Biographies of RRRLab Researchers

Dr. Candice Feiring

A Senior Research Scholar and director of the Center for Youth Relationship Development at TCNJ. Her research focuses on the development of healthy relationships in youth with and without trauma histories. Dr. Feiring has published over 60 journal articles and book chapters on social processes important for understanding mental health including shame, attachment, self-blame attributions and social support. Dr. Feiring’s longitudinal research on sexual abuse, supported by National Institute of Mental Health, was honored with awards from the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children and Child Maltreatment. She is Editor-in-Chief for the journal Child Maltreatment and serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Research on Adolescence.

CURRENT RESEARCHERS

Alexis Eckert
Class of 2015
Psychology Major, English Minor

Why I joined: I have participated in this experiment before and found it very interesting. I thought it would be a great experience to participate behind the scenes. I also find romantic relationships to be fascinating in general.


Future Plans: I plan to go to graduate school and get either a PhD or PsyD in clinical psychology.

 

Meagan Loo
Class of 2015
Psychology and Women and Gender Studies Double Major

Why I Joined This Lab: I have always been interested in clinical psychology, and as a Women in Learning and Leadership member, interpersonal relationship and power dynamics between male and females have always fascinated me.

Future Plans: After graduating from TCNJ, I plan on pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology or going to law school and get involved in politics.

 

Christine Petit
Class of 2015
Psychology Major, Criminology Minor

Future Plans: After graduation, Christine wants to go to graduate school for psychology.

Lesley Clisura
Class of 2014
Psychology Major, Communication Disorders Minor

Why I joined this lab: I had participated in this study in the past and thought that it was a very interesting process and really wanted to know what it was all about. Additionally, I wanted more experience in a research setting, and my fascination with interpersonal relationships made this lab a perfect fit for me.

Future Plans: After I graduate from TCNJ, I plan on attending graduate school to get my master's in Speech Pathology.

Lizzy Finke
Class of 2014
Psychology Major, Spanish Minor


Why I joined this lab: I plan on having a career in clinical psychology and this lab will help with my interview skills.I also want to work with adolescents and romantic relationships are an important part of this stage in development.

Future Plans: After I graduate, I plan on getting my Master's in school psychology and my animal cop license.

Crystal Gonzalez
Class of 2014
Psychology Major, Criminology Minor

Why I joined this lab: I had done research on romantic relationships in a previous class and found it incredibly intriguing. When I found out that there was a lab that dealt specifically with this topic, I couldn’t wait to join. I also wanted to become more experienced in a research setting and work on my interviewing skills.


Future Plans: After I graduate, I plan on attending graduate school to get my PsyD in school psychology

Alana Jorgenson
Class of 2014
Psychology Major, Spanish Minor

Why I joined this lab: I joined the RRR lab to gain experience in a quantitative lab, and to have a unique research experience where I could gain skills in interviewing, coding, and transcribing data. I find the subject of romantic relationships to be a fascinating topic, and I love the opportunity to be involved in a lab that is related to counseling/clinical psychology..

Future Plans: After graduating from TCNJ, I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Briana Luppino
Class of 2014
Psychology Major

Why I joined this lab: I'm interested in clinical and counseling psychology and wanted to get involved in a lab in this type of field. After getting interviewing and transcribing experience in a previously lab, I realized I wanted to pursue this further and join a lab where I can practice 1-on-1 interviews.

Future Plans: I plan on (hopefully) continuing on to get my PsyD or PhD in clinical psychology and eventually opening my own practice.

Elizabeth Maxwell
Class of 2014
Psychology Major
,Women's and Gender Studies Minor

Why I joined this lab: I have always been interested in romantic relationships from a psychological point of view. I am excited to do one on one interviews and get to know what really goes on in people's monds when they choose partners or choose to break up. This is also the most relevant lab to my future career choice.

Future Plans: I intend on being accepted into a graduate program for Marriage and Family counseling.

Michael Spekhardt
Class of 2014
Psychology Majo
r, Marketing Minor

Interests: I am extremely interested in Developmental Psychology, specifically looking at inner city impoverished youth.  I have previously worked with the B.O.Y.D. Lifeskills program in Trenton. Currently I employed by Camp Fire NJ and I am conducting a senior honors thesis assessing 40,000 children across the state of New Jersey. I am also on the Men’s Track team and was named an NCAA Academic All-American.

