Current Doctoral Students

Deziah Bermudez

Human Development and Family Science

Deziah’s Vita

deziah bermudez headshot
  • ethnic-racial identity
  • resilience in ethnic-racial minorities

Deziah is an in-flight doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. Deziah is originally from New York, where she graduated from Molloy College with her Bachelors of Science in Psychology. Prior to attending Florida State, Deziah worked as a Recreation Therapist at a medical model Adult Day Health Care Program. Deziah’s research interests include ethnic-racial identity and resilience in ethnic-racial minorities, specifically Latinx adolescents. She plans to conduct research that addresses the shortcomings in theoretical frameworks of child development by contributing knowledge on the factors that make the minority developmental process unique.

In her spare time, Deziah enjoys reading mystery/thriller novels, baking sweet treats, FaceTiming with her family back in New York, and watching a variety of documentaries. Deziah is a lover of all things music-related. There is bound to be something playing off of her random (yet tastefully organized) Spotify playlists at all times of the day. Deziah began her undergraduate career as a music therapist before switching over to psychology, played the viola for 8 years, and even dabbled into writing and transcribing instrumental music for R&B artists in her early teen years.

Madeline Bryant

Human Development and Family Science

Madeline’s Vita

madeline bryant headshot
  • Parent-Child Relationships
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Adolescent Healthcare Transitions
  • Healthcare Disparities

Madeline is a third-year in-flight doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. Madeline is a proud Florida State graduate, having received her Bachelor of Science degrees in Family and Child Sciences and Psychology. During her undergraduate career, she was an active researcher and worked on projects surrounding the topics of early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, teacher-student interactions, and parenting behaviors when exposed to disease. She was also fortunate enough to teach through the Honors Program. Madeline’s current research interests surround providing beneficial healthcare transition services to those with ASD as they move from pediatric care to adult care.

Madeline is arguably the biggest One Direction fan of all time and was fortunate enough to see the band three times before they took their “hiatus”. She also is incredibly into movies, a love which her parents instilled in her from a young age, and actively follows Oscar buzz throughout the year. When she’s not watching movies or listening to music, Madeline loves to travel as often as possible, and says that three of her favorite places she’s visited are Bar Harbor, ME, Vancouver, Canada, and Los Angeles, CA.

Nakita Carroll

Marriage & Family Therapy

Nakita’s Vita

nakita carroll headshot

Nakita’s research interests include the impact of the African American experience on roles in the family system, family resilience, and wellness.

Nakita is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Florida and a doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Florida State University. Nakita earned her B.S. in Psychology and her M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where she also earned a certificate in Play Therapy.

Nakita has worked with the homeless population in community mental health, served as an administrator at a research institute providing relationship education to the community, and started her private practice in 2016. Nakita’s research interests include the impact of the African American experience on roles in the family system, family resilience, and wellness.

Ashley Cooper

Marriage and Family Therapy

Ashley’s Vita

cooper
  • Couples
  • Daily Interactions
  • Parent-Child Relationships
  • Daily Stress and Coping

Ashley is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy, a specialization within Human Development and Family Science. Her research investigates the daily experiences of couples, both heterosexual and same-sex. She is interested in examining daily interactions and mechanisms for coping with stress that is tied to long-term individual and couple outcomes. Some mechanisms in coping with daily stress that Ashley has begun to examine include dyadic coping between partners, religious coping, and self-regulation. She also aims to study the daily spillover of stress from the couple relationship to the parent-child relationship. Through such research, she aims to improve couple and clinician awareness of the daily experiences that chip away at long-term physical and mental health, offering points of intervention to buffer the negative effects of daily stress, including stress from chronic illness. Ashley is pursuing a career as a faculty member at a research university in a Marriage and Family Therapy program. She plans to conduct research that enhances the knowledge of clinicians working with families and couples and improves awareness of the daily interactions that contribute to relationship well-being. Further, she aims to contribute to the training of future MFTs and the enhancement of the field.

Ashley is trained in public speaking and has served as a keynote at events as large as 20,000 people. She also specializes in advocacy for survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse. She enjoys beach trips and Alabama games with her husband, as well as lazy Saturdays cuddling with her dogs (a bossy little dachshund and a giant lovable coonhound).

