Site icon BRAIN Center Memphis

Our Team


The BRAIN Center, headquartered at the University of Memphis, is a transdisciplinary collaborative of clinicians and researchers who aim to advance evidence-based practice and policy through neuroscience-informed interventions in integrated mental and behavioral counseling services.

Dr. Eraina Schauss

Director / Founder

Dr. Schauss is an Associate Professor in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Memphis where she also serves as the Coordinator of the Clinical Mental Health Masters Degree Program. She holds a faculty appointment at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in the College of Medicine, Department of Genetics, Genomics and Informatics. Dr. Schauss specializes in the conceptualization, design and translation of mental health research into evidence based clinical practice with a focus on the neuroscience of resilience. She continues to research and train clinicians in the areas of resilience, child cognitive, behavioral, emotional and neurodevelopment, evidence-based clinical interventions and family systems therapy.

She holds a Bachelors degree from Boston College, dual Masters degrees in the field of Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy from University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics and Political Science, and, a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from George Washington University with a specialization in Child and Family Therapy. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mental Health Service Provider and Approved Clinical Supervisor in the State of Tennessee.

Clinical Team

Dr. Kiersten Hawes

Dr. Hawes is The BRAIN Center’s Clinical Director of Trauma Services for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital Trauma Center. Dr. Hawes is a recent graduate of the PhD Counselor Education and Supervision program in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Research at the University of Memphis. She earned a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Memphis. She received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Spelman College.

Dr. Hawes has clinical experience conducting individual, couples, group, and family therapy in community-based, university, and inpatient settings. She ascribes to a person-centered and family systems approach. In addition to clinical experience, she is passionate about building community awareness around stress, health, and emotional well-being. She helped develop a curriculum to educate the greater Memphis area on the long-term effects of emotional trauma and stress on childhood neurodevelopment and health.

Her clinical interests include multicultural and family systems counseling. Her research interests include the impact of adverse childhood experiences on neurodevelopment, attachment, resilience, and minority mental health and well-being.

Sydnie Allen

Sydnie is a third year doctoral candidate in Counselor Supervision and Education at The University of Memphis which is a CACREP-accredited institution.

Currently, she serves as a trauma mental health counselor and research assistant at the BRAIN Center in collaboration with Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. At Le Bonheur she provides universal screening for trauma patients, mental health interventions, and ongoing outpatient counseling sessions. She also serves as a peer mentor to intern level masters students and doctoral supervisor. 

She is passionate about empowering clients to take control of their lives and end cycles of generational trauma. She aims to meet her clients where they are with a compassionate approach that focuses on cultivating environments for holistic wellness. She enjoys being part of a diverse, collaborative team and utilizing a variety of skills to achieve the team’s goals.

Brian Ahern

Brian is a graduate assistant pursuing a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Memphis. He is a Trauma Mental Health Counseling Intern at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Brian also designs and maintains the BRAIN Center Memphis website and assists in the center’s research work. Brian’s academic and professional interests include trauma, substance abuse, family issues, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

Brian previously graduated with a Master’s degree in Professional Writing from the University of Memphis in 2011. After working for nine years as a technical writer, Brian found his true passion in the mental health field and returned to UofM to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. He is committed to helping others find more rich and purposeful lives through the power of therapy.

Lauren Boyd

Lauren Boyd is pursuing a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Memphis. She is a Trauma Mental Health Counseling Intern at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Lauren is also currently a graduate assistant with the Department of Leadership in Higher and Adult Education. In 2016, She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from The University of Memphis and studied International Relations at Al Akhawayn University while abroad in Ifrane, Morocco.

Lauren’s academic and professional interests include Native Hawaiian and other indigenous forms of healing, multicultural diversity and social justice, intergenerational and historical trauma, play therapy, art therapy, grief and loss, and government affairs and public policy advocacy as it relates to the counseling profession. After working as an English teacher, both abroad and in Memphis, for six years, Lauren found her passion for the mental health field. She is committed to learning how to better become a “container” for the “scary stuff” and help families heal.

