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Student Scholars 2013-2014

USC Gould School of Law
The Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics supports wide-ranging research by the Saks Institute Student Scholars. The institute educates these future legal, medical and public policy leaders to employ cutting-edge research methodology and to serve the larger cause of social justice. The Scholars conduct research on the institute's topic of the year and present work that is published in academic journals. To date, 25 student papers have been published in three journals.

Lucas Botello

Lucas Botello is a second-year law student at USC Gould School of Law. He earned a B.A. in public policy with a concentration in health at Stanford University. Before coming to USC, he was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs in San Francisco. He has worked on a number of political campaigns and was an Obama political appointee in the Department of Justice's Office of Legislative Affairs. This past summer, he was a law clerk at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office in Compton, California. As a Saks Scholar, he looks forward to researching how colleges and universities can better identify and support students with mental illnesses.

Sam Brown

Sam Brown is a second-year law student at USC Gould School of Law. In addition to serving as Peer Tutor and a Saks Scholar, he is currently a Law Clerk with the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office. He attended UCLA where he majored in English. After graduating in 2007, he pursued his creative ambitions and composed a fiction manuscript centered on a protagonist struggling with mental illness. Brown has a strong interest in beginning his legal career as a public defender. In the field of mental health, he is interested in focusing on the legal reform necessary to break the stigma associated with mental illness.

Paul Garcia

Paul Garcia is a third-year law student at USC Gould School of Law. He received his B.A. in political science at the University of San Diego. Prior to law school, Garcia mentored repeat juvenile offenders in a jail diversion program based in Kapolei, Hawaii. In this capacity he gained substantial real-world insight into the intersection of behavior health and the juvenile criminal justice system. At USC law, Garcia serves as the Executive Notes Editor of the Southern California Law Review, where he administers the "Write-On Competition" and oversees the note-writing process. His note on California's Mental Health Parity Act will be published in 2014. As a Saks Scholar, Paul looks forward to finding ways to improve mental health services at universities.

Ryan Kast

Ryan Kast is a student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP), pursuing his Ph.D. at USC. He earned his B.A. in biology from the University of San Diego in 2010, and began his studies at USC the following year. His current work focuses on the neurobiology and genetics of the developing brain with an emphasis on processes implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders. Kast is interested in the biological underpinnings of psychiatric illness and the policies governing the treatment and care of patients suffering from mental disorders. He brings a neuroscience perspective to the Saks Institute and hopes to gain a greater understanding of how current practices driven by law and public policy promote or encumber the mental health of individuals battling mental illness.

Kelsey McGregor Perry

Kelsey McGregor Perry is a second-year law student at USC Gould School of Law. Before coming to law school she studied Public Health and International Development for her bachelor's degree, and received her master's degree in Public Health. During graduate school she completed a fieldwork at the World Health Organization, in Geneva, Switzerland, where she studied the effect of social determinants on human trafficking in Southeast Asia. After her first year of law school, Perry spent her summer in Vienna, Austria, at the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime where she analyzed policy and case law for the 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. This year, Perry is on the board of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, the Women's Law Association, and is a member of the International Human Rights Clinic. She is especially excited to continue her Public Health work through her involvement in the Saks Institute.

Chris Ramos

Chris Ramos is a third-year student at USC Gould School of Law and an editor of the Hale Moot Court honors program. He is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine, where he majored in philosophy. Before coming to USC, Ramos worked for several years at a boutique Los Angeles area criminal defense law firm. He is particularly interested in issues of tort liability surrounding universities' treatment of students with mental illness.

Nick Shapiro

Nick Shapiro has worked with theoretical and applied psychology for several years. While working towards his B.A. in psychology from California State University at Northridge, Shapiro contributed to novel research that was presented internationally. After graduation, he was hired as research coordinator for GameDesk, an educational think-tank designing a charter school, to research effective teaching modalities in STEAM fields. Shapiro will be graduating USC this year with a certificate in Business Law. He is most interested in the policy and health-related implications of the proliferation of psychostimulants.

Anne Stewart

Anne Stewart is a second-year law student at USC Gould School of Law. She is from Tucson, Arizona, and received her bachelor's degree at the University of San Diego, where her interest in psychology was spurred. She ultimately graduated with a degree in business administration and a minor in Spanish. Stewart is on Moot Court at USC law, is a research assistant for Professor Saks, and is also active in the Women's Law Association. She looks forward to studying the role of mental health in college populations as she thinks it is an especially prevalent and timely topic. Stewart also is interested in the areas of mental health and addiction, mental health in homeless populations, and the decriminalization of mental illness.

Yvette Ann Walker

Yvette Ann Walker is a second-year student at USC Gould School of Law. She is a staff member of the Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice, a research assistant for Professor Saks, and an associate in the Small Business Clinic. Walker earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Anthropology from Wellesley College in 2012. As an undergraduate student, she researched the effect of stigma in college populations on seeking help for mental illness. She looks forward continuing her study of university students with mental illness as a Scholar in the Saks Institute.

Christine Wozniak

Christine Wozniak is a second-year student at the USC Gould School of Law. Originally from Connecticut, she earned her B.A. in psychology from Johns Hopkins University in 2011. She volunteered for the Innocence Project in Baltimore, identifying inconsistencies in deposition testimony in DNA exoneration cases. Wozniak also worked as a research assistant at Harvard University measuring the efficacy of the Implicit Association Test on identifying religious stereotypes. This past summer she clerked at the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, Real Property/Environment Division, and is excited to return to the mental health arena this year as a Saks Scholar.

Michelle Wu

Michelle Wu is currently a third-year psychiatry resident at USC. She received a B.A. in psychology and biological sciences at Northwestern University before continuing her studies at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Throughout her education, Wu has been fascinated by medical ethics, an interest that deepened after completing two separate internships in South Africa. She has long been aware of the social stigma that comes with having psychiatric illness, as her grandfather was a psychiatrist who had to become double-boarded in neurology in order to have anyone willing to come to his clinic. Wu hopes to be part of the fight to break down these social prejudices, and is honored to be part of the Saks Institute.