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Dallas Project on Education

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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.

Myesha Applewhite

Myesha Applewhite, PhD, School Visit Coordinator

Dr. Myesha Applewhite is a recent addition to the team as of August 2018. She received her doctorate from The University of Texas at Dallas in the field of criminology. She labels herself as a developmentalist and her research interest include various areas such as self regulation, mentally ill offenders, courts, and reentry.

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.

Tania Vuevlas-Barreto

Tania Vuevlas-Barreto, Home Visit Coordinator

Tania Vuevlas-Barreto graduated from The University of Texas at Dallas with a BS in Speech Pathology and Audiology and a minor in Psychology. She has been a part of the lab since January 2017 where she momentarily did coding and is now going to be a home visit coordinator. She also has three years of experience working with the low income Latino population of DFW under The Center for Children and Families. She plans to go to graduate school in the DFW area for a master’s in Communication Disorders.

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

I am a psychology major, about to receive my bachelor’s degree May 2018 and I plan to attend UTD for my master’s program the following semester. My interests are focused on psychological research as a whole and through that, trying to make the world better for future generations.

Loris Memic

Loris Memic, Data Management

Loris recently concluded his Master of Science in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience at The University of Texas at Dallas. He graduated from The University of North Texas in May of 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, where he has now returned as a Pre-Medical student. During his time in the ACN program, Loris completed a clinical internship at Clinical and Consulting Neuropsychology in Las Colinas; primarily conducting neuropsychological assessment with visually impaired children and adults. As he is pursuing a career in medicine, Loris’ primary interest lies in pediatrics and how the role of non-pharmacological approaches can impact children with learning differences.

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.

Nety Duenas

Nety Duenas

Nety Duenas is an undergraduate student majoring in child learning and development with a minor in molecular and cell biology. She plans on graduating in Spring 2020 to pursue a doctorate of physical therapy to become a pediatric physical therapist. She has a huge passion for children and loves helping them in any way she can.