Tiara Oringe

Tiara Oringe is a graduate student pursuing a Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Memphis. She is a Trauma Mental Health Counseling Intern at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Her academic interest lies in building awareness around stress, health, and well-being while addressing issues related to adverse childhood experiences, marginalized groups, grief and loss, geriatrics, eating disorders, college students and athletes, disability, and veteran and military services. Beyond her academic pursuits, Tiara also actively serves as the Membership and Alumni Chair of the Zappa Zeta Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota. Tiara thrives on being intentional and making an impact during her professional journey.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” — Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Research Team

Dr. Debra Bartelli

Debra Bartelli, DrPH, is a Research Associate Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Memphis School of Public Health. She received her MPH and her doctoral degree from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health with a concentration in Socio Medical Sciences.

Dr. Bartelli has extensive experience in community-based health research and evaluation of public health interventions. Her current research interests include health behavior and the neurobiology of self-regulation and use of neuroscience interventions to address health disparities.

Dr. Susan Elswick

Susan Elswick obtained her Master of Social Work at University of Tennessee in 2006 and her Doctor of Education in Instructional and Curriculum leadership with a specialty in Applied Behavior Analysis at the University of Memphis in 2011. Dr. Elswick served as a clinical assistant professor at the University Of Memphis Department of Social Work from 2012-2015. She served as assistant professor and BA Program Director from 2015-2019 at the University of Memphis Department of Social Work. She is currently an Associate Professor within the Social Work Department.

Dr. Susan Elswick has over 16 years of clinical mental health experience that includes community mental health, case management, residential programming, ABA-based programming, school-based programming, parent coaching, integrated behavioral health, infant mental health, and home-based services. Her research interests include the use of evidence-based behavioral interventions for addressing client’s needs, supporting schools in developing effective school-based mental health programs that are trauma-responsive, the use of expressive art therapies/ experiential therapies in the field of social work practice, and the use of informatics and technology in the field of social work.

Dr. Elswick is an LCSW in AR, MS, and TN, and she is a licensed school social worker in TN. She is a nationally certified CBITS, TFCBT, AutPlay, and EMDR clinician. She is endorsed in Infant Mental Health in the state of TN, is Certified as an Animal Assisted Interventionist, and she is also a Registered Play Therapist and Supervisor (RPT-S). She is also a national trainer and supervisor for a number of evidence-based modalities and trauma-based interventions. Dr. Elswick is the author of over twenty-five peer reviewed journal publications, two monographed books, and served as the editor for one book publication. She also has over thirty referred conference presentations, and she has received more than $1 million in internal and external grants to date.

Dr. Shemeka Hamlin-Parker

Shemeka Hamlin-Palmer is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Healthcare Leadership at the University of Memphis. Dr. Palmer’s professional development has been grounded in theories and methods found in the field of social and behavioral science. In addition to teaching, she has dedicated the past 17 years to working, partnering, and collaborating with CBOs, healthcare organizations and academic institutions to reduce the impact of health disparities, to include HIV/AIDS, mental health, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer in minority populations throughout the United States and abroad. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration and a Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Health Education, Promotion and Behavior Change from Jackson State University and a Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Health Sciences from the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Dr. Palmer has received rigorous trainings from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Council for Mental Wellbeing, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the MS State Department of Health and have implemented educational programs such as Sister to Sister, SiHLE, Nia, Community-Based HIV Testing and Outreach programs and services relative to sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Amr Mohamed

Amr Mohamed completed his doctorate degree in statistics under Dr. Kevin H. Lee at Western Michigan University, he also earned a certificate in biostatistics from the same university. Dr. Amr earned his master’s degree in Statistics from the University of Essex (Colchester, UK). He is currently an assistant professor of teaching in biostatistics in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Memphis.

Dr. Amr’s research interests are broadly focused on applied statistics and data analysis. His research interests include, but not limited to: high-dimensional statistical inference/analysis, statistical machine learning and data mining, variable selection, classification and clustering. His research applications are largely in the area of biostatistics and health sciences.

