Center on Stress & Health
About Us Image


Kain PhotoZeev Kain, MD, MBA

Zeev Kain, MD, MBA, is a Distinguised Professor for UCI Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care and Director of the UCI Center on Stress & Health. Dr. Kain is recognized as an international expert in the clinical management of perioperative fear and anxiety, and management of children undergoing invasive medical procedures. His research addresses major dilemmas encountered in the management of affected children. Over his 20-year career, Dr. Kain has worked with more than 3,000 children and published more than 150 articles, research that has triggered a change in the way children are treated during invasive medical procedures and before and after surgery. Because of his research, children around the world now suffer less anxiety before and less pain after surgeries. Here, at the UCI Center on Stress & Health, Dr. Kain is the lead investigator for studies funded by National Institute of Health (NIH). His goal is to continue to do research that will benefit children and their parents.

Fortier PhotoMichelle Fortier, PhD

Michelle Fortier, PhD is an Associate Professor for UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing and Co-Director of the UCI Center on Stress & Health. In addition, she is on medical staff in the Department of Pediatric Psychology at CHOC. Dr. Fortier received her PhD in clinical child psychology from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Pediatric Psychology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Her clinical and research interests involve the prevention and treatment of child and adolescent pain, including chronic pain conditions (e.g., headache, recurrent abdominal pain, generalized pain), recurrent pain as a result of chronic illness (e.g., cancer), and acute procedural or postsurgical pain. In addition, Dr. Fortier has a program of research incorporating health information technology to improve the management of pain and symptoms in children.

Theodore Heyming PhotoTheodore Heyming, MD
Principal Investigator

Dr. Theodore Heyming, MD is currently serving as the Research Director, Base Station Director, and Medical Director at the Emergency Department (ED) of CHOC. He has been an Attending Physician at CHOC since 2009. Dr. Heyming completed his residency in emergency medicine followed by a pediatric emergency medicine fellowship at Harbor-UCLA. As a prominent figure in the pediatric healthcare system, Dr. Heyming is dedicated to promoting research that benefits the needs of the community. He has led more than 30 investigator-initiated research studies, focusing on topics such as social needs identification and intervention, prehospital pediatric emergency care, identification of child maltreatment, and pain management in the pediatric ED.

Michael Hoyt, PhD PhotoMichael Hoyt, PhD
Principal Investigator

Michael A. Hoyt, PhD, professor of population health and disease prevention at UCI Public Health is an expert in biobehavioral cancer survivorship research and is a leader in behavioral medicine and clinical health psychology. Dr. Hoyt's research interests include coping, adjustment to chronic illness, psychoneuroimmunology, and stress. His current research is focused on biobehavioral processes associated with quality of life in those facing chronic illness. He conducts basic and clinical research to examine coping processes and other psychological factors associated with mental health, neuroendocrine and immune function, and adjustment to illness, with an emphasis on men and male-specific cancers. Dr. Hoyt earned a PhD in clinical psychology from Arizona State University and a Master’s degree from the Tufts University School of Medicine-Emerson College program in health communication.

Brooke Jenkins PhotoBrooke Jenkins, PhD
Principal Investigator

Brooke Jenkins, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences at Chapman University, Her research program lies at the intersection of affect dynamics, stress and health. She investigates methods for measuring change in affect over time, the effectiveness of affect regulation techniques during stress and the health consequences of affect variability and regulation. She examines these processes across several different contexts in diverse populations, including children undergoing surgery, children with asthma, adults with chronic illnesses and individuals of minority backgrounds. Dr. Jenkins’ work focuses on physiological and behavioral health outcomes such as recovery from surgery, pain, pulmonary functioning, autonomic nervous system activity and sleep. Working both in the lab and natural environments, she uses a multi-method, theoretically-driven approach to solve health problems related to stress by applying rigorous study designs and advanced data analytic techniques. A unique aspect of her research is the development of methods to accurately measure the affect, affect variability and health outcomes that emerge during the stress process.

