Our Team

Urban Youth Trauma Center

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  1. Research
  2. Urban Youth Trauma Center
  3. Our Team

Jaleel K. Abdul-Adil PhD

  • Co-Director of the Urban Youth Trauma Center
  • Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry
Dr. Abdul-Adil's career interest is culturally-sensitive, ecologically-appropriate, and evidence-based practices for low-income urban youth and families. His current research focuses on family-focused interventions for youth with trauma and co-occurring disruptive behavior and community violence exposure that are provided through university-community partnerships, service system collaborations, and national provider networks. Dr. Abdul-Adil is also one of the originators and nationally-renowned experts on the use of modern Rap music and Hip-Hop culture to enrich psychosocial interventions for urban youth.

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Liza M. Suarez PhD

  • Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry
  • Director, Pediatric Stress and Anxiety Disorders Clinic
  • Co-Director, Urban Youth Trauma Center
Dr. Suarez’ interests focus on adolescent traumatic stress and substance abuse, treatment for anxiety disorders among urban youth, and empowering communities to address community violence and its impact on youth and families. Dr. Suarez has developed and is currently evaluating and disseminating an integrated intervention targeting traumatic stress and substance abuse problems in adolescents.

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Roberto Lopez-Tamayo PhD

  • Instructor of Clinical Psychiatry/Program Evaluator
  • Urban Youth Trauma Center
Roberto Lopez-Tamayo, PhD., is a licensed clinical psychologist in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the program evaluator of the Urban Youth Trauma Center (UYTC). Dr. Lopez-Tamayo serves as instructor of clinical psychiatry, coordinates program evaluation efforts, including data collection, tracking, and management, for grant reporting and scholarly project activities. Dr. Lopez-Tamayo also participates in adapting program materials to address the needs of urban ethnic minority youth, religious minorities, and immigrant populations. Dr. Lopez-Tamayo obtained a B.A. in Philosophy from Universidad del Valle de Atemajac in his hometown Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, an M.A. in Clinical Counseling from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and a Ph.D. in Clinical-Community Psychology from DePaul University. His broad interests are diversity, cultural adaptation, acculturation, anxiety, trauma/PTSD, and substance abuse prevention. Dr. Lopez-Tamayo is interested in developing, implementing, and evaluating parent-based prevention/intervention programs to promote resilience and adaptive coping for low-income urban minority children and their families.

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Lynda Gibson PhD

  • Clinical Research Coordinator, Intervention Study
  • Urban Youth Trauma Center
Lynda Gibson, PhD is a senior research associate at the Urban Youth Trauma Center. Dr. Gibson earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northeastern Illinois University and Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Child Psychology from Illinois Institute of Technology. Her research and clinical work focuses on risk and resiliency factors in African-American communities, barriers to treatment for minority families, early exposure to trauma and community violence, and use of family-based interventions. In addition to her work at UYTC, Dr. Gibson is a clinical trauma postdoctoral fellow in the University of Chicago Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics and Psychiatry.

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Rachel Wax BA

  • Senior Research Associate
Rachel Wax is the lead developer, trainer, and implementer of the Urban Youth Trauma Centers Youth Violence Prevention Engagement Curriculum (YVPE), a multi-tiered violence prevention program that applies evidence based practices to address the needs of communities impacted by violence, low socioeconomic status, and insufficient access to critical resources. The YVPE curriculum was developed to be facilitated in partnership with Law Enforcement to provide alternatives to traditional punishments for offending youth and to assist in the facilitation of connecting youth and families to resources through cross system collaborative efforts. YVPE has additionally been adapted for implementation in school-based settings. Ms. Wax is a Certified Forensic Interviewer and co-developer of the Adverse Childhood Critical Events and Safety Screener (ACCESS) and referral protocols.

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Jenna G Sims BS

  • Research Assistant

Jenna is a Research Assistant in the Urban Youth Trauma Center. She received her B.S. in Psychology from The University of Alabama. Jenna spent three years collaborating on research projects and completed her undergraduate thesis at the Center for Youth Development and Intervention in Tuscaloosa.

