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Michael J. Simonian

Third Year Graduate Student

Michael Simonian graduated with a BA in psychology from California State University, Sacramento in 2017. He got his start in the field of ABA as an undergraduate research assistant, which he spent a year doing before graduating. He has also spent a year doing clinical work with children with autism spectrum disorder, doing so in both home and center-based settings. His research interests include interventions to increase compliance, preference assessments, and performance feedback. When he is finished earning his master’s degree, he would like to become a BCBA and develop interventions for children with developmental disabilities. In his free time, he enjoys playing video games, listening to metal, photography, and going on walks. 


Galan Falakfarsa

Third Year Graduate Student

Galan Falakfarsa was brought up in Davis, CA, and completed his B.S in Psychology at San Jose State University. Some of Galan's research interests involve the motivations and various factors associated with decision making, and the impact of environmental factors on choice and performance. In his spare time, he pursues his keen interest in strategy-based games. After graduation, Galan plans to earn his certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and work as a clinical director for ABA companies specializing in interventions for individuals with autism-spectrum diagnoses.


Erik Godinez

Second Year Graduate Student

Erik Godinez is a second year graduate student and his research interests include performance feedback, systems analysis, verbal behavior, and environmental sustainability. His clinical work consists of 1:1 consulting with children on the Autism spectrum. Erik plans starting at a graduate program in the fall to continue his education and experience in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. In his free time, he enjoys playing disc golf, listening to music, and watching soccer.

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Makenna Mason

First Year Graduate Student

Makenna Mason is a first year graduate student who graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology in spring 2019. After she receives her degree, she plans on becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. When she is not working as a Behavior Interventionist with children who have Autism, Makenna enjoys hanging out with friends and cooking. 


Lea Jones

First Year Graduate Student

Lea Jones graduated with an undergraduate degree in Psychology from California State University Sacramento in 2019. She has previously worked as an RBT with children with autism spectrum disorder and plans on pursuing BCBA certification after graduation. Her research interests include performance feedback, systems analysis and staff training. In her free time, she powerlifts, likes to play video game, and care for all kinds of animals. 

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Lyriq Yang

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Lyriq Yang is a Junior who will graduate in the Fall of 2021 with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology within California State University, Sacramento. She plans to obtain her certificate in Behavior Analysis alongside her pursuit of her BA. She is a current RBT who provides meaningful 1:1 services with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She strives to serve children with cognitive and/or learning disabilities, and is on the path of becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst

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Dr. Joshua Bensemann

Research Collaborator

Dr. Joshua Bensemann completed his PhD (Psychology) at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. His doctorate research investigated both traditional and modern theories of learning via positive reinforcement using a combination of mathematical models, experimentation, and computer simulations. He is currently interested in applying methods from machine learning to behavioral psychology in an attempt to detect behavioral patterns.


Deborah Richardson


Deborah's interest in ABA started in the summer of 2018, when she attended her first ABA course. Deborah’s goal is to obtain her certification in behavior analysis and continue to the graduate program. When Deborah is not focusing on school, she is either spending quality time with family and friends, or creating handmade jewelry.


Savannah Velazquez 


Savannah graduated Fall of 2019 with her BA in Psychology. She got into the field of ABA as an RBT when she was in junior college and have been invested ever since. She hopes to enter in the graduate program and obtain her BCBA credentials and continue working with children on the autism spectrum. Her hobbies include going to new restaurants and discovering new foods, painting, and she has recently taken up yoga. 

Former Team Members

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Colin Wills (Fall 2019)

Sofia Zamora (Spring 2020)

Silvia Dechant-Serrano (Spring 2020 - Fall 2020)