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Our Team

Tatiana Pumaccahua, Ph.D., LP (She/Ella)
Principal Investigator


Dr. Tatiana Pumaccahua is a proud first-generation Indigenous Latina and a product of the California State University system. She was born and raised in Lima, Peru before immigrating to the US at the age of 12. She obtained her B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Child Development from California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). She attributes the mentorship, supportive environment, and academic enrichment programs at CSUSB (e.g., Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, Educational Opportunity Program, Student Assistance in Learning, and the Minority Access to Research Careers) as being key to influencing her decision to pursue a doctorate degree and a career in academia. She received her Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Rhode Island in 2018 and completed a 2-year APA-Accredited Child Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral Fellowship at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles from 2018-2020. Most recently, she also became a licensed psychologist in the state of California. Her various personal, academic, and clinical experiences have shaped both her clinical and research interests. She is passionate about providing and increasing access to quality mental health for children and families from underserved backgrounds, as well as increasing access to higher education, especially for underrepresented students. In terms of research, she is interested in socioemotional learning prevention and intervention programs, school-based mental health, parent education, and the cultural adaptation of evidence-based practices by utilizing creative methods (e.g., through games, pedagogic strategies). In her free time, she enjoys discovering new music to listen to, attending concerts, traveling (loves solo trips and the forest!), spending time with friends, and everything related to Halloween!

Melody Villegas (She/Her/Hers)
Research Assistant | Ronald E. McNair Scholar


Melody Villegas is a first-generation, Hispanic student attending California State Polytechnic, Pomona as a fourth year majoring in psychology. She aspires to obtain her Ph.D. in school psychology in the near future at graduate school after pursuing her bachelor’s degree. She is currently serving as a research assistant in Cal Poly Pomona’s Socioemotional Research Lab. As a member of this lab, she collaborates on research with her team and works with Pomona Unified School District in mentoring younger students to give them that extra guidance and assistance in school. Melody is a McNair Scholar and is also currently working on her own research project. She has previous experience working with children and young adolescents as a substitute instructional assistant for a school district located in El Monte. At her present job site, she works with children as young as headstart to young adolescents in 8th grade, including children with disabilities. Melody has started working with children and young adolescents, in hopes of one day reaching her goal of becoming a school psychologist for an elementary school. She believes that assisting these children in their daily conflicts and needs is a passion because it consistently brings her joy and happiness to watch them succeed and do well, both mentally and physically. She would like to one day give back to her community and make a difference in helping her people. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, playing volleyball, baking and discovering new television shows and movies. A fun fact about her is she is incredibly fascinated with the movie Coraline (2009).

Aiyana Castanon (She/Her/Hers)
Research Assistant | Kellogg Honors College Student

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Aiyana Castanon is a first-generation college student, second generation Mexican-American, and is currently attending California State Polytechnic University, Pomona as a third-year psychology undergraduate. She is a California native and decided to stay near her roots while pursuing higher education. She is a member of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Psi Chi Honor Society, and Kellogg Honors College. She currently works as a student assistant librarian at the Cal Poly University Library. She seeks to expand her research experience as a research assistant in the Socioemotional Lab led by Dr. Pumaccahua at Cal Poly Pomona. Additionally, she is a participant in an internship with the Pomona Unified School district, where she mentors children in need. Furthermore, Aiyana frequently volunteers at the Animal Humane Society where she fosters bottle-fed kittens. Her personal academic goals extend to completing a Ph.D. program in social psychology, becoming a professor, and conducting research that aims at examining the roadblocks placed systematically before racially marginalized groups within various social institutions. It’s her mission to help others break their intergenerational cycles of trauma, substance abuse, and emotional neglect while implementing new, healthy coping mechanisms and stronger self-esteem. In her free time, Aiyana enjoys reading books, watching documentaries, discovering new foodplaces, and spending time with loved ones.

Joshua Uslu (He/Him/His)
Research Assistant

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Joshua Uslu is a 2nd generation hispanic and middle eastern college student finishing up his 2nd year at Cal Poly Pomona. Josh is a transfer student and came to Cal Poly after obtaining his AA-T in Psychology from San Bernardino Valley College. In time he hopes to obtain his Ph.D in Clinical Psychology so that he can work in a private practice. Currently, Josh is in his senior year at Cal Poly and is serving as a research assistant in the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Research Lab. He is very passionate about his community and helping children in need. Outside of the lab he works as a mentor for troubled youth by teaching kickboxing at his local gym in Redlands where he grew up. Josh believes that kickboxing builds discipline and respect amongst the youth. He hopes to teach his students to be kind to others and stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. More so, he acts as a counselor every summer at Trinity Camp where he ensures everyone is being safe and enjoying themselves. Joshua is passionate about helping the youth because he sees them as tomorrow's future. He believes that no child should be left behind and that every child should have a chance to be something great. In his free time, Josh enjoys playing the guitar, working out, and playing games like D&D with his friends.

