Lab Members

Graduate Students

Haley Dawson

Haley earned her BS in Biology and BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan-Flint in 2017 and her M.A. in Psychology from FIU’s Legal Psychology Graduate Program. As a graduate student, her research interests lie in memory, investigative interviewing, and cross-disciplinary collaborations. After graduating, Haley plans to become a professor who teaches and runs her own Legal Psychology research lab. When not doing research, you can find Haley cooking, baking, and reading Sci-Fi novels.

Maria Sparacino

Maria earned her BS in Psychology with a minor in Intelligence and National Security Studies from Coastal Carolina University in 2019 and her M.A. in Psychology from FIU’s legal Psychology Graduate Program. She is interested in investigative interviewing, intelligence-gathering techniques, and deception detection.

Roberto Calero

Roberto Calero is the newest member of the ILab. He received his B.A. in Psychology with a focus in behavior analysis from FIU. He and his family are from Nicaragua. His research interest mainly focuses on better interview and evidence-gathering techniques for the Hispanic and low-income communities.

Current Undergraduate Research Assistants

Giuliana Lemes (ILab Manager)

Giuliana obtained her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice from FIU in 2021. Her research interests include eyewitness testimony, deception detection and interrogations. She aims to pursue a PhD in Legal Psychology and one day train law enforcement in collecting best witness and victim evidence.

Athena Filias

Athena Filias is an Undergraduate student at Florida International University. She is currently working on her bachelors degree in Psychology. She loves researching all areas of psychology and her goal is to get accepted into a graduates program to get her PhD in Neuropsychology.

Ana Caamano

Ana Caamano is an undergraduate student at FIU pursuing two majors: Psychology and Natural and Applied Sciences. She is a pre-med student with a keen interest in legal psychology. Her interest in participating in the legal psychology ILab was to understand how human behavior can influence various aspects of the legal system.

Jared Jatib

Donald Rufus-Raphael

Marianna Hernandez

Fabiana Moran

Ishmael Sevilla

Jason Proenza

Madison Roiz

Roberto Calero

Lenn Hernandez

Jayleen Perez

Maria Salgado

Emily Briskin

Rocio Novo

Noor Perez

Adriana Valenzuela

Juliette Arroyo

Stephanie Perez

Katie Fernandez

Dillyn Lesesne

Orlando Garcia

Melanie Menendez

Current and Former Postdoctoral Scholars

Michelle Pena, Ph.D.

Dr. Michelle Pena received her B.S. in Psychology from FIU in 2013 and her M.S degree from FIU in 2017. She went on to graduate with a Ph.D. in Legal Psychology (with a minor in Statistics) in 2019. She has conducted research examining the effects of cognitive bias in different contexts including investigative interviews, suspect interrogations, and more recently, forensic sciences. Dr. Pena has also conducted multiple studies examining deception detection with non-native speakers and the use of interpreters during interrogations. She is currently a postdoctotal scholar in the Investigative Interviewing lab and a trial consultant and research analyst facilitating pre-trial research projects for both plaintiffs and defendants in federal and state court cases across the country.

Angelica Hagsand, Ph.D.

Dr. Hagsand is an Associate Professor and a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, where she is a member of the research units Criminal, Legal, and Investigative Psychology (CLIP) and Addiction Psychology: Experimental and Clinical research (APEC), and the Center for Education and Research on Addiction (CERA). Her research interest concerns both the acute effects of alcohol on memory and behavior, especially in a eyewitness context, but also factors involved in long-term alcohol dependence (e.g., genes, psychobiological factors, signal substances, the reward pathway in the brain).

Dr. Hagsand was awarded a 3-year postdoctoral research fellowship by the prestigious Swedish Research Council. In collaboration with our Investigative Investigative lab, she examined the importance of system variables in alcohol’s effect on witnesses memory and how the legal system views those witnesses.

Former Graduate Students

Devon LaBat, Ph.D.

Dr. Devon LaBat is an Associate Litigation Consultant at Blueprint Trial Consulting.

Dr. LaBat is a legal psychologist whose research focuses on the complex cognitive and social psychological processes that impact legal decision making and the justice system. In particular, Dr. LaBat’s research has centered on studying how jurors understand testimony and evidence and creating interventions to improve their understanding. In her graduate research, she conducted research related to the impact of jury instructions, juror gender, and expert gender on jury verdicts as well as topics related to forensic science.

Dr. LaBat graduated with her doctorate degree in legal psychology from Florida International University. Her dissertation evaluated interventions to bolster attorneys’ knowledge and evaluations of forensic science testimony. She also earned a Master of Science degree in psychology from Florida International University after completing her thesis related to the effects of jury instructions on jurors’ perspective-taking and decision making in police excessive use of force case. She received her Bachelor of Science in psychology and criminal justice from Iowa State University.

Victoria Carlson, Ph.D.

Victoria earned her B.S. in Psychology with minors in Accounting and Leadership from Central Michigan University and her her M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from FIU’s Legal Psychology Graduate Program. Her undergraduate research sparked an interest in best practices for interviewing and interrogation. She is currently collaborating on research involving biases regarding body-worn cameras, the effects of alcohol in interrogation, and best practices of blind/informed interviewing.

Andrea Wolfs, Ph.D.

Dr. Wolfs received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Psychology and Law from Maastricht University and earned her Ph.D. at FIU in the summer of 2021. Her research interests are eyewitness interviewing. She is currently teaching faculty in the Department of Psychology at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.

Danielle Sneyd, Ph.D.

