Who We Are
Thomas D. Lyon, J.D., Ph.D.
Thomas D. Lyon, J.D., Ph.D. is the Judge Edward J. and Ruey L. Guirado Chair in Law and Psychology at the University of Southern California. His goal is to identify the most productive means of questioning children about abuse and violence. He is the Past-President of the American Psychological Association’s Section on Child Maltreatment (Division 37) and a former member of the Board of Directors of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. His work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Justice, the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, the California Endowment, and the Haynes Foundation.
Hayden Henderson is a postdoctoral research associate at the Child Interviewing Lab. Hayden completed her PhD under Dr. Michael Lamb at the University of Cambridge, where she investigated a pilot study intended to improve the treatment of child victims in English crown courts. The special measures included a pre-recorded cross-examination so that the child’s role in the legal system would be resolved earlier, as well as hearings before cross-examination where the judge and lawyers drafted age-appropriate questions for the child witness(es).
Alongside Professor Lyon, she examines how children are questioned in a variety of contexts (e.g., police and forensic interviews, court) in order to identify potential sources of miscommunication as well as ways to increase the cooperation, accuracy, and productivity of children’s statements. Hayden’s research interests include the treatment of both vulnerable witnesses and suspects in the legal system (e.g., forensic interviewing, courtroom). As well, she is interested in identifying additional roadblocks in the criminal justice system (e.g., jury biases, procedural delays) and understanding how these contribute to miscarriages of justice.
Zsófia A. Szojka
Zsófia is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the USC Child Interviewing Lab. Her PhD research investigated the narrative coherence and credibility of children’s testimony elicited in multiple interviews. Zsófia’s current research interests include children’s concept of their own body, and the extent to which victims of child abuse provide elaborated accounts of their experiences in forensic interviews. Besides her work at the Child Interviewing Lab, Zsófia is also involved in research at the Lighthouse and Haven, an Investigative Interview Service in the United Kingdom designed on the basis of the Nordic Barnahus model.
Georgia Lundon is a Lab Director at the Child Interviewing Lab. As a Lab Director, Georgia oversees the undergraduate research assistants, as well as conducting research projects. Her research includes the qualitative and quantitative analysis of stereotypes in child sexual abuse case closing arguments. She graduated in June of 2018 from the University of Cambridge with a First Class Bachelor of Arts in Psychological and Behavioral Sciences. As an undergraduate, Georgia conducted two research studies under the supervision of Professor Michael Lamb, which investigated the influence of defense attorney strategies on juror verdicts in child sexual abuse cases. Georgia plans to pursue her PhD and an academic career. Her research interests include the perception of vulnerable witnesses and defendants in sex-related cases, decision-making in the legal system, and the management of risk in relation to sex-offenders.
Agnieszka Nogalska is a Lab Director at the Child Interviewing Lab and oversees the work of the undergraduate research assistants, in addition to conducting a variety of research projects. Agnieszka graduated from USC in 2021 with a BA in Psychology with Honors and a minor in Forensics & Criminality. Her current research projects at the lab examine how adolescents express reluctance across interviews conducted by forensic interviewers, police officers and during courtroom examinations. She is also starting to examine courtroom testimony of adult rape victims. Agnieszka plans on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology and hopes to pursue a career as a Forensic Psychologist. Her research interests lie at the intersection of Psychology and Law, and include adolescents’ experiences within the criminal justice system and the Structured Professional Judgment approach to forensic mental health assessment, specifically regarding violence risk-assessment.
Jina graduated from USC in 2021 with majors in Psychology and Philosophy. She primarily works on research projects related to question type coding and the language used in interviews. Some current projects and areas of interest include assessing how children elaborate in response to yes/no questions and investigating the linguistic intricacies of elliptical questions and the consequent difficulties in responding.
Jordan Sargent graduated from USC in 2017 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. She became a Double Trojan (Fight on!) in 2021 when she graduated with her Masters of Social Work (MSW) with an emphasis in Children, Youth, and Families from the USC Suzanne Dworak Peck School of Social Work. Jordan focuses on clinical work in the lab by conducting forensic interviews with minors who have been sexually abused or commercially sexually exploited. Jordan’s research interests include what factors likely contribute to recantation and how to lower the risk of recant, how to effectively train helping professionals to ask non-leading, open-ended questions, and the impact of sexual abuse on a child’s mental health, including suicidality and suicidal ideation. As an undergraduate research assistant, Jordan conducted several studies at Edelman Children’s Court including Ask/Tell, IDK, Birthday 2.0, IDK 2.0, and Pseudotemporal studies. As Lab Director, she oversaw the undergraduate research assistants as well as the studies both at court and elementary schools. In the future, she hopes to help make the process of disclosing sexual abuse easier for children by providing mandated reporters and other helping professionals with the tools they need to conduct research-based interviews in a timely manner.
