Dr. Alan Meca

Dr. Meca (él, he, him) joined the faculty within the Department of Psychology at University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) in Fall 2021, after having served as an Assistant Professor at Old Dominion University since 2017. Dr. Meca received his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Florida International University (FIU) and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Public Health Science at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Consistent with the goals of the TARDIS lab, Dr. Meca’s research has focused on advancing the understanding of identity development, across various domains (e.g., ethnic/racial, military, and parental identity), and its associations with psychosocial functioning and engagement in health risk behavior, primarily among marginalized populations. Within the context of this program of research, Dr. Meca and TARDIS have maintained three active lines of research focused on understanding 1) acculturation and cultural identity, 2) the impact of cultural adaptation and stressors, and 3) how identity development more broadly impacts psychosocial functioning.

For more information, please see his Curriculum Vitae.

Alan Meca, Ph.D.


Alan Meca, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor


Graduate Students

Bethany CruzBethany Cruz (she/they/ella/elle) Assistant Lab Director, Master’s Program, UTSA

Beth is in her final year of the psychology M.S. program at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She joined the TARDIS Lab in the Summer of 2021.

Her research interests include understanding how discrimination and the sociopolitical climate can impact aspects of identity development, psychosocial functioning, and achievement in ethnic/racial and sexual minoritized populations. She is also interested in studying the intersectionality of identities. Additionally, Beth has spent her time working with various national nonprofit and local community organizations as a counselor, educator, and research associate. Upon completion of her Masters, she plans to continue into a doctoral program in Psychology. Outside of academic endeavors, Beth enjoys reading, crafting, hiking, and baking


Kelsie AllisonKelsie Allison (she/her/hers) 5 th Year, Doctoral Student, ODU

Kelsie is a fifth-year graduate student in the Health Psychology Ph.D. program at Old Dominion University (ODU) who Dr. Meca will continue to mentor remotely alongside Dr. Cassie Glenn (ODU). Kelsie earned her B.A. in Psychology from Christopher Newport University in 2018 and M.S. in Psychology in 2022 from Old Dominion University. She joined the TARDIS lab in Fall 2019.

Her research interests include promoting positive identity development for various populations (e.g., racial minorities, first-generation college students, college athletes) by examining identity processes and individual and contextual assets and how they relate to various outcomes such as mental health, academic achievement, and overall well-being. Her dissertation, which is expected to be defended Fall 2023, is focusing on intersectional cultural identities among first-generation college students. Additionally, Kelsie has been active in working with nonprofits and organizations in the community. Outside of research, Kelsie enjoys baking, reading, traveling, and weight lifting.


Kenneth L. AyersKenneth L. Ayers, Jr. (he/him) 4 th Year, Doctoral Student, ODU/VCPCP

Kenny is a fifth-year doctoral student in the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology (VCPCP). Kenny earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology Pre-Medicine from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and worked for the W.J.B. Dorn Veteran Medical Center in cardiology research, and the Department of Defense as a Clinical Research Coordinator in Adenovirus vaccination research. Subsequently, Kenny earned his Master of Arts in Psychology, Clinical Counseling from The Citadel.

Kenny’s research interests are focus on the influence of discrimination and trauma, on the development of psychopathology in ethnic-racial minority populations. Additionally, his research seeks to investigate how different dimensions of attachment and identity development (e.g., cultural, ethnic-racial, bicultural, etc.) impact individuals’ mental health and subsequently their interpersonal relationships. In terms of clinical interest, Kenny focuses on working with children, adolescents, families, emerging adults, Veterans, and Military personnel who present with a broad range of psychological and physical health concerns. Kenny has experience providing inpatient consultation-liaison services, outpatient treatment utilizing Humanistic, Solution-Focused, and Cognitive and Behavioral approaches (e.g., Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, TF-CBT, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness, etc.), and neuropsychological and forensic assessments.

In his personal time, he enjoys a broad range of musical genre, attending concerts and other artistic performances, drawing, cars, movies, restaurants, and traveling.


