Who We Are

Thomas D. Lyon, J.D., Ph.D.

Director

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

Postdoctoral Researcher

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.

Jennifer Gongola

Postdoctoral Researcher

Jennifer Gongola is a postdoctoral research associate at the Child Interviewing Lab. She received her Ph.D. in Psychological Science at the University of California, Irvine. Broadly, her research interests involve the effects of social, contextual, and individual factors on judgment and decision making. First, she examines the extent to which people are able and willing to disclose sensitive information and techniques to improve the accuracy and completeness of self-reports. Jennifer’s dissertation investigated juror’s disclosures of bias during jury selection (voir dire), and she is currently examining children’s disclosures of sexual abuse. Second, her research also focuses on person perception and how people form opinions, credibility assessments, and attributions about others. Specifically, Jennifer is examining how adults perceive child witnesses and evaluate children’s statements.


Georgia Lundon

Co-Lab Director

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.


Scarlet Cho

Co-Lab Director

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.


Alicia Burrell

Legal Services Coordinator

Alicia Burrell is a southern California native who graduated from USC in 2020 with a major in sociology and minors in psychology and law and cinematic arts. During her time at USC she was a tour guide in the Office of Admission, a member of the Colleges Against Cancer Club, a member of Intervarsity, and a research assistant in the USC Child Interviewing Lab. When she’s not in the lab, you can find her going to the beach with loved ones, and spending way too much money on iced coffee. In the lab, she’s had the privilege to transcribe forensic interviews, track children in the system, and code. Alicia joined the lab because she plans to go to law school and become a lawyer that specializes in children’s rights and protections. Being able to learn more about psychology and ask questions regarding mental health has influenced her to keep studying this in order to be a more effective future lawyer. She hopes to continue to find ways to make the judicial system a better and more comfortable place for children. 

Jordan Sargent

Forensic Interviewer

Jordan Sargent is a Forensic Interviewer at the Child Interviewing Lab. She graduated in May of 2017 from USC with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. She is currently pursuing her MSW with an emphasis in Children, Youth & Families from the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work with the goal of becoming a LCSW. Jordan’s research interests include understanding what factors lead children to recant after disclosing sexual abuse and how to effectively train helping professionals to ask non-leading, open-ended questions. As an undergraduate research assistant, Jordan conducted several studies at children’s court including the Ask/Tell, IDK, Birthday 2.0, IDK 2.0, and Pseudotemporal studies.  As Lab Director, she oversaw the undergraduate research assistants and well as the studies both at court and schools. Currently she focuses most of her time on performing forensic interviews at Edelman Children’s Court and serving as a TA for Dr. Lyon’s Child Interviewing Seminar.


Hailey Konovalov

Forensic Interviewer

Hailey Konovalov is a Forensic Interviewer at the Child Interviewing Lab. She graduated in May of 2018 from USC with a major in Psychology and a double minor in Forensics & Criminality and Musical Theatre. Hailey is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Health at USC, with a concentration in community health promotion. After completing her MPH, Hailey plans to  pursue her PhD in Clinical Child Psychology, in hopes of becoming a Forensic Psychologist, focused on researching ways to ensure appropriate administration of mental health care for children involved in court proceedings and the child welfare system.  



Adrika Yousuf

Research Assistant

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. 



Agnieszka Nogalska

Research Assistant

Agnieszka Nogalska is a senior at USC majoring in Psychology with a minor in Forensics & Criminality. Her current research projects at the lab include coding for case characteristics across forensic interviews and court petition language, and multiple studies examining how adolescents express reluctance across interviews conducted by forensic interviewers, police officers and during courtroom examinations. Under the guidance of Dr. Lyon and Dr. Henderson, Agnieszka is completing an undergraduate honors thesis examining how specific interviewing tactics employed by police officers may influence reluctance exhibited by the commercially sexually exploited adolescents that officers are interviewing. Agnieszka plans to pursue her PhD and is interested in research surrounding police interviews conducted with victim populations and the development of fitness for duty evaluations, as well as adolescent’s experiences within the criminal justice system, specifically pertaining to risk assessment. She plans on pursuing a career as a forensic psychologist working at the intersection of psychology and law, specifically focusing on working with juvenile delinquents. 


Briana Pelayo

Research Assistant

Briana Pelayo is an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology and Sociology. Briana is from Orange County, California and enjoys traveling, hiking, and exploring interesting and new food joints with friends. She joined the lab after developing an interest in the intersection between Law and Psychology and hopes to pursue a career in Forensic Psychology or Criminal Justice. Briana is also involved in the Prison Education Project where she hopes to change the way society perceives incarcerated individuals and hopes to learn more about the psychology of criminal behavior and power dynamics in the prison system.


