The Team

Founder and Director

Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Laugeson is the Founder and Director of the UCLA PEERS® Clinic, which is an outpatient hospital-based program providing parent-assisted social skills training for preschoolers, adolescents and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other social impairments. She also serves as the Training Director for the UCLA Tarjan Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD).

Dr. Laugeson has been a principal investigator and collaborator on a number of studies funded by the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigating social skills training for youth with developmental disabilities from preschool to early adulthood and is the co-developer of an evidence-based social skills intervention for teens and young adults known as PEERS®. She was the two-time recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the NIH from 2004-2007, recipient of the Semel Scholar Award for Junior Faculty Career Development in 2008, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pepperdine University in 2010. Dr. Laugeson has presented her research at international conferences throughout the world including the U.S., Canada, England, Italy, Australia, and Finland. Her groundbreaking work has been featured on national and international media outlets such as People Magazine, USA Today, the LA Times, New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC, and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.

Assistant Clinical Professor

Mina Park, Ph.D., BCBA-D is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. She received her doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and completed her pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral fellowship at UCLA. Her background is in providing comprehensive neurodevelopmental assessments and empirically supported cognitive and behavioral treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). Currently, she provides assessment and treatment services for ASD and NDDs through the UCLA Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental (CAN) Clinic, and is also a member of the treatment team at the UCLA Achievement, Behavior, and Cognition (ABC) Child Programs.

Clinical Instructor

Ted Hutman, Ph.D., is a clinical and developmental psychologist whose research interests include autism and social emotional development. He is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Modern Thought & Literature from Stanford University. After a stint as orchestra manager of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he pursued doctoral and post-doctoral training in psychology at UCLA under the mentorship of Dr. Marian Sigman. Dr. Hutman's post-doctoral training was funded in part by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and he is the recipient of a career development award from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Clinical Instructor

Vindia G. Fernandez, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist with a private neuropsychology practice in Los Angeles and faculty member in the Michael D. Eisner College of Education at CSU Northridge. She facilitates social coaching groups in the UCLA PEERS Clinic, where she teaches caregivers strategies for helping young adults develop meaningful friendships and romantic relationships. Dr. Fernandez obtained her undergraduate degree at Yale University and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Houston, where she conducted research on structural differences in the brains of children with dyslexia. Dr. Fernandez completed her internship and postdoctoral training at the UCLA Semel Institute. As a recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Health, she studied language and neurocognitive functioning in young adults with schizophrenia.

Clinic Coordinator

Nicole Rosen is the Clinic Coordinator for the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. She manages all aspects of the PEERS® for Preschoolers, PEERS® for Adolescents, and PEERS® for Young Adults social skills intervention groups, and serves as a behavioral coach in these groups. Nicole also coordinates the PEERS® Training Seminar series conducted offsite in various domestic and international locations. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with Bachelor’s degrees in PNP (psychology-neuroscience-philosophy) and Spanish, and a minor in children's studies in 2017. During her undergraduate career, Nicole implemented the PEERS® Program at the Washington University School of Medicine in the William Greenleaf Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry under the mentorship of Dr. John Constantino. She then coordinated and led two successful cohorts of the Washington University PEERS® Program. Nicole also worked as a research assistant in Dr. Constantino’s lab examining social gaze patterns between identical and fraternal twins to show the large influence of genetics on social gaze behavior. Nicole intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology or Neuropsychology in the future. Her research interests include the development of social cognition, early assessment and intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder, and the development of evidence-based interventions for individuals with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Clinic Coordinator

Morgan Jolliffe is the Clinic Coordinator for the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. She manages all aspects of the PEERS® for Preschoolers, PEERS® for Adolescents, and PEERS® for Young Adults social skills intervention groups, and serves as a behavioral coach in these groups. Morgan also coordinates the UCLA PEERS® Training Seminar series conducted onsite at UCLA for mental health professionals and school-based educators. Morgan graduated from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and a minor in mathematics. Morgan is currently attending Pepperdine University to obtain a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology and intends to later pursue a Doctorate degree. Morgan is interested in researching neurodevelopmental disorders. She is particularly interested in autism spectrum disorder and its comorbidity with other neurodevelopmental disorders as well as the effects of childhood trauma on brain physiology.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Aarti Nair, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow with the UCLA Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center and the UCLA PEERS® Clinic at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Nair received her bachelor's degree in psychology and anthropology from the University of Mumbai, and her master’s degree in clinical psychology from UNC Charlotte. In 2015, Dr. Nair received her Ph.D. in neuropsychology from the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology in San Diego, CA. Her primary research interests lie in multimodal imaging studies of social cognition in ASD, specifically using fcMRI and DTI techniques to quantify connectivity differences within this population. As a fellow for the PEERS® Clinic, Dr. Nair co-facilitates the PEERS® for Preschoolers social skills training groups and serves as an intake clinician under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson. She is also a clinical neuropsychology fellow in the Medical Psychology Assessment Center (MPAC) at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Ruth Ellingsen, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Ellingsen received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wake Forest University. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from UCLA in 2016 and completed a clinical internship in child psychology at UCLA from 2015-2016. As a postdoctoral fellow for the UCLA PEERS® Clinic, Dr. Ellingsen co-facilitates PEERS® for Adolescents and PEERS® for Young Adults social skills intervention groups under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson. She is also a postdoctoral fellow in the UCLA Nathanson Family Resilience Center where she specializes in the prevention and treatment of traumatic stress in children and families. Her research focuses on factors that influence positive parenting of children at risk.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Kalina Babeva, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. She received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Vassar College. In 2015, Dr. Babeva received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Southern California. Her research interests lie in the domain of preventing and treating adolescent depression, suicidality, and self-harm. As a fellow for the PEERS® Clinic, Dr. Babeva co-facilitates the PEERS® for Preschoolers social skills training groups and serves as an intake clinician under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson.