Dr. Danielle Sneyd received her B.A. from Roger Williams University in 2014 where she double majored in Psychology and Criminal Justice, her M.A. in Cognitive and Social Processes in 2016 from Ball State University, and her Ph.D. in Legal Psychology in 2020 from Florida International University.  She has conducted research examining investigative interviewing techniques, specifically involving the Cognitive interview and/or rapport building.  She has also conducted research examining the effects of cognitive bias in forensic science.  Dr. Sneyd is currently an Assistant Professor at Northland College in Wisconsin.

Michelle Pena, Ph.D.

Dr. Michelle Pena is an FLC trial consultant and research analyst. Dr. Pena’s primary practice areas of practice are civil and commercial litigation as well as securities law. Dr. Pena facilitates pre-trial research projects for both plaintiffs and defendants in federal and state court cases across the country.  Dr. Pena specializes in quantitative jury research analyses, including, but not limited, to juror profiling, descriptive verdict analyses, and witness credibility assessments.  Dr. Pena also assists with jury selection, focusing specifically on individualized prospective juror background and social media searches in real-time in the courtroom.

Michelle M. Pena, Ph.D.

Christopher Altman, Ph.D.

Dr. Chris Altman is a Senior User Experience (UX) Researcher at, a simple, free, and secure telemedicine solution. Designed with health care in mind, is a HIPAA-compliant telecommunications platform that’s easy for patients and providers to use. It enables health care organizations to provide virtual care that’s easily accessible to everyone, everywhere, on any device.

Dana Hirn Muller, Ph.D.

Dr. Hirn Mueller is an IRB Coordinator within the Office of Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin and serves as an adjunct instructor at Carroll University where she teaches quantitative and research methods. Her primary research interests include investigative interviewing and exploring ways in which legal psychology research can positively impact the practices of law enforcement investigators. Before attending Florida International University, she studied both psychology and criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

Jillian Rivard, Ph.D.

Jillian Rivard is a Senior Research Analyst for the Interprofessional Education (IPE) Department in the Center for Teaching and Excellence at Western University of Health Sciences. She coordinate research activities for IPE initiatives, including curriculum improvement efforts, summarizing student-centered outcomes of IPE success, and preparing reports for internal distribution and external publication. Dr. Rivard’s research interests include the cognitive and social factors influencing child and adult witness/victim memory and decision-making in the context of criminal investigations.

Jenna Kieckhaefer, Ph.D.

Dr. Kieckhaefer is an associate professor of forensic behavioral science in the criminology department at California State University, Fresno.  Her research examines the application of psychology to the criminal justice system.  Dr. Kieckhaefer is particularly interested in the effects of building rapport with eyewitnesses on memory accuracy and suggestibility, lineup decision making and the effects of rapport on gathering sensitive information.  Prior to starting at Fresno she received an ORISE post-doctoral research fellowship with the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC). While with the FBI Dr. Kieckhaefer helped further the NCAVC’s research mission by assisting the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) 2 on several projects examining threats, including the Institutions of Higher Education Targeted Violence Study.

Rolando N. Carol, Ph.D.

Dr. Carol is a professor of psychology at Auburn University Montgomery. His research interests include investigative interviewing of adult and child witnesses, identification decision making, and cognitive and contextual factors that affect eyewitness memory. He enjoys short walks on the beach and is convinced that astrology is bogus.

Shari Schwartz, Ph.D.

Dr. Shari Schwartz is program chair for the Bachelor of Arts in Social and Criminal Justice and the Master of Science in Criminal Justice programs at the University of Arizona Global Campus. She earned a Doctorate in Legal Psychology from Florida International University, a Master of Science in Psychology from Florida International University, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Central Florida. Dr. Schwartz has worked as a death penalty mitigation psychologist, victim outreach specialist, jury consultant, and is a frequently invited guest lecturer at trainings and conferences worldwide on issues pertaining to the criminal justice system. She teaches a variety of online criminal justice courses at UAGC and believes that students who may not normally speak up in a traditional classroom setting have the opportunity to participate more with web-based learning. She encourages prospective and current students to never let anyone else define the limits of their success. In fact, she pursued her own terminal degree after a professor once told her she was too old to do so. She says, “My favorite thing about teaching is sharing my knowledge but also having the students share their knowledge and insight with me. The exchange of ideas enlightens and enriches those who listen to and participate in the dialogue. I believe I share the responsibility with my students for ensuring they have a positive learning experience.” Dr. Schwartz lives in South Beach Miami, FL.

Jacqueline R. Evans, Ph.D.

Amy Hyman Gregory Ph.D.

Amy Hyman Gregory is an assistant teaching professor and undergraduate program director in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice within the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs. She holds a Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from Florida International University, an M.A. in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a B.A. in Political Science from Binghamton University-State University of New York (SUNY). Her research interests include investigative interviewing techniques, police note-taking, and report writing, eyewitness memory, and identification procedures, and decision-making in criminal and civil cases. She has authored/co-authored manuscripts in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied; the Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender ProfilingLegal and Criminological Psychology; and Psychology, Crime, and Law. She has made presentations at numerous conferences including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychology-Law Society, the American Society of Criminology, and the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition.

Jon P. Vallano, Ph.D.

I am an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg, where I conduct research on jury decision-making, investigative interviewing, and eyewitness identification. In addition to my scholarly interests, I also serve as a trial consultant for attorneys by helping them prepare cases for trial. At Pitt-Greensburg, I teach the following courses: Legal Psychology, Introduction to Psychology, Social Psychology, and  Research Methods.