Maria Alessi

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

  • B.S. Psychology and Neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh
  • M.A. Psychology from University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Advisor: Dr. Jeanette M. Bennett
Program Track: Clinical
Research Interests:

How mindfulness buffers psychological and physiological stress reactivity; individual-level predictors (e.g. trait self-compassion, trait mindfulness) of acceptability and efficacy of 3rd wave therapy approaches; clinical applications of psychoneuroimmunology for the treatment of co-occurring mental and physical illnesses

Current Practicum Placement: Carolina’s Rehabilitation
Hobbies: Hiking, running, camping

Dhanashree Bahulekar

Hometown: South Brunswick, NJ


  • M.A. School Psychology, East Carolina University
  • B.A. Psychology, Rutgers University 

Advisor: Dr. Aimee Smith

Program Track: Clinical

Research Interests: Chronic illness management, medication adherence, pain management, and sleep in primarily pediatric populations 

Current Practicum Placement: Atrium Health Union Family Practice

Hobbies: Trying out new recipes, reading, traveling, going on walks, spending time with family and friends, and watching movies/TV

Lia Bauert

Hometown: Greensboro, NC
Education: B.S. in Public Health, Nutrition Concentration, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Advisor: Dr. Virginia Gil-Rivas and Dr. Jennifer Webb
Program Track: Clinical
Research Interests:

Investigating the efficacy and accessibility of technology-based interventions for treating eating disorders, using community-driven research to increase accessibility and acceptance of digital interventions in traditionally underserved populations

Hobbies: Reading the most popular fiction books, playing disc golf, and taking long walks with my dog

Lillian Cai

Hometown: Fredericksburg, VA
Education: B.A. in Psychology, magna cum laude from Virginia Commonwealth University
Advisor: Dr. Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling
Program Track: Clinical
Labs: THRIVE Lab
Research Interests:

Healthcare, impact of chronic illness on mental health, caregiver-client relationships, and institutional betrayal effects on health outcomes in underserved populations

Hobbies: Playing tabletop RPGs, reading, writing, watching nature documentaries

Michelle Chen

Hometown: Coral Springs, FL

  • B.S. in Psychology with minors in Medical Sociology and Music from University of Central Florida
  • M.A. in Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology from Penn State Harrisburg

Advisor: Dr. George Demakis
Program Track: Clinical
Research Interests:

Neuropsychology, cognitive sequelae of medical and psychological conditions

Current Practicum Placement: South Charlotte Va Health Care Center
Hobbies: Movies/TV shows, video games, exercising, playing with my cat

Haley Cooper

Hometown: Wichita, KS
Education: B.A. in Psychology from the University of Kansas
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Case
Program Track: Community
Research Interests:

Racial and gendered health disparities, integrated healthcare settings, place-based health initiatives

Hobbies: Curating playlists, drawing portraits, playing basketball

Sneha Dhanavanthri Muralidhara
2nd Year

Hometown: Bengaluru, India

  • B.A. in Psychology, Sociology and Economics from Bangalore University, India
  • M.S in Psychology from Bangalore University, India

Research Interests: Aging, neurodegenerative disorders, women’s health and lifestyle risk factors.

Concentration Perspectives: Something I like about the concentration is the supportive research environment, along with ample resources and opportunities for professional growth. 

Hobbies: Gardening, hiking, watching movies

Daniel Dickie

Hometown: Orlando, FL
Education: B.S. in Psychology from University of Central Florida
Advisor: Dr. Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling and Dr. Richard McAnulty
Program Track: Clinical
Research Interests:

Trauma, consent, IVP, substance abuse, sexual violence


: Being outdoors, cooking, traveling, watching soccer, reading, board and video games, and hanging out with friends

Kimberly Ecker

Hometown: Gramado, Brazil

  • B.A. in Psychology from UFCSPA, Brazil
  • M.S. in Counseling and Human Development from the University of Rochester, NY

Advisor: Dr. Ryan Kilmer
Program Track: Clinical
Research Interests:

Children and families, trauma, grief, resilience, post-traumatic growth(PTG), ethnic minority groups

Hobbies: Running, watching movies, exploring local events and restaurants.

Mia Ersoff

Hometown: Miami, Fl
Education: B.A. in Communication and Psychology, summa cum laude from Florida State University
Advisor: Dr. Ryan Kilmer
Program Track: Community
Research Interests:

Education, evaluation of early childhood and prevention programs, and improving systematic injustices

Hobbies: Staying active outdoors, eating and baking sweets, watching documentaries, and traveling as much as I can to learn about different cultures.

Lena Etzel

Hometown: Hannover, Germany

  • B.A. in Psychology, summa cum laude, from Queens University of Charlotte
  • M.A. in Psychology from UNC Charlotte

Advisor: Dr. Jennifer Webb and Dr. George Demakis
Program Track: Clinical
Research Interests:

Clinical neuropsychology; the role of cognitive resources in supporting adjustment following life-changing experiences; normative and pathological processes of cognitive aging

Current Practicum Placement: Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center – Neuropsychology
Hobbies: Running, cooking, socializing, listening to podcasts, weather/storm tracking, swimming

Shaina Glass
4th Year

Hometown: Waxhaw, NC

  • B.S. in Psychology, summa cum laude, from University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Game Design and Development from University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Research Interests: My research interests are on both the basic and applied sides of psychology research. I am interested in understanding the role of cognitive mechanisms in health outcomes, such as decision-making, cognitive bias, and emotion regulation. I aim to apply this understanding to health behavior change and the development of health promotion/intervention programs. I take an applied game design approach to the development of these programs, with the goal of creating game-based programs to improve program sustainability, engagement, and health outcomes. 

Concentration Perspectives: One of my favorite things about this program and the Behavioral Science concentration is its interdisciplinary grounding. I get the chance to collaborate with students and faculties with different areas of specialty and also get the chance to take courses in and expand on my own area of specialty while all working towards similar goals (improving health outcomes generally). 

Hobbies: Reading, exercise, video games, cooking, spending time with family and friends