Team Members

Aerika Brittian Loyd Director: Aerika Brittian Loyd, Ph.D.

Dr. Aerika Brittian Loyd is a community-engaged developmental scientist in the Department of Psychology at UC Riverside, who uses psychology, human development, and prevention science theories to investigate how intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, and identity inform health and development for youth and young adults of color (e.g., Black and Latinx). Dr. Loyd enjoys spending time with family, gardening, and learning languages.


Graduate Students

Linsey Donovan

Linsey is a fourth-year PhD student in the School Psychology Program at UCR. She received her BA in Psychology from Le Moyne College and her MA and Certificate of Advanced Study in School Psychology from University at Buffalo. Broadly, Linsey is interested in examining how public school systems interact with Black students experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and/or trauma. Her current project examines whether the percentage of African-American students in a school, the number of full-time law enforcement or security officers assigned to a school, and the interaction between the two predict student out-of-school suspension rates.

Linsey is advised by Dr. Austin Johnson of the School Psychology program.


LeNisha Williams

LeNisha is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Developmental area in the Department of Psychology at UC Riverside. She graduated from CSU Northridge with her B.A. in Child and Adolescent Development with an emphasis in Applied Developmental Science. She is broadly interested in how early educational experiences influence ethnic identity development, academic motivation, and overall well-being. During her free time, she enjoys discovering new music artists and catching up with family and friends.


Tate LeBlanc

Tate is a third-year graduate student in the Ph.D. program in Developmental Psychology at UCR and a member of the YHD Lab. His emerging program of research seeks to understand the social and phenomenological processes underlying identity, efficacy, and aspiration development among Black youth in both online and offline contexts. Outside the lab, Tate enjoys learning new languages, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.


Nia Williams

I am a second-year PhD student in the Developmental Psychology program. I am a two-time alumna of the University of the District of Columbia for my Bachelors in Psychology and Masters in Counseling. I am interested in studying the outcomes of African American youth impacted by their culture. I am also interested in Life Span development. Outside of academia, Nia likes to binge watch shows, journal and explore new cities!


Chelsea McElwee

Chelsea is second-year doctoral student working in the YHD lab with a strong desire to continue to serve the public good in academia and at a community level after program completion. She is ultimately passioned around empowering Black and Latinx youth to be able to thrive in their own communities. Broadly, her research interest is around exploring factors that prevent youth from being able to thrive in overlooked and under-resourced communities. Fun fact: I love to watch Tik Tok videos and traveling.


Joshua Murillo

Josh is first-year doctoral student, who earned his master’s degree in psychological research and is extremely excited to continue his journey at UCR with the YHD lab under Dr. Loyd’s guidance. Josh’s research and passion is inspired upon equality and giving back to ethnic minority marginalized communities for his daughter and future generations. His research interests focus on health inequalities, adverse health outcomes, and community participatory action research among marginalized communities. During his free time, he loves to go running and play a video game called Pump It Up.


Undergraduate/Postbaccalaureate Research Assistants


Marilyn Serrano

My name is Marilyn Serrano and I’m a fourth year psychology major. I’m interested in learning more about identity development in youth of color and I hope to someday do work in clinical psychology!


Angie Louie

My name is Angie, and I am a 4th year psychology major. I am interested in studying adolescence and emerging adulthood, particularly peer groups, bullying, and social hierarchies in school settings. Through research, I hope to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. In my free time, I enjoy thrifting, going to concerts, and trying as many restaurants as I can in Riverside.


Sierra Sutton

My name is Sierra and I’m a 3rd year psychology major. I’m interested in learning more about developmental psychology. In the future, I look forward to pursuing graduate school and working to fight mental health disparities among African American and Latinx youth.


Halie Allen

My name is Halie Allen and I am a fourth-year Anthropology major with a concentration in Black & Black Diaspora Studies and a minor in Psychology. In the future, I hope to become a therapist who works mainly with children, especially those of color. I plan to pursue higher education and earn a PsyD.


Kayla Daniel

My name is Kayla and I am a 3rd year African American Studies major. I am interested in the identity development of black youth. In the future, I hope to contribute to the field of research involving Black studies and overarching themes of black psychological development.


Elsie Awuah

Elsie Awuah is a 4th year Psychology major who plans on earning her B.S. in Psychology in Spring of 2024. She gained her love in developmental psychology as she has worked with children for the past year and is fascinated by their perspective of life. Post-graduation, she is hoping to be on the path of obtaining her PhD in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on development.


Musashi Avalos

My name is Musashi Alan Avalos and I’m a 3rd year psychology major from the Bay Area. I’m interested in learning more about clinical/counseling psychology, especially addiction-related disorders, substance abuse, concussion related mental disorders and rehabilitation methods. In the future, I look forward to attending graduate school in order to obtain my LPCC, MFT, and CRC certifications. My hobbies include soccer, football, basketball, Formula One, video games, playing with my cats and supporting my favorite team, Arsenal.


Liana Willis

Liana joined the Youth Health and Development Lab as a research assistant in January 2022. She graduated from UCR in June 2023 with a B.A. in Psychology/Law & Society, and is currently applying to doctoral programs. Her primary research interest is in the evaluation and implementation of school and community-based interventions to prevent justice-involvement and promote community wellbeing.


Lab Alumni

Dion Chon – Cal State Fullerton, MA in Psychological Research program

Aylin Luna – UCR Perception, Action, & Development(PAD) Lab Research Coordinator

Bethel Israel – UCLA Masters of Social Welfare program

Dulce Wilkinson Westberg – Postdoctoral research; University of Minnesota 

Gilberto Torres – CUNY Clinical Psychology PhD program

Juelle Ford – Research Assistant, PAD Lab; B.S. in Psychology

Klaudia Gallardo – B.A. in Psychology

Maria Faheem – Cal State LA Masters in Counseling and School Psychology program

Yannelly “Nelly” Zuniga

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