Research Associates 2021–2022
Dr. Erin Smith
Erin I. Smith, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychology and the director of research for the Center for the Study of Human Behavior (CSHB). Her Ph.D. (University of California Riverside) is in Developmental Psychology, where she studied the development of religious and scientific cognition. Her current research interests focus on the psychological and cultural influences on the science/religion dialogue and the distinct role of church in children’s development, especially for children who have experienced adverse life experiences.
Russ Bermejo, MSW, currently serves as a lecturer at California Baptist University. He is also currently a Senior Training and Technical Specialist with ICF International, which is a global consulting and technology services company based in Fairfax, Virginia. Prior to these positions, Mr. Bermejo provided consultation to counties and states to improve outcomes for children and families affected by substance use disorders and child maltreatment. Mr. Bermejo has also served in the Philippines as an Aftercare Fellow for International Justice Mission, where he worked on collaborative aftercare projects focused on rescue and protection, and reintegration, economic self-sufficiency of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation. His research interests include the exploration of how cross-systems collaboration can improve outcomes for children of families involved in the child welfare system.
Professor Phil Breitenbucher has over 20 years of progressively responsible experience in the management of public child welfare and community-based prevention services. He was formerly a program director with the National Center on Substance Use and Child Welfare where he directed the Children Affected by Methamphetamine program and authored numerous papers and trained nationally on evidenced-based practices. Additionally, Professor Breitenbucher provides direct consultation to states and counties to achieve organizational changes and practice improvements in child welfare. Phil received his Master of Social Work from California State University, San Bernardino, his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from California Baptist University and his certificate in addiction and recovery from Light University.
Dr. Lizbeth Gaona
Dr. Lizbeth Gaona is an assistant professor of behavioral sciences. She has extensive experience working as clinical consultant and clinical supervisor in community mental health programs primarily with adults diagnosed with a serious mental illness. While working as a clinician at Harbor UCLA Medical Center Dr. Gaona earned clinical certifications in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Prolonged Exposure Therapy. Along with her colleagues Dr. Gaona founded the first DBT Spanish adherent program within Los Angeles County in 2007. Dr. Gaona also participated in dissemination and implementation efforts of adherent cognitive behavior therapy in a collaborative project between the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and the Association of Cognitive and Behavior Therapy (A-CBT) and continues to serve as a dialectical behavior therapy program consultant for Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. In addition, Dr. Gaona is the chair of the Diversity Action Committee of the Association of Cognitive and Behavior Therapy (A-CBT), a non-profit organization which she also serves as a board member for. Some of Dr. Gaona’s research interests include outcomes related to cultural adaptation of evidenced based practices for underserved and diverse populations, religion and trauma.
Dr. Jong Cheon Lee
Dr. Jong Cheon Lee is an associate professor of psychology as well as a licensed professional counselor. He has worked with individuals, couples, and families in various counseling settings, including church-based counseling ministries, private practice, and counseling agencies. As an ordained minister, he has served single young adults, couples, and families at church. His research interests are integrating Christianity and psychology, healthy marriage and family relationships, and sexual addiction.
Dr. Sophia Mun
Dr. Sophia Mun is an assistant professor of behavioral sciences. Her Ph.D. (University of Southern California) is in gerontology and she is a licensed clinical psychologist in South Korea. Her current research interests focus on the Integration of Christianity and psychology.
Dr. Soung Hwa (Sounghwa) Walker
Dr. Walker received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology (focusing on quantitative methodology) from the University of California, Riverside. Her research activities include investigating psychometric properties and measurement invariance of survey instruments, which has led to conference presentations at various national conferences and published articles in peer-reviewed journals. She develops pedagogical models to identify factors that could help to improve engagement, emotional health, and school success, especially among underprivileged minority children and adolescents. Dr. Walker has been teaching statistics and research method classes at California Baptist University since 2018 where she enjoys making a positive contribution to students’ spiritual growth, research skills, and academic achievement.