About Us

Transitions is a project of the University of California, Berkeley. It is a collaboration between the Research Group on Adolescence (led by Dr. Ron Dahl), Common Sense Education and Innova Schools in Peru and Mexico. Our goal is to design, implement and evaluate school programs to encourage the responsible and positive use of digital media and the development of social-emotional skills.

DR. RON DAHL , Director of the Institute for Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Ron Dahl is the director of the Institute for Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley where he is a Professor in the School of Public Health and the Joint Program of Medicine. He is a pediatrician and developmental specialist. Over the years, his research has focused on the development of sleep and wake regulation, affect regulation, and the development of behavioral and emotional problems in childhood and adolescence. Currently, his work focuses on adolescence as a period of development and a unique opportunity for intervention for the prevention of behavior and health problems. His research is interdisciplinary and seeks to link basic and applied research in social and affective neuroscience issues to have an impact in the educational, clinical and public policy spheres. Dr. Dahl has published extensively on child and adolescent development, sleep disorders, children’s emotional and behavioral health, adolescent brain development, and the policy implications of his work. In recognition of his career, he was elected as a member of various scientific societies: the Association for Psychological Science, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the New York Academy of Sciences. of Sciences) and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He is founding editor of the leading journal in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and was president of the Society for Research in Child Development.

DR. LUCÍA MAGIS WEINBERG, Project Leader

Dr. Lucía Magis Weinberg is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley. She investigates how technology is transforming adolescence in Latin America, and designs educational programs to foster the development of digital citizenship and socio-emotional skills. Dr. Magis Weinberg trained as a doctor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where she also made a specialization in Applied Statistics. She later moved to the UK as a Conacyt Fellow, and completed her Masters and PhD in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, focusing on adolescent neurodevelopment. In graduate school she investigated how different contexts (the presence of peers or the possibility of obtaining rewards) influence adolescents’ ability to regulate their thoughts and behavior, using psychological and neuroimaging experiments. In the educational field, Dr. Magis Weinberg has extensive experience as a tutor and mentor of low-income secondary school students, and has worked with various organizations that seek to promote access to higher education and in particular in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (The Brilliant Club, in2scienceUK, Clubes de Ciencia México y Mujeres en STEM, Futuras Líderes, from the US-México Foundation). She is the Executive Editor and co-founder of Neuroméxico, the leading science outreach site in Latin America. She is currently a Candidate for the Conacyt National System of Researchers.

Team at UC Berkeley

CHRISTOPHER GYS, Laboratory Manager and Research Assistant

Christopher Gys is a first year student in the UC Berkeley post-baccalaureate program and our current lab manager. He received a BA in Hispanic Studies from Bowdoin College. For the next two years, he worked as an English teacher in Ishikawa, Japan. He is interested in the influences of technology, age, and culture on social-emotional development in adolescents, and hopes to better understand the relationship between digital media use and well-being.

ESTELLE BERGER, Researcher

Estelle Berger is a former lab manager for the Adolescent Research Collaboration at the University of California, Berkeley. She graduated from Brown University with a BA in 2016, where she majored in Urban Studies. After working in various industries, she completed the Psychology Graduate Program at UC Berkeley in December 2019. During his time at Berkeley, she has committed to studying adolescent development and the connections between the use of digital media, the social context and mental health. She is currently doing her doctoral studies in clinical psychology at the University of Oregon.

DANIELA MUÑOZ LOPEZ, Research Assistant

Daniela Muñoz Lopez is a fourth year student at UC Berkeley, where she specializes in Psychology and has a specialization in Early Development and Learning Sciences. Daniela is interested in understanding mental illness, specifically how the use of social media could be a potential risk factor for the onset of depression. She is also interested in studying the possible relationship between impulsive risks and reinforcement learning. Through this project, she Daniela hopes to better understand how social networks and the use of technology can affect adolescents in order to have more understanding on the subject.

KARINA VALDESPINO, Research Assistant

Karina Valdespino received her BA in Integrative Biology, specialization in Human Biology with a minor in Early Development and Learning Sciences. In addition to her involvement in this project, her career goals ultimately consist of obtaining an MD, with an interest in health justice and anti-racism in medicine. Karina is interested in understanding the possible relationship between intensity and frequency of use of social networks with the onset of anxiety in adolescents. Through her participation in this project, Karina hopes to understand the potential impacts of social media and technology use on adolescents and the additional implications for their well-being.

ELIZABETH SHERWIN, Research Assistant

Elizabeth Sherwin is a graduate student at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.
She is currently completing the Master of Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology / Biostatistics. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health and Spanish from the University of Santa Clara. Before the
Master’s degree, Elizabeth worked one year with Maya Health Alliance in Tecpán, Guatemala, and three years as
Clinical Research Coordinator in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Stanford. Elizabeth is
interested in studying epidemiology through life cycles; with a focus on adolescence already
which is a critical period in human development. She enjoys analyzing scientific information and has
a passion for communicating results to research participants and the public in
general.

ALEXA (ALLY) ZIMBALIST, Research Assistant

Alexa (Ally) Zimbalist is a second-year Master of Science (MS) student in Epidemiology at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. She received her degree in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014. Her research interests include maternal health and adolescent mental health. She is interested in exploring the connection between technology, adolescent anxiety and depression, and various social determinants of health. Before returning to Berkeley for her graduate studies, Ally worked as a paralegal at the Sierra Club, helping lawyers shut down coal plants in the United States, and as a political organizer in congressional campaigns. In her spare time, Ally can be found playing soccer, taking modern dance classes, and trying to learn to knit.

JOSH LESKAR, Research Assistant

Josh Leskar is a former digital marketer looking to transition into the world of psychology to study emotional intelligence and empathy in male adolescents. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan, after which he has worked in non-profit organizations and startups in the education and finance industries.

Team in Lima, Peru

CAMILA QUISPE MARTIJENA, Research Assistant

Clinical psychologist from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Currently, she is pursuing a second specialization in clinical psychoanalysis. Clinical experience in evaluation and psychological counseling individually and in groups to adults in a psychiatric hospital. She is also working for a non-profit organization that focuses on psychological care for children from low-income educational institutions. Interest in mental health and in knowing how technology can have an impact on the psychological and social sphere of people. As a result of this project, she has been able to know how important social networks are in adolescents and how relevant it is to raise awareness about the regulation of their use and become aware of having a more responsible use.

MARCELA DAMONTE, Research Assistant

Marcela Damonte has a BA in Linguistics and Literature from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP). She is currently working on her undergraduate thesis on acquiring an aspect of Spanish syntax in children aged 4 to 6 years. She also works as a teaching and research assistant at PUCP. She is interested in the linguistic, psychological and educational development of children and adolescents. While working for this project, Marcela discovered that within her interests are the development, translation, and adaptation of educational materials. She plans to do her graduate studies in educational psychology.

STEFANNY IBARRA, Research Assistant

Stefanny Ibarra has a degree in Linguistics from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM), and is currently doing a Master’s degree in Linguistics at PUCP. She has worked on various linguistic and applied linguistics research projects during her undergraduate and graduate years of study. This project is of special interest, since it is closely related to her Bachelor thesis in which she addressed the relationship between the level of syntactic complexity and how the use of social networks could affect the development of the writing of the teenagers. Her areas of interest are the acquisition of mother tongues and second languages, neurolinguistics, computational linguistics related to the acquisition and systematization of languages, and the correlation between the use of technology and language.