Taryn VeniegasTaryn Veniegas (she/her/ella) 2nd Year, Master’s Program, UTSA

Taryn (she/her/ella) is a native of Wyoming, where she received her B.S. in psychology at the University of Wyoming with a minor in Spanish and as a McNair Scholar. Taryn is a second-year graduate student in the psychology M.S. program at UTSA. Her research interests include studying the effects of socioeconomic status on the psychosocial self, and investigating the intersectionality of ethnic/racial identity on socioeconomic status. She is also interested minority alienation and discrimination and how it can affect feelings of belonging and identity development.

Taryn hopes to become involved in non-profit work and support disadvantaged youths in education. Beyond academics, Taryn enjoys rock climbing and camping, and spending time with her dog, Jaygo, and her cat, Fletcher.


Jacqueline Lucero (they/them/elle), 1st year, Doctoral Program, UTSA

Jacqueline Lucero is an El Paso native who received their B.A. in Psychology from St. Mary’s University with a minor in Spanish and a Certificate in Community Based Assessment and Evaluation. While concurrently working in institutional research at Alamo Colleges, Jackie completed their M.S. degree in Psychology from UTSA and has continued on to the doctoral program. Jacky’s research focuses on examining the effects that negative and stressful social experiences (such as discrimination, bullying, or cultural pressures) have on the identity, ideologies, and behavior of individuals, particularly members of minority groups and individuals that are at the intersections of several marginalized identities. Outside of work and academia, Jacky volunteers with several non-profits and has a small business dedicated to handmade baubles, zines, and community resources!

Chelsea RobenaltChelsea Roblenalt (she/her/they/them), 1st year, Doctoral Program, UTSA

Chelsea is native to San Antonio and received both her B.A. and M.S. degrees at UTSA and is now earning her PhD. She just joined the TARDIS lab this Fall 2023. Chelsea's research interests involve parental identity and postpartum depression in marginalized populations. She is also passionate about mentoring and teaching undergraduates and hopes to stay in academia after receiving her degree.

Beyond academics, Chelsea loves to be involved with her four children and their own school and extracurricular activities.



Madison StoutMadison Stout (she/her), 2nd year, Master’s Program, UTSA

Maddie is a 2nd year graduate student in the MS program at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She joined the TARDIs lab in the summer of 2023. Her primary research interests involves identity among autistic students and students with disabilities. Previously her research interests involved looking at coping styles and mental health predictors of cannabis use disorder.

Maddie hopes to receive her PhD in psychology and is hoping to teach and do research. Outside of academia, Maddie enjoys painting, listening to heavy music, and drinking root beer.




Isabella CruzIsabella Cruz (she/her/ella), 1st Year, Master’s Program, UTSA

Bella is a first-year graduate student in the Psychology Master’s program at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). She joined the TARDIS lab in the summer of 2023. Her research interest includes understandings acculturation's effect on views on psychopathology and developing self-identity in the Hispanic community. She is also interested in studying how family and cultural expectations impact the well-being and psychopathology of individuals in the LGBT+ community.

Bella’s goal is to pursue her Ph.D. in Clinical psychology after completing the Master's program. Outside of academics, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and spending time with her pets.



Undergraduate Research Assistants

Camryn WoodsCameron Woods (he/him/his), Lab Manager

Cameron is a second-year undergraduate student pursuing a B.A. in Psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He joined the TARDIS Lab in the Fall of 2022. His goal is to explore the complexity of human nature and the interconnected web between one’s identity, material condition, and psychosocial function. As a queer, African American student and the child of a veteran, Cameron seeks to use research and technical analysis to expand the understanding and visibility of the lived experiences of the people with similar intersections in identity.

After graduating, Cameron plans to further his education and complete a Master’s in Genetic Counseling. Outside of school, Cameron is an artist and loves to write, listen to music, spend time with family, and watch movies.


Michelle NguyenMichelle Nguyen (She/her/hers), Senior Research Assistant

Michelle Nguyen is a fourth-year first-generational student from Houston, TX and a Ronald E. McNair Fellow. She is an undergraduate student majoring in psychology and minoring in marketing at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her research interest includes mental self-regulation, cultural development in adolescents explicitly on minorities, and parent-children relationships. Some of her campus involvement includes being the President of Active Minds, an on-campus organization that wants to stop the stigma behind mental health; Vice President of Psi Chi, an international honor society for students in Psychology; and an Honors Student.

