Department Chair

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Dr. Violet Cheung (ORCiD 0000-0003-2706-025X) is a co-chair and a professor in the department of psychology at the University of San Francisco. Her research on mass emotions started after 9/11 while she was completing her doctorate degree at UC Berkeley. She examined angry responses to the terrorist attack and how the public sentiment precipitated the U.S. to go to war. She now focuses on anxious and fearful responses in the new contexts of cyber insecurity, the migrant crisis, and the COVID...

  • UC Berkeley, PhD in Psychology, 2007
  • Anxiety, fear, and anger
  • Public sentiments
  • Big data analytics
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Kevin M. Chun, PhD, is professor of psychology and co-founding faculty member of USF’s Asian American Studies and Critical Diversity Studies programs. Professor Chun uses community-based research methods to study acculturation effects on Asian American immigrant health and psychosocial adjustment. His research program aims to improve acculturation theory and measures, and develop health interventions that reduce immigrant families’ acculturation stress.

Prof. Chun was co-principal...

  • PhD, Clinical Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles
  • BS, Psychology, Santa Clara University
  • Psychology Internship at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System
  • Acculturation
  • Bicultural efficacy in health management
  • Immigrant health disparities
  • Asian American psychology
  • Multicultural psychology
  • Ethnic minority mental health
  • Family psychology

Full-Time Faculty

Harney Science Center 244

Pamela Balls Organista, has a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Her areas of research include health issues in underserved populations, ethnic minority psychology, community-based research, and preventive interventions.

  • PhD in Clinical Psychology

Dr. J Garrett-Walker is an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of San Francisco. Dr. J Garrett-Walker is a developmental psychologist whose research focuses on mental health and multiple identity development for two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (2SLGBTQ+) emerging adults with a focus on Black and other racialized communities. Prof. Garrett-Walker teaches courses in research design, developmental psychology, and privilege, power, and...

  • PhD, Graduate Center of City University of New York
  • BA, University of San Francisco
Kalmanovitz 259

Sarah Hillenbrand is a cognitive neuroscientist and an educator. She earned her PhD in neuroscience at UC Berkeley, using functional magnetic resonance imaging to study human motor learning. From there, she moved on to teach courses in neuroscience, general scientific method, science writing, and storytelling at Stanford University in the Thinking Matters program and the Program in Writing and Rhetoric. More recently, she has taught courses on psychology, social justice, media literacy, and...

  • Alliant International University, Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential in Social Science, 2021
  • UC Berkeley, PhD in Neuroscience, 2015
  • Kenyon College, BA in Neuroscience, Philosophy, and...
  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Human motor learning
  • Science communication
  • Pedagogy
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Aline Hitti is an assistant professor in the Psychology Department at the University of San Francisco. She completed her doctoral degree in Human Development and Quantitative Methodology from the University of Maryland. Her research focuses on children’s and adolescents’ social cognitive and moral development in intergroup contexts. She has authored and co-authored several chapters on social exclusion and intergroup peer relations, highlighting how morality is applied in these social contexts...

  • University of Maryland College Park, PhD in Human Development and Quantitative Methodology
  • Johns Hopkins University, MS in Mathematical Sciences
  • Johns Hopkins University, BS in Mathematical...
  • Quantitative and qualitative methods
  • Developmental sciences
  • Minoritized youth
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Saera Khan's research explores the social cognitive processes involved in the reliance of stereotypes for judgment and the consequences of these prejudicial judgments for stigmatized groups. She also studies the role of identity and culture in the formation of moral judgments. She teaches Psychology Practicum, Social Psychology, and Advanced Research Methods. Her complete CV can be accessed through the link located on this page.

  • Washington University in St. Louis, PhD in Social Psychology 
  • Washington University in St. Louis, MA in Social Psychology 
  • Loyola University Chicago, BA in Psychology

Marisa Knight, PhD, specializes in cognitive neuroscience. She teaches biological psychology and research design, and her research is focused on the interplay between motivation, emotion and cognitive functioning across the lifespan.

  • PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz
Ben Levy is a cognitive neuroscientist who received his PhD from the University of Oregon. His research focuses on memory and cognitive control, with a particular interest in understanding why we forget. He teaches biological psychology, research design, and learning, memory and cognition.
  • PhD, University of Oregon
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Edward Munnich, PhD, is a cognitive psychologist. He received his degree from the University of Delaware. He teaches research design; learning, memory and cognition; and related courses. His research focuses on whether, and to what extent, statistics influence people's beliefs and preferences about personal and public policy issues.

  • PhD, University of Delaware
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Dr. Ochoa received his PhD from Saint Louis University. His research focuses on values in sports, specifically looking at the impact of a system on value transmission.

