Welcome to the Adolescent Development and Delinquency Lab! This research laboratory is based at the University of Texas at El Paso, under the direction of Dr. April Gile Thomas.


Our research examines adolescent behavior and juvenile delinquency using a developmental framework. We conduct primarily quantitative research that investigates predictors and consequences of juvenile delinquency and adolescent risk behavior. Our research addresses topics such as juvenile transfer to adult court, legal knowledge, sexting, sleep problems, peer influence, parent-adolescent relationships, and more.

Our Team

Our research team consists of 23  undergraduate/post-graduate research assistants and two graduate students, led by faculty mentor Dr. April Gile Thomas. 

The Adolescent Development and Delinquency Laboratory at The University of Texas at El Paso, is recruiting research assistants for the Spring 2020 semester. Applications are due by Dec. 31st for full consideration. 

For more information, see "For Students."

News & Events

May 13, 2020

Graduate student, Isabelle Clough, was awarded a $1,330 Dodson Research Grant by the University of Texas at El Paso's Graduate School. Isabelle will be using these funds to study how a juvenile defendant's age, gender, and psychosocial maturity influence mock jurors' perceptions of the defendant's culpability, guilt, and appropriateness of sentencing severity.

May 04, 2020

Graduate student, Anna Drozdova, was awarded $350 in UTEP Dodson Travel Funds and $350 in appropriations from the UTEP Student Government Association to attend a 5-day Network Analysis workshop by Curran-Bauer Analytics. Anna will be utilizing skills gained through this workshop to study how characteristics of incarcerated juveniles' social networks impact their institutional offending and recidivism patterns.

May 01, 2020

The National Science Foundation has awarded a RAPID grant to Dr. April Thomas, which will allow her to conduct research on the impacts of COVID-19 on adolescents and their parents. This research will examine how at-risk youth (specifically incarcerated and justice-involved juveniles) may be particularly impacted by the global pandemic.

Click here and here to view press release segments regarding this study.

UTEP Undergraduate Honors Awards Ceremony

December 13, 2019

Dr. Thomas presented the chords and medallions to the graduating members of the Adolescent Development & Delinquency Lab at today's ceremony. Congratulations to Gen, Jhairo, and Elizabeth on graduating! 

December 11, 2019

Doctoral student, Isabelle Clough, successfully proposed her Master's thesis on December 11. Her research study will explore how jurors' perceptions of defendants' psychosocial maturity, age, and gender influence their sentencing decisions. Congratulations Isabelle! 

Congratulations Elizabeth!

May 23, 2019

Congratulations to Elizabeth Purser for receiving the 2019 Summer Institute in Survey Research Techniques Diversity Fellowship at the University of Michigan! She will be joining Tiffany and Adria on this two and a half week survey methodology program. Go Elizabeth!

Congratulations to Daisy!

May 08, 2019

Daisy has been chosen for a travel award to attend the Behavioral Health Graduate Recruitment Fair at UT Austin and a fully funded grad tour at Arizona State University in May. Go Daisy! 

Congratulations to Tiffany Vasquez & Adria Corral

May 05, 2019

Congratulations to Tiffany Vasquez and Adria Corral for receiving the 2019 Summer Institute in Survey Research Techniques Diversity Fellowship at the University of Michigan! This two-and one-half- week program focuses on advancing the University’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals while offering courses on survey research techniques & methodology.

UTEP COURI Symposium

April 13, 2019

Join us at UTEP’s COURI symposium today to see outstanding undergraduate research, such as this presentation by MERITUS award recipient and AD&D Lab member, Mariana Cardenas Dominguez. Her work suggests Hispanic adolescents may develop their legal attitudes from a process of parental legal socialization, whereas non-Hispanic adolescents develop their attitudes via alternate sources.

American Psychology-Law Society Conference 2019

March 16, 2019

Dr. April G. Thomas' presentation "Understanding deterrence: Considering the role of adolescents' legal knowledge & perception of fairness" at the 2019 American Psychology-Law Society Conference in Portland, Oregon. 

American Psychology-Law Society Conference 2019

March 16, 2019

Doctoral student, Isabelle Clough, presenting her work on adolescents’ and parents’ perceptions of legal fairness last night at the American Psychology-Law Society conference in Portland, Oregon. 

American Psychology-Law Society Conference 2019

March 16, 2019

Adria Corral, Elizabeth Purser, and Joseph Reyes presenting their poster "Association with Delinquent Peers: Influence on Adolescents' Perception of the Law" at the 2019 American Psychology-Law Society Conference in Portland, Oregon. 

American Psychology-Law Psychology Society Conference 2019

March 16, 2019

Joseph Reyes, Desiree Pimentel, Tiffany Vasquez, Roberto Moran presenting their poster "What Are My Legal Rights? Parents' and Adolescents' Knowledge of Legal Rights" at the 2019 American Psychology-Law Society Conference in Portland, Oregon. 

APLS Access Path to Psychology & Law Award

January 30, 2019

Congratulations to research assistant Elizabeth Purser for being awarded the APLS Access Path to Psychology & Law Award! This award is presented to students underrepresented in the field to increase diversity within the Psychology & Law community. 

ADD Lab Receives the American Psychological Foundation's 2018 Visionary Grant for Research on Adolescent Sleep

September 07, 2018

Drs. April Gile Thomas and Caitlin Cavanagh received the 2018 Visionary Grant from the American Psychological Foundation to fund their research examining the effects of incarceration on adolescent sleep.

ADD Lab Receives National Science Foundation Grant to Study Effects of Incarceration on Adolescent Development

September 01, 2018

Drs. April Gile Thomas (University of Texas at El Paso) and Caitin Cavanagh (Michigan State University) have received a grant from the National Science Foundation in the area of Law and Social Sciences to fund their research investigating the effects of incarceration on adolescent social functioning and mental health.

Dr. April Thomas interviewed on ABC news about effects of family separations at the border

June 19, 2018

Dr. Thomas was interviewed by ABC News regarding the developmental consequences for children as a result of the family separations taking place at the border. Dr. Thomas stated, "Especially for young children, being separated can damage the attachment relationship that they have with their parents. Attachment has consistently been found to be one of the best predictors of child outcomes." 

Dr. April Thomas presents at Society for Research on Adolescence Biennial Meeting

April 14, 2018

Dr. April Gile Thomas presented her research titled "Adolescents' Susceptibility To Maternal & Peer Influence: Effects on Risk Behavior" at the Society for Research on Adolescence Biennial Meeting on April 14th in Minneapolis, MN. This research is the first experimental study to directly compare whether adolescents are more influenced by their mothers or friends.

Student researchers present at UTEP COURI Symposium

April 21, 2018

Undergraduate research assistants, Joseph A. Reyes and Elizabeth Purser, presented their research "Association with delinquent peers: Influence on Adolescents' rule orientation" (co-authors Vanessa Hernandez and Amri Viruet) at the UTEP Campus Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives (COURI) Symposium on April 14, 2018. This research team found that adolescents who associate with a greater number of delinquent friends tend to be less oriented to obeying rules and laws.


Tiffany Vasquez and Joseph Reyes also presented their research "What are my legal rights? Parents' and adolescents' knowledge of legal rights" (co-authors Britney Perez, Roberto Moran, and Kiran Misra) at this symposium. This study reveals the limited knowledge of adolescents' legal rights among both youth and parents. Furthermore, this research finds that adolescents' knowledge of legal rights is correlated with parental knowledge, suggesting that parents may be one means through which adolescents become socialized in their understanding of their legal rights.

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