Lab

Meet the strong, sharp, and spry backbone of the Mind-Body Trauma Care Research Team. To reach the team, email mindbodylab@umn.edu.

Research Team Members

Portrait of Lexi Asplund

Lexi Asplund

Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant

Lexi Asplund graduated from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, where she majored in biology and minored in psychology. She is a Research Assistant for the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab. Her research interests include working with those whose sociodemographics (e.g., age), medical concerns, or psychological symptoms impact their ability to receive help. This includes working with children, those who have experienced childhood trauma, and those whose help seeking is limited. In her free time, Lexi enjoys golfing, wakeboarding, and playing with her dog.

asplu035@d.umn.edu

Projects: Adaptive yoga; COVID-related traumatic stress and adjustment symptoms in Nepal; Online stress management intervention


Portrait of Ashley Baumann

Ashley Baumann

Graduate Research Assistant

Ashley Baumann is a graduate student earning her Master of Arts in Psychological Science (experimental track) at University of Minnesota, Duluth. Her Plan B/thesis will be assessing estrogen as a potential moderator for women having a higher prevalence for anxiety disorders and PTSD. Her research interests include complementary and alternative therapies for mental health as well as overall data analysis. Outside of school, she enjoys hiking, working on paint by numbers, indoor rock-climbing, and cooking.

bauma514@d.umn.edu

Projects: COVID-related traumatic stress and adjustment in the US


Portrait of Muna Bishar

Muna Bishar

McNair Scholar Research Assistant

Muna Bishar is a senior at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. She is currently majoring in Health Service Management and minoring in Public Health. Her research interest is to learn more about trauma and how to improve access to better health care for underserved communities. A few of her hobbies are creative writing, painting/drawing.

bisha009@umn.edu

Projects: Emotional abuse perceptions

Portrait of Joseph Davidson

Joseph Davidson

GAGE Scholar Research Assistant

Joseph Davidson is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota Duluth that is earning his Master of Arts in Psychological Science in the Clinical/Counseling track. He further strives to follow the scientist-practitioner model as he wants to pursue LPCC licensure while continuing research in the following areas: trauma, emotional abuse, strengths-based interventions, and well-being. Joe currently works in Duluth as a Mental Health Practitioner for a program that provides Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS). Joe has an appreciation for hiking, philosophy, coffee, cooking, and fishing.

david712@d.umn.edu

Projects: Emotional abuse perceptions

Kelsey Dietrich

Graduate Research Assistant

Kelsey is a Graduate Research Assistant for the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab and graduate student at the University of Minnesota Duluth in the Master of Arts in Psychological Science program (clinical/counseling track). Kelsey earned her BA in English and Psychology from Bowling Green State University where she completed two research projects about the psychophysiological effects of mindfulness and yoga for college students. Kelsey is a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher and Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Facilitator who is passionate about holding safe and accessible space for all people to practice mindful movement. Her research interests include trauma-sensitive mindfulness-based modalities, somatic psychology, and yoga interventions in healthcare.

dietr133@d.umn.edu

Projects: Trauma-sensitive yoga and psychotherapy


Portrait of Katie Gooch

Katie Gooch

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Katie is a non-traditional undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and will be graduating in December of 2021 with a major in Psychology and minor in Sociology. Katie hopes to continue her education and obtain a masters degree on the Clinical/Counseling Track. Katie is a Research Assistant for the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab. Her background includes working with adults and children with disabilities. Katie's research interests include working with children in a clinical setting as well as psychopathology and human behavior. Katie has past research experience in a lab regarding effects of threesome outcomes with heterosexual partners. In her free time, Katie enjoys hiking the trails in Duluth or playing cribbage.

gooch029@d.umn.edu

Projects: Ecological momentary assessment with adults who stutter; Emotional abuse and physical health; Emotional abuse and forensic interviewing