Elaine Gonzalez

Research Assistant

Elaine Gonzalez is a Sophomore student majoring with Psychology with a minor in Forensics and Criminality. Elaine is from North Potomac, Maryland where she dreamed of warm California weather. Being a foodie, she loves exploring LA’s restaurant scene and will bake you anything if you ask nicely. Elaine is the social events coordinator for the USC fencing club and is an avid hiker. She joined the lab after learning about Dr. Lyon’s work in her law class and was intrigued by the material. Elaine wants to gain experience in this field as she hopes to enter a career in Forensic Psychology.


Hannah Fondacaro

Research Assistant

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.


Hannah Siepmann

Research Assistant

Hannah Siepmann is a senior majoring in Law, History, and Culture. She is from McMinnville, Oregon and spent two years at a small college in the Pacific Northwest before transferring to USC. She is planning on attending law school after undergrad and focusing on public interest law and how the law intertwines with gender and race. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, blasting Broadway soundtracks, crocheting sweaters, and exploring LA’s farmers markets and taco trucks. 


Heather Cherniss

Research Assistant

Heather Cherniss is a sophomore majoring in Cognitive Science with a minor in Legal Studies. 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. Heather hopes to gain experience in forensic psychology through this lab as she intends to pursue a career either in family law or forensic psychology.


Jina Hur

Research Assistant

Jina is a senior double majoring in Philosophy and Psychology. Jina was born in Naperville, Illinois and has lived in Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and China. Her international background contributes to her love for traveling and eating all kinds of food. Jina joined the lab because of her interest in the interaction between psychology and law and her love for children.


Katherine Koeppel

Research Assistant

Katherine Koeppel graduated from USC in 2020 with a major in Psychology and minor in Forensics & Criminality. Katherine was born and raised in New York City and hopes to continue her studies at a law school back East. While at USC, Katherine was both a Spring Admit and Study Abroad Ambassador, having studied abroad three times: in Paris, Dijon, and New Zealand at the University of Otago. She was a member and Marketing/Merchandising Officer of the USC Ski & Snowboard Team and a sister and Director of Merchandising for the Delta Alpha chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta. In the lab, Katherine has transcribed interviews, practiced coding, and had amazing hands on experience with appellate and acquittal cases. Katherine joined the lab because she wants to become a lawyer who fights for the ones whose voices often go unheard in the legal system.  


Kevin Salas

Research Assistant

As an undergraduate student, Kevin Salas studies Psychology to pursue a career in the field of criminal investigation. He joined the lab to gain a better understanding of how law, psychology, and forensic interviewing are applied in real, sensitive cases. Born in Southern California, Kevin also teaches music to Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Elementary students in the schools surrounding USC. He hopes to one day create a positive impact through criminal investigation to promote a safer environment for his community.


Olivia McCarren

Research Assistant

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. 


Owen Friend

Research Assistant

Owen is a senior double-majoring in Psychology and Business Administration. He has lived all over the country but is most recently from Seattle, Washington. Owen joined the lab because he loves working with kids and is interested in pursuing forensic psychology after graduating. Owen also loves music and enjoys playing the guitar, piano and banjo.


Paige Raskin

Research Assistant

Paige Raskin is a senior student majoring in Psychology and hopes to pursue a career in both clinical and forensic psychology. Paige was born in Burbank, California and grew up in the San Fernando Valley. Paige enjoys reading, hiking, conducting research, and advocating for animal rights. In addition, Paige is a student ambassador for the MindfulUSC program offered at USC and also an active member of Trojan Guardian Scholars. She joined Dr. Tom Lyon’s lab to gain relevant research experience, get hands-on experience with forensic interviewing, and to pursue her future career goals to work with children and adolescents. Paige has a passion for helping others and wants to make the world a better place. 


Samantha Austin

Research Assistant

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

Research Assistant

Selin Yalcinkaya is a rising Junior studying Psychology and Theater with a minor in French. She joined the lab because she is passionate about working with children, especially those at-risk, and hopes to pursue a career in pediatric psychology. 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 the theater community on campus.


Thomas Johnston

Research Assistant

Thomas Johnston is a Senior studying Philosophy and Web Technologies & Applications. Thomas grew up in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawai’i. In his free time, he enjoys distance running and competing in E-sports tournaments on USC’s Varsity Smash Bros Team. He is also a staff writer for Sack of Troy, USC’s Second Best Parody Newspaper. He joined the lab because he is interested in psychology, influence, and communication. He designed the website you are viewing right now and he is very proud of it.


Tianyu Wang

Research Assistant

Tianyu Wang is a Junior studying Psychology. Tianyu was born in Qingdao, China and grew up in Saratoga Springs, Utah. Tianyu joined the lab because she is passionate about working with children and is interested in gaining insight into the field of psychology and law as she hopes to go to law school one day. On her days off, Tianyu likes to either enjoy a good book with a cup of tea or binge-watch Netflix while finishing a bottle of Diet Coke.