I have had the privilege of working with excellent students throughout my career. My mentees include students at all levels from outstanding high school students to the brightest doctoral students from a range of departments and colleges. They all share a passion for the understanding how social experiences influence physical health risk and resilience. Students currently working with me are listed below.



Caroline Doyle (Clinical Psychology Program, Health track)

Primary Mentor: J.M. Ruiz, Ph.D.

Twitter: @C_Y_Doyle 

Caroline Y. Doyle - Google Scholar

Caroline was born and raised on Long Island, NY. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island where she worked in the Affective Neuroscience lab of Dr. Chris Bloom. After graduation, she worked as a research assistant at Brown Medical School for Dr. Tricia Leahey and Dr. Rena Wing examining behavioral interventions for weight management, and in Mary Carskadon's Sleep and Chronobiology Lab. Caroline is interested in the interplay between sleep and cardiovascular disease, and psychosocial moderators of this relationship. When Caroline is not in the SuRRF lab, she enjoys cooking, playing piano, hiking, and watching live music. Caroline is currently on clinical internship! 


Photo of Megan Irgens, graduate student in our lab. Megan Irgens (Clinical Psychology Program)

Primary Mentor: J.M. Ruiz, Ph.D.


Twitter: @MeganIrgens

Megan Suzanne Irgens - Google Scholar

Megan is a clinical psychology PhD student. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a bachelor’s in psychology and sociology with a minor in law, public policy, and human rights. Megan studies the optimal timing of interventions for children in the juvenile justice system. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors and baking.


Photo of Riley O'Neill, graduate student in our lab. Riley O'Neill (Clinical Psychology Program, Health track)

Primary Mentor: J.M. Ruiz, Ph.D.


Twitter: @RileyM_Oneill

Riley is a clinical psychology PhD student on the Health Psychology track. She graduated from the University of Alabama with a bachelors in Psychology and Spanish. Riley examines the pathways linking stress and various psychosocial factors to increased risk for adverse cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes. In her free time, she enjoys doing yoga and watching movies.


Sarah Price (Clinical Psychology Program, Health track)

Primary Mentor: H.A. Hamann, Ph.D.

Twitter: @SarahNPrice1

Sarah N. Price - Google Scholar

Sarah Price is a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program. Broadly, she is interested in developing interventions to help individuals cope with chronic illness and to facilitate health behavior change among cancer patients and survivors. In her free time, Sarah enjoys rock climbing, yoga, hiking, and cycling. Sarah is currently on clinical internship! 




Photo of Dr. Melissa Flores, post-doctoral scholar in our lab. Melissa Flores, Ph.D. (2018)

Primary Mentor: J. M. Ruiz, Ph.D. 

Twitter: @flores_socsci

Melissa Flores - Google Scholar

Melissa Flores, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral scholar in The Department of Psychology at The University of Arizona. Dr. Flores has been awarded an NIH K99 Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) training grant to improve cardiovascular disease prediction in U.S. Latinx/Hispanic populations. Broadly, she aims to understand both social and structural factors associated with the persistence of health disparities using a resilience-focused lens. Dr. Flores is interested in novel and advanced quantitative methods to capture and model complex social environments. She is enthusiastic and committed to strengthening the academic pipeline for diverse scholars. Dr. Flores is an avid coffee enthusiast and enjoys fashion and amateur astronomy. 





Photo of Dakota Dolister, research assistant in our lab. Dakota Dolister


My name is Dakota Dolister. I am majoring in Psychological Sciences with a minor in Spanish. I am completing my honors thesis with Dr. Ruiz. After graduation I hope to attend graduate school and pursue a career in health psychology. In my free time, I enjoy crocheting and reading.




Photo of Giovanni Marquez, research assistant in our lab. Giovanni Marquez


My name is Giovanni Marquez, I am an undergraduate senior majoring in Psychological Science. I have been a research assistant in the Social Risk and Resilience Factors (SuRRF) Lab since April of 2020. During Summer 2021, I completed a research thesis with Dr. John Ruiz, as a scholar in the Ronald E. McNair Achievement program. After graduating, I aim to attend graduate school and pursue a career in academia as a tenure-track professor. In my free time I enjoy watching combat sports, training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, watching anime, and cooking. 




