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 currently accepting applications for Research Assistants. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. At this time, all research is remote to allow for adherence to safety guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information, see "For Students."

News & Events

Doctoral student, Anna Drozdova, awarded Dodson Grant funds to attend statistics workshop

November 16, 2020

Graduate student, Anna Drozdova, received a $475.00 Dodson Grant award, allowing her to attend a three-day statistics workshop on mixture modeling and latent class analysis.

Graduate student, Isabelle Clough, successfully defends thesis

November 03, 2020

Graduate student, Isabelle Clough, successfully defended her Masters thesis November 3, 2020. Isabelle's thesis focused how juvenile defendants' developmental characteristics influence mock jurors' perspectives about criminal responsibility, guilt, and sentencing.

Doctoral student, Isabelle Clough, receives APLS Grant in Aid award for students

October 19, 2020

Doctoral student, Isabelle Clough, was awarded the American Psychology-Law Society’s Grant in Aid for students. This $1,000 award will help fund continued assessments for the Daily Experiences During COVID-19 Study.

Undergraduate RA Mayra Solis earns UTEP's RISE Award

September 30, 2020

Undergraduate Research Assistant, Mayra Solis, has been awarded entry into UTEP's RISE Scholars Research Training Program. The program features training for underrepresented minority undergraduates, and is intended for students pursuing graduate school and a research career.

Graduate student, Anna Drozdova, presents First-Year Project

September 17, 2020

Doctoral student, Anna Drozdova, presented her First-Year Project to UTEP's Psychology Department on Thursday, September 17th. This project examined maternal attachment as a moderator for parental solicitation and adolescent risk behavior.

Doctoral students Isabelle Clough and Anna Drozdova lead Introduction to Statistics Workshop

September 04, 2020

Ph.D. students Isabelle Clough and Anna Drozdova led an Introduction to Statistics Workshop for some of the lab's undergraduate Research Assistants (RAs) Friday, September 4th. RAs interested in presenting at future conferences attended the workshop to hone their statistics skills and learn how to apply statistics techniques to their research questions of interest.

Daisy Guzman invited as panelist on Latinxs in Social Work Podcast

August 11, 2020

Lab alumna, Daisy Guzman, was invited to speak in a podcast about her academic journey and her ongoing experience in the field of social work. Click here to listen to the podcast on Spotify, or search for La Mesa Latina Episode 20 on your preferred podcast streaming app.

Dr. Caitlin Cavanagh featured in MSU article for work on Daily Experiences during COVID-19 Study

June 03, 2020

Dr. Caitlin Cavanagh, a collaborator on the ongoing Daily Experiences during COVID-19 Study, was featured in a Michigan State University article written June 3, 2020. The article highlights the recent National Science Foundation RAPID Grant award through which the study is being funded, as well as the study's many potential implications.

To view the article, click here.

Dr. April Thomas recognized for NSF RAPID Grant award and NSF REU award, speaks at UTEP's Virtual Research Forum

May 27, 2020

Dr. April Thomas was recognized by the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects during UTEP's May Research Forum for her National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates award. This award has allowed her to financially support two undergraduate student researchers in the Adolescent Development and Delinquency Lab.


As a panelist for the virtual forum, Dr. Thomas also presented preliminary findings from the Daily Experiences during COVID-19 Study, an NSF-funded RAPID Grant study exploring how at-risk teens and their parents are affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here to view the Research Forum panel discussion and click here to view the Research Forum awards ceremony.

Isabelle Clough awarded $1330 Dodson Research Grant

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.

Anna Drozdova awarded $350 UTEP Dodson Travel Funds

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.

Dr. April Thomas awarded NSF RAPID Grant to study impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on at-risk teens and their parents

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.


Click here or associated article published by UTEP Communications.

Arielle Marquez awarded AP-LS Access Path to Psychology and Law Fellowship

March 02, 2020

Undergraduate researcher Arielle Marquez was awarded the Access Path to Psychology and Law Fellowship through the American Psychology-Law Society. This award, established to support underrepresented students, will fund Arielle's work on a mentored research project. Results from the project will be submitted to the AP-LS annual conference.

Arielle Marquez earned $4800 MERITUS award through UTEP

March 01, 2020

Undergraduate Research Assistant, Arielle Marquez, was awarded $4800 for completion of an independent project through UTEP's MERITUS program. Arielle's project, titled "Examining the association between adolescent gang membership, exposure to violence and stress", was completed over the course of the Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 semesters.

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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