Kaley de Leon

Human Development & Family Science

Kaley de Leon headshot
  • Family Life Education Program Evaluation and Implementation
  • Marriage and Relationship Education
Kaley de Leon is an in-flight doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. She is also a Program Associate at the Florida Center for Prevention Research where she assists with research projects that aim to evaluate programs in the areas of adolescent pregnancy prevention and marriage education. Through her specialized coursework at FSU, she obtained her license as a provisional Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE-P).

Lenka Feng

Human Development & Family Science

Lenka’s Vita

Lenka feng headshot
  • Parent-Child Relationships
  • Child Emotional Development
  • Parenting
  • Cultural Diversity

Lenka is a first-year in-flight doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. Lenka is originally from Beijing, China. She graduated from Ohio State University with her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and a Minor in Education. She has two-years of experience working in child developmental labs and has held an internship in a primary school. Lenka also had two-months of experience as an intern in a youth psychiatric hospital. These undergraduate experiences helped her to focus her research interests in parenting and parent-child relationships. She wants to understand how parents’ behaviors and relationships influence their child’s development and how these factors contribute to a better family environment for child growth.

Lenka enjoys reading suspense/detective novels and love stories. In her spare times, she like spending time with family and friends, playing online games or watching movies together. Her favorite way to spend holidays and vacations is traveling around world to actually “experience” every miracle that historical stories left.

Soojin Han

Marriage and Family Therapy

Soojin’s Vita

soojin han headshot
  • Multigenerational family patterns
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy
  • Experiential Approach
  • Parental Attachment and Parent-Child Relationships

Soojin is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy program and a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern in the State of Florida. She is a happy wife to her amazing husband. She is originally from Seoul, South Korea and earned her Bachelor’s of Arts with a double major in Counseling Psychology and Social Welfare from Handong Global University in Pohang, South Korea. She then completed her Masters of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy at Wheaton College. Prior to attending Florida State University, Soojin worked as an Associate Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Illinois at a private practice mainly working with Korean immigrant families. Soojin’s research interests focus on parental relationships and its impacts on their children’s relational well-being. She is also interested in empowering clients to rebuild trustful relationships with family members by providing evidence-based systemic therapy and mentoring future generations of marriage and family therapists by teaching and supervision.

Soojin enjoys spending quality time with her husband and inviting friends over to her house to share meals together. She loves exploring new places in the world to experience new cultures; she traveled to twenty three cities of thirteen countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and America.

Alexis Hughes

Human Development & Family Sciences

Alexis Hughes
  • Anxious solitude in childhood
  • Development of psychopathology (particularly eating disorders)
  • Childhood Victimization

Alexis is an in-flight doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Sciences program. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in Family and Child Sciences and Psychology. Her research interests include the development of psychopathology, with a particular interest in the development of eating disorders, victimization experienced in childhood, and anxious solitude. Through her research, she hopes to gain a better understanding of factors that influence the development of psychopathology.

In her spare time, Alexis enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and her dog, Teddy. She loves to read, especially thriller and mystery novels, but she also loves a good romance novel. Additionally, she loves to crochet and watch sports, especially the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Valentina Iturriaga

Marriage and Family Therapy

Valentina’s Vita

valentina iturriaga headshot
  • Resilience
  • Immigrant families
  • Health disparities in marginalized and underserved populations
  • Intergenerational transmission
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Systemic inequities

Valentina is a first-year doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. She received a B.A in Psychology and a certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from Florida International University, and an M.S./Ed.S. in Mental Health Counseling from Florida State University. Valentina’s research interests include trauma and resilience, intergenerational transmission, emotion regulation and the impact of structural inequities on marginalized populations, specifically undocumented immigrant families and Latinx populations. After graduation, her goals are to work in an academic setting and continue to pursue her research interests. She hopes her research contributes to the well-being of underserved families.

Valentina was born in Chile and grew up in Miami, FL. She values time spent with her family, and friends. She also enjoys hiking, camping, spending time outdoors, and listening to podcasts.

Karina Jalapa Sandoval

Human Development & Family Science

Karina’s Vita

karina jalapa heashot
  • Maternal depression, stress, and trauma
  • Developmental trauma
  • Resilience in children
  • Cross-cultural research

Karina is currently a first-year doctoral student in the Human Development and Child Sciences program. She was born in Toluca, Mexico but considers Fort Worth, Texas to be her home since she moved there after her first birthday.

She graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience.

Karina is interested in studying the outcomes of maternal stress, trauma, and depression on pre and postnatal development and why some children exposed to these early childhood stressors develop resilience while others do not. She is also interested in examining cross-cultural differences in children exposed to trauma, specifically within Latinx populations.

Karina plans on staying in academia so that she can pursue her passion for research and teaching.

In her spare time, she enjoys listening to an unhealthy amount of true-crime podcasts, her favorite being Morbid A True Crime Podcast and Crime Junkie. She also enjoys taking photos of her beloved beagle-mix, Dopamine (A.K.A Dopey), for his own Instagram page. She enjoys all things outdoors and hopes to one day see an alligator in its natural habitat.

Echo Jiao

Human Development & Family Science

Echo’s Vita

Echo Jiao Headshot
  • Parent-child relationship
  • Family dynamics
  • Adolescents’ socio-emotional development
  • Cultural differences in parenting practices

Echo is a doctoral student in Human Development and Family Science. She has lived in three different countries so far: Beijing (China), South Africa, and Hong Kong. Echo graduated from the University of Cape Town (South Africa) with her Honors degree in Psychology and completed her Master of Arts in Family and Child Education from the Education University of Hong Kong. Echo had two years of working experience as a research assistant at multiple universities in Hong Kong prior to attending Florida State University. Her primary research interests focus on parent-child relationships, family dynamics, and adolescent socio-emotional development. Being exposed to multiple cultures also deepens her interest in understanding the impacts of socio-cultural factors on family relationships and parenting practices.

Before moving to Tallahassee, Echo had lived in 4 different cities/3 countries: Beijing (China), Johannesburg and Cape Town (South Africa), and Hong Kong. Most of her family lives in Beijing, China, and she has two siblings — a younger sister and a younger brother. Echo enjoys jogging and making nutrition-balanced meals, but she is also a meat and chocolate lover. In her spare time, she likes to watch movies, and all her favorite movie characters happen to be fictional (a happy accident!), such as Bumblebee, Hulk, Spiderman, Minions, Groot (from Guardians of the Galaxy), Baymax (from Big Hero 6), and Nick Wilde (from Zootopia).

Trinity Johnston

Human Development & Family Science

Trinity’s Vita

  • Child well-being
  • Family and child therapy
  • Child emotional development
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Implications of attachment theory
  • Parenting

I am currently a first-year doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Sciences program. I was born in Lakeland, Florida and have always wanted to attend Florida State University to earn my degrees. I graduated from FSU with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Child Development. My research interests surround child well-being, parenting, and parent-child relationships; I am also specifically interested in how environmental factors can impact a child’ s development and growth.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading all kinds of novels, catching up on my favorite shows (huge Grey’s Anatomy fan), spending time with my friends, being outside, and traveling. I love vacationing and seeing new places; I hope to visit most places around the world in my lifetime. My most prized possession is my baby, a black lab named Bry (or Bubba) and we love to spend time together, go on walks, and have mommy-son days outside.

Celia Tseyen Lee

Human Development & Family Science

Celia Tseyen Lee
  • Cultural differences in family dynamics
  • Parental divorce and interparental conflict
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Adolescent development

Celia is an in-flight doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. Her research interests include the influence of family relationships (such as parental divorce, interparental conflict, and parent-child relationship quality) on adolescents, as well as cultural differences in family dynamics. Through her research, she hopes to understand and minimize the negative outcomes caused by strained family relationships, and advocate for the many children that have been affected by such poignant circumstances.

As a third-culture kid, Celia has lived in four different places (Taipei, Taiwan; Brasilia, Brazil; Asuncion, Paraguay; and Vancouver, Canada), prior to moving to Tallahassee for graduate studies. In her free time, you can find her spending time with friends and family, taking nature walks, reading, jamming to her favorite songs, and going on adventures all around the world.

Chorong Lee

Marriage and Family Therapy

Chorong Lee
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Cultural differences in parenting
  • Young children’s social and emotional development
  • Evidence based practices in family therapy

Chorong is a doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. She received her master’s degree in school counseling at Purdue University and worked as a lecturer and researcher before coming to Florida State University. Her research interests include parent child relationships, mother’s mental health and children’s emotional development, cultural differences in parenting, and evidence based practices for family and child therapy.