Troy Chung (He/Him/His)
Research Assistant 

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Troy Chung is a fourth year Psychology student at Cal Poly Pomona who is currently a research assistant in the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) lab. Growing up as an Asian American in a primarily hispanic area in Los Angeles county, Troy has grown to love the culture and the people he has met throughout his life. Although he learned a lot of joy from their culture and lifestyle, he also learned that there are a lot of hardships within their community as well. As he has grown older, he learned that he wants to try to help anyone he can to better their lives. Additionally, as he has grown older, he realized how important it is to help children in need to prevent concerns from growing and developing in the future for them. He’s been with the lab and the Pomona Unified School District internship for about a semester now. In the summer, he recently did a volunteer opportunity with the Tri City Mental Health Summer Camp and continued his work with children. Currently he has hopes on graduating with a Bachelors in Psychology along with a Social Work Minor and going onto graduate school. Although he wants to work with families and children, he is still deciding on what he wants to focus on in his future career. While in his gap year, after he graduates he wants to find more jobs or research to help him decide. In his free time, Troy likes to draw and play video games that catch his interest.

Michelle Salazar Renteria (She/Her/Ella)
Research Assistant 

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Michelle Salazar Renteria is a first-generation Mexican college student and is currently attending California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, as a third-year majoring in Psychology. She was raised in Mexico and immigrated to the US at the age of 12. She hopes to further her education beyond her bachelor's degree in hopes of becoming a licensed psychologist and working with children. She is currently an ASP mentor and focuses on mentoring other Cal Poly Pomona students who are part of various research programs on campus; as well as a research assistant in Cal Poly Pomona’s Socioemotional Research Lab, and through this lab, she also works with the Pomona Unified School District. Michelle is passionate about working with children and values the importance of being able to provide them with the support and guidance they may need. She is also passionate about helping her community. She finds so much value in helping those who are part of marginalized groups in hopes of creating a more positive and healthy community and fighting against toxic mental health stigmas.

Additionally, Michelle works in the flower industry as a florist. She has her own flower business, is passionate about nature, and enjoys showing her creativity through her work. In her free time, Michelle loves reading, music, watching movies/shows, spending time with her loved one’s, pets, drawing/painting, cooking, and traveling.

Isabella Lopez (She/Her/Hers)
Research Assistant 

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Isabella Lopez is a second-generation Mexican college student attending her third year at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She is a member of the Psi Chi Honor Society and is now a research assistant in the Socioemotional Lab with Dr. Pumaccahua. She is also a participant in an Internship where she mentors children and adolescents in the Pomona Unified School District. Isabella is working to obtain her bachelor's in psychology and one day gain her Ph.D. She learns from working with her research team and gains knowledge as a mentee of Dr. Pumaccahua. Isabella believes that her work with children and adolescents will give her the opportunity to use her empathy to help them face experiences surrounding substance abuse, trauma, family, and issues. With this, she also strives to help them have a better understanding of how they can react when being aware of their emotions. Outside of school, Isabella enjoys working at a creamery and sweets shop in Claremont and creating connections with those she meets. In her free time, Isabella also enjoys spending time with her friends and family, setting new goals for herself, painting, singing, going out into nature, watching movies, and going to concerts.

Jasmine Pinto (She/Her/Hers)
Research Assistant 

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Jasmine Pinto is a third-year transfer student from Moreno Valley College and is currently studying Psychology at Cal Poly Pomona. She is a first-generation college student hoping to further her education by pursuing a graduate degree. She is hoping to become a therapist and work with children and adolescents. As of right now, she is a research assistant in the Socioemotional Lab at Cal Poly Pomona and is completing an internship with the Pomona Unified School District, serving as a mentor to children in K-5th and assisting in the promotion of their social skills. She believes that being part of this program has been a rewarding experience-- to see the kids grow and learn. Jasmine chose to major in psychology as she is passionate about not only mental health but also about being a mentor and a source of guidance for youth. Growing up in a Hispanic household, mental health and emotional well-being were not prioritized and looked past. In pursuing her education in psychology, she hopes to break the stigma of mental health, as she believes that one's emotional well-being is just as important as their physical health. In addition, Jasmine is the eldest sibling and works hard to be a role model to her younger siblings. They are what inspired her to work with children and be a mentor to them. She owes much of her success to them and hopes to make them proud.

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