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PACE Research Team

Meet the team members that are running the lab!


Principal Investigator

Dr. Scott Leon

Scott Leon is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at Loyola University Chicago, where he teaches and mentors in the undergraduate and graduate psychology programs. Dr. Leon is also the Director of Clinical Training for the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program. He earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern University Medical School in 2002. During his graduate studies, he developed research interests in mental health services evaluation. Dr. Leon’s published work has primarily focused on the mental health and placement outcomes of youth in the child welfare system.

Hometown: Santa Ana, CA

What I do for fun: Running, reading, traveling.

My favorite thing about Chicago: The beautiful Lakeshore Path. Running south of the path with the lake on my left and the skyline ahead of me is pure exhilaration. 

Learn more about Dr. Leon’s work here.


Current Graduate Students


Jenny Osborne (she/her/hers)

Hometown: Bay Village, OH

Education: Elon University - B.A. in Sociology and Strategic Communication

Status: 6th year graduate student in the Child Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program

Past research experience: After graduating from college, I worked as a contractor for the Children's Bureau in Washington D.C., where I curated content on the Child Welfare Information Gateway, wrote publications, and designed content for National Foster Care Month.

Research/Clinical interests: I'm interested in identifying and bolstering sources of support for children in contact with the child welfare system and examining multi-informant reporting among youth in care. I'm currently completing a pre-doctoral internship at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan with an emphasis in pediatric neuropsychology. On internship, I conduct neuropsychological assessments for children and youth with complex medical and neurodevelopmental histories. I also see youth navigating new medical diagnoses and chronic pain as an outpatient mental health therapist and as a consultation liaison.

What I do for fun: I rock climb and play Dungeons and Dragons.

My favorite thing about Chicago: Lakeshore Path


Thesis: Beyond Family: Patterns of Kin and Fictive Kin Caregivers Among Children and Youth in the Child Welfare System

Tai Masuda (she/her/hers)

Hometown: Honolulu, HI

Education: Mount Holyoke College - B.A. in Psychology and Environmental Studies

Status: 1st year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program

Past research experience: After graduating from college, I worked as a research associate at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Department of Psychiatry where we studied youth and emerging adult experiences in the public sector system of care in Hawai'i (including the foster care system, juvenile justice system, homelessness services, mental health services, and substance use services).

Research/Clinical interests: I'm interested in the well-being and mental health of youth involved in public systems and how public systems that are meant to serve youth, such as the foster care system, can be more supportive, empowering, and healing for youth. Additionally, I'm interested in accessible and equitable behavioral healthcare services and community-based participatory research.

What I do for fun: I like to go to the beach/the lake, walk along the lake, try new restaurants/foods, read, surf, go to concerts, cook, go thrift shopping, and do yoga.

My favorite thing(s) about Chicago: The lake, the food, the dogs, and how nice the people are!



Current Undergraduate & Postbaccalaureate Research Assistants

Kimberly Davenport (she/her/hers)

Hometown: O'Fallon, IL

Status: Senior

Research/Clinical interests: Exploring the field/open to anything. I find particular interest in interpersonal relationships/attachment theory and neurological issues.

What I do for fun: I love to grab a few friends to explore somewhere new in town.

My favorite thing(s) about Chicago: How much there is to explore! / the lake!

Niramay Patel (he/him/his)

Hometown: Plainfield, IL

Status: Just graduated

Research/Clinical interests: I’m striving to eventually get into a PhD program in clinical psychology and work in a clinical facility as a practicing clinical psychologist after I receive my degree.

What I do for fun: In my free time, I enjoy reading and writing, watching TV shows and sports, and spending time with friends.

My favorite thing(s) about ChicagoMy favorite thing about Chicago is the plethora of activities that you can do in the city. There are so many different types of places to visit, including museums, restaurants, beaches, parks, and more. I love getting myself involved in new experiences, and Chicago gives me a lot of opportunities to do that!

Brandt Bunger (he/him/his)

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

Status: Senior

Research/Clinical interests: The outcomes of kinship care versus traditional foster care arrangements for children in the child welfare system.

