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
  • Children’s Health

Madeline is a first-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 parent-child relationships in families where at least one child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. She currently is working on an evaluation project for the CRIBs program in south Florida alongside Dr. Killian in the College of Social Work and is looking forward to continuing to hone her research interests.

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.

Trent Call

Marriage and Family Therapy

Trent’s Vita

Trent Call
  • Family therapy
  • Youth and families
  • Couples therapy
  • Creative interventions
  • Child centered play therapies

Trent is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is a grateful and proud husband and father. Trent is originally from Utah where he graduated from Utah Valley University with his Bachelors of Science in Behavioral Science. Prior to attending Florida State Trent completed his Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy at Oklahoma State University. Prior to completing his masters degree Trent worked at an adolescent treatment center. Trent’s research interests include families and couples research, and parent child dynamics, specifically for vulnerable populations.

Trent is an avid Chuck Norris fan and has had the honor and privilege of having dinner with Chuck and his family. Trent enjoys spending time with his daughter and wife loves to do anything his daughter wants to play. When not spending time with family Trent enjoys playing sports and being outdoors.

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).

Tatjana Farley

Marriage and Family Therapy

Tatjana’s Vita

Tatjana Farley
  • Parent-Child Relationships
  • Developmental Trauma
  • Youth in the Juvenile Justice System
  • Anger and Aggression

Tatjana is a second year Ph.D. student in the Marriage and Family Therapy doctoral program. Tatjana received her B.S. in Psychology from Virginia Tech, and received a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy along with certificates in Systemic Multicultural Counseling and Addiction Counseling from Appalachian State University. Tatjana’s research interests primarily focus on the interrelationship of developmental trauma with anger and aggression. Her focus is on how these interrelationships affect parent-child relationships as well as youth experiences in the Juvenile Justice System. Additionally, Tatjana explores how these interrelationships influence couples’ dynamics, family systems, and interpersonal relationships in the therapy room. In exploring these relationships, Tatjana hopes to increase awareness and improve the systems and resources families have access to when youth are involved in the Juvenile Justice System in order to decrease recidivism. Tatjana is a registered intern at the Center for Couple and Family Therapy on Florida State’s campus serving individuals, couples, and families. Her long-term goals are to work in an academic setting, mentor future professionals, and continue to research her desired populations in order to help clinicians apply this knowledge in the therapy room.

Tatjana grew up in New Jersey but now considers South Carolina home. Tatjana enjoys spending time with family and friends, time outside, doing CrossFit, watching (sometimes binging) Netflix, and hanging out with her dog.

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.

Peipei Hong

Human Development and Family Science

Peipei’s Vita

Peipei Hong
  • Parenting
  • Close relationships
  • Cross-cultural research

Peipei is a second-year doctoral student in Human Development and Family Science. She grew up in Southeast China, Ningbo and Hangzhou, where she completed her M.S. in Psychology from Zhejiang University and her B.S. in Economics from Zhejiang Gongshang University. She is pursuing a career as a family scientist at a research university. She wants to understand how parenting and close relationships allow individuals to thrive in this changing world, and the sociocultural environment intersects with these processes. She wants her research to contribute to the well-being of individuals and families.

Peipei’s eight years working experience as an administrator in Zhejiang University, which connected her to a great number of college and graduate students, has sparked her interest in studying young adult population. In her free time, she enjoys jogging, hiking, cooking, watching movies and spending time with her family.

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.

Ebony Iheanacho

Marriage and Family Therapy

Ebony’s Vita

Ebony Dike
  • Immigrant families
  • Parent – child relationship
  • Child education
  • Child well-being
  • Health disparities in minority and underserved populations

Ebony Iheanacho is a sixth-year student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Florida State University. She is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapy Intern where she provides individual, couple, and family therapy services. Ebony has had the opportunity to work with various clinical issues such as eating disorders, addiction, depression, substance abuse, secondary-PTSD, domestic violence, anxiety, sexual abuse, grief and loss, self- identity issues, and chronic illness. Ebony is interested in conducting research with immigrant families, parent-child dynamics, child well-being and health disparities in minority and underserved populations. Throughout her career as a researcher and clinician, Ebony hopes to contribute valuable research on how to improve culturally aware mental health services to diverse populations as well as provide effective treatment and prevention methods in her clinical work.