Michelle hopes to attend an accredited graduate program to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology after graduating with her B.A in psychology. Some of her hobbies include baking, traveling, petting her cat, scrapbooking, and trying new foods!


Hannah SheikhHannah Sheikh (she/her/hers), Senior Research Assistant

Hannah is currently a post-bacc student completing the pre-requisites required for medical school. She recently graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a degrees in Psychology and English. She joined the TARDIS Lab in the Fall of 2022. Her goal is to learn and understand the different effects of cultural stress and experiences on an individual. Coming from a religious and cultural minority, Hannah is passionate about the influence she can have on the youth in her communities. Apart from the lab, Hannah is a Tutor with the Tomas Rivera Center (TRC) and a TA. When she is not juggling between the lab, classes, and work, you can find Hannah listening to music, reading, crocheting, hanging out with family and friends, or catching up on sleep.



Thalia PimientaThalia Pimienta (she/her/hers) Research Assistant

Thalia (she/her/hers) is a third-year undergraduate student working towards her Bachelor's in Biology. She grew up in Cuba but moved to the US in 2011; she has since lived in multiple states including New York, Florida and now Texas. She is interested in researching cultural stressors and the way they affect the youth’s psychological functioning and their likeness to participate in risk taking behavior. She is also interested in gender norms and the concept of Machismo within the Latino community. In her free time Thalia enjoys listening to music, traveling and trying new foods.

ZenettaZenetta Hinojosa (she/her/hers), Research Assistant

Zenetta is a third year undergraduate student at The University of Texas at San Antonio. She is currently majoring in Psychology with a minor in neuroscience, in hopes of obtaining a PhD in clinical psychology. Her translational research interests include how neurological change impacts response to environment and behavior, specifically in the development of anxiety disorders, neural plasticity, and self identity. As a URM student, her goal as a future clinician and researcher is to aid in closing the social/ socioeconomic gaps in underserved communities and promote mental health equity.

Outside of lab, Zenetta is part of the Terry Scholars and McNair Scholars program and enjoys art in her free time.

Liv CampaOlivia Campa (She/her/hers), Research Assistant

Liv Campa is a third-year undergraduate student attending the University of Texas at San Antonio, intending to graduate with a B.A. in psychology and anthropology. She joined the TARDIS lab in the Spring of 2023. Her interest in research involves the relationship between a marginalized identity and cultural stressors, as well as identifying how various stressors impact psychosocial functioning and encourage resilience.

In her spare time, Liv enjoys being in the company of her pets and engaging in creative practices. She is passionate in learning about other cultures and advocating for marginalized communities.

MontalboKarabella Montalbo (she/her/hers), Research Assistant

Karabella is a second-year undergraduate student working towards earning her B.A. in Psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She was accepted into the TARDIS Research Lab of Spring 2022, with her particular interests revolving around minority youth and the factors that affect their psyche. She is a Filipino American student passionate about mental health and wishes to work with children through counseling. Alongside her position in the TARDIS Lab, Karabella is also the Vice President of the student organization Active Minds, an organization centered on destigmatizing mental health.

Outside of her academic pursuits, Karabella loves spending time with her family and friends, reading books, and working out.

David VargasDavid Perez (he/him), Research Assistant

David Perez is a fifth-year undergraduate student working towards a Bachelor's in Psychology. He was born in South Africa and grew up in Spain to Cuban parents but moved to the US in 2013; since then he has moved around and finally landed in San Antonio. He is interested in researching the effects of societal pressures on underserved communities, the effects on mental health on those populations, and the way the youth from these communities navigate school and post-education life.

David is also interested in art, music, and going to the beach or the nearest river. In his free time, he reads fantasy books and does slacklining (tightrope walking ).

Chloe MelchorChloe Melchor (she/her/hers), Research Assistant

Chloe is a second-year undergraduate student from Houston Tx, she is working towards a B.A. in psychology at the University Of Texas At San Antonio. She will be joining the TARDIS lab fall of 2023. She is interested in researching identity and how it affects academic motivation as well as looking into the impact of cultural upbringings on later life, and the impact of childhood. When not in school or at work Chloe enjoys running and spending time with her family and friends.

She plans to extend her education into a Master’s program and eventually attain a Ph.D. degree.