Celebrating Our Graduate Students

The MSU Psychology department is proud to have a number of excellent graduate students nearing the end of their Ph.D. programs. Our doctoral students are interested in a variety of topics from autistic youths to work team coordination. Please join us in celebrating their achievements.

Jo Alanis

Dissertation: Perceptions and Effects of Overqualification Among Immigrant Workers

Description: This dissertation focuses on the overqualification experiences of immigrant workers in the United States, one population that is particularly affected by overqualification. In this work, a model of perceived overqualification will be built that investigates feelings of relative deprivation, or the sense that one is deprived of something compared to others, as well as the impact of factors unique to the immigrant experience, such as acculturation. Through this research, Jo aims to identify strategies organizations and individuals can adopt to reduce the negative consequences of perceived overqualification.

Career Goals: At the moment, Jo is eager to continue working on her dissertation, but will be searching for applied roles (preferably in people or data analytics and/or employee experience) in the coming months.

Brian Brutzman

Dissertation: Change For the Better: Assessing Readiness to Adopt Applied Behavior Analysis in Michigan Public Schools

Description: Applied behavior analysis (ABA) offers an array of treatment options which have been shown to improve outcomes for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, in Michigan, ABA has not been thoroughly integrated into public schools and is thus underutilized in classroom settings. This dissertation aims to assess the organizational readiness of Michigan educators to adopt specialized ABA classrooms in public schools and will help illuminate why applied behavior analytic treatment has not been widely adopted in Michigan public schools as it has elsewhere. It will also identify potential barriers to comprehensive integration of ABA treatment in schools and provide insight into how educators, parents, advocates, and policymakers might leverage behavioral science to improve academic outcomes.

Career Goals: Brian is committed to bringing evidence-based behavioral treatment to schools. His ideal future career would involve ongoing research on this topic, partnering with school districts to improve their capacity to meet students' needs, and advocacy for best practices in school-based behavioral treatment.

Sarah Carroll

Dissertation: The Origins of Antisocial Behavior: Influences of Development and Genotype-Environment Interplay

Description: Sarah is examining the role of genotype-environment interaction (GxE) in the development of behavioral problems across childhood and adolescence. As part of her dissertation, she is developing models to assess GxE longitudinally. 

Career Goals: Sarah’s long-term career goal is to conduct research that integrates developmental and behavioral genetic approaches to the study of youth psychopathology.

Rosaura Dominguez-Rebollar

Dissertation: The Potential for Targeted Continuous Quality Improvement to Enhance College Integrated Student Supports for Latinx Students: A Case Study

Description:  Rosaura is using a mixed methods case study to test whether a targeted Continuous Quality improvement (CQI) approach is a feasible, acceptable, and appropriate method for improving MSU's College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) to more holistically support and promote the retention of Latine migrant farmworking students.

Career Goals:  Rosaura plans on seeking employment in a public 2- or 4-year college as an administrator with DEI offices or other college programs that support and promote Latine student success.

Connor Eichenauer

Dissertation: A Model of User Reactions Toward and Beliefs About Selection Procedures

Description: Connor's dissertation investigates how employee selection decision-makers choose to utilize (or not) candidate information from different selection procedures when evaluating candidates. Specifically, Connor hypothesizes that utilization of candidate information is driven by hiring manager beliefs about the predictiveness and fairness of selection procedures from which the information was gathered. Nine dimensions of perceptions toward predictor constructs (i.e., candidate attributes measured) and predictor methods (i.e., how attributes were measured) are proposed to influence predictiveness and fairness beliefs. The goal of this research is to identify why hiring managers often do not utilize the most valid predictors when making selection decisions, which would facilitate the development of interventions to improve the predictive accuracy of selection decisions by reducing science-practice gaps.

Career Goals: Connor plans to be on the applied job market in Spring 2024. He is most interested in roles related to employee selection and assessments (including EEO and legal issues) and leadership development.

Jasmine Engleton

Dissertation: Exploring the healing trajectories of Black female sexual assault survivors who had previously untested kits.

Description: This dissertation will focus on the healing trajectories of Black female sexual assault survivors with previously untested kits AND who engaged with the criminal legal system. Jasmine will be using secondary data that comes from a larger research study on the SAKI notification protocol utilized in Detroit. Healing trajectories is currently conceptualized as what survivors shared about - if they feel healed (or not), if they are coping (or not), and what that process looks like from their perspective - within the context of experiencing sexual violence and institutional betrayal

Career Goals: Jasmine plans to seek employment in the government and non-profit sector for senior research analyst and/or program/project manager positions, preferably in areas regarding housing, social services, women's issues, violence prevention/intervention.

Courtney Louis

Dissertation: Worry and Working Memory Function: Investigating integrative effects of worry, basal dopamine and estradiol on theta-gamma coupling in a female sample

Description: Courtney's dissertation was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health's National Research Service Award (1F31MH125604). The project sought to combine multiple fields of inquiry (e.g., clinical, cognitive neuroscience, and neuroendocrinology) to converge on a working framework for anxiety's association on cognitive function in a female sample. She found that complex interactions between estrogen, worry, and dopamine impact working memory-linked neural oscillatory activity over time. She hopes her work will improve our understanding of the functional impacts of anxiety to improve interventions and our women's mental health.

Career Goals: Courtney is currently completing her psychology internship at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She hopes to pursue a career that combines research, clinical work, and community-engaged partnerships to improve our knowledge of mental and physical health and improve mental health care equity in Black and sexual and gender diverse communities.

