Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Alumni Spotlights

A Sampling of Post-Degree Activities by our Alumni

As taken from our Alumni Survey and news posts. Let us know what you've been up to since graduation and alert us of any changes to your contact information!


Abigail "Abbie" Loewenstein

BA, Psychology (honors program) & French double-major (Spring 2005) 
As of June 2017: Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Private Practice in Beverly, MA
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Tour Consultant at Smithsonian Journeys
Also worked in: 
community outpatient mental health programs, clinical supervisor for Lahey Health Behavioral Services

Megan Olshavsky

PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience (Spring 2014) 
As of Nov. 2016: Sr. Director Measurement & Evaluation at Any Baby Can (nonprofit) 
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Coordinator Research & Evaluation Round Rock ISD

Comments: Joanne Lee was an amazing mentor and truly prepared me to be a leader in my field. I can't say enough wonderful things about her. She cared deeply about my development as a scientist and an innovator and I simply would not be where I am now were it not for her guidance. 

Brooks Harbison

BA, Psychology with Special Honors (Fall 2012)
MA, Educational Psychology 
(Counselor Education), (Spring 2016), UT Austin
As of Nov. 2016: Graduate Research Fellow; PhD student in Counseling Psychology at the University of Louisville
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Graduate student teaching/research assistant, Department of Educational Psychology, UT Austin

Comments: I've worked as a researcher for three universities and now am a research Fellow as well as a clinical intern at my department's community Psychology clinic where we work with underserved populations. I'm currently a doctoral student in Counseling Psychology at the University of Louisville. My research in cognitive theory of depression and related health has been heavily influenced by my work as an undergraduate in UT's Psychology department with Caryn Carlson, Josh Holahan, and Lauretta Reeves with additional influences from Chris McCarthy and Stephanie Rude in the College of Education at UT. I frequently think about my past mentors with great gratitude and admiration. I would not be here today without them. UT Psychology is a WORLD CLASS department, with no doubt. I hear about it frequently from peers and colleagues who don't even know I'm an alumnus. 

Kassandra Martinez

BA, Psychology (Fall 2016)
As of June 2017/first position after graduating from UT Psychology: Research Aide at Weill Cornell Medical Center 

Katelyn Christiansen

BA, Psychology (Spring 2014)
As of July 2016: ITS Systems Business Analyst; continuous volunteer work helping survivors of Sexual Assault through a local organization in Austin, Texas
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: ITS Help Desk Representative 

Sondra Bland

PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience (Fall 2000)
As of June 2016: Associate Professor, University of Colorado Denver
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Colorado Boulder 

Caitlin Brez

PhD, Cognition (Spring 2012)
As of June 2016: Assistant Professor
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: postdoc

Patricia Sanchez

BA, Psychology (Spring 2014)
As of June 2016: In a Psychology PhD program

Amy Barrett 

BA, Psychology (Spring 2012)
As of June 2016: PhD student in Counseling, Clinical, and School psychology at University of California, Santa Barbara (Clinical emphasis; research focus: assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorder)
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Lab manager/Research Associate of child cognitive psychology lab at Carnegie Mellon University

Carlos Castaneda 

BS, Psychology (May 2016)
As of June 2016: ABA/RBT Therapist; Attending Palo Alto University for a Master's in Clinical Mental Health for LPC Certification in Texas and California 
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Behavioral Innovations 

Todd Gureckis

BA, Electrical/Computer Engineering (2001)
MA, Psychology (Spring 2005)
PhD, Psychology (2005)
As of June 2016: Associate Professor, New York University
Previously: Assistant Professor, New York University
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: postdoc, Indiana University

Comments: Larry Cormack's DIY Stats class was great, even 11-something years later. 

Jaclyn Spivey

PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience (Fall 2008)
As of June 2016: Assistant Professor/Department Chair, Psychology; Chair, Division of Professional Programs, York College
Previously: Adjunct Professor, Austin Community College
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Adjunct Professor, Huston-Tillotson University

Comments: Forever grateful for the training I was able to get from my professors at UT. 

John Rohrbach 

PhD, Developmental/Social Psychology (Fall 2014)
As of Feb. 2016/first position after graduating from UT Psychology: Product Operations at Facebook

Erin Burgoon (Baker) 

PhD, Social & Personality Psychology (Spring 2014)
As of Feb. 2016/first position after graduating from UT Psychology: Quantitative User Experience Researcher at Facebook; also currently a Data Science Mentor for Springboard 

* Read about Erin Burgoon and how she uses her psychology training in APA's January 2016 Monitor on Psychology feature, "How did you get that job?" 

Avanti Sule 

BA, Psychology (Spring 2014)
As of Feb. 2016Master's student in Counseling at The University of North Texas
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Office Manager/Receptionist at a mental health private practice

Natalie Aharon

BA, Psychology (Fall 2012)
onflict Resolution, Mediation & Public Policy (Aug. 2015) (non UT)
As of Feb. 2016Academic Coordinator & Head Writer for the Israeli Global Initiative

Comments: I currently live in Tel Aviv, but I am planning to apply for PhD programs in Clinical Psychology in the U.S. this year. 