Chorong loves spending time with children, reading, cooking and climbing.

Dylann Lowery

Marriage and Family Therapy

Dylann’s Vita

Dylann Lowery
  • Generational trauma transmission through parenting styles for families with lower resources (i.e., financially, emotionally, physically, etc.) and higher risk for exposure/experience to complex trauma
  • Biopsychosocial lifespan implications among individuals who experienced complex trauma (i.e., abuse, neglect, maltreatment) in early childhood (ages 0 – 4)
  • Social-ecological play therapy interventions in systemic trauma-based clinical practice
  • Posttraumatic adaptation and resiliency among survivors of complex trauma
  • Couples who have experienced dual trauma and the ability to navigate romantic relationships
  • Couple outcomes and systemic treatment in relationships with Intimate Partner Violence

Dylann is in the Marriage and Family Therapy Doctoral Program. Prior to joining the program, she received her B.S. in Human Development and Family Science and B.S. in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. Following her undergraduate studies, she pursued a master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at Auburn University. Dylann has served in a wide variety of clinical settings including working with underserved populations of the Tuskegee/Auburn/Opelika cities. Her clinical focus is providing trauma-informed care for families with children ages 4 -12. Upon graduation from Florida State University, Dylann wants to continue research to influence trauma intervention within families.

Dylann is originally from Woodward, Oklahoma but has loved getting to live in different states and traveling. During her time at Auburn, she adopted a dog and named him Derby-Jett and has loved having an adventure buddy. In her spare time, Dylann loves trying new foods and exploring Tallahassee. Additionally, she loves sports including watching the Oklahoma State Cowboys football team and the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.

Emmanuel Manhiri

Human Development and Family Science

Emmanuel’s Vita

emmanuel manhiri headshot
  • Impacts of self-identity
  • Self-esteem on decision-making
  • Conflict resolution.

It is Emmanuel’s goal to study and explore conflict as it relates to major stressors such as infidelity, substance abuse and divorce, in the hopes of identifying how it impacts critical development and decision making therein. Emmanuel’s background is a Bachelor’s degree in Music & Communication and an MBA with a concentration in Strategy.

Crystal Marroquin

Marriage and Family Therapy

Crystal Marroquin headshot
  • Feminist Family Therapy
  • Perinatal Care
  • Mindfulness
  • Social Justice
  • Self of the Therapist
  • Therapy retention rates within Hispanic communities

Crystal is a first-year doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. She received a B.A. in Psychology & Spanish from Texas Tech University where she then completed a master’s degree in Couple, Marriage, and Family Therapy. She has experience working with a variety of populations in different settings including the juvenile justice system. Crystal’s research interests include Feminist Family Therapy, social justice, self of the therapist, and working to improve therapy retention rates within Hispanic communities. After graduation, she hopes to work in an academic setting while also continuing her clinical work.

Crystal is originally from Puerto Rico but primarily grew up in central Texas. She enjoys traveling and going on road trips with friends. One of her biggest bucket list goals is to visit every U.S. national park. In her free time she enjoys reading, watching movies, rollerblading, crocheting, and spending time with her dog Baker.

Jordan Marshall

Human Development & Family Science

Jordan’s Vita

jordan montgomery headshot
  • Romantic Relationships
  • Parenting
  • Mindfulness
  • Mind-Body Connection

Jordan is an in-flight doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. Jordan graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and a minor in theatre. She then completed her Masters of Science in Clinical-Counseling Psychology at Illinois State University. In the year prior to attending Florida State University, Jordan worked as a licensed professional counselor in the state of Illinois at a neurodevelopmental psychology practice. Her primary research interests focus on the influence of relationships on well-being. She has a number of secondary interests, including mindfulness and mind-body connection.

Outside of academia, some of Jordan’s interests include dance, yoga, and outer space. She loves spending time outdoors and volunteering for environmental causes. As such, she has very much enjoyed the warmer weather of Florida compared to the Midwest.