Portrait of Emma Hartwig

Emma Hartwig

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Emma is an undergraduate student at University Minnesota Duluth majoring in Psychology and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies with a minor in Public Health. Emma’s goals after graduation in the Spring of 2022 are to pursue a Graduate Degree in Counseling Psychology. Her research interests include social cognition, psychopathology in children exposed to trauma, mind-body interventions, and mindfulness. Emma enjoys cooking, traveling, photography, and hiking in her free time.

hartw081@d.umn.edu

Projects: Emotional abuse perceptions







Colleen Jender

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Colleen Jender is an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She is working for her Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Psychology with a Public Health minor. She hopes to further her education and obtain a MS in Family and Human Development and go on to receive her PhD in Developmental Psychology. Colleen is an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab. Her area of interest is developmental psychology, specifically looking at traumatic or stressor events in childhood and how that impacts the individual later on. Colleen is interested in the changes over a lifespan, holistic approaches, and the mind-body relationship. She wants to work with at-risk youth who are experiencing childhood trauma and their families to enhance coping mechanisms and family dynamics. In her free time she enjoys hiking, traveling, hanging out with her cat, friends, and family.

jende014@d.umn.edu

Projects: Emotional abuse and forensic interviewing; Trauma-sensitive yoga qualitative interviewing







Portrait of Elizabeth Lee

Elizabeth Lee

Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant

Elizabeth Lee (she/her) graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Sciences in Psychology and minor in Neuroscience. While at the University of Minnesota, she volunteered at the Aurora Center as a direct service advocate for victim/survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence, sexual harassment, and stalking. She also volunteered at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s hospital providing mindful hand massages formally known as the M-technique to children in the psychiatric units. After graduating, she started a position at the Avanti Center, a DBT-based youth residential facility, as a Residential Counselor for adolescents experiencing mental health crises.

After 10 months of providing direct care and teaching DBT skills to residents, she is now a Unit Supervisor who oversees both Residential Counselors and residents. With all of these experiences, she has developed an interest in conceptualizing how mindfulness-based techniques can serve those who have experienced various forms of abuse and trauma. Elizabeth is starting her journey at the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab this summer (2021) to expand her research skills and knowledge before applying to graduate programs in Clinical Psychology for the Fall 2022 cycle. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, photography, yoga, and staying active.

leex8075@umn.edu

Projects: Emotional abuse perceptions; Trauma-sensitive yoga and dialectical behavioral therapy







Xiaofan Lei

Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellow

Xiaofan is a PhD student in speech pathology at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Her research focuses on investigating the influence of stuttering moments on the mood and attention control of people who stutter with both experimental and non-experimental methods. Prior to speech pathology, she received a master's degree in Applied English Linguistics and a Bachelors' degree in English literature. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, reading, and embroidering.

leixx147@umn.edu

Projects: Ecological momentary assessment with adults who stutter

Portrait of Jacob Moore

Jacob Moore

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Jacob Moore (he/him) is approaching his final semester of his bachelor's degree at University of Minnesota Duluth. Jacob is majoring in psychology with a minor in philosophy. His research interests include trauma, emotional abuse, and community access to mental health care. In his free time, he enjoys camping, hiking, snowboarding, and hanging out with his dog Ada.

moor2012@d.umn.edu

Projects: COVID-related traumatic stress and adjustment in the US; Emotional abuse perceptions

Portrait of Angela Murphy

Angela Murphy

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Angela is a non-traditional student returning to UMD to pursue a career in psychological sciences. Her background previously included teaching students in special education with emotional and behavioral disorders, as well as Autism spectrum disorders. She also spent time in the real estate and property management industry. These experiences, while vastly different, led to a fascination with the human brain and a new endeavor to learn as much about it as possible. This semester she will be an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab. Angela's research interests include working with young people who have emotional, behavioral, or Autism spectrum disorders in order to provide them access to tools and coping skills that will support their ability to thrive. Whenever there is a spare moment, Angela enjoys hiking Duluth's many trails with her dog, Duncan, or spending quality time with friends and family. She is also an avid baker and visual artist.

