Grad News & Celebrations

Here we celebrate our graduate students' accomplishments– academic or otherwise. 

Last Updated: 02/2021


The following students recently successfully defended a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation:

Abby Dester (MA), Ajay Somaraju (MA), Aksheya Sridhar (MA), Alex Vasquez (MA), Andrew Guhin (MA), Benjamin Fry (MA), Caitlin Briggs (MA), Chris Webster (MA), Christopher Dishop (PhD), Dani Chiaramonte (PhD), Daniel Griffin (MA), Jacob Bradburn (PhD), Jeff Olenick (PhD), Jaleah Rutledge (MA), Jasmine Engleton (MA), Lauren Raycraft (MA), Lauren Wiklund (MA), Malu Castro (MA), Megan Mikhail (MA), Nathan Brucher (MA), Rachael Goodman-Williams (PhD), Rome Meeks (PhD), Sarah Carroll (MA), Sergio Marquez (MA), Tyler Virden (PhD).

The following students recently proposed a dissertation:

Benjamin Fry, Lauren Raycraft

The following students recently passed comprehensive exams:

Lauren Raycraft  




Caitlin Briggs and Danni Gardner were awarded a COVID-19 Small Grant from the College of Social Science.

Courtney Bryant received a grant from the Michigan Psychological Association Foundation for her dissertation work.

Lauren Collier-Spruel (with Dr. Ann Marie Ryan) was awarded an Anti-Racism Grant from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Sergio Marquez and Jo Alanis were awarded a COVID-19 Small Grant from the College of Social Science.


Corbin Standley received a Council of Graduate Students Leadership Endowment Fellowship for 2021-2022.

Ajay Somaraju and Daniel Griffin received fellowships from the Department of Defense’s National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program.

Funmi Ayeni was awarded a grant from Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) to support her MA thesis.

Jessica Lee received a fellowship from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program in April 2020.

Karis Casagrande was the winner of the Jacqueline J. Oatman Graduate Fellowship in Clinical Psychology.

Kara Cochran and Jessica Saucedo received the Hiram E. Fitzgerald Engaged Scholar Fellowship.

Tatiana Bustos was awarded the Michigan Psychological Association Foundation's inaugural dissertation grant.

Rosaura Domínguez Rebolar received the Julian Samora Endowed Scholarship for fall 2021 to spring 2022. 



Benjamin Fry published a first-author paper in Schizophrenia Bulletin titled "Assessing Reality testing in Mice Through Dopamine-Dependent Associatively Evoked Processing of Absent Gustatory Stimuli".

Benjamin Fry submitted a manuscript to Learning & Memory that is currently under peer review.

Lauren Raycraft published co-authored reviews in Physiology and Behavior titled "The dynamic regulation of appetitive behavior through lateral hypothalamic Orexin and Melanin Concentrating Hormone".

Lauren Vollinger published a sole-authored article on human trafficking research using an intersectional approach in Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment.

Natasha Fowler published a first-author paper in International Journal of Eating Disorders titled "A virtual issue highlighting animal studies of eating disorders as valuable tools for examining neurobiological underpinnings and treatment of eating disorders".

Natasha Fowler published a first-author book chapter in Animal Models of Eating Disorders titled "The binge eating prone/resistant animal model: A valuable tool for examining neurobiological underpinnings of binge eating".

Sergio Marquez published an article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine as first author.


McKenzie Javorka presented her research on Title IX and the criminal justice paradigm as a part of It's On Us and End Rape on Campus's Summit Series.

Lauren Raycraft presented a talk titled "Identifying a subpopulation of Melanin Concentrating Hormone neurons that increase motivational responding during diestrus" at the Neuroendocrine Control of Metabolism Research Club in August 2020.

Jessica Saucedo received first place for her oral presentation at the MSU Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Student Success Conference.

Tatiana Bustos, Rosaura Domínguez Rebollar and Jessica Saucedo presented on the Impact of Community Psychology at MSU's Día De La Mujer Conference.



Jaleah Rutledge was elected President of MSU's Black Graduate Student Association.


MK Kitzmiller received the 2021 Graduate Student Award for Community Engagement Scholarship for her project, “Juvenile Risk Assessment: Reducing Recidivism and Improving Service Delivery for Justice-Involved Youth in Michigan".

Danni Gardner was awarded the Joseph L. White Outstanding Student Multicultural Research Award for her MA thesis, “What’s in it for you? Demographics and self-interest perceptions in diversity promotion”.

Kyle Frost was the winner of the Research Excellence Award and received an NRSA grant for her project entitled “Using the Theory of Change framework to map active ingredients and mechanisms of change underlying an early parent-implemented intervention for autism spectrum disorder".

Lauren Wiklund was awarded the MA Thesis Presentation Award for her talk, "Amplifying Strengths within Multiply Marginalized Communities".

Megan Mikhail was the winner of the Norm Abeles Award for outstanding clinical service.


Corbin Standley was featured on the website of the International Network of Early Career Researchers in Suicide and Self-Harm for his article linking suicide prevention research to policy.

Daisuke Katsumata acted as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Expertise.

Jacob Bradburn began a full-time position with Ford Motor Company.

Jeff Olenick began as an Assistant Professor at Old Dominion University.

The following students completed (virtual) summer internships: Daniel Griffin (Jackson National Life), Caitlin Briggs (U.S. Office of Personnel Management), Lauren Collier-Spruel (Facebook), Sergio Marquez (HumRRO), Zach Woessner (Ford Motor Company)