UCSB The Gevirtz School

Yvette Doss

Yvette Doss is a former journalist – writer and editor — who has written for NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and other major magazines and newspapers. During that time, she focused on U.S. Latinos and their cultural expression via music, independent film and visual art. She switched gears to become a high school teacher in Los Angeles just over six years ago. There she found a passion for working with Autistic teens and students with learning disabilities, and decided to devote herself to doing research to help create better outcomes for them. She is particularly interested in exploring mental health and educational supports for Autistic students in inclusion settings at secondary schools as well as at postsecondary institutions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from UC Berkeley and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UC Riverside. In her free time she enjoys exploring nature, painting, writing, and spending time with her family.


Shemiyah Holland

Shemiyah Holland is pursuing a PhD in school psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is working in Dr. Shane Jimerson’s lab. She has an M.A. in school psychology from Bowie State University located in Maryland. She comes to UC-Santa Barbara as a nationally certified school psychologist (NCSP) and has experience working with a diverse group of students in the K-12 setting. Her research focuses on the impact of positive peer and teacher relationships as a prevention strategy to enhance engagement and promote social emotional wellbeing for African American and Latin x students. Her long term goal is to become a coordinator of a school psychology program so that she can contribute in the efforts to mentor and train culturally responsive school psychologists to address the shortages among school psychology.


Samantha Hutchinson

Samantha Hutchinson is a School Psychology Ph.D. student working in Dr. Erin Dowdy’s lab at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She graduated from Skidmore College with a BA in Psychology in 2020. Her previous work broadly evaluated how young children learn about the world and her senior thesis assessed how adult beliefs about early cognitive development vary across experience and expertise. As a Program Assistant at the Child Mind Institute, Hutchinson worked with clinicians across disciplines delivering evidence-based small group interventions for students struggling with behavior and emotion regulation. As the Research Coordinator for the Boston College Consortium for Translational Research on Learning and Memory, she initiated collaboration between the Psychology & Neuroscience department and the Education department to investigate the basic principles of learning and memory and their application in educational settings. As a Project TEAMS scholar, Hutchinson is excited to continue to collaborate across departments to research and implement evidence-based interventions to support diverse students’ social, emotional, and mental health needs.


Lakhvir Kaur

Lakhvir Kaur is a doctoral student in the school psychology emphasis of our doctoral program working under Dr. Shane Jimerson. Prior to her studies here, Lakhvir attended community college and went on to transfer to California State University, Bakersfield where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Post her graduation, Lakhvir attended California State University, San Bernardino where she graduated with an Education Specialist (Ed.S) degree and PPS Credentials in School Psychology. Her research interests include examining mental health outcomes in Sikh children who become victims of bullying and harassment and developing appropriate school-based interventions and practices. Furthermore, she is interested in exploring practices in identification and eligibility determination of English Language Learners in special education programs, specifically addressing the over-under representation in special education programs.


Nicole Mapp

Nicole Mapp is a Special Education PhD student in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). In May 2015, Nicole completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the Pennsylvania State University. Following graduation from Penn State, Nicole worked as a Title I instructional assistant in a public middle school setting while she pursued teacher certification in New Jersey. Nicole holds two standard New Jersey teaching certifications: Elementary School Teacher in Grades K-6 and Elementary School with Subject Matter Specialization: Science in Grades 5-8. After obtaining teacher certification, Nicole worked as a middle school science teacher in a charter school setting from 2017-2020.
Prior to enrolling in UCSB in Fall 2022, Nicole completed her master’s degree in Deaf Education at Boston University and obtained an initial teacher license for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing – [ASL/TC], All Levels, from the Massachusetts Office of Educator Licensure. As part of her studies at Boston University, Nicole completed virtual observations and in-person field experiences at schools for the deaf in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas, Utah, and southern California. Nicole plans to focus her research on the experiences and mental health of deaf students of color.


Alice Mullin

Alice Mullin is a doctoral student in the UCSB Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology department, working in the School Psychology emphasis under Dr. Jill Sharkey. She graduated from Scripps College in 2017 with a B.A. in psychology. Following graduation, she began working as a project coordinator in Dr. Allison Harvey’s lab at UC Berkeley. The lab focused on the development and implementation of a behavioral sleep intervention for both youth and adults. Currently, her research interests include reducing barriers to and improving engagement with evidence-based treatments within youth systems, with a particular focus on the sustainment of successful mental health treatments. She is particularly interested in increasing historically underserved populations’ access to such interventions.


Arnold Rodriguez Robles

Arnold Rodriguez Robles is a doctoral student working in Dr. Matt Quirk’s lab at UC Santa Barbara and is pursuing a PhD in school psychology. Arnold’s background as a dual language teacher led him to the field of school psychology, thus his research interests include studying the effects of dual language instruction on emergent bilingual students and best practices when providing services and assessing students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Lastly, he is pursuing a PhD in hopes of teaching at the university level and contributing to the development of culturally sound cognitive and social/emotional/behavioral assessments.


Daniel Santana

Daniel Santana (he/him/his) is a first-generation Mexican-American graduate student pursuing his Doctoral degree in Special Education. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Studies at California State University, Fullerton and a Master’s degree in Education with a Education Specialist Credential on Extensive Support Needs at UCSB’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. Equitable access to health services, education, employment and uplifting life opportunities are a particular interest and passion for Daniel. As a representative from a diverse, underserved vibrant community, his experiences, both personal and professional, have innately fueled his pursuit in the humanization of all individuals. Through research and policy change, he envisions a more inclusive society where everyone is valued and empowered to live a life full of meaning and purpose.