Chrystal McDowell

Marriage and Family Therapy

Chrystal’s Vita

chrystal mcdowell headshot
  • Parent-Child Relationships
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Access and Barriers to Care
  • Role of Technology in Treatment

Chrystal is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy. Chrystal received her Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy from Mercer University in 2017. During her Master’s program, Chrystal developed an interest in working with children with disabilities and their families through her internship at the Navicent Health Autism Center working under Developmental Pediatrician, Dr. Elizabeth Young. Chrystal was also fortunate enough to present at the Georgia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy conference in 2017 on Parent Child Interaction Therapy: Applying PCIT Interventions in an MFT Clinic Setting. She also help develop Autism support groups in her community as a developing professional and presented on this process at the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy conference in 2019. Chrystal’s current research interests include parent-child relationships in families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and the use of telehealth for treatment.

Chrystal is an avid Disney fan and worked at Walt Disney World at one point.  In 2009, Chrystal participated in the Disney College program and worked as a Fairy Godmother in Training for 6 months. Her love of Disney continues to this day and she visits the parks several times a year.

Darrian McKiernan

Marriage and Family Therapy

Darrian McKiernan headshot
  • Sexuality
  • Psycho-Sexual Education
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Abusive Relationships
  • Intimacy in Relationships

Darrian is a doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and Master’s of Science in Couple and Family Therapy. Darrian works clinically with adult individuals, teens, couples, and families. Her long-term goals include working at a university and eventually developing a curriculum to start implementing psycho-sexual education within school systems.

Darrian grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, cooking, and spending time with loved ones.

Katie Morris

Marriage and Family Therapy

Katie’s Vita

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
  • ACT and Interpersonal Relationships
  • Self-Compassion
  • Self of the Therapist

Katie is a doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Lee University in Cleveland, TN and received her Masters in Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from the same institution. While earning her Master’s degree, Katie provided therapy for individuals, couples, children, and families. During that time she also worked as a staff member in the Student Development sector where she discovered her desire to work with college students. Her long-term goals include working at a university where she can utilize her skills as a clinician, researcher, supervisor, and teacher.

Katie is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio where she first discovered her love for Graeter’s ice cream. In her free time, she enjoys reading, exercising, swimming, watching Netflix, and spending time with her 2 cats and her husband.

Chioma Opara

Human Development & Family Science

Chioma’s Vita

Chioma Opara
  • Family Health and Well-being
  • Child and Adolescent Physical Health
  • Family Relationships
  • Predictors of Family Health and Well-being

Chioma is a doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. She obtained both her bachelor’s degree (B.Sc. Ed.) and master’s degree (M.Ed.) in Home Economics from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. While studying Home Economics, Chioma understood the nature of humans as it relates to their physical, biological, social, intellectual, emotional, mental, and psychological development and well-being. She was exposed to different areas of knowledge that help to proffer solutions to problems in the family and society at large. Chioma is passionate about understanding and improving the health and well-being of family members. Through her research interests, she plans and intends to enhance relationships among family members, establish healthy lifestyles, and promote the physical health of the individuals in the family.

Chioma loves to involve herself with positive thoughts and engage in things that make her feel happy and loved. Specifically, she loves entertainment, cooking, listening to songs, singing, dancing, and watching games. She also loves to spend time with children and assist individuals and families who are in need.

Francesca Otero-Vargas

Marriage and Family Therapy

Francesca’s Vita

francesca headshot
  • Couple and Family Relationships
  • Parent-Child Relationships
  • Adolescent Identity Development and Self-Concept
  • Developmental Trauma
  • Mindfulness-Based Interventions
  • Mental Health Accessibility in Academic Settings

Francesca is a doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. She received her B.S. with a double major in Family & Child Sciences and Psychology from Florida State University and her M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy along with a certificate in Systemic Multicultural Counseling from Appalachian State University. She is interested in researching the potential holistic health benefits of integrating Family Therapy into the education system, as a means of early intervention for students. Specifically, she would like to look at the effects of parental and teacher engagement, access, cultural context, and other factors, on child and family development, common diagnoses in children, academic achievement, and academic success. Her research is grounded in the belief that change stems from awareness and acceptance. Francesca hopes to pursue a career as both a faculty member focused on clinical research and as a practicing clinician.