  • PhD, Saint Louis University, Family Therapy
  • MA, Antioch University, Clinical Psychology
  • BA, Occidental College, Psychology
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John Pérez received his PhD in Clinical Psychology at Yale University and completed his postdoctoral research fellowship at UCSF. His research focuses on exploring how diverse people use religious and spiritual resources (e.g., prayer, support from religious communities) to cope with stressful life events and chronic illnesses. In addition, he studies health promotion interventions among low-income, underserved Latinos, especially depression prevention and cancer prevention via faith-based...

  • PhD, Clinical Psychology, Yale University
  • NIMH Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, University of California, San Francisco
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Dr. Zachary Reese is a social psychologist with expertise in close relationships. His research team, the Love and Communication Lab, examines how people build and maintain meaningful relationships with others.

Outside of the lab, Dr. Reese is passionate about advancing initiatives related to Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ADEI). He is an organizer and principal investigator for USF's Moment to Movement: Anti-Racist Pedagogy Fellows Program, a program which won the USF...

  • University of Michigan, PhD in Psychology, 2022
  • University of Michigan, MSc in Psychology, 2018
  • Goucher College, BA in Psychology, 2016
  • Social psychology
  • Teaching and learning psychology
  • Anti-racism
  • Building close relationships
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Professor Ruff received a Master in Education, a Master in Couples and Family Therapy, and a doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies. She worked in Solano County at a nonprofit clinic as a Program Supervisor and Lead Clinician, at A Home Within as Program Director, and in private practice -- all focused on the treatment of adolescents and maltreated youth.

Saralyn’s research agenda is largely rooted in her clinical experiences, focused on mental health interventions for maltreated...

  • Purdue University, PhD Human Development, 2012
  • University of Oregon, MEd, Couple and Family Therapy, 2006
  • University of Oregon, MEd, 2003

Maria Cristina Samaco-Zamora is a Clinical Psychologist. She completed her doctorate degree from Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. Her areas of interest are Wellness Psychology and Personality. She has worked with children and adults in the areas of intelligence assessments, psycho-emotional assessment, and various forms of therapy.

  • Ateneo de Manila University, PhD in Clinical Psychology, 2013
  • Ateneo de Manila University, MA in Counseling Psychology, 2008
  • Ateneo de Manila University, BA in Psychology, 2005
  • Psychology
  • Clinical psychology
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Combining a passion for music with scientific curiosity, Professor Viskontas works at the intersection of art and science. She has published more than 50 original papers and chapters related to the neural basis of memory and creativity. Her scientific work has been featured in Oliver Sacks’ book Musicophilia, Nautilus, Nature: Science Careers, and Discover Magazine. She has also written for, American Scientist, Vitriol Magazine, and other publications. Her first book, How Music...

  • PhD, Cognitive Neuroscience, University of California - Los Angeles
  • MM, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • BSc, University of Toronto
  • Neuroscience
  • Creativity
  • Memory
  • Arts and health
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Lisa S. Wagner, PhD is professor of psychology and director of the gerontology minor at University of San Francisco. Professor Wagner has conducted research on stereotyping and aging for the past 25 years. Through a grant from National Institute on Aging and with support from USF, her research has examined age-related stereotypes and older adults’ experience of stereotype threat. Her recent research promotes intergenerational interactions between younger and older adults and examines effects of...

  • PhD, Social and Personality Psychology, University of Washington
  • BA, English Language and Literature, University of Michigan
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Joyce P. Yang, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist who earned her doctoral degree as a clinical scientist from the University of Washington. She received her postdoctoral research training in the Advanced Fellowship Program in Mental Illness Research and Treatment at Stanford University in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the National Center for PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) at VA Palo Alto Health Care System. She completed her predoctoral clinical internship...

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stanford University, 2019
  • PhD, Clinical Psychology, University of Washington, 2017
  • MA, Experimental Psychology, Boston University, 2008
  • AB, Psychology and Biology...

Part-Time Faculty

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Dr. Jeremy Doughan is an Adjunct Professor of Psychology and affiliate faculty in the School of Nursing and Health Professions at the University of San Francisco. He teaches courses in General Psychology, Abnormal Psychology and Clinical Psychology.

Dr. Doughan received his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota. He subsequently received his master's and doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology. During his...

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Clinical Psychology, VA Boston Healthcare System, 2008
  • Internship, Clinical Psychology, Miami VA Healthcare System, 2007
  • PsyD, Clinical Psychology, Minnesota School...
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Professor Kate Gapinski received a PhD in clinical psychology from Yale University, where her research focused on eating disorders and social perceptions of weight. She also worked in a lab dedicated to gender research for several years. After completing postdoctoral work in behavioral medicine at Stanford University, she became a founding partner in an evidence-based clinical psychology practice in San Francisco, where she currently treats individuals and couples. In addition, she has...