PEERS for Preschoolers Senior Research Assistant and Behavioral Coach

Ana Mendoza is a senior research assistant at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson where she serves as a behavioral coach in the PEERS for Preschoolers group held at UCLA. Ana attended Fairfield University where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. In addition to working as a research assistant, she is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology at Pepperdine University. Other than her clinical and research interests in autism spectrum disorder, her interests include anxiety and mood disorders in early childhood and adolescence, and eating disorders.

Senior Research Assistant and Behavioral Coach

Niki Bahri is a senior research assistant at the UCLA PEERS clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where she is involved in scoring and verifying various psychological assessments. Niki attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where she received her B.S. in Psychology with a concentration in Developmental Psychology. Niki has been working at a DIR Floortime agency as a developmental interventionist where she works with children with developmental disabilities and their families on social skills. She intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. Her research interests include social skills and the benefits of various therapies for children with developmental disabilities.

Research Assistant and Behavioral Coach

Preston Johnson is a research assistant at the UCLA PEERS clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where he is involved in scoring and verifying various psychological assessments. He also serves as a behavioral coach in the PEERS® for Preschoolers, PEERS® for Adolescents, and PEERS® for Young Adults social skills groups held at UCLA. Preston attends California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) where he is completing his undergraduate degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Preston has been working with Dr. Lindsey Sterling as a research assistant in the Sterling Autism Lab at CSULB where they are conducting research to better understand depression in adults with ASD. He intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology upon the completion of his undergraduate degree. His interests include the development of validated measures of depression in adults with ASD, as well as creating and testing intervention strategies to address depression symptoms.

Senior Database Research Assistant and Behavioral Coach

Steven Lograsso is a senior database research assistant at the UCLA PEERS clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where he is involved in the coding team, and the scoring and verification of various psychological assessments. Steven attended California State University, Los Angeles, where he received her B.A. in Psychology. Steven has 5 years of experience working at a DIR Floortime agency as a developmental interventionist where he worked with children with developmental disabilities and their families on social skills. He intends to pursue a doctoral degree in Neuroscience.

Research Assistant and Social Media Representative

Jade-Remington Rebeil is a research assistant at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where she is involved in scoring and verifying various psychological assessments. Additionally, Jade-Remington manages the UCLA PEERS® Clinic social media pages, including the PEERS® Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages to publicize clinical services for families, training opportunities for mental health professionals, publications and tools available to the public, and additional clinic events. Jade-Remington attended the University of Southern California where she received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Communication. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy degree from the University of Southern California. Her research interests include attachment and parenting styles, adolescent anxiety and depression, and emotion regulation and awareness in adolescents.

Phoebe Josephson

Summer Intern and Behavioral Coach

Phoebe Josephson is a summer research assistant at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where she is involved in scoring and verifying various psychological assessments. Phoebe serves as a behavioral coach in the PEERS® for Preschoolers, PEERS® for Adolescents, and PEERS® for Young Adults social skills groups held at UCLA. Phoebe is a current undergraduate student at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a potential minor in music. She previously volunteered at the Miracle Project and interned at Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services in arts enrichment classes. Her research interests include developmental disabilities and adolescent anxiety.f

Research Assistant

Sarah Tsai is a research assistant at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where she is involved in scoring and verifying various psychological assessments. She graduated from Soochow University in Taiwan and Pepperdine University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Psychology respectively and then intends to pursue a Doctorate degree. Her interests include anxiety disorders in early childhood and adolescence, parental style, emotion regulation and emotional awareness.

Research Assistant

Caroline McDonough is a research assistant at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, where she is involved in scoring and verifying various psychological assessments. Caroline graduated from Columbia University in New York City where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Psychology at Pepperdine University and intends to later pursue a Doctorate degree. Caroline is interested in researching the implications of early childhood stress and trauma on the physiological development of the brain as well as its effect on neurocognitive development.