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 second 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 first 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 re-offending patterns, especially as this applies to areas of policy development.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Arielle Marquez (lab manager)

funded through UTEP COURI MERITUS award and AP-LS Access Path Fellowship

Genevieve Perez (lab manager)

Rachel Moreno

Jessica Skees

Kassandra Lozano

Jacqueline Vargas

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Daniela Romero (lab manager)

funded through NSF Undergraduate Research Assistant Fellowship

Eykver Garcia

Yasmyne Murphy

Jacquelyn Medina

Nora Gonzalez

Briana Archuleta

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Mayra Solis

funded through NSF Undergraduate Research Assistant Fellowship

UTEP RISE Research Training Program Scholar

Leslie Gomez

Diva Campos

Ricardo Arreola

Ashley Lindquist

Valerie Cordero

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Noor Ali

John Bennet

MA student in Clinical Psychology at Wake Forest University

Mariana Cardenas Dominguez

Mariany Gainza

MA student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso

Paulina Rubio

Daisy Guzman

MSSW student at the University of Texas at Austin

($20,000 bilingualism scholarship award)

Tiffany Vasquez (former lab manager)

Postbaccalaureate student in Psychological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine

Mildred Alvarez

Amri Viruet

Britney Perez

Vanessa Hernandez

MA student in Forensic Psychology at Arizona State University

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Allyson Miller (former lab manager)

MA student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso

Karla Corral

Adria Corral

MA student in Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati

($25,000 graduate award)

Roberto Moran

MS student in Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas, Denton

Heather Paz

Evangeline Segovanio