Francesca is originally from the Bronx, NY but grew up in sunny South Florida. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher – 200 hours and enjoys both teaching and taking classes. When not on her yoga mat, she finds joy in going on adventures, listening to live music, reading at coffee shops, or spending the day relaxing with her husband and their dog, Thor.

Carson Outler

Marriage and Family Therapy

Carson Outler
  • Risk and Resilience
  • Intersectionality
  • Attachment
  • Self of the Therapist

Carson is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy. She received both her B.S. in Psychology and her Master of Marriage and Family Therapy from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. Her primary research interests include risk, resilience, and intersectionality. Carson is passionate about creating research that centers around marginalized families and hopes to use her research to advocate for systemic change. In the future, she aims to work as a professor at the master’s level where she can help train the next generation of Marriage and Family Therapists.

In her free time, Carson enjoys spending time with her friends and family. She loves binging the newest tv shows, playing tennis, and listening to music.

Sung Min Pearl Park

Marriage and Family Therapy

Pearl’s Vita

  • Attachment-based therapy
  • Developmental trauma
  • Parenting and parent-child relationship
  • Repeating problems
  • Immigrant families

Pearl is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). She earned her Bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities, and her Master’s degree in MFT at Adler Graduate School in Minnesota. She loves meeting clients as a marriage and family therapist and is pursuing doctoral degree in MFT to be an advanced researcher as well as more competent therapist. Some of her primary research interests include attachment-based approach especially for people with developmental trauma, dynamics between traumatized children and parents, and parenting. She is also interested in the repeating problems that persist at multiple points of individuals’ lives.

Pearl loves traveling around the world, especially to the places with beautiful mountains to climb. She enjoys outdoor activities such as climbing, outdoor yoga, and running, and she’s looking forward to trying surfing in Florida beach.

Kinsey Pocchio

Marriage and Family Therapy

Kinsey’s Vita

Kinsey Pocchio
  • Social work
  • Medical Family Therapy
  • Parent-child relationships
  • The influence of Marriage and Family Therapy throughout different agencies
  • Children’s health

Kinsey is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy. She pursued her B.A. at Mercer University, double majoring in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies. After graduation, she accepted a Graduate Assistant position and was given the opportunity to complete her Master of Family Therapy degree at Mercer as well. Kinsey has experience working in the department of family and child services and has a passion for the field of social work. In addition to her previous training in this field, she also has extensive experience in the Medical Family Therapy system. Kinsey plans to continue efforts to understand the role and influence of Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) in both the social work and medical systems. Through both aspects of her research, Kinsey plans on finding ways in which MFT’s can broaden their understanding on health, relationships, and wellbeing alongside ways in which this field can positively impact the development of children.

Kinsey loves music, clothes, and warm weather. In her free time she spends time with her loved ones, online shops, and goes to the gym. She is excited for the opportunity to be closer to the beach and experience life in the sunshine state!

Dissertation Project

I am in the beginning stages of crafting my dissertation. My primary focus at this time is the connection between mental and physical health. I specifically enjoy focusing on child related health outcomes within this body of my research.

Collaborative Works

Dr. Grzywacz and I are working alongside Dr. Parker to present research at this year’s AAMFT conference. We are presenting in the research forum “Parenting Children with Disabilities: The Effects on Health Outcomes”.

Parker, M., Pocchio, K., & Grzywacz, J. (2019). Parenting children with disabilities: The effects on health outcomes. Forum presentation at the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy annual conference: Austin, TX.

Working with Dr. Joe

I truly enjoy having an opportunity to work with Dr. Joe, especially because he is not a Marriage and Family Therapist. He provides me with unique ways of looking at my research due to his extensive background in other fields and this has helped opened my eyes to the possibility of my future work.

Another item I find especially helpful when working with Dr. Joe is his ability to make me feel that I am on track in our program (even when I cannot see this for myself). Being in a Ph.D. program as competitive as the ones provided at Research 1 institutes, such as FSU, can take a toll on anyone’s ability to see the bigger picture. I, in particular, am very product oriented and often have difficulty seeing the ways in which I am growing outside of my publications. Dr. Joe does a great job in providing me with the “bigger picture” outlook of my progress in our department and is great at helping me to stay motivated and productive each day at FSU!

