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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.

Dr. Pamela Cogdal

Pamela Cogdal, Ph.D., LCP – HSP, ACS is the Director of Counseling Programs and Clinical Coordinator of Practicum & Internship in the Department of Counseling Educational psychology & Research at the University of Memphis. Dr. Cogdal is also an Associate Clinical Professor in the Counseling program.

Dr. Cogdal graduated from Southern Illinois University’s Counselor Education program in 1989. Dr. Cogdal has worked at the University of Memphis since then and has taught in both the counseling and counseling psychology programs and served as the Coordinator for Psychological Assessment in the Center for Rehabilitation and Employment Research (2002 – 2004). Dr. Cogdal is a licensed psychologist and previous to her academic post, Dr. Cogdal served for nine years as the Director and chief psychologist for the Center for Student Development (now the Counseling Center) which is an APA accredited training program at the University of Memphis.

Dr. Cogdal currently pursues research in the areas of career and work-life balance, trauma, practice outcomes, and suicide prevention. During her career Dr. Cogdal has contributed to over 90 national presentations and has published in areas related to career, counselor training, diversity, needs assessments, trauma, resilience and coping. Pam was the Co-director of a SAMHSA suicide prevention grant (Memphis STEPS 2006 – 2014) which totaled $500,000 and has served on editorial boards for referred journals and as a consultant for university and community agencies throughout the Mid-South. Recently Dr. Cogdal was the Counselor Educator of the year for both the West Tennessee Counseling Association and the Tennessee School Counseling Association. She also serves as the faculty advisor to the Kappa Zeta Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota.

Sydnie Roberts

Sydnie Roberts is a first-year Counselor Education and Supervision Doctoral Student and a Trauma Mental Health Counselor at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital. She graduated with her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from The University of Memphis in August 2021. In 2018, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Psychology and Philosophy from The University of Memphis.

Sydnie previously served as a master’s level intern at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital and has experience with Veteran and Military connected students, integrated behavioral health settings, and suicide prevention and intervention.

Becky Davis

Becky Davis is earning her master’s degree as Clinical Mental Health counselor. She graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Becky enjoys working with children in a clinical setting, supporting their emotional health and healing. Becky is the mother of two daughters ages 6 and 10. She is a personal trainer and yoga instructor. Her background in athletics and training inform her counseling approach and style. Becky enjoys gardening and traveling in her free time.

Olivia Vires

Olivia Vires is an intern at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital who is studying in the Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at the University of Memphis. Olivia will graduate in December 2022. She previously earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) from the University of Memphis in December 2020.

Olivia is trained and certified in Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT) as well as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). She is also a trained and certified Registered Behavior Technician (RBT).

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. Melanie Burgess

Dr. Melanie Burgess is an Assistant Professor of Counseling and the Co-Coordinator of the Counselor Education and Supervision PhD Program in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Research at the University of Memphis. She earned her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision and M.S.Ed. in Counseling with a concentration in School Counseling from Old Dominion University. Dr. Burgess has experience working with a diverse PK-12 students, including those in Title-I schools, military-affiliated students, international students, and students with disabilities.

Her research interests include School Counselor preparation and clinical supervision, data-driven, evidence-based practices with pediatric populations, and instrument creation and validation. She has presented at state and national conferences, published qualitative and quantitative articles in peer-reviewed journals, and authored textbook chapters. Dr. Burgess has been an active member of professional counseling associations, including the American Counseling Association (ACA), Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), American School Counselor Association (ASCA), Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling (ACAC), Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling (AARC), and Chi Sigma Iota (CSI). She previously served as an Editorial Board Fellow for Counselor Education & Supervision, and presently serves as Guest Associate Editor for the Journal of Human Services, Co-Chair of the ACAC Research Grant Committee, and Co-Chair of the ACES School Counselor Interest Network Supervision Committee.

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. Kathryn Howell

Kathryn Howell, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the
University of Memphis. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Michigan Clinical Psychology program and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Howell has extensively studied interventions for women and children who have experienced violence and other adversities, including the examination of risk and resilience pathways. Her research on resilience examines individual, relational, and community factors contributing to adaptive functioning. She currently serves as Associate Editor for the APA journal, Psychology of Violence, and she is a licensed clinical psychologist with health service provider designation in the state of Tennessee.

