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Noni Gaylord-Harden


Noni Gaylord-Harden is a Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Texas A&M University. She is also a core faculty member in the Center for Health Equity and Evaluation Research (CHEER) in the School of Public Health. Dr. Gaylord-Harden conducts research on community violence exposure, traumatic loss, and psychological well-being among Black adolescents and families in disinvested, urban communities. The overarching goals of her work are to address disparities in community violence exposure and traumatic loss, to understand the impact of emotional desensitization and physiological hypersensitization to violence, and to minimize the impact of violence exposure by enhancing existing strengths and assets embedded in Black youth, families, and communities. She has published several peer-reviewed research articles and presented numerous scientific conference presentations on these topics, and her team aims to utilize findings from this research to develop and implement culturally and contextually relevant interventions for Black adolescents and families. She has received funding from The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the American Psychological Association, and the Institute of Education Sciences for her research efforts. She is an avid runner, and she enjoys reading, doing puzzles, and spending time with her family.


Deon Brown


Deon Brown is a postdoctoral research associate with the Youth Rising Lab. He is originally from Richmond, Virginia, which is where he also completed his doctoral program in Developmental Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). His research focuses on parental emotion socialization and youths' emotional development among African American families. More specifically, he is interested in how race-related experiences, Black cultural values, and masculine ideologies influence African Americans' emotion-related behaviors. His dissertation project explored low-income African American fathers' beliefs about their own and their toddlers' negative emotions (i.e., sadness, anger). He is a Hip-Hop and mental health advocate, and hopes his research will inform treatment among African American male populations.


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Jasmine Alli


Jasmine Alli is  a second-year clinical psychology doctoral student at Texas A&M University. She is from Arlington, TX and completed her undergraduate studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Her  research interests focus on trauma exposure and its impact on depression and anxiety among racial minority youth as well as resilience and other protective factors. In her free time she enjoys playing volleyball, traveling, and watching romantic-comedy movies.  

Robyn Douglas


Robyn Douglas is a second-year clinical doctoral graduate student in the Youth Rising Lab. She received her Bachelor's in Psychology from the University of Houston and her Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Sam Houston State University.  She is interested in investigating prosocial behavior, critical consciousness, and collectivist action as protective/healing factors for community violence-exposed Black youth. She is a Texas A&M Aviles-Johnson Fellow and a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow. She enjoys going to concerts, traveling, writing stories and poems, and volunteering for mutual aid organizations in her hometown, Houston, Texas. Her CV can be found at

Elizabeth Otto


Elizabeth Otto (she/her/hers) is a second-year Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student at TAMU. She is from Juba, South Sudan, but later moved to Lincoln, NE. She received her B.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research interests are broadly in traumatic stress. She is particularly interested in examining how familial and community-based risk and resiliency factors impact trauma outcomes and help-seeking behaviors for trauma-exposed Black populations. She does not know what she wants to be when she grows up but has enjoyed the research process and looks forward to continuing it throughout and after her graduate school journey. In her free time, she enjoys baking, watching reality TV, and spending time with friends and family.

Dyamon Brown 


Dyamon Brown (she/her) is a first year Clinical Psychology doctoral student at Texas A&M University. She is from Columbia, Mississippi, and received her bachelors degree in psychology from the University of Mississippi. She also received her masters degree in clinical psychology from Teachers College at Columbia University. Her research interests are broadly in adolescent mental health. Her primary focus lies in understanding the unique risk and protective factors related to substance use, trauma, and suicidality among Black adolescents and families. Her goal is to develop culturally sensitive interventions and support systems that address these critical issues. She is a Texas A&M Aviles-Johnson Fellow.

Danielle Porter


Danielle Porter is a fouth year Clinical Psychology doctoral student at Texas A&M University and a member of the Youth Rising Lab. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Memphis. Her research interests include examining the intersection of racism and health, ethnic and racial identity formation processes, and development of multisystemic resilience for marginalized youth of color.