One big difficulty tat one should be aware of when signing up to work with Dr. Joe is that his many different roles within, and outside, of our department make his time limited each day/week. He does a great job of setting up an online calendar so that individuals can see when he is available to meet; however, things may, and will, come up at the last minute. As one of Dr. Joe’s students it is important to be aware that flexibility with Dr. Joe is important if you need to meet with him. I also find it useful to check in at the end of each meeting to confirm if your next meeting time still works for the both of you (this is especially useful if you have weekly set times you meet with him like many of us do!).

My final item of advice when working with Dr. Joe is to be aware that he does talk fast! Dr. Joe has a lot of feedback to offer in each and every meeting we have and I have found it beneficial to bring a notepad to take notes on as he talks. Without notes, you are likely to get overwhelmed and forget all of the advice/directions he just gave and this can lead to any awkward conversation later if you need to be reminded what you were supposed to be working on.

Lauren Selice

Marriage and Family Therapy

Lauren Selice
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Mindfulness interventions
  • Parent-child relationships

Lauren is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is originally from Florida where she earned her B.S. in Psychology from University of Central Florida and her M.S./Ed.S. in Mental Health Counseling from Florida State University. Lauren’s research interests include mindfulness-based interventions, specifically targeted at increasing empathy and satisfaction within couple relationships.

Lauren grew up in Florida but much prefers the mountains of North Carolina, where she often visits with her partner and their Samoyed, Arlo. Additionally, she loves spending time with her family and tending to her plants.

Kayla Stange

Human Development & Family Science

Kayla’s Vita

Kayla Stange
  • Continuity and change of anxious solitude from childhood to young adulthood
  • Development of anxiety disorders
  • Effectiveness of early therapeutic intervention following youth anxiety and trauma

Kayla is a doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. Her advisor and mentor is Dr. Heidi Gazelle. She is currently a research assistant in Dr. Gazelle’s Social Development Lab. She graduated with her B.A. in Psychology at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Kayla has worked in a variety of different clinical settings with children, which led to her passion of researching youth populations. Her current research focuses on the mental health outcomes of adults who demonstrated socially anxious behavior as children. Kayla plans on going into academia after graduation, with goals to be a research mentor and professor.

Kayla most importantly loves spending time with her friends and family. She enjoys spending time outside in nature, especially while walking her dog, Luna. Other interests involve listening to anything true crime and gardening.

Sapna Srivastava

Marriage and Family Therapy

Sapna’s Vita

Sapna Srivastava
  • Mental health accessibility for underserved populations
  • Intercultural couples and families
  • Cultural considerations in clinical settings

Sapna is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is originally from Austin, TX where she completed her B.S. in Human Development and Family Sciences from The University of Texas at Austin. She worked in an administrative role for a therapy non-profit in the Austin area before pursuing her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Abilene Christian University. Sapna’s current research interests revolve around how intercultural couples negotiate cultural differences within their relationships, and culturally sensitive clinical considerations for working with diverse client populations. Sapna is particularly interested in mentoring and providing research-informed clinical training to future generations of marriage and family therapists.

Sapna enjoys being outdoors, exploring new places, and indulging in her obsessions with Netflix, coffee, and dogs.

Dania Tawfiq

Marriage and Family Therapy

Dania’s Vita

dania tawfiq headshot
  • Therapeutic Alliance
  • Clinical Supervision
  • Self of Therapist
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Intergenerational Transmission
  • Intersectionality
  • Tele-mental Health
  • Implications of Mindfulness

Dania is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy. She earned her M.S./Ed.S. degrees in Mental Health Counseling at Florida State University. Dania is a Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern in the State of Florida practicing at the Center for Couple and Family Therapy. Dania developed her passion for mental health during her training and work as a crisis counselor for both local and national crisis hotlines. During her master’s training, she developed a passion for addressing mental health through a systemic lens. She hopes to contribute to the field of systemic research by addressing concepts that impact therapeutic outcomes and the diverse populations it can affect. During her doctoral education, Dania has set the intention to strengthen her skills as a researcher, clinician, educator, and supervisor. Dania’s goal is to contribute to the training of future therapists, and the overall advancement of the mental health field.

Dania is always up to trying new things and approach life with humor and curiosity. She enjoys activities like gardening, kayaking, and biking. She loves art and creation in many forms from painting to woodworking. Dania is not ashamed to express her passion for reality tv and has been committed to the Real Housewives and 90 Day franchises since their inception.

