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Communication Foundation

Center for Children and Families
The Social Determinants of Child Development Lab
The Biligual Language Laboratory







Margaret Owen

Margaret T. Owen, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Margaret Owen earned her doctorate in developmental psychology from the University of Michigan and is the Robinson Family Professor at The University of Texas at Dallas. Her research interests focus primarily on children’s relationships with their parents and others who care for them, and how the quality of these relationships nurture children's optimal growth and development.

Her recent work centers on the role of self-regulation in children’s readiness for school and how parents help their preschool children develop these important skills.

Faculty Profile on BBS Website

Margaret Caughy

Margaret Caughy, ScD, Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Margaret Caughy’s research combines the unique perspectives of developmental science, epidemiology, and public health in studying the contexts of risk and resilience affecting young children. She is particularly interested in race/ethnic disparities in health and development and how these disparities can be understood within the unique ecological niches of ethnic minority families and has completed several studies focused on how inequities in neighborhood structural characteristics and social processes affect the cognitive development, socioemotional functioning, and early academic achievement of young children in diverse race/ethnic groups.

She is currently Co-Principal Investigator of the Dallas Preschool Readiness Project (DPReP). In addition, a theme of her research has been methodological. Specifically, in measuring neighborhood context and utilizing these measures explaining child developmental competence using multilevel and structural equations modeling methods. Finally, she is Director of the Maternal and Child Health Training Program at the UTHealth School of Public Health. Dr. Caughy is married to Dennis Caughy, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in child/adolescent behavioral health. They have two children, Michaela and Aidan.

Margaret Caughy’s Faculty Profile at the University of Georgia

Daniel Pacheco

Daniel Pacheco, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Program Director

Daniel joined DPReP in August of 2013 as a child assessor. Since then he has also helped with self-regulation data collection for The Bilingual Language Lab and has assisted with the creation of coding standards for two DPReP child-centered tasks. He has also engaged in other roles such as training, data analysis, and supervising both undergraduate and graduate student research assistants. Daniel’s research interests include the onset and persistence of externalizing behaviors, especially physical aggression, in children; the way executive function plays a role in the development of externalizing and problem behavior as well as the contextual factors that may influence child outcomes. Some of Daniel’s work can be found in Child Development, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, and Deviant Behavior.

Laura Von Hatten

Laura Von Hatten, MPH, Program Director

Laura Von Hatten joined DPReP in July 2014. She worked with the bilingual home visiting team before becoming a Project Director. Laura received her master of public health in health behavior and health education from the University of Michigan. Her interests include maternal and child health, healthy pregnancy, and providing support to new mothers and their families. When she is not working she enjoys time with her husband and young daughter.

Plaststilla Arnold

Plaststilla Arnold, Home Visit Coordinator

My name is Plaststilla Arnold, my friends and family call me Plas for short. I’ve been with the program since the study started in September 2009. I have two kids, a boy who is 29 and a girl who is 27, with one grandchild who is 2. My husband and I have been together for 35 years. I attend Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church where I serve in the Deaf Ministry, so I know sign language. I’m also a Child Passenger Safety Technician and a community volunteer.

Zach Monroe

Zach Monroe, Data Management and Child Assessor

Zach received his bachelor’s in psychology at The University of Texas at Dallas in 2018 and is currently furthering his education through the master of science program in applied cognition and neuroscience at UTD. His interests are focused on social psychological research, primarily in how people form relationships and interact with one another.

Brianna Turney

Brianna Turney

Brianna Turney joined the masters of psychological sciences program at UTD in August of 2018. After graduating from Southwestern University in December of 2016 with a BA in psychology and a minor in sociology, she worked as a caseworker in a rural community mental health clinic, primarily dealing with adults with mental health issues. Her interests include child maltreatment and adverse family circumstances, and how these issues contribute to the development of later psychopathology. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her fiancé and her dog, Zeus and watching Friends.

Kathryn Forbes

Kathryn Forbes

Kathryn earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Mississippi (also known as Ole Miss) with minors in neuroscience and public policy leadership. She is excited to return to her hometown to earn her masters in psychological sciences at UTD. She hopes to someday earn her PhD in clinical psychology and to study how local policies affect mental health. Kathryn is passionate about decreasing the stigmas associated with depression and anxiety as well as promoting mental health awareness in her community.

Patricia Cantu

Patricia Cantu, Child Assessor

Patricia Cantu joined the team as an undergraduate research assistant in November of 2016. Her roles in the project include administering child assessments and home visits. Patricia is double majoring in speech-language pathology and audiology and child development, and will be graduating in May of 2019. Upon graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she wants to continue her education at UT Dallas. Patricia will either go to graduate school to obtain a master of science in communication disorders or in human development and early childhood disorders. She loves being around children and she plans to focus her education and future career with that in mind.

Samantha Redig

Samantha Redig

Samantha Redig is a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Dallas in the psychological sciences program. Sam received her bachelor of science degree in psychology from Oklahoma Christian University in 2019. Her research interests include intervention implementation and program evaluation, specifically relating to children’s social, emotional, and educational outcomes.

Taifoor Ahmad

Taifoor Ahmad

Taifoor Ahmad is an undergraduate student majoring in psychology. As a senior, he will be graduating in May 2020 with a BS and plans to attend medical school to pursue a career in medicine. He joined the Children and Families Lab this year due to his interest in research but more importantly to understand the challenges and difficulties families face in lower economic strata.

Antonio Santa Cruz

Antonio Santa Cruz

Antonio Santa Cruz is an undergraduate senior pursuing his degree in psychology. He is currently writing his honors thesis with a focus of connecting schema theory and intelligence. After graduating in the spring of 2020, he plans to pursue a PhD in cognitive psychology. His goal is to conduct research in areas such as language development (production) and memory to provide a better understanding the roles they play in cognition.

Javariah Sohail

Javariah Sohail

Javariah Sohail joined the team as an undergraduate research assistant in January of 2020. She is majoring in psychology and will be graduating in May of 2022. Upon graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she plans to continue her education and go to graduate school to obtain a PhD in psychology and further her research endeavors. She is passionate about working with and advocating for women and children from underprivileged and underrepresented backgrounds, and she aims to center her life and career around that in the future. Her other interests include Islam and cats, both of which she is always happy and willing to discuss.