Ebony enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, gardening, trying new recipes, traveling, reading and music.

Dissertation Project

Ebony’s dissertation is titled, “Great Expectations: Exploring Educational Expectations and Emotional Distress with African Immigrant Families.” The goal of my dissertation is to improve understanding of the role of culture in shaping the daily lives and experiences of educational expectations and emotional distress in African immigrant families. To achieve this, I am conducting two studies that complement each other. The first study quantitatively compares parent educational expectations and emotional distress by cultural groups & regresses parent educational expectations on child emotional distress. The second study qualitatively explores the cultural meaning of education, parent’s educational expectations and emotional distress with West African immigrant families.

Collaborative Works

Ebony worked on a collaborative project with Joe titled: “Child bilingualism and academic attainment: moderation by parental behavior.” This study examined the relationship between child bilingualism and academic attainment and how parental behaviors influence this relationship. Grounded in Transitional Perspective (Mouw & Xie, 1999), this study examined the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS) dataset for moderation effects. We found a positive relationship among the Asian immigrant group only. Findings hold implications for bolstering immigrant parental involvement. This project was presented as a Lightening Paper at the National Council for Family Relations (NCFR), in Orlando, FL. (November 2017).

Working with Dr. Joe

  • I enjoy the wealth of knowledge Joe has on research and professional development. He uses his experience to offer quality mentoring and support. Joe meets you where you are at and helps you reach the goals you set for yourself. In my experience, Joe expects real effort and quality work from his students, mentees, and colleagues; and if you expect the same for yourself then you will work well with Joe.
  • As a researcher Joe is less experienced with clinical matters that are important to marriage and family therapists. Therefore, it is important to also have another professional you can work with concerning clinical matters.

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.

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.

Antoinette London-Johnson

Human Development and Family Science

Antoinette’s Vita

Antoinette London-Johnson
  • Couple relationships and conflict resolution styles
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Couple and family prevention / intervention

I am a fourth year PhD student in the Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) program in the Department of Family and Child Sciences. My research focuses are couple and family relationships, conflict, and child outcomes. I plan to use my research to create and inform prevention and intervention programs to improve the lives of families. My goal is to become an intervention researcher and a university professor to provide mentoring, advising, and teaching to students in higher academia. I am dedicated to helping others, providing opportunities to advance education, research, and careers, and I would like to provide support to those needing mentoring or an advocate to ensure student success at the university level and beyond.

My goal is to travel to all seven continents even Antarctica. I love dolphins. I have eight siblings and two children. I want to change lives through research and intervention efforts. I want to create a program called the “London Method to love and family”.

Dissertation Project

The Strengthening Black Families Study.  The current study aims to replicate and test the effectiveness of an intervention program using an all-Black sample consisting of 40 Black couples, conducted by Miller-Graff, Cummings, and Bergman (2016), in which, a sample of predominantly White couples participated in a 4-week psychoeducational program. Although, positive results have been established including greater couple relationship satisfaction, better parenting, and improved child adjustment, this intervention study has only been done with White couples, which does not address if similar results can be obtained with a minority sample of Black couples. This study will highlight the unique differences in culture and communication styles among Blacks that may impact the effectiveness of the intervention program to teach new strategies to resolve conflict and modify conflict resolution behaviors when working with Black couples. In addition, this study will inform the need for modifications to the current intervention, as well as, guide the development of new intervention programs more suitable to meet the needs of Black couples to better strengthen the Black Family.

