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Dr. Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at UC Merced and the Director of the LATCH Lab. Dr. Hahn-Holbrook  received her Ph.D. from the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen's University Belfast in 2010 and then completed an NIMH-funded postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA. Dr. Hahn-Holbrook was an assistant professor at Chapman University before joining the UC Merced Faculty in 2017. In collaboration with postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate researchers, Dr. Hahn-Holbrook conducts basic research and fosters community and industry partnerships to address key health problems for families. 


Want to join the research team?

The Latch Lab is accepting applications for graduate students! Click here for information on UC Merced PhD programs in Psychology and how to apply.


The LATCH Lab is also always looking for motivated, smart, and responsible undergraduate student volunteers who wish to get involved in research. To become a volenteer, send an email to with a paragraph about why you want to volunteer in the LATCH Lab.

Graduate Students


Adi Fish M.A. received her Bachelors in Psychology, followed by a Masters in a nutrition program. Upon completion, Adi realized her passion is a combination of the two, and is now a PhD student in the Latch Lab. Adi’s previous research includes examining the relationship between diet and mental health. Adi is presently exploring the role of the human microbiome in nutritional psychology. Adi received a Distinguished Graduate Student Award for her work at San Francisco State University. She has also worked at Sutter Health’s CPMC as a Clinical Research Coordinator, recruiting participants, collecting anthropometric and quantitative data on a large scale employee health study. In addition, she is sitting Vice-Chair on the Gordon Research Seminar on Metabolomics. Adi is passionate about travel, spending time with family, and becoming a professor to continue researching nutritional psychology and the microbiome. 


Jessica A. Marino graduated from UC Merced in 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Cognitive Science. As a graduate student in the Health Psychology Ph.D. program, she will concentrate on the development and expression of maternal behavior. She plans to study how hormones affect maternal behavior and the intergenerational effects that mother-child relationships can have on health. Ms. Marino’s ultimate goal is to find protective maternal factors that might mitigate health risks in vulnerable children. In her free time, she enjoys painting, fostering cats, and exploring strange new worlds.



Xochilt Alcalá-Quiñonez graduated from the University of California, Merced majoring in Psychology and minoring in Philosophy and Sociology. Her academic interests stem from her curiosity to understand people and examining factors which influence who they become. Xochilt worked as an undergraduate research assistant for the LATCH Lab and Stress and Health Lab, through these positions she developed herself professionally by interacting with the campus and Merced community. For graduate school, Xochilt plans to pursue a career in either Clinical Psychology or Health Psychology. Her pass time activities include reading, listening to music and spending time with loved ones.

Jocelyn Ayala graduated from the University of California Merced Undergraduate as a Psychology major and Public Health minor. She held positions as the treasurer of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, chapter in UC Merced. She is interested in child development and health psychology and aspires to work with children and infants in the future. As a new addition to Dr. Hahn-Holbrook's lab, Jocelyn was enthusiastic to gain knowledge about the attachment between mother and infant and how breast milk intake plays a role in that. 

Avninder Singh Dhillon graduated from the University of California, Merced as a Biological Sciences major with human emphasis and Psychology minor. He was a research assistant in the RHYTHM study and prior was a research assistant in the milk choice study. He is interested in research topics relating to further utilizing modern society to help improve the lives of families and maternal-child interactions. Following graduation, he hopes to pursue a career in the medical field. In his free time he enjoys playing basketball, volunteering in health facilities and spending time with loved ones.

Haley Ebert graduated from the University of California, Merced with a Public Health major. She was a research assistant for the RHYTHM study in the LATCH Lab.  She was also the student coordinator at the Outdoor Experience Program and reader for the Global Art Studies department at UC Merced.  After undergrad, she hopes to work in women’s and maternal health to educate and empower women.  To kick start this, Haley held an annual menstrual product drive on campus to donate products to women in the community and on campus. In her free time she enjoys exploring the outdoors with her dog and boyfriend.  

Clemente Flores graduated from University of California, Merced with a Biology Major, with a minor in Psychology. He currently is striving to become a clinical doctor and assist many individuals in medical field. He currently has taken many courses in his school year and has taken some programs during High school to broaden his knowledge in the world. He is very interested in the biomedical field for research and assisted in our research. After graduation, he plans to hopefully get into the dream medical school he derives for. In his free time, he assists the community many ways. One of the main ways he does this is by creating many events for children and adults alike to attend and enjoy themselves in their interests. One of the many hobbies, he has is exploring the world and learning new material in his relevant studies.