Rebecca Hoss 

PhD, Developmental Psychology (Spring 2004)
As of Feb. 2016: Program Director and Associate Professor of Psychology, College of Saint Mary, Omaha, NE 
Previously: Division Chair of Arts and Sciences, 2008-2011, College of Saint Mary, Omaha, NE
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Assistant Professor, College of Saint Mary, Omaha, NE 

Shan Siddiqui

BA, Psychology (Spring 2015)
As of Feb. 2016: attending the University of Texas Medical Branch and earning a master's degree in occupational therapy

Comments: I'm learning to help people who have trouble with activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, sleeping, etc. Occupational therapists work with people who have physical and/or mental disabilities, and my education in psychology has really given me good background to become a successful and well-rounded therapist. 

Michael Buhrmester

BA, Plan II Honors Program and Psychology (2007)
PhD, Social & Personality Psychology (2013), under the supervision of Dr. William B. Swann, Jr
As of Jan. 2016: Post-doctoral researcher at University of Oxford, Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology
Also: Included on the APS 2015 Rising Stars list; published broadly on the nature of self-motives and interplay of the personal and social self

Gayle Masterson

BA, Psychology (1990)
PhD, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
Currently: Psychiatrist
Director of Sierra Tucson's residential Eating Recovery Program (Tucson, AZ), December 30, 2015; prior work at Mirasol, Pima County Jail, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Active Duty Mental Health Services Clinic and HOPE, Inc., and several contracted positions

Anita Belles Porterfield (Anita Willey)

BA, Psychology (Fall 1972)
As of Dec. 2015: Book Editor, Boerne Star and freelance writer
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Training Coordinator of the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services for the State of Louisiana
Previously: Director, Emergency Medical Services Council, Lake Charles, LA; Director, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services for the State of Louisiana; Research Coordinator for study, "The Impact of the Reinstatement of the Motorcycle Helmet Law in Louisiana (NHTSA)," Tulane University School of Medicine; Director of Family Planning, Brady-Green Clinic, San Antonio, TX; Management Engineer, University Hospital, San Antonio, TX; Cardiovascular Research Coordinator, Centers of Excellence, San Antonio Regional Hospital 

Comments: I have been a full-time writer for the past decade and the lead author of "Death on Base: The Fort Hood Massacre," University of North Texas Press, 2015. Currently I am the book editor for the Boerne Star and a member of the National Book Critics Circle and a member of the Author's Guild. 

John D Tyler 

PhD, Clinical Psychology (Summer 1970)
As of Dec. 2015: Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, University of North Dakota
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of North Dakota

Rachel Riskind

BA, Psychology, (Spring 2006)
PhD, University of Virginia (2013)
As of Nov. 2015: Assistant Professor of Psychology at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC
Previously: Doctoral candidate (and lecturer) at the University of Virginia
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: lab manager in Eric Stice's lab at UT-Austin

Tammy Tran

BS, Psychology (Spring 2013)
As of Nov. 2015: Graduate Student at Johns Hopkins University
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Graduate Student 

Melissa (McInnis) Brown

BA, Psychology (Spring 2010)
BA, Spanish Literature (Spring 2010)
PhD, Psychology, University of Alabama
As of May 2015: Assistant Professor at Texas Woman's University
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Alabama

David Cregg

BS, Psychology (Minor in Philosophy and certificate in Religious Studies through Polymathic Scholars) (Spring 2014)
As of May 2015/first position after graduating from UT Psychology: Research and Congregational Outreach Coordinator at The Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center; entering the PhD program in Clinical Psychology at The Ohio State University this fall

Comments: The Institute for Spirituality and Health, where I'm currently serving as the research coordinator, is a very unique academic institution worth highlighting. It is now celebrating its 60th year as an official member of the Texas Medical Center in Houston, the largest medical complex in the world. The Institute's purpose is to increase awareness of the role that spirituality plays in health and healing, in coping with chronic illness and in maintaining optimal health. Founded in 1955 by its former name, The Institute of Religion, it has a long history of innovation in healthcare and medicine. Among its achievements are developing one of the nation's first hospital chaplaincy training programs, as well as being "the first major institution devoted to medical ethics in the United States," according to The Encyclopedia of Bioethics. It is a non-sectarian, interdisciplinary institution with faculty from UH, Rice, Baylor College of Medicine, MD Anderson, etc.   