Annisa Ahmed
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Annisa Ahmed (she/her) is a 2nd year Clinical Psychology doctoral student at Texas A&M University. A Philadelphia native, she graduated from Temple University with a B.A. in Psychology. Her area of interest is health equity in pediatric psychology—and more specifically, understanding multi-level factors that impact disease management for historically underserved children and their families. Outside of research, Annisa enjoys taking long walks to nowhere, casually watching anime and eating her weight in baked goods.


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Giselle Deleon


Giselle Deleon graduated Texas A&M University December 2021 with her B.A. in Psychology. She is currently the Youth Rising Lab’s Lab Manager as well as a Program coordinator in Undergraduate Recruitment and Outreach at Texas A&M University. Her research interests include mental health disparities and culturally informed interventions. She hopes to have a career in research and academia. 


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Hadeel Hamdan

Hadeel Hamdan is a senior Psychology and English major from Beaumont, TX. Some of her research interests include trauma intervention, institutional bias in healthcare, and racial and gender-based health disparities. She’d  like to pursue graduate programs in Clinical Psychology or work in community-based programs for mental health or sexual violence in the future. Outside of school, she really loves reading, listening to music, and making pretty coffee drinks.

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Ozioma Mgbahurike

Ozioma Mgbahurike is a senior from Arlington, Texas. He studies  Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University and  joined this lab to gain a better understanding of the effects of community violence on African American youth and how to prevent the impacts of generational trauma. Organizations he is a part of here at Texas A&M are National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), The Battalion Newspaper, and Student Engineers' Council (SEC). His hobbies outside of school include journaling, soccer, and watching movies.

Arts and Sciences Career Day Fall 2023-2
Sanaa Stough-Lacking

Sanaa is a junior undergraduate from Long Beach, Mississippi. She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience at Texas A&M University. She is interested in the underlying mechanisms of executive functions and how adverse life events and racial demographics influence them. She wants to understand how trauma and race-based stress affect processes like decision-making and planning in order to highlight the biological severity of discrimination. In her spare time, Sanaa enjoys yoga, volleyball, and reading.

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Alirma Davis

Alimra is a senior undergraduate student from Houston, TX. She studies Psychology at Texas A&M. She decided to join the Youth Rising team because she had a desire to examine the effects of violence on the mental health of inner-city Black youth. In her spare time she  is an avid Youtube watcher and runs a wig business.  Fun fact: She is double jointed in her arms. 

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Simran Puri


Simran Puri is a sophomore from Dallas and is majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Philosophy. She is passionate about cultural competency within clinical psychology and eventually wants to work with and support those in marginalized communities. Simran enjoys reading, dancing, being a barista, listening to music, and spending time with their cat, Icy.

Josie Shannon

Josie Shannon is a third-year Psychology student at Texas A&M University. She was born in Sichuan, China, and was adopted as a baby and raised by her two wonderful moms in Austin, TX. Her research interests include the effect of structural racism on the mental health of racial minority youth, the family environment’s impact on adolescents, and racial disparities in the criminal justice system. In her time away from school, she plays volleyball, plans philanthropy events for the Chinese Student Association, waits tables at First Watch, and hangs out with friends. She would ultimately like to work as a clinical psychologist with youth in and previously entangled with the juvenile justice system.

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Tami Akerle

Tami Akerele is a senior undergraduate from Houston, Texas. She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Public Health. She is interested in health disparities within reproductive and sexual health with a current focus on Maternal Health. She is interested in health psychology and its role within health promotion and policy to create better health outcomes for communities of color. She hopes to pursue graduate programs with a focus on health research.

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Jaeyana Smith

Jaeyana Smith is a 2nd year undergraduate student from Dallas Tx. She is majoring in Neuroscience with an emphasis on behavior & cognition and is passionate about developing ways to support black youth that are exposed to violence and have experienced trauma within their communities. She hopes to pursue a Medical Degree and implement her knowledge of racial disparity, trauma, and psychological healing throughout her career in healthcare. She is involved in other on campus organizations such as Excel and the Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference. In her free time she enjoys singing, cooking, and spending time with her family & friends!

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