Collaborative Works

London-Johnson, A., Allen, J.W., & Grzywacz, J.G. The Impact of Parent-Adolescent Conflict and Parent Restrained Eating on Adolescent Eating Behaviors. Journal of Child and Family Studies. Revise & Resubmit.

London-Johnson, A., James, B., Baity, C., & Grzywacz, J.G. Uncovering the Impact of Chronic Illness on Couples’ Relationship Quality. Journal of Families, Systems, & Health. In Progress.

Ferrill, J., London-Johnson, A., Ledermann, T., & Grzywacz, J.G. How does spirituality among African Americans influence parenting and parent-child relationships? Journal of Family Studies. In Progress.

Ferrill, J., Gonzales-Backen, M., London-Johnson, A., Iheanacho-Dike, E., Montgomery, J., & Grzywacz, J.G. Intersectionality Matters: Low-income in High Risk Neighborhoods, Parenting Behaviors, and Adolescent Mental Health Outcomes. Journal of Family Relations. In Progress.

Iheanacho-Dike, E., London-Johnson, A., Ferrill, J., Srivastava, S., Grzywacz, J.G. (November, 2017). Child Bilingualism and Academic Attainment: Moderation by Parental Behavior. Paper presented at the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) Annual Conference. Orlando, FL.

Ferrill, J., Gonzales-Backen, M., London-Johnson, A., & Grzywacz, J.G. (April, 2017). Neighborhood Context and Mental Health Outcomes in Adolescents: The Moderating Effect of Parenting Behaviors. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD). Austin, TX.

London-Johnson, A., Allen, J.W., Carlos, F., & Grzywacz, J.G. (November, 2016). The Impact of Parent-Adolescent Conflict and Parent Restrained Eating on Adolescents’ Eating Behaviors. Poster presented at the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) Annual Conference. Minneapolis, MN.

Carlos, F., London-Johnson, A., Allen, J. W., & Grzywacz, J.G. (February, 2016). The Impact of Parent-Adolescent Conflict on Adolescents’ Eating Behaviors. Poster presented at the Florida State University Research and Creativity Day. Tallahassee, FL.

Working with Dr. Joe

“I enjoy the freedom to explore what I am passionate about, as well as, the push to go beyond my comfort zone which has prepared me to transition from a grad student to an intervention researcher. Over, the years of working with Dr. Joe he has challenged me to think critically, ask and answer my own questions versus him giving me the answers which has made me a stronger researcher. Lastly, he is tough but compassionate, open, and understanding when life happens. He has been my biggest supporter both professionally and personally!”

“One thing that has been challenging about working with Dr. Joe is getting on one accord regarding my learning (i.e., abstract thinker vs hands-on demonstration) style and processing style (i.e., big picture vs step-by-step or detailed oriented) which hindered the mentorship. To combat this issue early on I suggest being very vocal and open about what helps you learn best. Also, be honest about your processing style because this will allow for more effective guidance and mentoring. Lastly, being clear about the level of assistance needed to get projects off the ground or to run and analyze stats is essential to getting the most out of the graduate student experience. These challenges being addressed early will allow for a more fruitful graduate career.”

Kasey Longley

Human Development and Family Science

Kasey’s Vita

Kasey Longley

Kasey Longley is PhD student in the Human Development and Family Science program. Her advisor and mentor is Dr. Joseph Grzywacz. She is currently interested in studying health behaviors and exercise motivation among families and those with mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. She has also done work on families with children who have special health care needs. With a varied educational background, she currently holds a Master of Science in Family and Child Sciences and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, both from Florida State University. Between programs she has worked as a paralegal with experience in family law, personal injury, and insurance law. During that time she became a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and a commissioned notary.

In her spare time she enjoys video games, spending time at the gym, and helping her family raise orphan baby squirrels.