What I do for fun: I love going to the gym

My favorite thing(s) about Chicago: All of the different food


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Grace Courter (she/her/hers)

Hometown: Geneva, IL

Status: Junior

Research/Clinical interests: Developmental psychology 

What I do for fun: Reading, watching horror movies, practicing piano, and getting coffee with people :)

My favorite thing(s) about Chicago: The city itself and the people! 


Previous Graduate Students


Nicole Hodgkinson

Nicole graduated from Whitman College in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Nicole worked as a research assistant at the VA Puget Sound Health Care system studying chronic pain management before transitioning to a direct service role providing mental health crisis response for youth in King County, many of whom were involved with the foster care system. Nicole’s current research interests include improving psychosocial outcomes for children in the Child Welfare System through program evaluation and intervention development.

Thesis: Kinship Involvement and Strength Development in the Child Welfare System

Nathan Lutz

Nathan earned his Bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in neuroscience from Miami University in 2015. For the next two years, Nathan worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Cincinnati Children's Hospital in a lab that focused on the complex health needs of youth in the child welfare system. Nathan spent most of his time working on a project that developed an intervention to aid adolescents who were aging out of the system. His research interests are centered around continuing to evaluate and develop interventions for this population, and he is also interested in learning about the effects of various forms of maltreatment and how to lessen their impact throughout one's childhood.

ThesisUnderstanding the Role of Relationship Satisfaction in Social Support Provision for Youth in the Child Welfare System

Lauren Hindt 

Lauren earned her Bachelor's degree in child psychology, along with minors in neuroscience and public health, from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in 2014. Her research interests include strengthening families and supporting children at risk for social and emotional difficulties from underserved populations, with an overarching goal of improving health equity and reducing disparities. Lauren's current research involves children and families in the context of the foster care system and parental incarceration.


Thesis: Impact of Visitation with Incarcerated Fathers on Behavioral Adjustment among Children in the Foster Care System pdf

Brynn Huguenel

After receiving her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Boston College in 2012, Brynn worked in the Schizophrenia Neuropharmacology Research Group at Yale University Medical School for three years. Her research interests include risk and resilience factors of mental health outcomes in children with abuse or neglect, as well as treatment or program evaluation.

Thesis: Fear of Missing Out: A Moderated Mediation Approach to Social Media Use pdf

PACE Lab Alumni

Grace Jhe Bai: Class of 2018

Thesis: The Protective Effect of Kinship Support on the
Adjustment of Youth in Foster Care pdf


Dissertation: Child Maltreatment and Psychosocial Functioning

Among Foster Care Youth: Self-Concept as a

Mediator and a Moderator pdf


Anne Fuller: Class of 2017

Thesis: Sexual Behavior Problems in Child Welfare:
Predictors of Reliable Change pdf


Dissertation: Social Support and Well-Being Among Foster Care
Youth: Self-Concept as a Mediator pdf


Alison Stoner: Class of 2014

Thesis: Predictors of Mental Health Outcomes Among
Foster Care Children Receiving Community-Based
Services pdf


Dissertation: Closing the "Revolving Door": Identifying
Predictors of Time to Rehospitalization in a Sample
of Psychiatric Inpatient Youth pdf


Amy Lyons Usher: Class of 2012

Dissertation: Measures of Executive Functioning and Their
Relation to Functional Outcomes in a Sample of
Youth with Attention-Deficit/hyperactivity
Disorder (add) pdf

Jeff Sieracki: Class of 2010

Thesis: Measuring Mental Health Improvement Among Children

Receiving Community-Based Services in a System of Care;

An Idiographic Approach pdf

Dissertation: In Whose Best Interest? Using an Experimental
Vignette to Assess Factors Influencing Placement
Decisions in Child Welfare pdf


Brittany Lakin: Class of 2008

Dissertation: Burnout in Children’s Residential Treatment Center

Staff: A Look at the Organizational Context Using a

Person-Job Fit Model


Jessica Snowden-Patel: Class of 2007

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