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Department of

Psychological Sciences

Psychology Alumni

Wondering what our former students pursue after their psychology education at USD? The following bios offer examples from our alumni, all of whom chose exciting post-graduate paths.

Jennie Kuckertz

Jennie Kuckertz is currently a second-year student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego. She is studying with Dr. Nader Amir at the Center for Understanding and Treating Anxiety at SDSU and is a student therapist at the SDSU Psychology Clinic. Her research interests are focused on assessing and modifying cognitive biases in anxiety disorders and examining the role of parent involvement in the treatment of youth obsessive-compulsive disorder. Jennie graduated from USD in 2010 and double majored in psychology and sociology. While at USD, Jennie was a research assistant for Dr. Veronica Galvan and was awarded a SURE grant with Dr. Kristen McCabe for examining factors affecting teens’ attitudes towards their pregnant peers. Following graduation, Jennie spent two years working in research labs at SDSU and at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio before starting graduate school at SDSU/UCSD.

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Jessica Payne

Dr. Jessica Payne holds appointments at Harvard Medical School and the University of Notre Dame, where she is currently Assistant Professor and Nancy O'Neill Collegiate Chair in Psychology and Director of the Sleep Stress and Memory (SAM) Lab. Payne’s research focuses on how sleep and stress independently and interactively influence human memory, emotion, performance, and creativity. She teaches various courses in Psychology and Neurobiology, including a popular course entitled “The Sleeping Brain” for which she won Harvard University’s Bok Center Award for teaching excellence and Notre Dame’s Frank O’Malley award for undergraduate teaching and service. She also recently won the Laird Cermak Award for her contribution to memory research.

Payne is also interested in applying her research findings to business organizations, striving to help leaders understand how to work with, rather than against, the natural abilities of the human brain. Dr. Payne is currently the H. Smith Richardson Jr. Fellow at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina. She has also served since 2009 on the Medical Advisory Board for Humana, Inc, a fortune 100 company that markets and administers health insurance with a focus on holistic wellness.

Dr. Payne’s postdoctoral fellowship was split between Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard University’s Psychology Department. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology/Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Arizona, a Master’s Degree in Experimental Psychology from Mount Holyoke College, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of San Diego where her love of memory research was forged under Dr. Annette Taylor in the Department of Psychology.

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Roger Perez

Dr. Roger Perez is a pediatric neuropsychologist who currently resides in Orange County. After graduating with honors from the University of San Diego in 2002, where he majored in psychology and Spanish, he received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. His clinical internship focused primarily on child and adolescent assessment, with rotations through Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and the Shelton School Evaluation Center. He received advanced training in pediatric neuropsychological assessment through his postdoctoral fellowship at Advanced Neurobehavioral Health of Southern California. Dr. Perez stayed on with Advanced Neurobehavioral Health (ANH), providing comprehensive assessments to children and adolescents with a variety of neurodevelopmental, learning, behavioral and medical disorders. As director of the concussion clinic at ANH, he provides pre- and post-concussion assessment and management services. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Deirdre, and his baby daughter, Quinn.

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Laura Claus

Laura Claus is currently a graduate student at the University of Cambridge, UK. She earned a dual degree—BA in Psychology, BBA in Business Administration and Finance—from the University of San Diego. A native German, Claus came to the US as a student-athlete (women’s tennis) in 2009. Per the advice of Dr. Weyant, Laura chose to focus on the fields of developmental, social, and cross-cultural psychology among her electives. As a participant in undergraduate research, Claus worked with Dr. Keith in a cross-cultural psychology lab where she investigated how both language and identification with a specific cultural system affected individuals’ behavior. Furthermore, her psychology education at USD provided her with the opportunity to gain practical experience in the community, including volunteering at the Community Coaching Center for Autistic Children and the Academic Club at Carson Elementary School.

Upon graduating from USD in 2013, Laura went on to pursue a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge. Her present research focuses on the emergence of B Corps as a new form of Benefit Corporations, as well as the mechanisms through which those organizations combine the objectives of shareholder profit maximization and social value creation.

Laura plans to subsequently enter a PhD Program in Management Science and eventually pursue an academic career back in the US. In the meantime, she remains in constant touch with the faculty at USD, acknowledging the guidance and support as well as research and career advice offered by Dr. Weyant and Dr. Keith, respectively.


Nicole Levin

Nicole Levin graduated from USD with a BA in Communication Studies and a minor in Psychology. While at USD, she interned with the Peer Counseling Program at the Center for Student Success. After graduating, she attended Alliant International University, where she earned her MA in Marriage and Family Therapy. She also started a MFT Business course, which was added to the curriculum as an elective. While enrolled in the MFT program, Nicole interned as a clinician at Douglas Young Youth and Family Services. Recently, she started an alumni group at Alliant International University and just began working as a Mental Health Specialist at San Diego Youth Services Prevention and Early Intervention program.

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"USD has been an instrumental part of my professional development," said Angela-MinhTu D. Nguyen, PhD.

Nguyen was a psychology major without the intention of pursuing psychology as a career until she took Dr. Ken Keith's class on psychology and culture.

"That class was relevant to me, appealing to my personal experiences, and sparked my interest in psychological research," said Nguyen. Under Dr. Keith's mentorship, Nguyen conducted research, applied for and was awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience grant, and presented at the USD Research Conference. These experiences were beneficial stepping stones for receiving national awards and presenting at national conferences. Despite these wonderful opportunities afforded to Nguyen at USD, she did not realize how truly fortunate she was until entering the master's program in industrial/organizational psychology at California State University, Long Beach. She discovered that she had received more research experience (e.g., IRB application, multivariate analyses, manuscript preparation) than any of her peers, including those from major research universities like USC and UCSB.

"A USD education was great preparation for graduate studies. After working in market research for a few years, I decided to go back to school to pursue a PhD in social/personality psychology with an emphasis in cultural psychology and a minor in quantitative psychology. I'm now an assistant professor at California State University, Fullerton teaching statistics and industrial/organizational psychology to undergraduate and master's students, and conducting research on multiculturalism and intersecting identities. I love my job and my career, and it was my experiences at USD that set me on this path."

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