Anna Ingeborg Petursdottir, PhD

Dr. Anna Petursdottir directs the Language & Learning Lab. Anna is originally from Akureyri, a town in northern Iceland. She earned her B.A. in psychology from the University of Iceland, and her Masters and PhD degrees in behavior analysis from Western Michigan University.  Dr. P has recently joined the Behavior Analysis program faculty at UNR, after being on faculty at Texas Christian University from 2006 to 2023.  Besides nerding out in the lab, Dr. P likes to watch her kids play soccer, ride her bike, travel, read literary fiction, and play the piano (badly). Now that she lives in Reno, she expects to develop more outdoorsy interests!

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Graduate Students

Abraão Figueira de Melo 

Abraão has been a doctoral student at the University of Nevada, Reno since 2021. Before moving to Reno, he lived in his hometown of Belém, located in the northern region of Brazil. Abraão has been interested in the analysis of verbal behavior since his first semester in the Federal University of Pará, where he earned both his Bachelor’s degree in psychology and his Master’s degree in behavior theory and research with an emphasis in experimental psychology. Abraão has specific interests across the basic, theoretical and applied domains of behavior analysis, all revolving around issues in the different functionalistic approaches to verbal behavior, particularly between derived relational responding (including equivalence), Skinner’s verbal behavior and interbehavioral psychology. When he’s not working, Abraão loves hiking around the scenic mountains of the Reno-Tahoe area, traveling to new places and meeting new people, going to local band shows, and spending quality time with friends and other loved ones. 

Sadie Klassen 

Sadie Klassen is currently a 4th semester Master's student at the University of Nevada, Reno's Behavior Analysis program. In 2021, Sadie graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Addiction Treatments. She has spent a large portion of her graduate career developing and researching behavioral economic analyses to address various choice related behaviors like self control and impulsivity. Outside of her interests in behavioral economics and addiction treatment, she has been spending a majority of her time acquiring knowledge related to foreign language learning and the potential behavioral processes involved in making language acquisition more efficient. One of her current projects involves defining, in behavior analytic terms, what it means to be fluent in a language. She will continue to explore similar topics related to language as she works with Dr. Petursdottir in the coming years. 

Visiting Graduate Student

Heloisa Zapparoli

Heloisa is a visiting scholar at the University of Nevada, Reno, originally from São João da Boa Vista, a small town in southern Brazil. She earned her B.A. in psychology and her Masters in behavior analysis of cognition both from Federal University of São Carlos in Brazil. At the moment she is a doctoral student at the same university. Her research interests include experimental analysis of behavior, rule-governed behavior, derived relations, and basic processes underlying anxiety and depression. She also is interested in clinical practice, specifically in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. In her free time, she loves traveling, cooking, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends.


Aarti Thakore, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA, Central Texas Autism Center

Dr. Thakore is Director of Clinical Research at the Central Texas Autism Center (CTAC).  She has been working in the field for almost 20 years, empowering individuals with special needs and their families from different cultures and sections of the society, globally. She has extensive experience in clinical practice across various hospitals, non-profit organizations, and public schools. She is very passionate about research and applications of Behavior Science to overall learning experiences of individuals with and without disabilities. Her areas of interest in behavioral research are: Replication and extension of verbal behavior research to examine efficient procedures for teaching language to children diagnosed with Autism, Functional assessment to prevent the problem behaviors in young individuals with disabilities, and extension of Skinner’s analysis of behavior in understanding of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Our lab has had ongoing research collaboration with Dr.  Thakore since 2017.

PhD Alumni (from Texas Christian University)

Dr. Juliana Oliveira, Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Nebraska Medical School

Dr. Reagan Cox, Assistant Professor of Practice, University of Kansas

Dr. Bailey Devine, President, Behavior Experts of Texas

Dr. Tracy Lepper, Associate Professor of Psychology and Program Director, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University 

Dr. Charlotte Carp, Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Director, University of Houston