Tristen Inagaki, PhD

Lab Director

Tristen is an assistant professor in the department of psychology at San Diego State University and a mentor in the SDSU-UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. Before moving to San Diego, she was an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Biological-Health and Social areas and received her PhD at UCLA.


Sarah Dembling

Doctoral Student

Sarah is a student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. After graduating from Dickinson College with a major in Neuroscience, she pursued behavioral neuroscience research at the NIH. She then worked as a project coordinator at the University of Oregon’s Developmental Social Neuroscience lab. Sarah is interested in using multimodal methods (e.g. neuroimaging, behavioral assessment, physiological measures) to learn about mechanisms related to social support and health.


Alicia Assang

Master’s Student

Alicia graduated from the University of California San Diego with a Bachelor’s in Clinical Psychology. She is interested in researching topics of social connectedness in relation to stress and mood disorders.

Nicole Abaya

Master’s Student

Nicole graduated from the University of California San Diego with a major in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. Her research interests lie in addiction, health, and social neuroscience. She hopes to find the intersectionality between these fields to further explore substance use.

Isabela Cruz-Vespa

Postbacc Student Researcher

Isabela is a recent graduate of Bard College, where she earned degrees in both psychology and music performance. She is interested in studying the social determinants of health, such as how risk factors like social disconnection are linked to chronic disease and mental illness in marginalized populations. She is pursuing a career in Clinical Psychology research and Public Health.

Alexis Pinela

Project Coordinator

Alexis graduated from the University of Southern California with a major in psychology. She is interested in applying  neuroscience and clinical research methods to understand identity formation and group oriented behaviors.

Zoe Damon

Project Coordinator

Zoe graduated from San Diego State University with a major in Psychology, emphasis in Neuroscience, and a minor in Child Development. She is interested in furthering her research experience in the field of neuroscience by exploring social behavior via MRI data alongside other psychological measures. Zoe hopes to go on to earn her PhD in a psychology-related field. 

Current Research Assistants

Naomi Crone is a third year psychology undergraduate student with an emphasis in neuroscience. She is very interested in the biological aspects of the brain and wants to research the effect of drugs on personality and behavior. 

Julie Kersey is a Marine veteran and double major in psychology and religious studies. She is pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology.

Sofia Torres is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology and minoring in Spanish. She plans on continuing her education to obtain a Ph.D. in Health Psychology.

Andrew Youssef is a 4th year undergrad majoring in Psychology with an emphasis in I/O. After graduation, he would like to go into an I/O grad program in order to achieve his goal of improving organizational outcomes in the medical industry, and to also tie my interests from I/O to other aspects of clinical psychology. 

Grace Kathman is a third-year undergraduate student majoring psychology major. She is interested in clinical psychology and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in that field in the future.

Maxton Shriver is a third-year psychology undergraduate student with a minor in counseling and social change. He plans on pursuing clinical psychology and becoming a licensed therapist.

Casey Bell is a third-year psychology undergraduate student minoring in LGBTQ+ Studies. They are planning to work in the field of counseling psychology.

Michaela Desautel is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in psychology. She plans to pursue graduate school and become a licensed therapist in the future.

Andrea Chavira

Celestine Albaran

Jasmine Rincon

Elijah Bautista

Arjan Mahajan

Recent Lab Alumni

Kassandra Vasquez – graduate student in Psychology at Alliant University (Fall 2022)

Solana Kenyon – graduate student in Psychology & Neuroscience at Maastricht University (Fall 2021)

Sareen Ali (honors student) – medical student at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine

Belen Best (honors student) – intern in Corporate Law at Ropes & Gray, LLP

James Germano – graduate student at SMU Guildhall for a Master of Interaction Technology in video game creation and design

Laura Hazlett – graduate student at University of California, Los Angeles

Laura Armfield-Perez – research assistant at New York University

Emily Simon – clinical research coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania

Yumeka Hirayama – Program Associate at Beyond Conflict

Emefa Akwayena – Cognitive Neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University (Fall 2021)

Sabine Janssen – research coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Lauren Ross (graduate student)