Current and Past Awardees

Samantha Bernecker
CRF Family Research Travel Award (Spring)
Research:

Samantha L. Bernecker is a third-year PhD student in the Clinical Psychology Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she joined The Psychotherapy Research Lab in 2011.

Through her current project "Training Peers to Improve Each Other's Mental Well-Being with an Online Course," Bernecker hopes to leverage existing peer support systems to improve the public's mental health, developing an easily accessible online training that will teach dyads basic counseling skills which they can then apply to improve each other's well-being. 

Her research is guided by the goal of understanding how human change processes operate and using this information to develop more powerful and efficient treatments for mental illness and other psychosocial problems. Her interests include interpersonal processes and their effects on well-being, development of interventions for adults, emotion regulation, self-regulation, information technology-based interventions, and psychotherapy process and outcome research.

 

 

Samantha Bernecker
CRF Family Research Methodological Studies Award
Research:

Samantha L. Bernecker is a third-year PhD student in the Clinical Psychology Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she joined The Psychotherapy Research Lab in 2011.

Through her current project "Training Peers to Improve Each Other's Mental Well-Being with an Online Course," Bernecker hopes to leverage existing peer support systems to improve the public's mental health, developing an easily accessible online training that will teach dyads basic counseling skills which they can then apply to improve each other's well-being. 

Her research is guided by the goal of understanding how human change processes operate and using this information to develop more powerful and efficient treatments for mental illness and other psychosocial problems. Her interests include interpersonal processes and their effects on well-being, development of interventions for adults, emotion regulation, self-regulation, information technology-based interventions, and psychotherapy process and outcome research.

 

 

Mary Catanese
CRF Dissertation Fellowships in Family Research
Research:

Mary Catanese is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program.  She works with Dr. Laura N. Vandenberg to study the effects of exogenous estrogens including the synthetic estrogen 17-α ethinyl estradiol (EE2) and bisphenol-S (BPS) on mice. Her work focuses on understanding whether these xenoestrogens disrupt maternal behaviors and the brain in both exposed dams and their offspring. Mary will also investigate whether the onset of maternal behaviors is associated with neurogenesis in the region of the brain critical for maternal care, and if so, the effect that developmental EE2 and BPS exposures have on this phenomenon.

 

Ellen Correa
CRF Family Research Travel Award (Spring)
Research:

Ellen Correa is a doctoral candidate in the Communication Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research focuses on examining the ethical, relational, and political implications of the discourse of cultural assimilation. As a third generation Puerto Rican, her dissertation will use dialogue and performance ethnography to explore her own family’s experience of cultural assimilation.

Amanda Cremone
CRF Family Research Travel Award (Spring)
Research:

Amanda Cremone is a second year Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program, under the advisement of Dr. Rebecca Spencer and Dr. Jennifer McDermott. Amanda’s research is geared towards understanding the effects of sleep on cognition in young children. The CRF travel award provided Amanda the opportunity to present her research exploring “The Influence of a Mid-Day Nap on Response Inhibition of Preschool-Aged Children” at the Biennial Meeting of the Society of Research in Child Development (SRCD) in Philadelphia, PA. 

Angela Essa
CRF Family Research Undergraduate Student Assistantship
Research:

Angela Essa is an undergraduate student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Angela is a member of the Commonwealth Honors College Class of 2017, and is pursuing a degree in Biology with a concentration in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Angela is interested in the molecular and pathophysiological basis of disease. She is also interested in how dietary and other lifestyle factors play a role in disease risk. Angela's research work is with Dr. Kathleen Arcaro in the Veterinary and Animal Sciences department, and seeks to determine the effect of a 12-week dietary intervention on key breast cancer biomarkers. Angela hopes that this diet intervention study may contribute to a pool of information that will allow women to make informed decisions regarding dietary and lifestyle choices. Her overall hope is that this study will not only benefit science and major public health initiatives, but that it will also benefit women who are actively enrolled, as well as women who are at risk of developing breast cancer.

Joyce Faraj
CRF Family Research Travel Award (Spring)
Research:

Joycelyn Faraj is a PhD candidate in Nutrition with a minor in Epidemiology. She completed her undergraduate studies in Nutrition and Microbiology as well as her master’s degree in Nutrition Science at UMass Amherst. Joycelyn’s research interests include female/maternal health and nutrition. She has worked as a research assistant in several studies focused on the nutrition, health and wellness of the mother during and after pregnancy. Her master’s thesis examined the prevalence of anemia and iron deficiency in Bangladeshi women of reproductive age, and her current research revolves around nutritional immunology and epidemiology, with emphasis on mental health in the US female population. Joycelyn presented part of her dissertation, titled “Vitamin B6 Status is Associated with Depression among Women with Inflammation” at the 2015 Experimental Biology Conference in Boston, MA. She won third place in the “Emerging Leaders in Nutrition Science” poster competition, sponsored by the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Interest Group from the American Society for Nutrition.