Dissertation Project

I am running secondary data analysis using the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) longitudinal study (Ryff, et al., 1995). The MIDUS study includes three waves and a refresher wave taken recurrently over the course of twenty-four years. My dissertation will explore the data by using it to create a holistic representation of aging outcomes and exploring the marital role and relationship processes on those outcomes. I will use two waves and the refresher in order to replicate the findings within my dissertation. My ultimate goal is to create a holistic understanding of health across the lifespan that incorporates the marital relationship in that understanding, and that is sensitive to variable life experiences.

Collaborative Works

Longley, K.E., Smith, A.M., & Grzywacz, J.G. (2018). Promoting Healthy Practices in the Workplace: Making Workers’ Health a Priority Before It Becomes a Problem. Oxford Handbook of Integrated Health Science (chapter 8). New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

Smith, A.M., Longley, K.E., & Grzywacz, J.G. (2018). Examining Pathways to Health for Employed Parents. Oxford Handbook of Integrated Health Science (chapter 9). New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

Smith, A.M., Longley, K.E., Gonzalez, G.A., & Grzywacz, J.G. (n.d.) Employment loss in families of children with special health care needs: Under what “conditions” and why Unpublished manuscript.

Longley, K.E. & Grzywacz, J.G. (n.d.) Spousal Support, Strain & Vigorous Physical Activity: Differential Salience in the Context of Psychiatric Disorder.

Unpublished manuscript.

Carlos Chavez, F.L., Longley, K.E., Hernandez D.C., & Grzywacz, J.G. (n.d.) Discordance in Household Food Security: Mental Health Implications for Latino Adolescents

Unpublished manuscript.

Longley, K.E. & Grzywacz, J.G. (2018) Relationship Quality, Physical Activity, and

Psychiatric Diagnoses. Florida State University’s Research Showcase.

Carlos Chavez, F.L., Longley, K.E., Hernandez D.C., & Grzywacz, J.G. (2018). Discordance in Household Food Security: Mental Health Implications for Latino Adolescents. Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA) Conference

Longley, K.E. & Grzywacz, J.G. (2017) Relationship Quality, Physical Activity, and Psychiatric Diagnoses. National Council on Family Relations Conference

Longley, K.E., Smith, A.M., Gonzalez, G.A., & Grzywacz, J.G. (2016) Can you hear me?

Work Loss, Need for Services, and Families of Children with Special Healthcare

Needs. National Council on Family Relations Conference

Longley, K.E., Smith, A.M., Gonzalez, G.A., & Grzywacz, J.G. (2016) Can you hear me?

Work Loss, Need for Services, and Families of Children with Special Healthcare

Needs. Maternal & Child Health Equity Conference

Working with Dr. Joe

Dr. Grzywacz shows a keen interest in the work of every student who seeks his advice and he will tailor his teaching style to meet the needs of his students. He also genuinely cares about their well-being.

Due to the nature of his job, Dr. Grzywacz can sometimes spread himself too thin. This can lead to minor miscommunications and misunderstandings. However, these can be easily cleared up if you are not afraid to speak up and clarify any questions you may have.

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.

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.

Katie Morris

Marriage and Family Therapy

Katie’s Vita

katie morris headshot
  • 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.

Marissa Mosley

Marriage and Family Therapy

Marissa’s Vita

Marissa Mosley
  • Technology use in romantic relationships
  • Intimacy and empathy
  • Couples and Sex Therapy
  • Medical Family Therapy

Marissa is originally from Liverpool, NY, a town located near Syracuse (Go Orange). She is a first-year doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program. Marissa graduated from Syracuse University with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She then moved to California to complete her Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy at the University of San Diego. Her research interests include the use of technology in romantic relationships and the association with empathy and intimacy. Marissa’s career goals are to contribute to and build the field through research, clinical work, and educating and supervising future clinicians.

Marissa enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, watching TV, and playing with her labradoodle, Reggie.

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.

Sung Min “Pearl” Park

Marriage and Family Therapy

Pearl’s Vita

pearl park headshot
  • 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.