murp0497@d.umn.edu

Projects: Ecological momentary assessment and adults with autism; Emotional abuse and academia; Emotional abuse and forensic interviewing

Lizzy Nikcevich

Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant

Lizzy graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN with a major in Biology and Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience. Lizzy is originally from Duluth and, post graduation, she is currently a a pediatric and adult psychometrist with MN Epilepsy Group. She is a Research Assistant for the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab. Her current research interests include trauma-impacted childhood development, human sexuality, attachment styles, and psychopathology as a precipitate of trauma. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, yoga, and mindfulness exercises.

nikce005@umn.edu

Projects: Trauma-sensitive yoga and pregnancy; Prenatal hot yoga

Jessica Nowacki portrait

Jessica Nowacki

Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant

Jessica Nowacki is from Andover, Minnesota. She started UMD as a Biology major, switched to Elementary Education, and then graduated in the Fall of 2020 with a major in Psychology with a Biology minor. She hopes to attend graduate school, as she found interest in Psychology and admires the fact that one can do many things after undergraduate with this major. Assisting in this research as an undergraduate sparked her interests, especially in the field of addiction and mindfulness. She wants to relate the Mind-Body connection to how people understand their feelings and actions depending on how they discover their own connections within themselves.

nowac033@d.umn.edu

Projects: Trauma-sensitive yoga and treatment court

Portrait of Brandon Roiger

Brandon Roiger

Postgraduate Research Assistant

Brandon Roiger (he/him) is a chaplain resident at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. He graduated with an MA in psychology and religion from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and a BS in agricultural education from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. His background is in youth work, and he hopes to pursue further education to be a clinical psychologist. As a queer person and someone who has experienced caregiver maltreatment, Brandon is interested in research/practice involving healing and interventions for adolescents who have experienced complex trauma, including young people who experience oppression-based trauma. He is centered by abolitionist and transformative justice frameworks, as a way of imagining how we transform the harm that young people experience under abuse, oppression and violent interpersonal/social structures. Brandon enjoys running, playing volleyball, going for walks with friends, and being outdoors near water.

broiger@umn.edu

Projects: Emotional abuse perceptions

Portrait of Julia Smith

Julia Smith

Undergraduate Research Assistant (Lab Manager)

Julia Smith is an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. She plans on graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology and a minor in Public Health. She then plans on attending graduate school to become a therapist. Her interests include the mind-body relationship, natural treatments for depression and anxiety, and the effects of pharmaceuticals on the mind and body.

smi00861@d.umn.edu

Projects: Ecological momentary assessment with adults who stutter; Trauma-sensitive yoga qualitative interviewing

Megan Sundstrom

Postgraduate Research Assistant

Megan is a Postgraduate Research Assistant for the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in the Master of Arts in Psychological Science (MAPS) program (clinical/counseling psychology track). Her current research projects are assessing wellbeing in individuals with disabilities through adaptive yoga and sports programs at a community center and assessing the effects of trauma, particularly emotional abuse, on persons over time. Broad topics of research interest include mindfulness and mind-body interventions, trauma and trauma narratives, populations with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and quality of life and well-being. Megan enjoys hiking and running in her free time, and she loves to travel as much as she can!

sunds054@d.umn.edu

Projects: Adaptive yoga; Ecological momentary intervention efficacy

Alexis Tola

Affiliate Research Assistant

Alexis Tola is an undergraduate student at Nova Southeastern University. In 2020, she resigned as a registered nurse in the emergency department to pursue a degree in psychology. She hopes to further her education and obtain a PhD. in clinical psychology. Along with her research at NSU, Alexis is a research assistant in the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab. She aims to combine these experiences, with that of her nursing foundation, to approach future research in an integrated and holistic fashion. Her current interests include the manifestations of trauma in cognition and trauma-informed yoga.

at1792@mynsu.nova.edu

Projects: Trauma-sensitive yoga qualitative interviewing

Brenisen Wheeler portrait

Brenisen Wheeler

Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant

Brenisen Wheeler (she/her) earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in Spring 2019 where she spent several years researching, studying, and presenting on identity, mental health, marginalization, mindfulness and trauma. She was mentored by Dr. Nguyen-Feng in the summer of 2018 through the Multicultural Summer Research Opportunity Program (MSROP) on a project called "Mental health at the intersection of race, gender, and sexual orientation among college students." The poster was presented at the Undergraduate Symposium in 2018 and the manuscript is currently being prepared for submission to an APA journal.