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Alvin D. Farmer

  • Psychiatry Volunteer
Alvin Farmer, PhD is an Associate Professor of Psychology, Gerontology and African/African-American Studies at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU). Dr. Farmer is a licensed clinical psychologist and has participated in STRONG Families program development, training and supervision of clinical interventions for urban youth and families within UYTC and the IJR Disruptive Behavior Clinic (DBC). His current research interests build upon my earlier research and clinical experiences by focusing on high-risk youth and the development of childhood psychopathology, more specifically disruptive behavior disorders.

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Yvonne Livingston

  • Psychiatry Volunteer
Yvonne Livingston is an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois Chicago, majoring in Psychology and Black Studies. Ms. Livingston participates in multidisciplinary team assessments and team discussion meetings where she is able to providing consultation to UYTC to support culturally appropriate community engagement activities. Her personal work focuses on supporting efforts to engage Black communities in culturally sensitive ways and engaging non-Black communities in self-reflective anti-racist work.

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Sarah (Shawnda) Ngonmedje

  • Undergraduate Research Assistant

Sarah Ngonmedje is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying Applied Psychology and Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently works as the tutor coordinator for Psi Chi ( International Honor Society of Psychology) at the University of Illinois at Chicago and as an undergraduate research assistant for the Urban Youth Trauma Center.

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Andrew Rylaarsdam

  • Medical Student Research Elective

Andrew Rylaarsdam is a 3rd year medical student at the Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is a National Health Services Corps Scholar, interested in improving access to evidence based mental health care in medically underserved areas.

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Brenda Castillejo

  • Undergraduate Research Assistant
Brenda Castillejo is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Illinois in Chicago studying Applied Psychology and Spanish. She is also part of the Honors College at the University of Illinois at Chicago researching trauma-informed interventions for Latinx/Hispanic Youth. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school for Clinical Psychology in hopes of working with Spanish-speaking children and their families in underserved communities.

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Mariam Agadjanova

  • Psychiatry Volunteer
Mariam Agadjanova is undergraduate senior student enrolled in Applied Psychology Program at UIC. Mariam is interested in comorbidities and suicide risk in mood disorders, prevention of trauma, substance abuse disorders, and role of music in mood regulation. After receiving her BA degree in 2020, Mariam plans to pursue graduate education in clinical psychology.

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Andy Sim

  • Psychiatry Volunteer
Andy Sim is a Volunteer working on a Bachelor’s in Applied Psychology. He attends at the University of Illinois at Chicago and will soon be conducting research and assistance in the same grounds. He is attending has last semester in order to graduate and will use what he learns through this volunteering at Urban Youth Trauma Center in order to progress further in his studies.

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Amir Chhatriwala

  • Psychiatry Volunteer
Amir Chhatriwala is an undergraduate senior working on his Applied Psychology Bachelor's Degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is involved in an internship with the Urban Youth Trauma center and is currently working on research that includes suicide ideation within college students. After graduation, he plans to pursue a graduate education in Clinical Psychology.

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Laura Perrone MA

  • Psychology Intern
Laura Perrone is a pre-doctoral psychology intern at the University of Illinois – Chicago and a doctoral candidate in the Clinical Psychology program at Stony Brook University. Her research and clinical work has focused on the impact of early adversity on children’s biopsychosocial well-being, the dissemination of evidence-based interventions among underserved children and families, and trauma-informed care.

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David Simpson PhD

  • Senior Research Associate
Dr. Simpson is the senior research associate for the Urban Youth Trauma Center (UYTC). He is a licensed doctoral social worker and brings considerable experience coordinating program evaluation activities, managing databases and performing statistical analyses. Dr. Simpson is responsible for leading and carrying out program development and evaluation efforts. Dr. Simpson will support successful implementation of project goals.

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