  • Stanford University, Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • PhD in Clinical Psychology, Yale University
  • Psychology of gender
  • Psychology of sexuality
  • Clinical psychology
  • Abnormal psychology
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Lauren Marie Haack, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with interests focused on 1) cultural influences to mental health conceptualization, assessment, and treatment, 2) accessible and culturally attuned evidence-based services for traditionally underserved youth and families worldwide, and 3) behavioral health provider experience, training, and consultation. In addition to teaching courses at USF since 2013, she serves as director of the STRIVE lab ( and associate...

  • Clinical Psychology Fellowship, University of California San Francisco (UCSF)
  • PhD, Clinical Psychology, Marquette University
  • MS, Clinical Psychology, Marquette University
  • BA, Psychology...
  • ADHD
  • Global mental health
  • Evidence-based mental health services

Grace Huckins is a PhD candidate in neuroscience at Stanford University and a freelance science writer. At Stanford, they work on building models and explanations of mental illness that are not only useful for scientist but are also able to be communicated to patients. As a journalist, they cover topics ranging from neuroscience and psychiatry to gender-affirming medical care and AI for publications like WIRED, Slate, and Scientific American. In their free time, they enjoy reading fiction and...

  • University of Oxford, MA in Women's Studies, 2018
  • University of Oxford, MSc in Neuroscience, 2017
  • Harvard College, BA in Neurobiology and Physics, 2016
  • Neuroscience
  • Gender studies
  • Philosophy

Omid Miry is a postdoctoral fellow in neuroscience at Stanford Medicine. His research is focused on memory, or how neural activity in the brain allows us to store experiences and recall them later. In addition to neuroscience research, he advocates for quality access to STEM education in underserved communities by serving as Ambassador to the New York Academy of Sciences and collaborating with organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of the Bay Area and Global STEM Alliance. In his free...

  • Neuroscience
  • Neuroimaging
  • Memory

Emily Schell is a doctoral candidate in Developmental and Psychological Sciences at Stanford University's Graduate School of Education (GSE). Prior to starting doctoral study, Emily received her bachelor's (with honors) from Brown University in East Asian Studies and International Relations. She also served as a Fulbright English Teacher in Taiwan and received her master's in International Comparative Education from Stanford's GSE.

Emily's research concerns how higher education can shift...

  • Stanford University, MA in Education, 2018
  • Brown University, BA in East Asian Studies and International Relations, 2016
  • Culturally responsive student support
  • Qualitative methods
  • Higher education

Faculty Emeritus

Professor Bloch is a cognitive neuropsychologist who received his PhD in 1989. His research investigates hemispheric asymmetry and integration in normal and disabled populations, as well as the effects of certain olfactory stimuli on hemispheric processing. He is also an Educational Therapist, working with a variety of students with learning differences including dyslexia, ADD, and nonverbal learning disabilities.

Prof. Bloch's teaching interests include Brain and Behavior, Human...

  • PhD, 1989
  • Brain and Behavior
  • Human Neuropsychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Learning and Memory
  • Cognition
  • Psychology of Reading and Dyslexia
  • Psychology of Dreaming
  • Statistics
  • General Psychology
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Susan Heidenreich, PhD, is an experimental psychologist, who earned her degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is the Faculty Coordinator for the interdisciplinary Neuroscience Minor. She teaches biological psychology, psychological statistics, sensation and perception, and psychology of human sexuality. Her current research in neuroscience uses psychophysical methods to investigate eye movements and visual perception.

  • PhD, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Loyola Jesuit Community

Fr. Gerdenio (Sonny) Manuel, S.J. is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology. After retiring from teaching at USF, Fr. Manuel has been staff psychologist at South of Market Health Center in San Francisco caring for the medically underserved and also works in his own part-time private practice.

Fr. Manuel's areas of scholarship include coping with stress and traumatic life events and the relationship of psychology, faith, and religious life. He is the author of Living Celibacy, Healthy Pathways for...

  • BA, University of San Francisco
  • MA in Divinity, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley
  • PhD in Psychology, Duke University
  • Clinical internship and Advanced Clinical Fellow at Cambridge City...
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Dr. Silverthorne is a social/organizational psychologist. He has authored several books and published numerous numerous articles in refereed journals. His recent research has focused on testing the applicability of organizational behavior theories, especially leadership, across cultures. In addition, other current research is exploring the benefits of yoga for brain injured individuals.

  • PhD, (Social Psychology), University of Cincinnati, 1970
  • MA, (Psychology), University of Cincinnati, 1968
  • BSc, (Psychology and Mathematics with Statistics), University of London, 1966