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


Portrait of Ashley Baumann

Ashley Baumann

Postgraduate Research Assistant

Ashley Baumann earned her Master of Arts in Psychological Science (experimental track) at University of Minnesota, Duluth. Her thesis assessed 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 Joseph Davidson

Joseph Davidson

Graduate Research Assistant & Graduate Research Mentor

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; Trauma-sensitive yoga and dialectical behavioral therapy

Kelsey Dietrich

Graduate Research Assistant, Graduate Research Mentor, & Research Team Coordinator

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; Trauma-sensitive yoga with First Nations

Portrait of Sutapa Goswami

Sutapa Goswami

Affiliate Research Assistant

Sutapa Goswami is currently a senior at University of Delhi, India. She is majoring in psychology and harbours a keen research interest in understanding the impact of early-life stress and adversity on the socio-emotional development of children and adolescents. Through pursuing a career in research (as well as clinical practice), she intends to integrate mind-body contemplative practices from the east with the traditional biomedical models to foster a more holistic approach towards psychotherapeutic treatments. Apart from school, she is trained in Kathak (an Indian classical dance form) for 8 years, and enjoys reading, peaceful walks/runs in nature, and music.


sutapa.gos1209@gmail.com

Projects: Emotional abuse perceptions

Colleen Jender

Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant

Colleen Jender completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth, earning a Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Psychology with a Public Health minor. Colleen is a Postbaccalaureate 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: Trauma-sensitive yoga qualitative interviewing; Trauma-sensitive yoga and psychotherapy

Portrait of Elizabeth Lee

Elizabeth Lee

Graduate Research Assistant

Elizabeth Lee (she/her) is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota Duluth in the Master of Arts in Psychological Science program, counseling/clinical track. Elizabeth 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 started her journey at the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab in summer 2021 to expand her research skills and knowledge. 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 candidate 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

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: Prenatal hot yoga

Val Niklas

Affiliate Graduate Research Assistant

Val Niklas (she/her) is a graduate student earning a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Lesley University (Holistic Studies track). She is a 500-hour certified yoga teacher with an interest in yoga therapeutics and trauma-informed yoga therapy. She recently completed her first year of clinical work at a community-based residential program for traumatized youth where she incorporated mindfulness and body-based interventions. As an upcoming intern for JRI’s Center for Trauma and Embodiment, she hopes to continue integrating psychosomatic interventions into her clinical work. Val is interested in research to better understand the benefits or contraindications of mindfulness-based modalities, psychosomatic therapies, and trauma-informed yoga interventions.

vniklas@lesley.edu

Projects: Trauma-sensitive yoga qualitative interviewing; Trauma-sensitive yoga and psychotherapy

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 Lindsay Okindo

Lindsay Okindo

McNair Scholar Research Assistant

Lindsay Okindo is a junior at Carleton College majoring in Psychology and minoring in Africana Studies. She hopes to further her education by pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology. Her research interests include the impact of trauma on childhood development and improving access to mental health care, especially for marginalized communities. In her free time, she enjoys baking, reading, and spending time outdoors.

okind010@umn.edu

Projects: Emotional abuse and forensic interviewing

Portrait of Diana Santullano

Diana Santullano

Affiliate Postdoctoral Researcher

Diana N. Santullano received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013 and graduated from Wright State University School of Professional Psychology in Dayton, OH with her PsyD in July 2022. She completed her psychology internship at Henry Ford Health Sciences Center in Detroit, MI. Her dissertation research involved developing a program which integrated Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. She has a strong interest in holistic health and hopes to integrate yoga into her future clinical practice as a health psychologist, and she is especially excited about continuing her dissertation research with the Mind-Body Trauma Care Research Team. She loves working with individuals with medical comorbidities and is particularly interested in behavioral sleep medicine, chronic pain care, psych-oncology, transplant psychology, and weight management. Diana’s career goals include practicing integrated primary care and specialty care psychology within a multidisciplinary team setting. In her free time, Diana is a foodie who loves to travel and take photos, cook, see live music, drink coffee, practice yoga, and otherwise be active outdoors.

santullano.2@wright.edu

Projects: Trauma-sensitive yoga and dialectical behavioral therapy

Portrait of Julia Smith

Julia Smith

Affiliate Graduate Research Assistant

Julia Smith completed her undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. She graduated spring 2022 with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology and a minor in Public Health. She is now attending graduate school at St. Cloud State University 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: Trauma-informed weight lifting; Trauma-sensitive yoga qualitative interviewing

Portrait of Nicole Strumbel

Nicole Strumbel

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nicole is an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota - Duluth seeking her BAS in Psychology with a minor in professional writing. She hopes to further her education with an MS in Clinical Counseling. Her research interests include meditation regarding its benefits towards trauma/depression as well as yoga and therapy and their benefits towards trauma or behavioral concerns. In her free time, she enjoys weight-lifting, singing, drawing, and writing.

strum031@d.umn.edu

Projects: Trauma-sensitive yoga and psychotherapy; Trauma-sensitive yoga and dialectical behavioral therapy

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 Graduate Research Assistant

Alexis Tola completed her undergraduate studies at Nova Southeastern University and is now at The New School for Social Research. 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

Portrait of Xinran Wang

Xinran Wang

Affiliate Graduate Research Assistant

Xinran Wang is a current graduate student at Vanderbilt University studying mental health counseling. Xinran is highly interested in the integrative mind-body method helping young people cope with the adult transition, helping them explore identity, understand relationships, and recognize this dynamic period.

Xinran is also a yoga enthusiast with an RYT 200 hours yoga coach certificate. She loves connecting with nature. She is passionate about everything that helps us experience authentic joy and fully live our lives.

xinran.wang@vanderbilt.edu

Projects: Trauma-informed weight lifting; Trauma-sensitive yoga and dialectical behavioral therapy

Brenisen Wheeler portrait

Brenisen Wheeler

Affiliate Graduate Research Assistant

Brenisen Wheeler (she/her) is a graduate student at Adler Graduate School. Brenisen 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."

Brenisen began serving as the Community Education and Outreach Manager at Women’s Advocates, the nation’s first domestic violence shelter, in April 2019 through August 2022. 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. She 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.

linde720@umn.edu

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

Photo of Rachel Willhite

Rachel Willhite

Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant

Rachel Willhite graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a 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 Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant for the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab and hopes to gain insight into different research areas in preparation of graduate school.

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: COVID-related traumatic stress and adjustment in the US; Trauma-sensitive yoga and dialectical behavioral therapy

Linda Zheng

Postgraduate Research Assistant

Linda (she/her) is a Postgraduate Research Assistant and Mentor for the Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab and a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Duluth in the Master of Arts in Psychological Science program (clinical/counseling track). Her thesis-equivalent project focused 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: COVID-related traumatic stress and adjustment in the US; Ecological momentary assessment and adults with autism; Emotional abuse and forensic interviewing; Emotional abuse and physical health; Emotional abuse perceptions; Trauma-sensitive yoga with First Nations

The Mind-Body Trauma Care Research Team is accepting a Graduate Student Research Assistant for Fall 2023. In your application, please discuss research interests specific to the lab.