Sarah Martin, PhD PhotoSarah R. Martin, PhD
Principal Investigator

Sarah R. Martin, PhD is an Assistant Professor at UCI Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care and is on medical staff as a research collaborator in the Department of Emergency Medicine at CHOC. Dr. Martin received her PhD in clinical psychology from Georgia State University. She completed her clinical internship at Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School and postdoctoral fellowship in the Pediatric Pain and Palliative Care Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Martin’s research utilizes a biopsychosocial, value-based care approach to identify factors that improve pediatric pain outcomes and reduce pain management disparities surrounding invasive procedures, chronic pain, and sickle cell disease-related pain. Through the use of diverse methodology, including observational and experimental methods, her work examines behavioral, social-cultural and psychophysiological processes affecting pediatric clinical and patient experience outcomes.

Haydee Cortes PhotoHaydee Cortes
Director of Operations

Haydee received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Chicano Latino Studies from the University of California, Irvine. She has been with the center since 2016 and first coordinated studies in oncology at CHOC including, “Pain Buddy” an interactive web-based intervention to manage pain and symptoms in children undergoing cancer treatment before transitioning into the center’s Director of Operations. She first became involved with research in 2011 as a research assistant at the Culture, Relationships, and Health Lab at UC Irvine where she assisted with participant recruitment and worked on projects examining pregnancy and well-being, and social responses to stress, from which she gained experience collecting and editing electrocardiogram data.


Judit Castellanos PhotoJudit Castellanos
Undergraduate Student Research Associate

Judit is an undergraduate Public Health Sciences student at the University of California, Irvine. She first joined the Center on Stress & Health in 2019 as a student intern and has since transitioned into the role of research associate. Judit has assisted the research team with numerous studies including, Pain Buddy, Patient Experience, and Cancer Survivorship. Through this research, she received the Multidisciplinary Design Program and SURF-IoT fellowships where she collaborated with people from other disciplines. In the future, she plans to pursue a graduate degree and continue in pediatric research to help reduce healthcare barriers and disparities among the Latino population.

Beverly Mendoza PhotoBeverly Mendoza
Research Associate

Beverly received her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine. Beverly first became involved in pediatric research at CHOC in 2016 as a research associate at the UCI Center on Stress and Health, where she has worked on several studies involving pediatric cancer, health disparities, and pediatric surgery. One of the projects she has been most involved in is “Pain Buddy,” which aims to help children undergoing cancer treatment better manage their pain and symptoms through a technology-based intervention. Beverly has participated and collaborated with members from other disciplines in the Undergraduate Research Program, Summer Undergraduate Research Program, and the Multi-disciplinary Program. In the future, Beverly plans to attend medical school and become a trained pediatrician to fulfill the demands of under-resourced communities.

Jonathan Savarese PhotoJonathan Savarese
Research Associate

Jonathan received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychological Sciences for the University of California, Irvine. Jonathan joined the lab in the summer 2019 as a student researcher while completing his undergraduate degree. In late 2020 he transitioned into a research associate role, with the majority of his time spent working on the STAR Study. His long-term goals include perusing a Master’s in legal and forensic psychology and researching the intersection of the legal system and mental health.

Lessley Torres PhotoLessley Torres
Research Associate

Lessley earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Chicano/a Studies from California State University, Northridge. She has over three years of research experience including participation in multiple NIH funded biomedical research programs. Lessley has been a part of the Center on Stress & Health since the summer of 2017, assisting with multiple projects requiring qualitative, quantitative, and bilingual skills. Her general research interests revolve around the intersection of health psychology, Latino/a health disparities, and m-Health technologies. Future goals include pursuing a graduate degree to contribute to academic research aiming to bridge the gap between Latinos and healthcare systems.


Crystle-Joie G. Agbayani PhotoCrystle-Joie G. Agbayani
Psychology Doctoral Student

Crystle is a doctoral student in the Psychology and Social Behavior program at University of California, Irvine. She received a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Chapman University, where she was involved in social psychology research. Crystle's current research focuses on health, with an interest in contributing to the welfare of children and ethnic minorities.