Megan Mikhail

Dissertation: The Impact of Disadvantage on Risk for Disordered Eating in Youth: Longitudinal Associations and Interactions with Genetic Influences.

Description: Mikhail seeks to expand our understanding of how socioeconomic disadvantage (e.g., experiences of poverty and financial stress) may impact risk for eating disorders (EDs) by examining genotype x environment interactions between disadvantage and disordered eating as well as longitudinal associations between disadvantage and later ED risk in girls and boys.

Career Goals: Megan plans to pursue an academic career that integrates research and clinical practice to advance care for EDs, particularly for people who have historically been underserved.

Abigail Mundorf

Dissertation: Automatic and Controlled Influences on Memory Organizations

Description: This dissertation uses computational modeling to examine the automatic and controlled mechanisms that determine how we navigate through our memories. For example, events are often recalled in the same order they were experienced, but it is unclear if this organization occurs automatically or if it is a result of internal strategies. Across four experiments, I found evidence that order information is both learned and retrieved automatically, but intentional strategies also play an important role in guiding memory search. 

Career Goals: After graduation I hope to continue doing memory research that both advances theory development and provides applications to help with treatment of memory conditions. I am currently seeking a postdoctoral fellowship in a memory lab.

Mallet Reid

Dissertation: Invisible No More: Highlighting Women of Color's Recovery Experiences From Trauma and Addiction

Description: Although women of color experience heightened rates of trauma and addiction, their experiences and recovery needs are neglected in clinical research. This study is a qualitative exploration of women of color's recovery experiences and will identify issues that researchers and clinicians should address to promote recovery for this group.

Career Goals: Mallet intends to pursue a tenure-track position where he will conduct community-engaged, feminist research on trauma, substance abuse, and substance misuse.

Prachi Solanki

Dissertation: Testing Impression Formation From a Bayesian Perspective

Description: Prachi's dissertation aims to answer the question, "How do people combine various sources of information when forming impressions of others?" Past social cognition research has identifed two broad types of information that can impact impression formation: individuating information and categorical (stereotype) information. Individuating information has been defined as information about a specific individual such as their past behaviours or hobbies. Stereotype information has been understood as information about a person's social or demographic classification like their race or age. Prachi's goal is to move beyond this traditional distinction - which assumes stereotype information to be the base rate or prior - by exploring if both types of information can be combined and used within a Bayesian framework. This work also aims to link social-cognitive work in impression formation with the broader literature on Bayesian decision-making in cognitive psychology.

Career Goals: Prachi hopes to find an industry position as a behavioural scientist where she can apply her quantitative and research skills to solve real-world problems.

Aksheya Sridhar

Dissertation: Implementation Strategy Mapping Methods: Piloting Concept Mapping Within Community-Mental Health Agencies Providing Services to Autistic Youth

Description: This dissertation project seeks to reduce the service disparities for marginalized autistic youth through the use of implementation science. Specifically, Aksheya uses utilizing concept mapping as a method to design and tailor implementation strategies to address context-specific factors impacting the implementation of autism interventions within community mental health settings. Aksheya was awarded a two-year pre-doctoral fellowship through Autism Speaks to fund this dissertation project.

Career goals: Aksheya will be starting a clinical internship in Autism Treatment at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, OH in June 2023.

Diondra Straiton

Dissertation: Examining the Active Ingredients of Consultation to Improve the Implementation of a Parent Coaching Intervention for Medicaid-Enrolled Autistic Children

Description: Diondra’s dissertation was funded by a National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Mental Health (1F31MH127814) as well as the Autism Science Foundation and the Michigan Psychological Association. Diondra collaborated with administrators at the Michigan Medicaid Autism Benefit to understand which training activities in group consultation sessions were most effective at improving clinician fidelity to a parent coaching intervention (Project ImPACT) for Medicaid-enrolled autistic youth in Michigan.

Career goals: Diondra will be completing her clinical psychology predoctoral internship (residency) in the 2023-2024 academic year. After that, she hopes to pursue an academic research career as a faculty member studying methods to improve the use of evidence-based practices for low-income and minoritized autistic youth served in community settings.

Alexandra Vazquez

Dissertation: Illuminating the Developmental Etiology of Youth Resilience

Description: Alexandra's dissertation is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's National Research Service Award (1F31HD111273-01). The overall aim of her project is to examine and compare developmental trajectories of academic, social, and psychological resilience, and to identify longitudinally predictive epigenetic mechanisms underlying resilience.

Career goals: Alexandra hopes to pursue a career that combines research and clinical work, in such a way that allows her to help foster resilience among clients in the short term and help inform intervention and policy efforts to promote resilience among marginalized populations in the long term.

Lauren Wiklund

Dissertation: Sexual Well-Being Among Queer Women of Color

Description: Lauren’s dissertation research will utilize mixed-methods to explore sexual well-being among queer women of color (QWOC). Her project focuses on the experiences and assets of a marginalized population that is hyper-visible in the sexual violence and risk literature but largely invisible in scientific considerations of positive and protective aspects of sexuality and sexual health. Lauren received a MSU Consortium for SGM Health Research Award and a Graduate School Research Enhancement Fellowship to fund this project.

Career goals: Lauren will be starting a clinical psychology internship in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She is pursuing an innovative clinical science career that uses intersectionality and community engaged methods to magnify joy and resistance within BIPOC LGBTQIA+ communities and foster health equity among marginalized groups.

Congratulations to our recent PhD graduates!