Pauline Serrano

Pauline Serrano is pursuing a PhD in school psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and is working in Dr. Jill Sharkey’s lab. She has an MA in psychological science and a BA in honors psychology with a minor in child and adolescent development from California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Serrano taught supplemental instruction and lab courses throughout her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and is now working as part time faculty as a doctoral student. She is a first-generation college student and an immigrant from the Philippines, raised in a single-parent household. Her program of research focuses on the impact of individual, family, and school factors on the health (mental/physical) and academic success of underserved minority students. Her previous experience as lab coordinator and project manager for CSUN’s Transition to College study solidified her passion to improve student socio-emotional health, engagement, and academic success in school systems. Serrano’s long-term goals are to become a professor and a licensed school psychologist.


Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development



Alexandra Allen

Alexandra Allen is a doctoral student at Boston University, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Studies with a concentration in special education and a member of the Project TEAMS cohort. Alex earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Development from Virginia Tech University and masters degree in Educational Psychology in Applied Developmental Science at the University of Virginia. Before beginning her Ph.D. Alexandra spent time working as a preschool teacher as well as a Research Specialist. Her research interests include the intersection of trauma and emotional and behavioral disabilities, special education, and the development and evaluation of equitable school-based interventions.


Ayana Bass

Ayana Bass is a lifelong Rhode Island resident and a certified Elementary, Special Educator. As an adult learner, her academic journey took her on a non-traditional path through a traditional program at Rhode Island College where she completed her bachelor’s degree at the age of 39. As a “non-traditional” undergraduate student, Ayana became interested in engaging in research related to the nuances of being an adult learner in a “traditional” teacher preparation program. Through her opportunity as a McNair Scholar, she began to think more deeply about her own experiences as a pre-service teacher as well as the experiences of the students in her clinical settings. As a student researcher, Ayana explored her passion for education through work in the areas of equity, access, and diversity. More specifically, she was able to conduct a research project which explored the lack of diversity in the teacher (and teacher candidate) pool and alternative pathways to certification. Ayana focused on how access to an alternative pathway (in RI) can contribute to the conversation around teacher shortages, increased diversity, access, and equity within the teacher workforce. Ayana presented her research at both the regional and national levels, including:

Bass, A. (March 2021). Where is the Rhode Island pipeline? An exploration of interest and barriers for paraprofessionals in a large, urban district. Data blitz session at the Annual Convention of the Council for Exceptional Children, Baltimore, MD.

Bass, A. (April 2021). Where is the pipeline? An exploration of interest and barriers for paraprofessionals in a large, urban school district. Roundtable session at the New England Educational Research Organization, Portsmouth, NH.

Ayana is a proud Brown University Alum from the Department of Education, Urban Education Policy Program. She is an active member of the CEEDAR State Leadership Team, Steering Committee, and Rhode Island Blueprint Goal 3 Working Group which focuses on establishing organizational cultures, identifying protocols, and providing shared learning opportunities to ensure Rhode Island approaches education work with an explicit focus on equity and access.

She sits on multiple subcommittees within each organization as a means to deepen her understanding and commitment to education and students of all ages.

As she continues her educational journey to obtain her Ph.D. at Boston University in Special Education, she looks forward to continuing to examine and participate in research projects that align with her current interests within the field of education.


Ruchi Khanna

Ruchi is a doctoral student at Boston University, pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Studies with a focus on special education and mental health within the Project TEAMS cohort. She has earned a master’s degree in special education (students with severe disabilities) and a master’s in Behavior Analysis from Simmons University, Boston. She worked as a special education teacher and behavior analyst in the public school system for over ten years. Before moving to the US, Ruchi worked as an art designer with artisan organizations in India. Since 2018 Ruchi has curated and taught professional development workshops on education equity for public school educators, BCBA’s, and students in higher education settings. Her training and experience as an immigrant, parent, and educator are at the center of her research interest in designing teacher training that allows educators to reflect on systemic inequalities and their role in overcoming these in the classroom.


Manuel Angel Ramirez

Manuel Angel Ramirez is a latino, first generation, graduate student enrolled as a doctoral candidate at Boston University, pursuing study in the PhD in Educational Studies with a specialization in Special Education program. Manuel received extensive training in dual language/ bilingual special and general childhood education from Bank Street College of Education where he acquired a master’s degree in education. He also possesses post-master’s training and experience in Teaching English to Students of Other Languages (TESOL) from Queens College, the City University of New York, and the Department of Education in New York. Prior to his graduate studies, Manuel obtained his undergraduate education at York College, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Journalism. Additionally, Manuel received training in educational leadership and administration from the College of St. Rose with the purpose to comprehensively understand the educational infrastructure in which he has been a public servant in order to address the recurring challenges faced by the communities he continues to serve. He is a certified bilingual special educator in the state of New York, where he taught both multilingual and multicultural students with a range of learning disabilities and abilities. His experience includes teaching in therapeutic nursery settings, inclusive, progresisve dual language schools, and post secondary institutions. His motivation for teaching is derived from his desire to level the playing field in education for culturally distinguished and linguistically rich students and families.

Although Manuel navigated his experiences and channeled his passions as an educator and advocate for bilingual special education, he began to look more closely at his practice, communities served, and the quality of teacher performance in monoglossic and heteroglossic educational institutions educating students with disabilities from Spanish dominant families. His research interests elevated and began to specifically focus on understanding the equity of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and the language access that families have due in part to the comprehension they possess as well as the cultural contexts they receive this legal information. In particular, Manuel seeks to investigate and collaborate with Spanish dominant communities who come from SIFE/SLIFE backgrounds that have either compounded their own educational gaps or contributed to those of their children and how that hinders quality access and thoughtful participation in the IEP process. Manuel aspires to extend existing research and contribute to literature in the diversity, equity, and inclusion of multilingual and multicultural families in special education, as he actively identifies opportunities for intersectional collaboration. It is his hope to create a bridge between immigrant communities and western institutions that educate them.