marykate Oakley, PhD, Psychologist, Dartmouth College

Harsh Patel

Selime Salim

Rubee Sandhu

Wil Schwartz

Thaine Smith

Cole Stanley

Mackenzie Swenson

Hildy Wen

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