Esther Lapite graduated from the University of California, Merced with a Psychology major. Esther is interested in clinical assessment, psychotherapy, and cognitive behaviorism. Having served as a research assistant for the LATCH Lab, Stress and Health Lab, Spivey Lab, and PsychoNeuroEndocrinology Lab, Esther has gained skills in professionalism, critical thinking, project management, and data analysts. Outside of the research setting, Esther also served as a Fiat Lux scholar, secretary for Psi Chi (the International Honors Society in Psychology), secretary for Psychology Club, and a food service worker at the Pavilion. After graduation, Esther aspires to obtain her doctoral degree and serve as a licensed clinical or counseling psychologist in the state of California.

Nelliee Josefina Orozco graduated from the University of California, Merced as a Psychology major, with a minor in Writing. Nelliee worked with Merced County to advocate for foster youth and the best interests of abused and neglected children. She was also an intern at the Nicotine & Cannabis Policy Center and a research assistant for the LATCH lab at the University of California, Merced.  She is interested in research topics relating to individual health outcomes due to patterns within development and the biological influences. After graduation, she hopes to obtain a doctoral degree in Health Psychology and open a non-profit organization to help youth exposed to chronic stress.

Carolina Karuppiah graduated from University of California with a  Psychology major. Carolina also pursued the health track in biology. A few of her interest include actively working in research fields that involve psychological and biological factors, as well as attending health conferences to get a better understanding of technologies and information that is being released. After graduation, she hopes to pursue attend dental school at Loma Linda University School of Density, to acquire a D.D.S. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering at free health clinics, baking, and exploring new places with her sister and dog.


Nima Partovi graduated from the University of California, Merced with a Human Biology major. After graduating, he plans to attend medical school and pursue a career in surgery. Nima joined the latch lab to gain experience conducting field research and to learn more about the lasting effects of breastfeeding both on the society and the individual. Some of his other interests include orthopedics, anatomy and psychology. Outside of research and class, Nima has completed internships with orthopedic surgeries and volunteer work in the outpatient wing of hospitals. In his free time, he enjoys playing chess and exploring the outdoors with his friends.


Sofia Pino graduated from University of California, Merced as a human biology major with a psych minor. Sofia has a background in bioinformatics and biotechnology and has published sequences with Rutgers’s University in their work with sequencing the genome of the Duckweed species Landoltia punctate. Outside of the LATCH lab, Sofia was involved in other activities including being a crisis counselor with Crisis Text Line, campus ambassador with Pandia Health, treasurer of Order of Omega, vice president of fundraising for Global Brigades, and a research assistant with the MESH Lab. After graduation she hopes to obtain her license to work as a clinical lab scientist.


Mariah Tresvant graduated from University of California, Merced as a Psychology major. She was a research assistant for the LATCH Lab RHYTHM Study. Mariah made the switch from pursuing biological sciences to psychological sciences when she became interested in understanding human behavioral and mental processes beyond the general anatomy. She takes interest in the treatment of atypical mental and behavioral processes in relation to the brain. Upon graduating, she would like to pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. In her free time, she likes swimming, fostering animals, and assisting individuals who have mental and physical disabilities.

Current Research Assistants 


Kimberly Meraz is a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of California, Merced. She is studying for a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in Psychology. Currently she is an R.A. in Dr. Hahn-Holbrook’s LATCH lab. She is interested in the science behind the Couvade syndrome and the impact the psychosocial has in pregnancy. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading and spending time with her loved ones.


Daniella Yousif is a fourth year pre-medical student at UC Merced and is set to graduate May 2020 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Human Biology with a minor in Psychology. Daniella is currently a Lab Assistant in the School of Natural Sciences and an Exam Proctor for the Accessibility Services on campus. She also holds the position of Secretary Risk Management Officer for her medical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon. Daniella has a passion for trauma medicine and hopes to pursue that field in medical school. She currently volunteers in the Emergency Department at Mercy Medical Center and enjoys sports, photography, and binge watching TV shows.


Manuvir Dhaliwal is a pre-med Human Bio student at UC Merced and is set to graduate in 2022. Manuvir is a Research Assistant for the Latch Lab and is interested in attending Medical School in order to pursue her dreams of becoming a Pediatrician and working with children. Manuvir is very passionate about volunteering and wants to provide free health care to citizens of developing countries such as India after she joins the health field. Manuvir is part of Global Medical Training Program and Sikh Student Association on campus. On her free time, Manuvir likes to dance, travel, draw, and spend time with her family and friends.

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