Misaki N. Natsuaki, Ph.D.

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Dr. Natsuaki is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. In 2006, she received her PhD in Human Development from University of California, Davis under the mentorship of Dr. Xiaojia Ge. She then became a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Child Development of University of Minnesota. Taking a developmental approach, Dr. Natsuaki focuses on the interplay of biological and environmental origins of psychopathology. In particular, she is interested in the roles of puberty and family relationships in explaining the emergence and changes in internalizing psychopathology during the transition from childhood to adolescence. Dr. Natsuaki uses various designs in her research, including longitudinal designs and genetically sensitive designs. She is an investigator on the Early Growth and Development Study.




Erick Perez, M. A.

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Erick is a fourth-year doctoral student and a Eugene Cota Robles Fellow in the Developmental Psychology program at UC Riverside. He received his B.A. in psychology at California State University Northridge. While there, he was a National Institute of Health BUILD PODER Scholar working on research that addressed the motor and social barriers to physical activity and fitness among young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. His research at UC Riverside focuses on improving the assessment and treatment of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Additionally, Erick is interested in how individuals cope with the loss of their loved ones. He seeks to understand how bereavement and grief varies across cultures, the life-span, and the context surrounding the loss (e.g., cause, timing, relationship to the deceased). In his free time, he enjoys Wu-Tang, treflips, stage dives, and high fives.


Arash Mehrkesh, M. A.

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Arash is a second-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology Program at UC Riverside. He received his MA in clinical psychology (family therapy) from Shahid Beheshti University in Iran. He also holds a BS degree in Electrical Engineering and an MBA from Sharif University of Technology in Iran. Arash’s main area of interest is in developmental psychopathology and the mechanism through which family dynamics and early interactions can influence the social-emotional development of a child. He enjoys swimming, watching movies, and hanging out with friends in his free time.

Destyni Cravens, M. P. H.

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Destyni is a first-year doctoral student and a Eugene Cota Robles Fellow in the Developmental Psychology program at UC Riverside. She received her B.A. in psychology and B.S. in sociology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She also received her M.P.H. with a concentration in health behavior through UAB’s accelerated bachelor’s to master’s program. While attending UAB, Destyni served as a research assistant for the Birmingham Youth Violence Study and the COVID-19, Race, and Student/Postdoctoral Fellow Mental Health Study. She also served as a McNair Scholar where she completed several projects related to motherhood, maternal depression, and child outcomes, with a specific emphasis on racial and ethnic differences. Destyni is interested in exploring the impacts of early adverse experiences on children/adolescents. In her spare time, Destyni enjoys binge watching reality drama series, reading, drinking coffee, and exercising.

Christian Garcia, M. A.

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Christian is a first-year doctoral student and a Eugene Cota Robles Fellow in the Developmental Psychology program at UC Riverside. He received his B.A. in psychology at the University of California, Riverside. He also received his M.A. in Psychological Science at California State University, Northridge. Here he began to study the socio-familial influences that inform the development of social competence in youth with experiences of maltreatment. Further, Christian is interested in the mechanisms by which early relationships with caregivers influence children’s social adaptation and internalizing psychopathology. In his free time he enjoys reading, traveling, watching/playing jeopardy, and getting bullied with his girlfriend by his cat.