Research Team

As part of my research lab student members are provided with assistance and guidance in the development of their own research ideas and to facilitate their entry into the field of school psychology. In this capacity students provide assistance in conducting literature reviews, article reviews, data collection, and conference poster presentations. This will eventually lead to co-authored manuscript development and conducting workshops at national conventions.

The PYDL Lab members currently consist of doctoral students in Duquesne University's school psychology program. Students interested in joining the PYDL should complete the application form attached to the bottom of the page. Completed forms should be emailed to Students will be contacted via email to schedule an interview to discuss potentially joining the lab. 

Current members of the PYDL include:

Alison Ryan earned a BS in Psychology and a Certificate in Children’s Literature from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010.  She is currently pursing her PsyD in School Psychology at Duquesne University, anticipating graduation in 2015.  As a member of Dr. Graves' research team, she has presented at the Trainers of School Psychologists Conferences in 2012 and 2013 on topics related to conducting research in the field of school psychology and the professional roles and practices of urban school psychologists.  Furthermore, in 2013 she contributed to posters that were presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting and the American Psychological Association Convention on topics related to academic and behavioral interventions with African American males and on autism.  She will be presenting at the National Association of School Psychologists Annual Convention in February of 2014 on strength-based assessment.  Her current research interests are in prevention and intervention in at-risk youth.  She currently is mentoring as a big sister at Big Brothers Big Sisters, completing her practicum in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, and applying to internship.  She plans to work in the school setting upon graduation.  



Adriana Sobalvarro graduated from the University of Arizona in 2008 with a BA in Psychology.  She received her Masters in Child Psychology from Duquesne University in 2011.  Currently, she is pursuing her doctorate in School Psychology and plans to practice in the school setting upon graduation.  During her first two year as a member of Dr. Graves’ research team, she presented at two Trainers of School Psychologists Conferences, attended the National Association of School Psychologist Annual Conference, and contributed to research presented at conferences throughout the country.  In 2013, she presented a study on the professional roles and practices of urban school psychologists, and received the Trainers of School Psychologists Graduate Student Scholarship.  She was a researcher on a study that examined academic and behavioral interventions for African American males.  This study was presented at the 2013 American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting.  Additionally, she was a contributor on a poster related to parent-implemented behavior interventions for children with autism in African American families.  This stud was presented at the 2013 American Psychological Association Convention.  She is broadly interested in the overrepresentation of minority students in special education programs.  More specifically, she is interested in examining interventions that focus on childrens’ strengths in the urban setting.  She is currently in her second year of practicum at the Pittsburgh Public School District and is working on an intervention project to reduce disruptive classroom behavior and use strengths to increase academic engagement and respectfulness.    


Candice Aston graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2009 with a MA in Teaching.  She has teaching experience in urban schools and is now pursuing her PhD in School psychology and plans to work as a University professor as well as working with the urban school system in Pittsburgh upon receiving her degree.  She is currently a graduate assistant for Dr. Scott Graves in the School Psychology department.  Her research interest includes studying the current achievement gap for minority students and parental influence on academic achievement in low SES areas.



Amirah Beeks graduated from Hampton University in 2012 with a BA in Psychology.  She is pursuing her doctorate degree in school psychology and plans to practice in the school setting upon receiving her degree.   From 2009-2011 she worked as a research assistant at Hampton University for an independent study focusing on developing a new measure of law enforcement stress and coping.  Her current research interest includes child maltreatment, overrepresentation of minority students in special education, and teacher-student relationships.

Kayla Nichols graduated from Georgia State University in 2009 with a BA in Psychology and Sociology. Kayla has over 10 years of experience working with children and families in multiple facets in positions ranging from: mentoring and tutoring to case management with foster and at-risk children and families.  She is now pursuing her PhD in School Psychology.  Kayla's research interests include the overrepresentation of minority children in special education and improving educational outcomes for minority students.

Danielle M. Carapellotti graduated in 2009 with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Central Florida. She then worked for two years with Alzheimer’s patients, then traveled to Italy to teach English and customs to Italian high school students. Danielle is now pursuing her PhD in School Psychology, with plans to work in Department of Defense schools around the country and the world. Danielle’s research interests include early intervention with at-risk youth, aggression, and special education.

Scott Graves,
Nov 28, 2011, 11:50 AM