Meet our UH*sparc Alumni


Kerri Nowell, PhD

I am currently an Assistant Clinical Professor at The Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at Mizzou.  I obtained my undergraduate degree from UT Arlington and a Master’s in Psychology from Sam Houston State.  After working in the public school system for several years, and prior to beginning my doctoral training, I had the opportunity to work as a site-supervisor for the Simon’s Simplex Collection (SSC) at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine.  While at UH, I completed rotations at several sites around the Houston area, including MHMRA (now The Harris Center); Baylor College of Medicine/TCH - Disruptive Behavior Disorders Clinic, and Baylor College of Medicine/TCH - Department of Molecular and Human Genetics: Simons VIP. I completed my pre-doctoral internship at the Munroe Meyer Institute - Center for Autism Disorder: Pediatric Feeding Disorders and Severe Behavior clinics. My research interests are varied and include behavioral phenotyping in ASD; the impact of multicultural factors on the identification and treatment of ASD; and dissemination of evidence based practices related to ASD.  My experience at UH and with the *sparc team has been invaluable!  I'm happy to answer any questions:

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Natalie Raff, PhD

I graduated the program in the summer of 2017 and am currently completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I also completed my internship at Nationwide Children’s within the Autism Treatment track. My dissertation focused on factors predicting parenting stress among parents of adolescents with ASD. While at UH I participated in a number of research projects and presentations and assisted with designing and facilitating a training series to help community mental health clinicians better serve clients with ASD.  My email address is

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Rachel Fein, PhD

I currently work as an Assistant Professor/Pediatric Psychologist at the Autism Center at Texas Children's Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine (TCH/BCM). My clinical and research interests broadly surround the areas of autism spectrum disorder, disruptive behavior disorders, parent management training, disorders of sexual differentiation, and helping children with chronic health conditions return to school. While in the program at UH, Dr. Sarah Mire served as my advisor and the chair of my dissertation committee. As part of my dissertation, I investigated the influence of child and parent factors on the parenting behaviors of mothers and fathers of children with ASD. Additionally, I served as a research assistant in Dr. Mire's lab and was involved in a variety of projects including gender disproportionality and special education, vaccine uptake in children with ASD, as well as parenting stress and behavioral treatment for children with ASD. My participation in various research projects has afforded me the opportunity to publish manuscripts as well as present at state and national conferences. In addition to my research experiences at UH, I gained diverse clinical experiences through my graduate assistantship with the Autism Clinic at DePelchin Children's Center, my research assistantship through the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities as well my practicum rotations. I completed rotations at the University of Texas Health Science Center, the Disruptive Behavior Disorders clinic at Texas Children's Hospital and Katy Independent School District. I completed my APA-approved pre-doctoral pediatric/clinical psychology internship at TCH/BCM and graduated from the PhD program in August 2017. Following internship, I completed a one-year post-doctoral pediatric/clinical psychology fellowship at TCH/BCM. If I could offer any advice to current or prospective students, I would encourage you to take initiative, network, collaborate, and say yes to any clinical and research opportunities that are available to you. If you are a prospective or current student, please feel free to email me with any questions! 

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Christie Brewton, PhD

I have been with *sparc since it first started, really before *sparc was the official name! :) Currently, I am about to start private practice with a psychology group in the Montrose area. I completed my post-doctoral fellow at TRIAD Preventative Services and my pre-doctoral internship at the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. My undergraduate training in psychology was also at UH (GO COOGS!). Following completion of my undergraduate degree, I worked for three years full-time at Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine on a nationwide autism research study called the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC). While in graduate school, I completed practicums with Katy ISD, The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (in the Autism and IDD Services Department), the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, and the Harris County Psychiatric Center. As a *sparc team member, I worked on various poster presentations, publications, and was first author on a section of an APA symposium, which was presented in 2014 with numerous other *sparc team members. I collected my dissertation data as part of a *sparc initiative and my project was titled "Parental Perceptions of the Cause of Their Child's Autism Spectrum Disorder: Influence on Treatment". Being a member of *sparc really was a fantastic experience. I felt as if I was working as a member of a functional team that provided ample research opportunities and the ability to work alongside peers and mentors who were also passionate about research and the research process. I hope you enjoy your time with *sparc and find it to be a worthwhile and memorable experience as I did! Email me if you have any questions at

Whitney Gealy, PhD

I graduated from the UH School Psychology Program in 2017. I completed my postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and my predoctoral internship at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami in the Autism/Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Track. While at UH, my candidacy project was entitled "Exploring Parent and Child Variables Affecting Emotional and Behavioral Functioning of Younger Siblings of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder," and my dissertation was entitled "Student Satisfaction with Training in Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychology Programs: Factors Predicting Student Outcomes." I am primarily interested in early identification and intervention for neurodevelopmental disorders, parent training, and systemic impacts of ASD within families. Feel free to contact me with questions: