Undergraduate Research Assistants

A small number of undergraduates are accepted into the HDCI lab annually. Past HDCI undergraduate research assistants have present at conferences, co – authored manuscripts, and won various research awards and fellowships. Below are our current research assistants.

Shaileen Barberena
Biological Sciences Major, Psychology Minor

Shaileen joined the lab in Spring 2021. She is pursuing a degree in biological sciences with a minor in psychology. She plans to go to medical school to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. Shaileen is interested in women’s health issues and how minorities are affected by social elements.

Rozhin Daneshgar
Science Nutrition Major, Chemistry & Psychology Minor

Rozhin joined the lab in the summer of 2020. She is currently on the pre-dental track. In the future, Rozhin would like to become a maxillofacial surgeon. She is interested in research that focuses on the socioeconomic factors which affect the overall health choices of a group. She is especially interested in how gender, race, and nationality influence health outcomes

Johna Denis
Chemistry Major, Biology Minor

Johna joined the lab in the Spring of 2021. She is pursuing a degree in Chemistry and Music with a minor in Biology, and will be attending the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in Fall 2022. She is interested in research that focuses on the health disparities and underrepresentation amongst people of color.

Eric Durrenberger
Post Baccalaureate

Eric graduated from FIU in Spring 2020 with a bachelor's in psychology and a minor in Spanish language and culture. Joining the lab for the Spring 2021 semester, he is interested in the interactions of minority and majority groups, especially as it affects healthcare availability. He dreams of eventually attending graduate school to become a psychologist.

Alyssa Fernandez
Biological Science & Biological Education Major

Alyssa is a Biological Science and Biological Education major on a pre-medical track. In the future, she hopes to become a physician with expertise in addressing cross cultural health needs and providing culturally appropriate services. Alyssa is interested in research that is closely related to underrepresented individuals and the sociocultural factors that shape health outcomes in their daily lives.

Laura Ramirez (Lab Manager)
Psychology Major, Statistics Minor

Laura joined the lab in the Spring of 2019. She is pursuing a degree in Psychology and a minor in Statistics, along with a certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. She is interested in the ways sociocultural factors affect typically underrepresented individuals’ educational and employment decisions and experiences. Laura plans to attend graduate school for Industrial Organizational Psychology.

Carla Rodriguez
Psychology Major

Carla joined the lab in Summer 2020. She is interested in studying women's mental health in different cultures and communities as well as violence against women. She is also interested in the role women play in the Latinx community. Carla plans on continuing her education and getting a doctorate in clinical psychology. She was selected to participate  In the Psychology Study Abroad Program.

Shadia Sorano
Psychology Major

Shadia joined the lab in Spring 2021. She is pursuing a degree in psychology. Her interests include understanding how diverse communities are impacted by sociocultural and psychological factors. She is also interested in discovering ways to prevent health disparities within the world. Shadia plans to attend dental school in the future.

Riley Strassguertl
Junior Richmond Hill Secondary School

Riley joined the lab in Spring 2021. Riley hopes to pursue an undergraduate degree in kinesiology and nutrition. Her reearch interests include the examination of body image cross culturally (e.g. racial/ ethnic and national identity), and disordered eating perceptions among adolescent high performance female athletes.

Bianka Valentin (Lab Manager)
Psychology Major

Bianka joined the lab in the Summer of 2020. She is pursing a degree in Psychology and a certificate in Women and Gender’s Studies. She is very interested in learning and researching how the differences in socioeconomic factors within a culture dictate the importance of mental health and the development of physical/emotional well-being. Also, she has research interests on how gender-based violence is perceived distinctively through a multitude of cultural systems based on adopting certain social norms/values. She plans on attending graduate school to receive her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology, specializing in Neuropsychology.


Students interested in joining the HDCI Lab should review our application information.

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