Dr. Chi Li

Dr. Chi Li graduated with her Doctorate in Counseling from Old Dominion University in 2019. She is currently an Assistant Professor of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at the University of Memphis in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research. Dr. Li is a National Certified Counselor (NCC), and her clinical experience is primarily within Integrated Behavioral Healthcare (IBH) settings.

Dr. Li’s primary research interests include clinical supervision, measurement development in counseling and supervision, and integrated behavioral healthcare. She received several research grants from both regional and state counseling associations. She is currently an Ad Hoc reviewer for the Counselor Education and Supervision (CES), the flagship journal of Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), and reviewer for Counseling Outcome Research and Evaluation (CORE). She is also the co-chair of the Supervision Interest Network (SIN) of the ACES. Also, she has been a good standing member of different professional counseling associations such as the American Counseling Association (ACA), Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), and Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling (AARC).

Dr. Steven West

Steven L. West, Ph.D., CRC is Professor and Chair of the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research at the University of Memphis. Dr. West joined the faculty of CEPR in August 2016 after a 15-year career with the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. During his time at VCU, he spent nine years in the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling and six years in the Center for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering.

Dr. West is Immediate-Past President of the Board of the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification, the national certifying organization for professional rehabilitation counselors. As an advocate for persons with disabilities, he served for five years as a member of the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services’ Human Research Review Committee.

He is a leading scholar on substance abuse treatment access for persons with disabilities (PWDs). Along with colleagues at Virginia Commonwealth University, he pioneered the self-report assessment of the impact of access barriers on substance abuse treatment and was the first to demonstrate that access barriers lead to service denials to PWDs. Dr. West continues to conduct research on access to care, and also pursues research in the areas of military and veteran health, moral injuries, and traumatic brain injuries.

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. 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.

Mitch Clayton

Mitch Clayton is a second-year medical student at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from The University of Alabama in 2018. After graduating with his degree in Chemical Engineering, Mitch went on to complete his MBA in 2019.

Mitch’s primary research interests include integrating mental and physical healthcare as well as improving the patient’s medical experience. He previously participated in polymer chemistry research with the aim of improving chemotherapy delivery systems. He plans to use his and others’ research findings to better serve his patients throughout his career.

Brian Ahern

Brian is a graduate assistant pursuing a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Memphis. He designs and maintains The BRAIN Center 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 on his journey to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. He is committed to helping others find more rich and purposeful lives through the power of therapy.

Jihan Rashed

Jihan (Gigi) Rashed is currently a student in the University of Memphis Clinical Mental Health Counseling master’s program and is thrilled to join the BRAIN Center team as a research assistant. Gigi graduated summa cum laude from the University of Arkansas with a degree in Psychology where she also completed the pre-medical curriculum. She conducted research in the Law and Memory Processes (LAMP) lab on studies related to Prospective Person Memory (PPM) and vigilance and also served as a teaching assistant for abnormal psychology and general psychology classes. Gigi was awarded a Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) and an Office of Nationally Competitive Awards (ONCA) grant for her research and is a recipient of the University of Arkansas Boles-Vaulx Scholarship for high academics and merits.

Having long held a fascination with neuroscience, Gigi has participated in many volunteer and shadowing opportunities in the neuroscience and neuropsychology communities in recent years. She has also enjoyed working as a tutor to children with learning disabilities. The opportunity to work on the research team at the BRAIN Center enables her to indulge her passions for counseling, psychology and neuroscience to support children and contribute to the Center’s work on furthering the integrative research that helps advance evidence-based clinical practices.

Jean Black

Jean is a student in the Counselor Education and Supervision Ph.D. program. She is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in Arkansas and a National Certified Counselor. Jean currently works as a Mental Health Therapist predominantly serving children and adolescents in the state of Arkansas. In her free time, she enjoys nature and spending time with family and friends.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a moment to improve the world”
– Anne Frank

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