Principal Investigator

April Gile Thomas, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, University of Texas at El Paso

Dr. April Thomas received her MS from Colorado State University in Human Development and Family Studies and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine, in Psychology and Social Behavior. She joined the faculty in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso in 2017.


Her research addresses the question “Why do adolescents take risks?” Broadly, she studies adolescent development, particularly as it pertains to risk-taking and problem behavior. Her training in developmental psychology has led her to view the increase in risk taking that occurs during adolescence, as compared to childhood or adulthood, as a normative response to the many changes that occur during this developmental phase. She is also interested in what happens when adolescents engage in risky behavior that is also illegal. As a result, her research is not limited to community samples, but has also included first-time juvenile offenders, as well as more serious, felony-level juvenile offenders. A unifying theme of her work is that it seeks to use developmental science to inform best practices for working with adolescents, particularly within the justice system. 

Graduate Researchers

Isabelle Clough

Doctoral Student 

Isabelle is a third year Legal Psychology doctoral student at the University of Texas at El Paso. She graduated from Christopher Newport University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology, and a minor in Leadership Studies. Her research interests include why adolescents recidivate or desist from crime over the course of their development, as well as how different factors influence adolescents’ legal decision making such as the decision to take a plea bargain.

Photo coming soon

Anna Drozdova

Doctoral Student 

Anna is a second year Legal Psychology doctoral student at the University of Texas at El Paso. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at California State University, Fullerton and worked as a Research Assistant at California State University, Fullerton and the University of California, Irvine. Her research interests broadly focus on juvenile offending and recidivism. More specifically, she is interested in studying the effects of juveniles' social relationships on their offending and substance use patterns, particularly as this applies to areas of policy development.

Undergraduate Research Assistants