Dr. Amr has over a decade of experience in his field. Prior joining the college of Health Sciences, he taught at several universities including Western Michigan University, Miami Regional University, The National University of Singapore and The American University in Cairo.

Dr. Brandt Pence

Brandt Pence, PhD is an Associate Professor and the Director of Research for the University of Memphis College of Health Sciences. He received his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2012. At the University of Memphis he also serves as Nutrition unit coordinator and was awarded a University Research Professorship in 2021.

Dr. Pence’s research focuses on the contributions of aging to metabolic and immune system dysfunction. He is interested in how intrinsic changes to immune cell metabolism and mitochondrial function promote aging-related organ system changes and disease. He also has active research lines in how behavioral interventions such as exercise and nutrition impact immune system function. His research is funded by the NIH, and he has previously received funding from the American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine among others.

Dr. Michelle Stockton 


Michelle (Shelly) Stockton is an Associate Professor of Lifestyle Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Memphis College of Health Sciences. She received a Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology and a PhD in Educational Psychology and Research with an emphasis in research methodology and statistics. Dr. Stockton is engaged in a research agenda centered on the identification, prevention and reduction of health risks. Her research incorporates the design, implementation and treatment fidelity of community-based health behavior interventions/programs at specific and multiple socio-ecologic levels as well as identifying mediating and moderating variables that are intertwined in making successful health behavior changes. She also researches and trains undergraduate and graduate health science majors in health counseling/coaching.


Dr. Regan Williams

Dr. Regan Williams graduated Summa Cum Laude from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. After graduating with a double major in Biology and Chemistry, she went on to study medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, TN. Memphis became her home, and she completed her graduate education earning her medical degree, completing her general surgical residency at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and a fellowship in Pediatric Surgery at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Following her fellowship training, she accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and in 2019, she was promoted to Associate Professor of Surgery.

At Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Dr. Williams is the Medical Director of Trauma and the Associate Chief of Staff. She has completed a Master’s of Science degree in Epidemiology and her research efforts are focused on developing evidence-based guidelines for the treatment of pediatric trauma and surgical disease. She is board certified in general and pediatric surgery and has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles. Dr. Williams is active on the Emergency Preparedness Committee, Committee on Pediatric Emergency Care, Operative and Invasive Procedure Committee, Pediatric Research Collaborative, Peer Review Oversight Committee, and Advocacy Advisory Committee. She is Chair of the Senior Leadership Council, Chair of the Peer Review Oversight Committee, and on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Emergency Care Alliance. She is a Course Director and instructor for ATLS, as well.

In her role as Trauma Medical Director, Dr. Regan Williams remains active in her efforts to improve trauma care at a state and national level. She is deeply involved in the Stop the Bleed campaign, as well as local community outreach events, such as Community Walks Against Gun Violence. Dr. Williams’ goal is to decrease gun related injuries in children. She dedicates her time and resources to ensure optimal care for children across the state of Tennessee.

Dr. Yonghong Jade Xu

Dr. Yonghong Jade Xu is a Professor in Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research at the University of Memphis. Her expertise is in statistics, quantitative research methodology, survey design, and program evaluation. She teaches courses in statistics and survey design/analysis. Her primary research focuses on gender and racial disparities in STEM education and career success. Dr. Xu also serves as evaluator on the BRAIN Center Memphis team and other funded research projects.

Dr. Haley Zettler

Dr. Zettler is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of North Texas. She received her Ph.D. in Criminology from the University of Texas at Dallas, and also holds a B.A. in Criminology from the University of Oklahoma, and her M.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of North Texas. She is a former probation officer who worked as a supervision, presentence investigation, and court officer.

Her recent publications appear in Crime & Delinquency, Journal of Criminal Justice, Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, Criminal Justice Studies, and Criminal Justice Review. Her primary research interests include corrections, mental health and substance use, specialty courts, pretrial release, and recidivism.

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