Owen Friend is a Forensic Interviewer at the Child Interviewing Lab. He graduated from USC in 2021 with a BA with Honors in Psychology and a BS in Business Administration. Owen started at the Child Interviewing lab as an undergraduate research assistant where he particularly enjoyed interviewing children at dependency court for experimental studies as well as interviewing children for Dr. Lyon’s Child Interviewing Seminar. Owen hopes to pursue a PhD in Developmental Psychology and his research interests include examining specific linguistic deficits in children and how children’s abilities to understand ambiguous language develop over time. Owen conducted an Honor’s Thesis as a senior that examined children’s tendencies to misinterpret temporal language. In his free time Owen plays basketball, makes homemade pasta, and plays the guitar and banjo.
Legal Services Coordinator
Hannah Siepmann graduated from USC in 2021 with a degree in Law, History, and Culture. She is from McMinnville, Oregon but is an enthusiastic LA transplant. After spending two years as a research assistant during undergrad, she’s currently taking a year to conduct research in the Child Interviewing Lab before attending law school, where she will focus on public interest law. Her projects in lab focus on race and credibility, especially in legal cases involving child sex trafficking. Through question type coding and other coding projects, Hannah also studies patterns of questioning between attorneys and child witnesses in court proceedings. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, blasting Broadway soundtracks, crocheting sweaters, and exploring LA’s farmers markets and taco trucks.
Research Post-Baccalaureate Research Associate
Tianyu graduated from USC in 2021 with a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Business Administration. Tianyu was born in Qingdao, China, and spent her high school years in Utah before moving to LA for university. Tianyu joined the lab two years ago as an undergraduate student and is taking a gap year before attending law school next fall. She has enjoyed working on various projects including interviewing children at dependency court for experimental studies.
Post-Baccalaureate Research Associate
Scarlet Cho graduated from USC in 2020 with majors in Neuroscience and Psychology and a minor in Forensics & Criminality. Scarlet’s current research projects in the lab investigate how adolescents equivocate and express resistance in interviews conducted by forensic interviewers, police officers, and attorneys in courtroom examinations. She is especially interested in studying special populations of adolescent victims, such as commercially sexually exploited adolescents, and in identifying best interviewing practices to better serve these populations. Scarlet plans to pursue her PhD, and is interested in studying criminal behavior from a biopsychosocial perspective. She hopes to pursue a career in academia and to conduct empirical research that has implications on the law and public policy concerning sentencing and treatment of individuals in the criminal justice system.
Adrika Yousuf is a junior studying political science with a minor in psychology with hopes to be a lawyer. She joined Dr. Lyon’s Lab in order to bring a perspective to her future legal work that she could not gain from simply taking undergraduate and law school classes. From the Bay Area, Adrika is passionate about music and eclectic food, and in her free time she often works with SpaandanB, a nonprofit that serves underprivileged people in Bangladesh, the country her parents are from.
Amanda Flores is a senior majoring in Political Science with a minor in Juvenile Justice. She was born and raised in the greater Palm Springs, California area where the heat seemingly never ends, Amanda stayed true to her Southern California roots in choosing USC. In her free time, Amanda loves watching sports, particularly baseball – Go Yankees – as well as catching up on late night dramas. Amanda joined the lab after learning about Dr. Lyon’s work in a psychology and law class last year. She plans to attend law school and specialize in child advocacy law to help be a positive voice for children in the legal system.
Britney Castillo is a rising junior from Los Angeles who is majoring in Psychology with minors in Forensics and Criminality and Cinematic Arts. Britney became interested in the field of psychology since she grew up watching Criminal Minds and Cold Case, although it was not until her Psychology and Law class that she knew she wanted to pursue a career in forensic psychology. It was also this same class that introduced her to the research being conducted at the USC Child Interviewing Lab. Britney joined the lab to gain more hands-on experience within the realm of psychology as well as learning more about the intersection of psychology and law and identifying areas in which improvement is needed within the judicial system, especially when it concerns cases with children from underserved communities. After undergrad, Britney hopes to go on to grad school to obtain her PhD in Psychology. During her free time, Britney enjoys watching movies, going to theme parks, reading, and getting involved with grassroots organizations that focus on social issues that impact her community.