She is currently serving as the Community Education and Outreach Manager at Women’s Advocates, the nation’s first domestic violence shelter. In this role, Brenisen provides presentations, trainings, and workshops in the community to support Women’s Advocates’ mission of walking with victim-survivors and our community to break the cycle of domestic violence. Brenisen began working at Women’s Advocates in April 2019 and has reached thousands of community members, professionals, and students within the state of Minnesota and beyond.

She also volunteers as a Crisis Responder with THRIVE, has her 235-hour yoga teacher training certification, and 30-hour trauma informed yoga teacher training certification. She intends to apply to Counseling and Clinical Psychology PhD programs for the 2021-2022 cycle.

linde720@umn.edu

Projects: Intersectional identities and attachment; Multiple marginalization; Trauma-sensitive yoga qualitative interviewing

Photo of Rachel Willhite

Rachel Willhite

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Rachel Willhite is a 5th-year undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She is working toward her Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Psychology as well as her Bachelor of Science in Statistics and Mathematics. She hopes to further her education and obtain her PhD in Clinical/Experimental Psychology. Rachel is an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab as of Fall 2021 and hopes to gain insight into different research areas in preparation of graduate school in Fall 2022.

In the past, Rachel has studied psychological safety in the workplace, implicit theories of relationships, as well as assisted in a positive psychology meta-analysis. She has an extensive background in data analysis & statistical methods. Her research interests include improving mental health care, mood disorders, trauma recovery, and the healing properties of psychedelic drugs. Outside of school, Rachel is a Clinical Assistant and Trained Medication Aide at The Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment in Duluth. She enjoys yoga, reading, cats, traveling, and bowling.

willh021@d.umn.edu

Projects: Trauma-sensitive yoga and dialectical behavioral therapy

Bruktawit Zewdie

McNair Scholar Research Assistant

Bruk graduated from the University of Minnesota as a major in Health and Wellness and is now pursuing a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy on the Twin Cities campus. She works with Dr. Viann Nguyen-Feng to study the effects of emotional trauma and abuse. Bruk is interested in the implications of emotional abuse and how people can recover from particularly traumatic experiences. She is also excited to take an in-depth look at autism to prepare for her future as an OT. In her spare time, Bruk volunteers at the Ethiopian Kids community, teaching the American parents of adopted Ethiopian children the Amharic language and traditional dances to acquaint them with the Ethiopian culture. Bruk's favorite things to do are eating ice cream and catching up with close friends.

zewdi009@umn.edu

Projects: Ecological momentary assessment and adults with autism; Emotional abuse and physical health

Linda Zheng

Graduate Research Assistant & Graduate Research Mentor (Research Team Coordinator)

Linda (she/her) is a Graduate Research Assistant and Mentor for the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab and a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, Duluth in the Master of Arts in Psychological Science program (clinical/counseling track). Her Plan B/thesis-equivalent project focuses on early maladaptive schemas and coping responses after childhood maltreatment at a child advocacy center. Her broad research interests include interpersonal traumas, mind-body interventions, improving access to mental health care, and the wellbeing of historically marginalized groups. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, cooking, meditating, and creating art.

zhen0355@d.umn.edu

Projects: Ecological momentary assessment and adults with autism; Emotional abuse and forensic interviewing; Emotional abuse and physical health; Emotional abuse perceptions

The Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab logo

The Mind-Body Trauma Care Research Team is accepting a Graduate Student Research Assistant for Fall 2022.