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Team Director

Desiree W. Murray, PhD | CV

Desiree W. Murray, PhD is a Senior Research Scientist at UNC’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and a Research Associate Professor in the School of Education and Department of Psychiatry. She has over two decades of experience in school mental health research, primarily developing, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based programs to prevent social-emotional and behavioral difficulties in children and youth. Her work has been supported by over 12 million dollars in federal funding from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the National Institute of Health (NIH). As part of her work with the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) at ACF, she led development of a co-regulation model by which caring adults can support youth in developing self-regulation and other competencies, a framework that is informing national programs and practices for youth-serving agencies. Dr. Murray’s more recent work has integrated ecological momentary assessment to further understand youth’s emotional wellbeing and coping strategies in the context of stress.

Dr. Murray is also a licensed clinical psychologist who regularly provides trainings in social-emotional programs for educators who serve children and youth. With UNC colleagues, she developed Be CALM, a universal program for secondary students that teaches mindfulness-based social-emotional skills and has shown promising effects in two studies. Prior to joining UNC in 2014, she served as the Associate Director of the Duke ADHD Program. In her free time, Dr. Murray enjoys reading and doing yoga and is an avid swimmer.

Research Staff

McKenna Roudebush – Graduate Research Assistant

McKenna is a second-year graduate student pursuing her Master of Public Health degree in Health Behavior at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health. She has previously worked on projects related to youth mental health and wellbeing as a research assistant with the Be CALM Connections program. Her other research centers on substance use, particularly reducing alcohol-related harms through interventions and policy change. In her free time, McKenna enjoys reading, hiking, and showing people pictures of her pet pig.

Daniel Soki – Data Manager

Daniel is a first-year graduate student pursuing his Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Currently he is working in public health at a local health department. He is interested in gaining research experience, particularly when it comes to conducting statistical methodological research, and applying appropriate statistical methods to address the ever-present public health threats to our society. Hobbies include running, watching movies, and reading.

Elis Matos – Project Manager

Elis is a current third-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Education in School Psychology with a Bilingual Specialization. Elis obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Queens College, the City University of New York in 2016. Elis has worked as a research assistant at Columbia University, in a study involving the life and health development of the Puerto Rican population in the US and Puerto Rico. Elis previously worked as a Project Assistant at the Center For Early Childhood Health and Development (CECHD) at NYU Langone on a study involving children, families, and teachers to promote children’s success in the schools. Similarly, Elis has also been part of a study of adolescents’ well-being and mental health. Elis has worked with a multiculturally diverse population across different age groups and is interested in the promotion and development of mental health and educational success in minority communities. Elis is interested in working as a bilingual school psychologist and might consider pursuing a Ph.D. in Community Psychology sometime in the future. Elis spends her free time cooking, spending time with her pets, learning arts and crafts activities, learning different dancing styles, and attending anime conventions.

Hannah Netschytailo – Research Assistant

Hannah is a research assistant with the UPSIDE Team. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies and Psychology with highest honors. Hannah is interested in how childhood adversity impacts future behavior and how various factors can promote resilience. She plans to apply to clinical psychology Ph.D. programs in hopes of furthering her studies and helping those who have experienced adversity and trauma. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with friends and trying new foods.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Priya Patel

Priya is a 4th-year undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Mathematics major on the Pre-Medicine track. She is interested in gaining more research experience and learning new skills. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, dancing, and trying new things.

Amy Webster

Amy is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is majoring in Health Policy and Management within the Gillings School of Global Public Health with a minor in biology. Amy is interested in gaining more research experience and learning more about community and behavioral health. In her free time, she enjoys playing sports, cooking, and spending time with friends.