RRR Lab: In Developmental Psychology I will be required to use one-on-one interviews to collect quantitative data from young children. The lab offers great experience with conducting important interviews and instills valuable tools in the lab staff members. Romantic relationships in college have also always been a particular interest to me in research.

Future Plans: I plan to participate in the Teach for America program in the upcoming two years. My desired location would be in North Philadelphia in cooperation with Temple University.  I also have some desires to continue running Track professionally at the National Club level.

Alyssa Steckler
Class of 2014
Psychology Major

Why I joined:  I joined the RRR Lab because I wanted experience in a lab that was related to the clinical field.  I would also like to gain more research experience in general, and become more confident by learning how to properly give interviews.  I also think emotions and relationships are interesting subjects to do research on and I think this will be a rewarding experience overall.

Future plans: After graduating from TCNJ I plan on attending graduate school for my Psy. D or Ph. D and hopefully opening up my own practice some day. 



FORMER RESEARCHERS

CLASS OF 2014

Nicholas Wance
Psychology Major, Premed

Why I joined this lab: After being a participant in this study, I spoke to one of the lab members about what exactly the lab focused on, which I found very fascinating. One of my professors also recommended it to me because of my interest in clinical psychology.

Future Plans: After I graduate from TCNJ, I plan on working in a
psychiatric hospital for a year and then possibly go to med school.

CLASS OF 2013

Gretchen Conway
Psychology Major, Communication Studies Minor


Why I joined this lab: I am fascinated by the interactions that take place between people and specifically those between people in a romantic relationship.  I am excited to interview participants and see how their emotions relate to their perceptions of their relationship.  I am also really intrigued by the interview process and about learning how to become a good interviewer.

Future Plans: I am currently looking into Master’s programs in Social Work. I would like to find out more about becoming an LCSW and possibly working in a hospital setting and also having my own practice to perform both family and individual therapy.  

CLASS OF 2012

Trista Chiu
Psychology Major, Sociology Minor


Why I joined this lab: I have participated in the Romantic Lab several times and find it very interesting. Since I am currently in a romantic relationship, I am very curious how other college students’ relationships are like today. I would like to explore the gender role/power issues and the different emotions experienced in different relationships.

Future Plans: After graduating from TCNJ, I plan on continuing my education in graduate school. I plan on getting a Ph. D. As of right now, I would like to become a school psychologist.

Caroline Kehoe
Clinical/Counseling Psychology Major, Spanish Minor


Why I joined this lab: I wanted to gain experience working with psychological research as well as to develop my qualitative research skills; furthermore, Dr. Feiring's research on adolescent romantic relationships was of great interest to me, and I knew I would be passionate working with a topic that so closely effects my own life.

Future Plans: After graduating from TCNJ, I plan to attain a Ph.D in clinical psychology.

Christopher Lombardi
Psychology Major


Why I joined this lab: I have always been interested in studying the dynamics of romantic relationships. Studying how gender and power play a role in relationships was an intriguing prospect for me. I also joined this lab to gain valuable research experience, as I feel that the skills I will learn will help me greatly in my future clinical practice.
 
Future plans: After graduating from TCNJ, I plan on going to graduate school for clinical psychology, with the end goal being a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology.

Izabela Milaniak
Psychology Major


Why I joined this lab: I thinking that developing interviewing skills, especially pertaining to sensitive topics such as romantic relationships, is invaluable not only for research, but also for clinical practice. Furthermore, romantic relationships, especially in late adolescence is an interesting topic to study and collect data on.

Future Plans: After graduating from TCNJ, I plan on attending graduate school in a Clinical Psychology Ph.D program. In the future, I want to specialize in Forensic Psychology.

Sully Anne Soto
Psychology Major

Why I joined this lab: I joined the RRRLab because I am both interested in obtaining some research experience and interested in all the emotions that arise in a romantic relationship.

Future Plans: After graduating from TCNJ, I plan on attending graduate school to receive my masters in Psychology or Social Work.

Jessica Spayd
Psychology Major


Why I joined this lab: I would like to gain research experience and develop my interviewing skills. I have participated in the study in the past and was intrigued by the interviewing methods, as well as the subject matter.

Future Plans: After graduating from TCNJ, I plan to pursue a Master's degree in school counseling..

Alexander Yasneski
Psychology Major


Why I joined this lab: I am eager to gain more experience in the research field. I find romantic relationships to be a very interesting topic of study and hope to gain a better understanding of them through this research.

Future Plans: I plan on attending grad school to work toward becoming a high school guidance counselor or a school psychologist.


