Monica Lawson, Ph.D.
Director of the GROWTH Lab, Principal investigator 

Originally from Pennsylvania, Monica developed a passion for working with families and children through interacting with the many children in her large family. Once she started to learn more about child development as an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, she became fascinated with understanding how children come to remember and share their past with others and the implications of this knowledge for professionals who work with children and families—such as teachers, health care providers, and legal professionals. She received her Ph.D. in Child Development from the University of Toledo and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Notre Dame prior to joining the University of Texas at San Antonio as an Assistant Professor of Psychology in 2019. She continues to learn about the wonderful complexities of child development. Her research has been published in top academic journals including Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Developmental Review, and Development and Psychopathology. Monica is a proud first-generation college student, wife, aunt, and amateur potter.   


Tori Dickensheets Holland


Tori Dickensheets Holland is psychology graduate student in the GROWTH Lab. She was raised as a military child, born in Ohio and moved all over the world throughout her childhood but considers San Antonio to be her hometown since it's where the majority of her family and friends live. Her career aspirations are to become a tenure-track psychology professor at a research-intensive university. She strives to direct her own lab focused on helping families with children who have various disabilities.  She joined the GROWTH Lab in Fall of 2019 to enhance her research knowledge and learn scientifically based techniques to help individuals and families in my populations of interest. Outside of school, some of her interests are painting, video gaming, going on adventures with her two dogs, Sammie and Sasha, and improving her sign language skills to enhance my communication abilities with the six deaf-blind clients she has served for the last three years.  

Maria Ospina Ocampo


Maria Ospina is an undergraduate student majoring in psychology from Houston, Texas. Her current career goal is to enroll in graduate school and hopes to become a licensed counselor. She’s passionate about helping children that struggle with mental health. She joined the GROWTH lab to gain experience in a research capacity and more knowledge about psychology in real situations. She love animals, like her cats in the picture above, and she likes painting and drawing.

Lilli Woerner


Lilli Woerner is senior working on her bachelor’s in psychology with a minor in biology. She’s from Houston, Texas originally and moved to San Antonio to attend UTSA. She plans to attend medical school after graduation and her long-term career goal is to become a psychiatrist. She joined the GROWTH lab to help her decide between a future career in medicine versus research, and she also wanted to strengthen her critical thinking skills and learn how research is conducted in psychology. Aside from academics, she loves roller skating, trying new things, and caring for the many plants in her room. 

Cindy Alvarado


Cindy Alvarado is a senior majoring in psychology with a minor in biology. She’s from Houston, Texas. Currently, her career goal is to attend grad school and go on to get a doctorate degree in psychology. She joined the GROWTH Lab to broaden her understanding of the research field and to be a part of some amazing conversations and projects. She loves formula 1, hiking, and traveling. 

Dina Azuike


Dina Azuike is a sophomore studying Psychology. She’s from Houston, Texas. Her goal is to go to UT Health San Antonio Medical School after graduating to become a psychiatrist in the behavioral trauma area. She joined the GROWTH Lab because she was interested in furthering her knowledge on psychology topics in relation to real life, and truly understanding the research aspect of it. Her favorite things to do are creative things like new cosmetology techniques, styling hair, creating content, trying new ethnic foods and taking pictures of insanely beautiful sceneries. The picture on the right is of downtown Atlanta when she was on a trip.

Lindsay Peck


Lindsay Peck is a third-year biology major at UTSA. She was born and raised in Austin, TX, but has been living in San Antonio for a few years now. She lives with her boyfriend and their cat, Sammy. After graduating, she plans on attending medical school and becoming a physician. She is interested in primary care and enjoys working with children. She joined GROWTH lab to learn more about developmental psychology, especially in children with autism spectrum disorder. In her free time, she likes to cook new foods and hike/bike outside! 

Maya Jasser


Maya Jasser is a junior majoring in psychology. She is originally from Houston, Texas, but she loves San Antonio! She hopes to go to graduate and work with children in the clinical field. She joined the GROWTH lab so she could grow professionally, expand her experience, and gain familiarity with the research process. She loves listening to music and learning new things. She is also an aunt to 5 amazing children which led her to her career goal of working with children!

Serena Hirani


Serena Hirani is a junior majoring in public health. She’s from Corpus Christi, Texas. She hopes to go to medical school to become a physician after graduating. She joined the GROWTH lab because she wanted gain more experience in the research field and also learn more about psychology in general. Her interests and hobbies include working out, going to concerts, and traveling.

Ethan Apawan


Ethan Apawan is a senior biology and psychology double-major. He was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. His career goal is to become a lawyer. He is specifically interested in education and health policy. He joined the GROWTH Lab to learn more about developmental psychology and to use that knowledge set to advise organizations and people to foster the development of the next generation. He loves meeting new people and helping them achieve their personal, career, and organizational goals.

Ariana Sabal


Ariana Sabal is sophomore studying psychology and minoring in neuroscience. Originally from San Antonio, she aspires to attend medical school after completing her undergraduate degree to become a child psychiatrist. Her decision to join the GROWTH Lab stems from a desire to gain research experience and expand her knowledge of child development. Additionally, she enjoys challenging herself academically and cultivating her critical thinking skills through research. She loves spending time with her family and friends and exploring nature.

Maria Stoker


Maria Stoker is a sophomore majoring in psychology with a minor in nonprofit management. She is from Longview, Texas. She plans to become a child and family psychologist and wants to specialize with immigrants. She joined the GROWTH Lab because it is an interesting field of work, and she wanted to get started on seeing what research work looks like. She loves to travel; the picture is of her in Barcelona, and she loves to try new foods. 

Aaliyah Alba


Aaliyah Alba is a junior majoring in psychology. She’s from El Paso, Texas. Her career goal is to go to graduate school at UTSA in the clinical mental health program or the bilingual counseling program to become a therapist. Her future long-term goal would be to open her own practice and offer affordable mental health care for all families. She joined the GROWTH Lab to further expand her knowledge and experience in psychology along with research. It's definitely one of the best decisions she made because of how interesting the projects are! She loves to travel and try new foods! The picture on the right is when she went to Mexico this past summer and it was beautiful.

Regina Del Toro


Regina Del Toro is a senior majoring in psychology with a minor in biology. She is from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, her career goal is to attend medical school upon graduating. In terms of specialty, she is interested in pediatrics and later in the future, she hopes to be able to open her own practice. She joined the GROWTH Lab to build her scientific literacy, gain a more in depth understanding of the research field and challenge herself to think critically. Some things about her are that she loves to travel, to meet new people, and to be around animals.

Isabella Rodriguez

Isabella Rodriguez is a post-bacc student in the GROWTH Lab. She graduated from UTSA in 2022 with a major in psychology and a minor in sociology. She is from Laredo, Texas. Her career goal is to become a clinical psychologist and work with families and couples using different therapy techniques. She joined the GROWTH Lab to gain more knowledge in the field of research and strengthen her critical thinking skills. She loves to travel, eat new cuisines and spend time with her family and friends.