Doctoral Students

Eric Zaizar, BA
Eric Zaizar, BA

Eric received his B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014, graduating with departmental special honors in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy. He is now a doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology at UT in his 5th year in the program. Broadly, his research focuses on leveraging insights from neuroscience for the treatment of psychopathology. To this end, he aims to test novel interventions for fear-related psychopathology that are based in cutting-edge learning and memory research. For example, he recently published a clinical trial in Psychological Medicine on the singular and combined effects of transcranial infrared laser stimulation (TILS) and exposure therapy on various pathological fear domains (Zaizar et al., 2021).  He is now initiating another clinical trial that will examine whether cannabidiol (CBD) can reduce fear of anxiety-related bodily sensations by disrupting fear memory reconsolidation. In his spare time, he enjoys training and playing with his dog, cooking Mexican and Spanish food, music festivals, traveling, and watching international soccer matches.

Alban Fousler, MA
Alban Fousler, MA

Alban graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015, where she received her B.S. in Psychology with a second major in German and a minor in Women’s Studies. After graduation, Alban worked as Lab Manager in Dr. Chris Beevers’ Mood Disorders Lab at The University of Texas at Austin, where she studied cognitive mechanisms of depression such as attention bias and working memory. She joined the Laboratory for the Study of Anxiety Disorders in 2017, where her research focuses on enhancing assessment and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder, particularly among people who have experienced interpersonal violence. She received her Master’s in Psychology at UT Austin in 2019, in which she developed and psychometrically tested a new measure of posttraumatic safety behaviors. Alban is currently a fifth-year student in Dr. Telch’s lab, where she is currently running a clinical trial designed to better understand shame. In her spare time, Alban enjoys running, cooking, reading, and swimming.

Emma Siegel, MA
Emma Siegel, MA

Emma graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Psychology in 2015. Following graduation, Emma worked as a research assessor in a PTSD and substance use lab at the VA San Diego Healthcare System on several NIH and DoD funded clinical trials. Emma was admitted to UT Austin’s clinical psychology doctoral program in 2017 and is a fifth-year student working with Dr. Telch in the Laboratory for the Study of Anxiety Disorders. Her research interests include treatment outcomes and treatment enhancements for PTSD and anxiety disorders. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, and attending live music shows.

Estrella Thomas, BA
Estrella Thomas, BA

Estrella graduated from Southwestern University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Spanish. After graduation, Estrella worked as a clinical research assistant under Mark Powers, Ph.D. and Ann Marie Warren, Ph.D., ABPP in the Division of Trauma, Critical Care, & Acute Care Surgery at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. In this position, she co-coordinated multiple studies, including 3 federally funded research projects, assessing psychological and physiological outcomes among English- and Spanish-speaking individuals with traumatic injuries and women affected by absolute uterine factor infertility. Estrella is currently a third-year Clinical Psychology doctoral student under the mentorship of Michael Telch, Ph.D. in Laboratory for the Study of Anxiety Disorders at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include investigating protective factors, preventative treatments, and interventions for English- and Spanish-speaking individuals with, or susceptible to, anxiety disorders or PTSD. In her spare time, Estrella enjoys reading, cooking, baking, running, hiking, camping, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

Caitlin (Cate) Fischer, MA
Caitlin (Cate) Fischer, MA

Cate graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern California in May 2019, where she received her B.A. in Psychology. During her undergraduate career, she was involved in research investigating how to facilitate accurate court disclosures among children who are victims of maltreatment. Further, she researched trauma responses among childhood cancer survivors. Cate joined the University of Texas at Austin clinical psychology program in fall 2019. She is currently a fourth-year graduate student in Dr. Michael Telch’s Laboratory for the Study of Anxiety Disorders. Throughout her graduate career, Cate has been involved in studies examining novel treatments for PTSD and COVID-19-induced stress and loneliness. Her dissertation project will compare two mechanistically distinct interventions for pathological anxiety among individuals with anxiety or trauma-related disorders. Cate’s primary clinical interests include anxiety disorders and PTSD among military populations.

Galen Cassidy, BA
Galen Cassidy, BA

Galen graduated from Williams College in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Geosciences. At Williams, Galen worked under the mentorship of Laurie Heatherington, Ph.D., to research the perspectives of asylum seekers on existing psychotherapies for PTSD. Galen is currently a first-year Clinical Psychology doctoral student in the Laboratory for the Study of Anxiety Disorders at The University of Texas at Austin, directed by Michael Telch, Ph.D. His research interests include understanding the mechanisms of efficacy of psychotherapies for individuals with PTSD and other anxiety disorders, in order to adapt and improve these interventions for vulnerable groups, as well as developing PTSD treatment packages which can increase the access to mental health care of underserved populations. Outside of the lab, Galen enjoys travel, hiking, reading, cooking, baking, country music, and lots and lots of coffee.