CLASS OF 2011

Michelle Christie
Psychology Major, Italian and Communication Disorders Minor

I graduated from TCNJ in May 2011 with a BA in psychology and a minor in Italian. I currently attend Columbia University and will be getting my Master of Science in Occupational Therapy in 2013.

Although I have taken a different path in my education from psychology, I have learned a lot of skills from the RRR Lab that will be helpful in my future career. Occupational Therapy has a strong foundation in mental health, so a lot of my prior education is relevant to what I am learning now. Specifically from RRR Lab I think researching and interviewing skills that I learned have prepared me for what I am doing now. One of the first days of class we talked about the importance of interview skills when talking to clients when getting their occupational profiles. We mentioned things such as active listening, nonverbal communication, and understanding what the client is saying even if their words are contradictory or it seems as if they are not telling the entire truth. I have a strong foundation in all of these skills from my experience in lab. Although we do not start research until the Spring semester I know that RRR Lab has given me a strong foundation in research skills. Another important thing I learned in lab was how to read an article and pick apart exactly what the researchers are saying (or not saying) and how to understand what all of the results actually mean.

Lauren deFressine
Psychology Major, Fine Arts Minor


I am currently attending a master’s program in psychology at The New School, where I am hoping to eventually obtain my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. I am also working as a research assistant at The Center for Attachment Research at The New School.

The RRRLab helped me prepare for my current work by giving me the hands-on experience of carrying out the responsibilities of working in a research lab.

Sharanya Mohanty
Psychology Major, Women and Gender Studies and Chemistry Minor


I am currently working in a spinal cord injury laboratory at New Jersey Medical School. The name of the lab is Reynolds Family Spine Research Laboratory. I am working with a six-member team on the Durotomy project, which is based on a rodent spinal cord injury model and was initially developed at the lab. Our team is responsible for assessing the link between spinal cord injury treatment and its effects on motor, sensory and autonomic functions in rats. I am also applying to medical schools simultaneously for the incoming class of Fall 2012.

The RRR Lab prepared me to effectively deal with sensitive topics when it comes to interviewing people. This was really useful during some of my med-school interviews where they had us simulate a patient-physician scenario. Working on my thesis with Dr. Feiring also prepared me to write many of the clinical papers that I am now responsible for submitting to medical journals. I also feel that to some extent the RRRLab prepared me for my own life and personal relationships. Through our interviews and coding system, I learned a lot about how negative emotion can be manifested within relationships and how to tackle such problems without doing damage to the relationship.

Joseph Sciarretta
Psychology Major, Clincal/Counseling Specialization


I am currently working for Bancroft, which is a state sponsored, non-profit organization that aids and supports individuals with acquired brain-injuries and lifelong developmental disabilities. I am currently preparing to apply for some select Clinical Psy.D and Ph.D programs.

The RRR Lab helped me prepare to deal with the pressure of an interview both as a potential "interviewer", who has to interact with a distressed population, but also as an "interviewee" who has to be personable during an employment interview.

Melissa Zielinski
Psychology and Health & Exercise Science Double Major


I graduated in the class of 2011 with a double major in psychology and health and exercise science. I am currently a first-year student in the clinical psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Arkansas, where I have a graduate research assistantship under Dr. Jennifer Veilleux. We are just starting up the lab, so we are currently in the planning stage for the first studies we will run. The first study will likely focus on the influence of temporal perspective on emotions induced in the lab and how these emotions influence risk-taking. I think the RRR Lab helped prepare me for graduate school because of the level of involvement I was able to have in the lab. I gained experience doing narrative interviews and working with the whole lab team to implement follow-up interviews with our participants. Also, I gained experience planning a study with a partner by doing a 492 and had the opportunity to present those findings at a professional conference. Dr. Feiring is a great mentor and someone you can learn a lot from by being involved with RRR Lab. She taught me specific skills such as how to carefully analyze the articles I read and how to improve my writing, but she also helped me realize how important it is to have a mentor that is invested in his/her students which greatly influenced my graduate school search. I am very glad to have had so many opportunities through RRR Lab!

CLASS OF 2010

Maria Banis
Psychology, Fine Art Minor

Why I joined this lab: I am interested in learning about the dynamics ofdifferent romantic relationships, and about how culture and heritage may affect how partners interact and manage their conflicts. I also enjoy the experience I am gaining in a research lab, and I am particularly interested in the interviewing and coding processes.