Chélynn Randolph

Marriage and Family Therapy

Chélynn’s Vita

Chélynn Randolph

I am interested in researching the parenting practices of those who have an identity within marginalized populations (families of color, LGBTQ+ couples, low socioeconomic status families).

I received my undergraduate education in 2016 from East Carolina University (Greenville, NC) in Family and Community Services with a concentration in Family Studies. In 2018 I graduated with my M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Appalachian State University. While at Appalachian State I also received a certificate in Systemic Multicultural Counseling which allowed me to develop a more comprehensive view of what it means to live in a multicultural society through a systemic lens.

In my spare time I enjoy listening to music, podcasts, and binge-watching shows on Netflix. I played violin for 12 years and saxophone for 5. I’m a lover of all things Beyoncé related and enjoy going to concerts!

Lauren Selice

Marriage and Family Therapy

Lauren’s Vita

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.

Jessie Shafer

Human Development and Family Science

Jessie’s Vita

Jessie Shafer
  • New media and technology as contexts of human development
  • Interpersonal Development
  • Identity and Self-Concept
  • Adolescent Development
  • Emerging Adult Development

Jessie is a doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Science program. Her advisor and mentor is Dr. Heidi Gazelle. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Central Florida and her Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology at Illinois State University. Her research focuses on investigating new media (e.g. the internet, social media, video games, etc.) and technology (e.g. smart phones, computers, tablets, etc.) as contexts of human development. Specifically, she is interested in studying the impact these contexts have on interpersonal development, identity, and self-concept. Jessie hopes to use her research to informs others about the benefits of new media and technology while cautioning about some of the more adverse effects as well. Her career goals include pursuing academic research as a faculty member, promoting an interest in new media and technology from a psychological perspective, and making a positive impact on her students in the classroom.

Jessie has a passion for culture and history. She hopes to travel and visit historical sites of cultures around the world (as well as try the food)! In her free time, she enjoys playing video games, collecting retro games and consoles, and spoiling her guinea pigs.

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.

Tom Su

Marriage and Family Therapy

Tom’s Vita

Tom Su
  • Dyadic data analysis and longitudinal research
  • Cross-cultural couples and families
  • Same sex relationship and parenting
  • Interpersonal neurobiology

Tom is a registered MFT therapist intern in the State of Florida and a state-approved mediator in the state of Kansas. He works primarily with minority individuals (races, sexual-orientations, social economic status, etc.) and mental health problems (depression, anxiety, trauma, etc.) in his clinical work. His use of therapeutic theories include Satir Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and EMDR Therapy. His goal in therapy is to empower clients to make better life decisions, develop a healthy and resilient sense of self, and forms secure and satisfactory relationships. 

His research interests include individual mental illness in couple and family relationships, protective factors that predict healthy relationship outcome, change of brain in relationship, and perception on closeness and belonging in general population. He is interested in interdisciplinary research that integrate different areas of research.

Tom has a problem with thrilling activities (yes, therapists have fears too), so please don’t put him on a roller coster or invite him for a horror movie. Other than that, he enjoys mostly everything else that is legal and healthy!

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.

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.

Spencer Youngberg

Marriage and Family Therapy

Spencer’s Vita

Spencer Youngberg
  • Romantic relationships
  • Family processes
  • Resiliency

Spencer is a candidate in Marriage and Family Therapy. His research interests currently include romantic relationship quality, the family process between parents and children, and resiliency in romantic and parent-child relationships. Spencer graduated from Western Washington University in Psychology and his M.A. from Pacific Lutheran University in Marriage and Family Therapy. Spencer is pursuing a career as a teacher, researcher, mentor, and clinician. He looks forward to the opportunity to conduct research, teach, mentor and supervise students and clinicians in a training clinic at the university level and to continue his clinical work as a therapist.

Spencer is married and has 3 children. He enjoys spending time with his family. His hobbies include camping, swimming, mountain biking and working with his hands by building maintaining and fixing things.