Photo of Camilla Rivera, research assistant in our lab. Camilla River


My name is Camilla Rivera. I am majoring in Psychological Sciences with a minor in Biochemistry. I am completing my honors thesis with Dr. Ruiz. After graduation, I hope to attend medical school and pursue a career in neonatology. In my spare time, I play games of all kinds and take care of my horses.






Krystal Jovel (Social Psychology Program, Health track)

Primary Mentor: J.M. Ruiz, Ph.D.

Raised in Phoenix, Krystal received her Bachelor’s in Psychology with Honors and continued her work in research as a Post-Baccalaureate research assistant in both the Grief, Loss, and Social Stress (GLASS) Lab and the Social Risk and Resilience Factors (SuRRF) Lab. In 2020, Krystal graduated with her MA from the Social Psychology program under the tutelage of Dr. Ruiz. Krystal is interested in the interactions between chronic stressors and health risk. Specifically, how do long-term transitions like menopause change cardiovascular risk, and what psychosocial factors make an individual more resilient to negative health outcomes.  Krystal enjoys drinking coffee, playing volleyball, and engaging in Doctor Who theory discussions.


  Kyle Bourassa (Clinical Psychology Program, Health Track)

Primary Mentor: D.A. Sbarra, Ph.D.

After graduating from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in psychology and history Kyle entered the clinical psychology PhD program at the University of Arizona, where he graduated from the Clinical Psychology Program and Health Track in 2020. His main research interests are studying the effect of close relationships, and romantic relationships more specifically, on people's wellbeing. Kyle played 4 years of rugby at the University of Virginia as an undergraduate. Kyle is currently a Post-doctoral scholar at Duke University! 



Jamie Hoang
Jamie Hoang graduated in 2018, having majored in physiology with minors in psychology and biochemistry. She enjoys working with the SuRRF lab team and notes they are a “great team of people who want to learn more about how our social environmental factors play a role in our health, not to mention Dr. Ruiz is awesome!”  Jamie can play four instruments: the piano, guitar, ukulele and bass.




Danny Thompson

Danny graduated in 2019 with a B.S. in Psychological Science with minors in Spanish and Biochemistry. Outside of the SuRRF Lab, Danny worked as an Athletic Training Technician for Arizona Football and a Volunteer at the Banner Health University Medical Center. Danny went on to serve as a Clinical Research Coordinator at University of California San Francisco! 





Lysandra Torreros-Castillo

Lysandra is a Tucson native and graduate of the University of Arizona with a Bachelor's of Science in Psychology. While working in the SuRRF Lab, she pursued a graduate degree in child development and family studies. Her hobbies include mountain biking, hiking, running, jujitsu and raising four children. 




Lloyd Spece
Lloyd Spece graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in psychology and a business administration minor. A dual citizen of the US and Panama, Lloyd is an avid U of A basketball and overall sports fanatic. Lloyd went on to study in the University of Arizona College of Medicine (Grad Year: 2023)! 




Emily Larson

Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Emily moved to the University of Arizona to study Psychological Science and Pre-Medicine, as well as to minor in Spanish Language. While studying at the University of Arizona, she discovered a passion for health disparities and their social implications. She hopes to use this acquired knowledge from working in the lab to further her education in health and medicine, and to serve her community as an orthopedic surgeon.  




Sana Khan
After graduating from the University of Arizona with degrees in physiology and psychology, Sana continued her studies as a graduate student the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology. She is interested in continuing health disparity research in the future. In her free time, Sana enjoys cooking, eating, and hanging out with her siblings.






 Elizabeth Aja

Elizabeth Aja, an honors student, majored in Psychology and minored in Creative Writing with a specific focus in poetry.  Elizabeth hoped take a clinical or counseling psychology route, with a focus on connecting with kids and young adults who suffer from mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, major depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In her free time, she enjoys writing, painting, drawing, and watching cooking shows on Netflix because she can’t cook.


Alexis Drzewucki

Alexis Drzewucki double majored in Psychology and French and minoring in Sociology. She has presented research, with her South Florida State College mentor Dr. James Hawker, on "The Science Behind Science Fiction" discussing the influence of science-fiction shows and films on the development of astrobiological technology and research, at the Florida Collegiate Honors Conference and the Florida Undergraduate Research Conference in 2016. Her research interests span everywhere in psychology; but, mainly, her focus revolves around Autism Spectrum Disorders in adult populations. Whenever she travels, Alexis likes to sample unique cuisines and, during a recent trip to Australia, she sampled Kangaroo and Termites.