Future Plans: I have applied to and am waiting to hear from graduate programs in Clinical Psychology, to ultimately attain my doctorate degree and work with patients with eating disorders.

Dhara Desai
Clinical and Counseling Psychology Major

I am currently attending Drexel University for my Master's in Couple and Family Therapy. I will be graduating in June 2012 and then plan to work after that.

I think the RRRLab helped me in understanding how to talk to people about sensitive and personal issues. For example, during lab, we had to interview people in romantic relationships about good and bad times with their SO. This skill helped me to bring about sensitive issues with the clients I currently work with.

Erika Keorlet
Clinical and Counseling Psychology Major, Criminology and Justice Studies Minor

Why I joined this lab: I am returning to the lab for my second semester. I joined the RRRLab because I'm interested in learning more about the dynamics and intricacies of romantic relationships and their effect on people.

Future Plans: After I graduate, I hope to go on to Grad school to pursue a degree in clinical psychology. I would love to someday work with adolescents and their families, particularly in a school or hospital setting.

Deven Mavani
Clinical and Counseling Psychology Major

Currently I am a full time graduate student at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP for short) studying for my Masters in Counseling Psychology. I am looking to go on to the Clinical Psy.d at this same school in Advanced Standing after I finish the Masters.

The RRR lab helped in many different ways actually. We have to video-record mock therapy sessions and transcribe them verbatim. While the transcription may be a different format than the lab's, it certainly made it less tedious.

Interview training and conducting interviews helped enormously because I did not feel any type of hesitation during 1 on 1 mock sessions. I was able to be at a higher level than some of my peers because of having that experience.

Coding was also a big help. We have to code our own transcripts of therapy sessions and because of the coding work I did in the lab, I understood the new concepts of our coding system very quickly and efficiently.

Rachel Posner
Clinical and Counseling Psychology Major

I graduated in May 2010. I am currently a second year PsyD student at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I work in a Family/Child clinic on campus, do research on a violence prevention program for my assistantship, volunteer at a women’s shelter, and conduct independent research with the guidance of a professor.
RRR lab prepared me in many ways for the work I do now. I currently draw upon the collaborative and interview skills I learned in the lab. Much of my clinic work is collaborative and we meet as a group to discuss cases and current research. I find that the interview skills have informed the way I conduct therapy intakes as well. I wasn’t sure how much qualitative research I would encounter in my program, but my new assistantship involves coding posts made about violence topics. I have been assigned to develop this coding system, code posts, and achieve inter-rater reliability. My assistantship advisor has found me to be an amazing asset, and was surprised at how much knowledge I possessed about coding systems. I owe all of this to the RRRlab.

CLASS OF 2009

Suzanne Bates
Biopsychology Psychology Major

I secured a job as a research assistant at Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia prior to graduation, and I've been working there since June 2009. Dr. Feiring was a strong reference during my job search. Overall, being involved with multiple labs at TCNJ enabled me to sharpen skills in different areas. Regarding the RRR lab, I think that being involved in the coding of transcripts and seeing how our group influenced the development of the manual was really a special experience that not all undergraduates get. Interviewing participants helped prepare me for my job, as it gave me experience with building rapport with people I've just met.

Robert Day
Clinical/Counseling Psychology Major

Why I joined this lab: I returned a second semester in the lab to ncrease my researching abilities. I also have come back to work on the psychometrics of a study.

Future Plans:After graduation I hope to find a job that will help me to increase my researching skills. I also would like to obtain my doctorate in psychology.

Bethany Heleniak
Clinical/Counseling Psychology Major, Women in Gender Studies Minor

I graduated from TCNJ in May of 2009 and worked for two years at the University Medical Center at Princeton Eating Disorder Program. I just started a Clinical Ph.D. program at Fairleigh Dickinson University and I feel that my time with the RRR lab truly prepared me for the challenges of graduate school. I am part of a research lab at FDU that focuses on women's issues and eating disorders research.

Dasal Jashar
Clinical/Counseling Psychology Major, Sociology Minor

After graduating in the Spring of 2009, I worked as a research assistant in the Research and Education for Autism in Children (REACH) lab at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. For two years, I worked on studies for the early detection and intervention of autism. I am now a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D program at the University of Connecticut. I am working in Dr. Deborah Fein's Early Detection Lab. The RRR lab has greatly influenced my growth as a researcher. Not only did participating in the lab give me my first hands-on experience with the research process, but under the guidance of Dr. Feiring, it also greatly helped to develop my critical thinking skills, which I believe is a crucial ingredient to one's success as a researcher.

