About Me

My name is Gabriel A. León (“Gabe”) and I am a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Southern California (USC), where I work in the Neuroendocrinology of Social Ties (NEST) Laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Darby Saxbe.

I am proud to say that I was born and raised in Alamogordo, New Mexico. My loved ones from this region inspire the work I do. In the future, I aspire to return to the Southwest US to serve my community as a clinical scientist, educator, and mentor for students from underrepresented, minoritized backgrounds.

Research Interests

Broadly, I study the biopsychosocial processes that underlie the formation, maintenance, and repair of relationships within families facing adversity. Namely, I am interested in how families remain connected amidst chronic and acute stressors (such as parental incarceration) and critical periods of adaptation and change (such as the transition to parenthood). I aim to identify mechanisms of resilience that can inform the next generation of personalized, family-focused interventions for marginalized families.

Lines of Inquiry

  • Interpersonal Family Dynamics: What are the bidirectional effects of stress on family members’ synchrony, coordination, and communication? What are the long-term effects of these interpersonal dynamics on family wellbeing and child development?
  • Biomarkers of Chronic Stress: Do biomarkers of chronic physiological stress (e.g., hair cortisol concentration) reliably predict parents’ self-reported and behaviorally-observed stress?
  • Effects of Systemic Stressors on the Family: How do extrafamilial stressors (e.g., the COVID-19 pandemic, discrimination, trauma, etc.) affect family wellbeing across time?
  • Computational Methods in Family Research: How can researchers utilize multimodal, time-intensive data streams collected within and outside the laboratory to improve the effectiveness of clinical family science? I am especially interested in applications of dynamic structural equation modeling (DSEM) applied to ambulatory data (e.g., EMA, sleep actigraphy), machine learning, and natural language processing (NLP) applied to audiovisual data collected during family interactions.

Clinical Work

Prior to attending USC, I worked for Embark Behavioral Health, an adolescent outpatient clinic in Phoenix, AZ. There, I provided individual therapy for clients ages 13-25 and co-led three intensive outpatient groups for substance use disorder, social anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, and self-injurious behavior.

At USC, I provide family therapy and neuropsychological services through the USC Psychological Services Center (PSC), where I am supervised and trained in culturally-responsive cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and acceptance and committment therapy (ACT).

Each week, I also visit Homeboy Industries, the largest gang rehabilitation center in the world, to co-faciliate a support group for formerly incarcerated parents with histories of gang-involvement. I am inspired each week by these parents’ kinship, resilience, courage, and tenderness. They renew my heart with hope.

Starting in Fall 2024, I will begin a year-long externship at UCLA TIES (Training, Intervention, Education, and Services) for Families - an interdisciplinary program in LA County dedicated to optimizing the growth and development of foster/adoptive children from birth to age 25, and their families.