Camille Ianne Marquez
Camille is a rising junior majoring in psychology with a minor in community engagement and social change at UCLA after transferring from Pasadena City College. She plans to earn her doctorate in psychology to become a clinical psychologist (and eventually establish her own private practice), providing individual talk therapy to adolescents/adults with affective and anxiety disorders. She’s incredibly passionate about learning how child/adolescent interviewing techniques can be applied beyond legal settings to best support victims of sexual assault. In her free time, Camille enjoys baking, watching films, and spending time in nature.
Cara is a senior majoring in Anthropology and Psychology. She grew up in Chico, California. She joined the lab because she is passionate about supporting children who have experienced trauma and plans to pursue a PhD in Psychology. Outside of the lab, Cara is president of Kicks for Kids, a student-run non-profit dedicated to promoting an active and healthy lifestyle for children with mental and/or physical disabilities in the Los Angeles area. She is also an active member of the Fisher Fellows, the USC Helenes, and the First Generation Student Union.
Hannah is a Junior majoring in Psychology with minors in Forensics & Criminality and Spanish. She was born and raised on Long Island, New York and hopes to return to the East Coast for graduate school. Hannah is passionate about social justice and enjoys learning about the ways in which psychology and the law influence one another.
Heather Cherniss is a current Junior majoring in Cognitive Science. She was born and raised in San Jose, California after her parents met at USC in the 90’s. Heather loves writing, traveling, and reading; she also has a passion for advocacy and is fascinated by the intersection of child psychology and law. She is a member of USC’s Tri Delta sorority and the Society of Women in Law. Heather hopes to gain experience in forensic psychology through this lab as she continues to consider her post-graduate plans.
Milenia Rocio is a senior at USC majoring in Sociology with minors in American Studies and Legal Studies. She is simultaneously pursuing a Master of Studies in Law at USC Gould School of Law. Born in Mexico and raised in San Diego, CA her own immigration story and experience living in a border city has inspired her passion for immigrant rights and immigration reform. Throughout her time at USC, Milenia has worked at the USC Immigration Clinic where she interpreted client-attorney meetings, assisted clients in detention centers, and helped community members from all over LA obtain citizenship. Milenia is also interning at Al Otro Lado, an immigrant rights organization doing on the ground work at the border. Milenia is a UCLA Law Fellow and hopes to one day attend law school. Above all she hopes to provide hope to immigrant families, especially unaccompanied minors, as they face the complex immigration system before them.
Olivia McCarren is a junior majoring in Political Science. She was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Olivia is passionate about criminal justice reform, and hopes to learn more about the interactions between psychology and law. She also hopes to attend law school in the future, and enjoys photography and traveling in her free time.
Samantha Austin is a sophomore majoring in Business with a minor in Psychology and Law. She joined the lab to further explore the inner workings of psychology and law beyond a classroom setting. Sammy was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia but always wanted to go to college on the west coast. She is also passionate about child education and is a member of Teach for Los Angeles, where she tutors students from neighboring schools on the weekend. Sammy wants to pursue a career in law and eventually become a judge so she can affect change on a national scale.
Selin Yalcinkaya is a senior double majoring in Psychology and French with a minor in Theater. She has been a research assistant in the Child Interviewing Lab since 2018, and is passionate about supporting at-risk children and adolescents. Her research interests include risk and resilience factors in at-risk adolescents and therapeutic interventions for youth with PTSD. Her work in the Child Interviewing Lab has inspired her to pursue a career in the child and adolescent clinical psychology field. Outside of the lab, Selin is the president of ART/EMIS, an intersectional feminist art production company. She is also a member of Troy Camp, USC Ski & Snowboard team and is heavily involved in student theater on campus.
Vedant is a junior majoring in Intelligence & Cyber Operations with minors in Economics and Psychology & Law. He was born and raised in San Jose, California. He is planning to attend law school and work in either corporate or juvenile law. Outside of the lab, Vedant is a member of Model United Nations, Project RISHI, and the Southern California International Review. In his free time, he loves reading, listening to hip-hop, and watching soccer.