Current Lab Members




Christian Meissner, Ph.D. - Faculty, Director of Research
curriculum vitae.

Dr. Meissner received his Ph.D. in Cognitive & Behavioral Science from Florida State University (2001).  In 2005, he joined the Legal Psychology and Criminal Justice Programs here at UTEP.  His research investigates the various cognitive and social psychological processes that underlie investigative interviewing and the gathering of human intelligence, including eyewitness testimony, detection of deception, and interrogations. 



Leonora M. Ortega - Program Manager

Leonora Martinez Ortega is the Program Manager for the Psychology Department.  In her role as Program Manager she is responsible for the administration of extramural awards to the Center for Law and Human Behavior (CLHB).    Leonora received her Bachelorís Degree in Multidisciplinary Studies from UTEP in 2006.  She has been a dedicated employee of the University since 2007.  Prior to accepting the current full-time position as Program Manager, she served as the Business Manager for the Office of the Vice President for Business Affairs. 



Kate Houston, Ph.D - Research Assistant Professor
Website: Kate Houston

Dr. Houston has recently completed her PhD in Experimental Psychology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, UK.  Kate is currently working in the Investigative Interviewing Laboratory on FBI funded research examining interviews and interrogations.  Kate's other research interests include the relationship between emotion and memory performance and factors which may improve or impair an individual's ability to recognize a face (such as exposure duration and familiarity with the target individual).



Stephen Michael - Graduate Research Assistant

Stephen received his B.A. from Elon University (2008) in North Carolina, and his M.A. from the University of Texas at El Paso (2010). He is currently a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in the Experimental Psychology program, working under Dr. Christian Meissner.  He has taught five psychology courses including: Introduction to Psychology (twice), Statistical Methods, Social Psychology, and Psychology and the Law, as well as a GRE preparation course for the University.  His research looks at psychological processes that underlie issues in the legal system.  His primary line of research examines how various cognitive and social processes influence lying and the ability to detect lies.  He will graduate with his Ph.D. in May of 2013 and plans on working at a college or university with a focus on teaching and undergraduate research. 




Julie Labianca- Graduate Research Assistant

Julie received her B.S. in Psychology from Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina. She is currently a first year graduate student at the University of Texas at El Paso and is working under Dr. Christian Meissner in the Investigative Interviewing Research Laboratory. Her research interests focus on interrogations and investigative interviewing, deception detection, jury decision making, and legal applications of the fundamental attribution error. 





Amy Ross - Graduate Research Assistant

Amy Ross graduated from the University of Michigan (2009) with a B.A. in biopsychology. She is a first year Ph.D. student working on her first year project which is looking at different interrogation methods. She is interested in the field of military (HUMINT) interrogations and exploring the role an interpreter plays in an interrogation.




Skye Woestehoff - Graduate Research Assistant

Skye graduated from the University of Northern Colorado (2010) with a B.A. in Psychology. Her research interests include false confessions, identifying diagnostic interrogation techniques, and jurorsí perceptions of evidence and interrogations. She is currently investigating a method to shift the disbelief in false confessions. She is also examining how jurors weight incriminating and exculpatory evidence.


Lab Members

Kyle Susa, PhD                                                                                                          

Dr. Susa completed his post-doctoral fellowship at UTEP in Fall 2011 and is now working as an applied research scientist in the area of Psychology and Law.


Jacqueline Evans, Ph.D.

Dr Evans completed her post-doctoral fellowship at UTEP in Summer 2011 and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Counseling at the University of Texas at Tyler. 


Allyson Horgan, Ph.D..

Dr. Horgan graduated from UTEP in 2011 and is currently a Research Scientist at MRAC LLC in Cambridge, MA.


Jessica Marcon, PhD

Dr. Marcon graduated from UTEP in 2009, and is currently a Staff Cognitive Scientist I/Experimental Psychologist at Applied Research Associates, Inc./Klein Associates Division. KAD studies human performance and decision-making in high stakes work domains and designs products to support cognitive work in high hazard settings.    


Justin Albrechtsen, Ph.D. - MITRE, McLean Virginia.

Dr. Albrechtsen graduated in May 2010.  While at UTEP his research focused on the interplay between investigative interviewing and deception detection.  Currently, he is an applied psychologist at MITRE, a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) in McLean, Virginia.  His current projects focus primarily on cyber security.


Ryann Haw, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Big Bend Comm. College

Ryann completed her Ph.D. in Legal Psychology in 2005 at Florida International University.  She currently teaches Psychology and Criminal Justice courses at Big Bend Community College in Washington.  She continues to conduct research on eyewitness memory.


Tara Mitchell, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Lock Haven Univ.

Tara completed her Ph.D. in Legal Psychology in 2005 at Florida International University.  She is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania.  Her dissertation was awarded the 2005 American Psychology-Law Society Dissertation Award (1st Place)!  She continues to conduct research on race and social perception in the legal system and eyewitness memory.


Fadia Narchet, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Univ. of New Haven

Fadia completed her Ph.D. in Legal Psychology in 2005 at Florida International University.  She is currently an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of New Haven in Connecticut.  While at FIU, Fadia was funded from a Predoctoral Fellowship (4 years) from the National Institute of General Medical Science for her research on Hostile and Benevolent Prejudice: A Perspective on Racism.  Her research interests continue to include social conceptions of racial identity and prejudice, and the psychology of interrogations and confessions.


Melissa Russano, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Roger Williams Univ.


Maria Shpurik, Ph.D. - Office of Evaluation Research for Miami-Dade Public Schools





Investigative Interviewing Research Laboratory
Eyewitness Memory  *  Detecting Deception  *  Interrogations & Confessions

Experimental Stimuli