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Elise Betkowski

Freshman Undergraduate Student

Elise is a first year student at DePaul University, pursuing her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. Currently, she is interested in behavioral medicine, medication assisted therapy, as well as economic and racial disparities in health.

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Meg Clark Withington

(6th year Doctoral Candidate)

Meg Clark received her B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh, where she majored in Applied Developmental Psychology. After graduation, Meg worked state government before making a career change to psychology and clinical research. She worked at Drexel University's WELL Center, coordinating a study focusing on lifestyle modification for behavioral weight loss, with emphases on acceptance based therapies and physical activity. Meg's primary research interests include developing interventions and prevention strategies for promoting healthy eating habits, specifically with children in minority populations. For her thesis project, she explored the role that emotions and self-regulation play in diet. For her dissertation, she is conducting a meta-analysis on the relationship between cortisol and child health behaviors. She is currently on internship at UCSD/Rady Children's Hospital. 

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Paige Patano

(1st year MS Student)

Paige received her BS in Clinical/Community Psychology with a minor in Adult Development at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in May 2020. During her time there, she was a research assistant in a lab that looked at the social and emotional processes underlying alcohol use and how the rewards of alcohol may predict potential AUD. Through her research and coursework, she developed a broad interest in alcohol research and developmental psychopathology. As a master’s student, Paige is interested in researching the effects of stressful life events on alcohol use, as well as protective factors and risk factors associated with the development of AUD in times of high stress.

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Emma Aculado

Senior Undergraduate Student

Emma will graduate with her B.A. in Psychology in the Human Services concentration and a minor in Sociology from DePaul University in June of 2023. During her undergraduate studies, she was involved with Depaul’s Psi Chi and Division 45 chapters. She worked as a research assistant with the Chicago Asian American Psychology (CAAP) Lab and the Culture & Evidence-Based Practice (CEBP) Lab. In the summer of 2023, she will begin the Master’s of Social Work program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the Advanced Clinical Practice track. Emma is interested in researching culturally adapted health interventions and the relationship between trauma and eating disorders. She is currently completing her senior year internship at the CHOICE lab.

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Bernardo Loiacono

(5th year Doctoral Candidate)


Bernardo received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from DePaul University in 2016. During his undergraduate studies, he was involved in researching myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) in children. Upon graduation, he accepted a research assistant position at the Center for Community Research where he continued his study of ME/CFS in children. Currently, Bernardo is working on his dissertation which explores relations between stress biomarkers and physical activity and sleep in emerging adults. 

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Mary Takgbajouah

(2nd year Doctoral Candidate)

Mary received her B.S in Psychology from DePaul University in 2020. She was involved in research on gender based violence and substance use and addictive behaviors during her undergraduate studies. After graduating she worked as a summer research fellow at the University of North Carolina’s Center for Excellence for Eating Disorders on projects looking at binge eating in Black women, the importance of diversity in genetic studies, and comorbidity of eating disorder pathology and alcohol use. Currently, she is interested in exploring the relationship between trauma and addictive behaviors, including substance use and food addiction.

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Alex O'Donnell

(3rd year Doctoral Candidate)


Alex received his B.S. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2016 after which he worked as a behavior analysis specialist at Munroe-Meyer Institute's Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Omaha, Nebraska. He received his M.S. in psychology from DePaul University in 2020. As a master's student at DePaul, he researched the benefits of natural mentoring relationships on Latinx adolescents' psychological well-being under Dr. Bernadette Sánchez. Alex is interested in combining his research and practical experience with children and families to explore relationship factors which promote healthy behaviors and barriers preventing equitable access to nutrition among low-income communities. He is currently working on a meta-analysis exploring relations between government-funded nutrition assistance programs and mental health outcomes.

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