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.

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.


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. Currently, a graduate student in 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.


Sarah Price (Clinical Psychology Program, Health track)

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

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.



 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 is currently a fifth year. 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 on clinical internship!



Melissa Flores, Ph.D. (2018)

Primary Mentor: J. M. Ruiz, Ph.D. 

Melissa Flores completed her Ph.D. in 2018 in Family Studies and Human Development and is now a postdoctoral Fellow working with Dr. Ruiz through the Center on Health Disparities. Her research focuses on how social and family dynamics affect health in minority populations.  More specifically, she is interested in the utilization of innovative methods for studying the health of Hispanic/Latinx individuals and families across a lifetime.  These methods include advanced statistical analyses such as structural equation modeling, advanced longitudinal analyses, geographical information systems (GIS) analysis, and social network analysis. Melissa enjoys myriad sci-fi movies and series, amateur astronomy, hanging out with her friends and pets, and is an avid coffee drinker.


Elizabeth Aja

Elizabeth Aja is a junior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Creative Writing with a specific focus in poetry. She is an honors student, working towards graduating in 3 years. Elizabeth would like to 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 is an Undergraduate double majoring 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. 


Sana Khan
After graduating from the University of Arizona with degrees in physiology and psychology, Sana is continuing 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.





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.  




Lloyd Spece
Lloyd Spece is a recent graduate 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. He is interested in going into the healthcare field.




Danny Thompson

Danny is a senior at the University of Arizona and is expected to graduate as part of the Class of 2019. His major is a B.S. in Psychological Science with minors in Spanish and Biochemistry. Outside of the SuRRF Lab, Danny works as an Athletic Training Technician for Arizona Football and a Volunteer at the Banner Health University Medical Center. Danny's aspirations after graduating U of A include possibly attending a dual MD/PhD program.



Lysandra Torreros-Castillo

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





Jamie Hoang, BS (2018) 
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.