While a psychology undergraduate at UT, I completed two theses on the psychology of religion. For the psychology honors program, I completed an experimental study on the interaction between religiosity and terror management under advisement of Raymond Hawkins. For the Polymathic Scholars program, I completed a paper on the contributions of Freud, Jung and William James to the psychology of religion under advisement of Wendy Domjan. Largely because of these 2 projects, and my research experience as a RA in Michael Telch's Anxiety Disorders Lab, I was given my current position as research and congregational coordinator at ISH. My job is to develop new research projects for the institute. Among other things, I've continued to expand my honors thesis work on terror management, which resulted in a poster presentation at The 4th Annual Conference on Medicine and Religion hosted by Harvard University. Additionally, I've been developing an fNIRS study on the neural correlates of meditation in conjunction with a Zen Monk and a professor of Human-Computer Interaction at Syracuse University. The other component of my job is to serve as a liason between The Institute and the various religious and spiritual communities of Houston whom we seek to understand and address their concerns regarding healthcare. I've visited churches, mosques, synagogues, Hindu and Buddhist temples, etc. to dialogue with their leaders about the Institute's work and increase the Texas Medical Center's cultural competence on the role of faith in patients' lives. 

My position draws upon all of my training in psychology, philosophy and religious studies. In the fall, I'll be leaving to pursue my PhD in clinical psychology at The Ohio State University. I could not have gotten here without my education at UT. I'd be happy to answer any questions about what this past year at The Institute has entailed! You can see more about it on our website:

Keith Reeves

BA, Psychology/Pre-med (Summer 1965)
As of Dec. 2015: Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Weill Cornell Medical College
Previously: Emeritus Physician, Houston Methodist Hospital, Department of Ob/Gyn; Founding Medical Director, Methodist Center for Restorative Pelvic Medicine
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Intern, Baylor Affiliated Hospitals, Texas Medical Center, Houston 

Kim Nixon

BA, Psychology (Spring 1992)
PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience (Spring 2000)
As of Oct. 2018: Associate Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology in the College of Pharmacy, The University of Texas at Austin Previously: Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Kentucky (2015); tenured in 2011; awarded the 2009 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by President Barack Obama
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: After my BA, I continued working as a sales and logistics manager for a local export company while volunteering in the Amsel lab on weekends and evenings. Post PhD, I was a postdoctoral fellow at UNC Chapel Hill.

Comments: I am delighted to be back home at UT Austin. After 13 years at the University of Kentucky, I am moving my research program to the Division of Pharmacology & Toxicology in the College of Pharmacy at UT Austin. My laboratory studies mechanisms of and drug discovery for neuropathology in models of alcohol use disorders. I am affiliated with the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research and now also the Behavioral Neuroscience Area. We are still studying the hippocampus and development—areas of interest that began with Abram Amsel here at UT.

Stephen Brake

BA, Plan II Honors Program (1971)
PhD, Biopsychology (1976)
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Post-Doc at Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Other positions: Assistant Research Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Assistant Research Professor, New York State Psychiatric Institute; Psychologist, Stephen Brake Associates

Joe D. Gilliland

BA, Psychology (Summer 1949)
MA, English (Summer 1955)
PhD, English, Arizona State University (Spring 1979)
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Clerk and Personnel trainnee, Bowery Savings Bank, New York, NY
Other positions: Instructor of English, Wakayama University, Wakayama, Japan, 1950–1953; Instructor of English (TA), UT Austin, 1949–1950; Instructor of English, Humanities, Lee College, Baytown, Texas, 1955–1964; Instructor and Division Chair: English, Humanities, Philosophy, Cochise College, Douglas, AZ, 1964–1988; Vice President for Instruction, Cochise College, Douglas, AZ, 1994–1996

Comments: The BA in psychology worked well for me as a preparation for graduate work in English, philosophy, and the humanities. It provided a background of appreciation and understanding of human development, I believe, and was elementary preparation for a critical understanding of the humanities. I often advised and recommended psychology as a liberal arts undergraduate major for students preparing for a wide range of occupational or professional specialties: law, medicine, the clergy, education, personnel (human resources), advertising.

Alton Keith Barton

BA, Psychology (Spring 1969)
PhD, Experimental Psychology (Spring 1972)
First position after graduating from UT Psychology: Post-doctoral fellow, community mental health administration
Other positions: Chief Psychologist, Midlands Center, South Carolina; Assistant Deputy Commissioner, TDMHMR; Founder and COO, Texas Community Living Ventures; Private Practice

Martin M. Katz

PhD, Psychology and Physiology (1955)
- Adjunct Research Professor, Department of Psychiatry, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, where researched the “Biological Aspects of Depression” and the neurobehavioral mechanisms of action of antidepressant drugs, 1996–2015;
- Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, New York, 1994–2004;
- Professor and Chief, Division of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, 1984–1994;
- Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, DC, 1982–1990;
- Executive Secretary, Psychopharmacology Advisory Committee, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD, 1957–1959
- Awarded 2016 Paul Hoch Distinguished Service Award by the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology;
- Devoted career to studying the action of antidepressants in clinical populations and contributing to the theoretical understanding of their mechanisms of action;
- Published many groundbreaking books on depression, from "The Psychology of Depression: Contemporary Theory and Research" (1973) to "Depression and Drugs: The Neurobehavioral Structure of a Psychological Storm" (2013)

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