 

 

 

 

Alice Fiddian Green
CRF Family Research Travel Award (Spring)
Research:

Alice Fiddian-Green, MPH is a doctoral student in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, Department of Health Promotion and Policy. Her focus is on using participatory digital and visual research methods such as digital storytelling, photovoice, and body mapping to better understand racial disparities in birth outcomes and sexual and reproductive health. Alice is also currently the Program Coordinator for Project Baby Springfield, a programFiddianGreen.jpgof Springfield’s Department of Health and Human Services that is committed to improving the health of infants, children, and families living in Springfield. 

 

Shayl Griffith
CRF Dissertation Fellowships in Family Research
Research:

Shayl F. Griffith is a third year PhD student in Clinical Psychology working under the guidance of her advisor Professor David Arnold. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Clark University and her M.S. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Shayl’s research interests center on the social, emotional, and academic functioning of preschool-aged children. Her work over the next year will examine parent-child interactions around mobile technology and related implications for children’s outcomes.

Kelsie Mitchell
CRF Family Research Honors Thesis/Capstone Project Award
Research:

Kelsie Mitchell is a senior public health major,  minoring in biology and anthropology. During her time at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Kelsie has worked with university dining and custodial staff as an English tutor which inspired her senior year capstone. Her capstone research concerns policy and community organizing to improve education for young English language learners in the Massachusetts public school system. With a passion for translating  fundamental science into a cultural context,  Kelsie plans to use her knowledge and skills to improve the quality and availability of healthcare for marginalized communities following graduation. In the future, she would like to pursue a degree in medicine. 

 

Arya Mohanka
CRF Family Research Honors Thesis/Capstone Project Award
Research:

Arya Mohanka is finishing her final year as a BDIC major with a concentration in Demography and Population Studies, and she is completing the Asian and Asian American Studies Certificate. Her Honors Thesis is entitled "Pronatalist Influence on Reality Television Programming in South Korea," which analyzes two popular South Korean reality shows and the fertility-related messages that they send. She is interested in global low-fertility trends and researching solutions that are based off of socio-cultural alterations instead of solely economic policy changes. She will be interning in Washington, DC this summer and hopes to find a career which focuses on family policies in the US and abroad.  

Yelena Ravvina
CRF Family Research Undergraduate Student Assistantship
Research:

Yelena Ravvina is a Psychology and Public Health double major who has had the opportunity to work with Professor Harold Grotevant and Professor Rachel Farr in the Rudd Adoption Lab. This award will enable Yelena to continue her research on issues surrounding open adoption dynamics in families with mixed sexual orientations. After completing her research and graduating, Yelena plans to go to graduate school in counseling psychology and become an adoption therapist. 

Emily Reilly
CRF Family Research Undergraduate Student Assistantship
Research:

Emily Reilly is a Junior Psychology and Nutrition double major interested in the effects of early environment on child development. Emily is the founder of the club Beautiful, which works to increase positive body image in students. She is also on the planning committee for the American Cancer Society’s Five College Relay for Life, raising funds and awareness for all forms of cancer. Emily is currently studying abroad in Amsterdam and in her free time enjoys practicing yoga. For her thesis project, Emily is working with both the Learning Lab and Work and Family Transition Project to explore the potential modulating effects of social support on the relationship between maternal stress and adaptive child cognitive outcomes. Her future plans include attending a graduate clinical psychology program or earning her degree as a nurse practitioner. Emily aspires to contribute to the fields of developmental and family psychology through research.

Cassaundra Rodriguez
CRF Dissertation Fellowships in Family Research
Research:

Cassaundra Rodriguez is a PhD student in the Sociology department and the managing editor of journal of Gender & Society. Throughout her graduate career Cassaundra has concentrated and published on issues surrounding the intersection of family dynamics and the unique struggles faced by immigrants. Specifically, she has focused on the issues and discourse surrounding Arizona’s anti-immigration Senate Bill 1070. Under the tutelage of Professor Joya Misra, Cassaundra will continue her immigration and family research for her dissertation. Through ethnographic research in the Southern California region, Cassaundra will investigate the characteristics of what are called “mixed-status” families, which are families that have members who have different immigration statuses. Mixed-status families are an under-analyzed group that faces unique and devastating challenges like fragmentation from deportation of one or more members of the family

Meghann Zapcic
CRF Family Research Undergraduate Student Assistantship
Research:

Meghann Zapcic is a junior Psychology/Neuroscience student in the Commonwealth Honors College. For the past two years, Meghann has been studying zebrafish in Dr. Gerald Downes' lab. With the assistantship grant, she will be conducting research for her senior thesis on a zebrafish model of autism with epilepsy. With the high prevalence of epileptic disorders in the United States, the purpose of this project is to create an animal model to better understand the disease as well as test new drug therapies. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue a career in medicin