Nick Triplett

Marriage and Family Therapy

Nick’s Vita

Nick Triplett
  • Ethics and professional conduct
  • Mentorship and clinical pedagogy
  • Intersectionality
  • Clinical issues of death and dying
  • Gerontology and aging clinical populations

Nick is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy. He earned his B.A. in Psychology from Indiana University Southeast and later, his M.S. in Couple & Family Therapy from Purdue University Northwest. Nick is passionate about understanding the role of therapy – and therapists – in helping foster effective and just systemic change in relational systems; both inside and outside of the therapy room. His research interests primarily focus on the use of relational ethics in clinical and professional decision-making, as well the use of an intersectional perspective in guiding effective mentorship and training of emerging therapists. Additionally, he also has specific scholarly interests in issues facing aging clinical populations, and how therapists systemically conceptualize death and the dying process in therapeutic settings. Nick aims to one day serve as an instructor and supervisor for Master’s-level MFT trainees, where he will be able to directly witness and contribute to the development of the next generation of systemic therapists and scholar-clinicians.

Whether it’s going camping, hiking, or just taking an easy drive around the scenic back roads of his hometown in Southern Indiana, Nick is at his happiest in nature. He is also a fan of table-top role-playing games, and gets together regularly with friends and colleagues from across the country to catch-up, tell stories, and roll a few dice!

Lexie Unhjem

Marriage and Family Therapy

Lexie’s Vita

lexie unhjem headshot
  • Developmental Trauma
  • Parenting/Caregiving
  • Attachment
  • Trauma-Informed Interventions

Lexie is originally from Crosby, North Dakota and received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from North Dakota State University. She then completed her Master of Science in Child Development and Family Science with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy from Purdue University Northwest. During her master’s program she worked extensively with families in Chicago who had experienced trauma, which motivated her to pursue a PhD for research opportunities in the trauma field. Lexie’s research interests include developmental trauma and how attachment affects outcomes for children experiencing trauma. She also is interested in clinical research that would examine which trauma-informed interventions are most effective for children and families. Lexie hopes to work in academia at a master’s level program teaching and supervising future clinicians, while maintaining a small caseload of clients.

Lexie enjoys returning to North Dakota to visit her family on their farm. She loves to cook, record makeup videos, binge tv shows, and play with her cat, Walter.

Amelia Welch

Marriage and Family Therapy

Amelia’s Vita

Amelia Welch
  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Mindfulness Interventions
  • Intergenerational Family Relationships
  • Medical Family Therapy
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Amelia is a doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington. After graduation she moved to Illinois, where she earned a Certificate in Pre-Clinical Psychology from the Northwestern University School of Professional Studies in Evanston, IL. She went on to earn her M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northwestern University in 2019. While at Northwestern, Amelia completed clinical hours at The Family Institute locations in Millennium Park and Westchester. Amelia provided therapy to individuals, couples, families, and groups. Amelia participated in the program’s Project Strengthen initiative where she completed co-therapy with Family Institute staff therapists.

Amelia performed in dance ensembles and choirs from ages 6-23. In addition to performing arts, Amelia enjoys cooking, baking, hiking, and exploring new coffee shops.

Jacob Williams

Human Development and Family Science

Jacob’s Vita

Jacob Williams
  • Aggression
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Behavioral Development

Jacob is a doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. His advisor and mentor is Dr. Heidi Gazelle. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Sciences at Florida State University. He is currently a research assistant in the Social Development Lab, working on the Youth Wellness Project. His research focuses on making empirical connections between life experiences and an individual’s emotional and behavioral development. He hopes to use this research to make more definitive contributions to the field regarding the origins of human aggression. Jacob believes that conventional emotion regulation is necessary for successfully achieving life milestones. He aims to use his research to understand how individual differences can affect emotional regulation. Jacob plans to pursue academia to combine his passion for research and teaching others, where his appropriate career goal is to be become a professor.

The most important aspects of Jacob’s life are family and faith. He is from Vero Beach, FL, where he developed a passion for long distance running, and became an outdoor enthusiast. In his free time, he can be found running the trails of Tallahassee, playing with his cat, or gaming.