Hillary Klimowicz
Clinical/Counseling Major, Women and Gender Studies & Sociology Minor

Why I joined this lab: In my Research Seminar class I did a project on Infidelity in Relationships where my research group gathered qualitative data via interviews, essays, and a focus group. I really enjoyed the interview method of collecting data and wanted to expand on my interview and coding skills. I found the types of relationships we discovered very interesting and recognized the need for more research on relationships. The RRRLab seems like a great place for me to continue studying relationships.

Future Plans: I plan going to graduate school in the fall of 2009. I want to earn a Master's Degree in school counseling. I hope to go on to be a gh school guidance counselor and girls' basketball coach.

Jenna Michelle Meyerberg
Clinical/Counseling Major

Why I joined this lab: I am currently a Student Anti-Violence Educator for the Office of Anti-Violence Initiatives, dealing with the primary prevention of sexual assault, inter-partner violence, domestic violence, and stalking. My experience in this department has led to a sincere interest in how interpersonal relationships affect each of us.

Future Plans: I am attending graduate school to obtain a masters degree in psychology.

Danielle Paterno
Cognitive Psychology Major, International Studies Minor

Why I joined this lab: Labwork has been my most fulfilling and hands on learning experience at TCNJ. I started in the Memory Lab and wanted to broaden my research horizons and try other labs. I also want to try many different fields of Psychology because I am still unsure of what I want to fully dedicate my career to.

Future Plans: I'm currently searching for Masters programs that appeal to my many interests. I'm considering interning or researching for a year before continuing my education, so I can get a firm idea of the oncentration that is perfect for me.

CLASS OF 2008

Sonia Reso
A biopsychology major graduated in May 2008. Her personal interests include working out, playing guitar, and spending time with her loved ones while her professional interests are based on the integration of the field of neuroscience and clinical/social issues. Sonia is pursuing a degree in school counselling at TCNJ.

Desiree Romaguera
A Clinical/Counseling Psychology graduated in May 2008. My Senior Honors Thesis with Dr. Feiring was completed in May of 2008. I am attending the PsyD. program at Rutgers and was honored with a full scholarship. I want to become a psychologist and work mainly with couples and families.

May Sobhy
A Clinical and Counseling Psychology graduated in May 2008. My academic interests include marriage and family therapy, body image, animal behavior, cognitive behavioral therapy, and adolescent psychology. My personal interests include foreign languages and cuisine, travel, exercise, and music (jazz, pop, and classical rock, mainly). I am attending the TCNJ counselling program plan on becoming a high school counselor and a licensed marriage and family therapist.

OTHER FORMER LABBERS

Katie Peters
Clinical Counseling Psychology Major


Why I joined this lab: As a sophomore, I knew I wanted to get more involved in the Psychology Department and I thought the best way to do this was to participate in faculty-led research.  I applied for a few labs, and liked the Romantic Relationships Research Lab the best. I think that doing research as an undergraduate is an invaluable experience that will undoubtedly help me down the line as I begin to apply for graduate schools. I intend to stay with this lab throughout my next two years at TCNJ.

Future Plans: After graduating from TCNJ, I plan on attending graduate school, and am interested in pursuing Art Therapy. Ultimately, I hope to obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

Amanda Martinez
Clinical Counseling Psychology Major


Why I joined this lab: As a sophomore, I knew I wanted to get more involved in the Psychology Department and I thought the best way to do this was to participate in faculty-led research.  I applied for a few labs, and liked the Romantic Relationships Research Lab the best. I think that doing research as an undergraduate is an invaluable experience that will undoubtedly help me down the line as I begin to apply for graduate schools. I intend to stay with this lab throughout my next two years at TCNJ.

Future Plans: After graduating from TCNJ, I plan on attending graduate school, and am interested in pursuing Art Therapy. Ultimately, I hope to obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

Emily Almog
Psychology Major, Italian and Communication Disorders Minor

Why I joined this lab: I love working in a research setting/environment and I am very interested in the research topic studied in this lab. I think the relationships that form between people who are romantically involved are fascinating. I am eager to gain a greater understanding of the structure/intricacies of such relationships.
Future Plans: After graduating from TCNJ, I plan on attending graduate school to become a Physician Assistant. I am unsure of the area I would like to specialize in, but I am very excited to explore them all.