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Health Studies 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016 United States

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Research Team


Ethan Mereish Adjunct Assoc Prof CAS - Health Studies

Ethan Mereish is an Adjunct Associate Professor at American University, Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, and an adjunct Associate Professor at Brown University. His NIH

Graduate Research Assistants

Carolyn Chen (she/her)

Carolyn Chen is currently a 2nd year Master’s student in Psychology. She received her BS in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2017. Her undergraduate research focused on the intersection of the queer identity among Asian Americans. Her current research interests include understanding the effects of acculturation on depressive symptoms among Korean Americans .

Diana Cox (she/her)

Diana is currently a 2nd year PhD student in the Clinical Psychology program at American University. She received her BS in Psychology from the College of William & Mary in 2018. Her thesis examined whether purpose in life moderated the relationship between depression and chronic health conditions. Her current research interests include studying the effects of both general stress and minority stress on health outcomes. For her dissertation, she is developing a brief, low-cost intervention to improve mental health outcomes for sexual minority adolescents.

Yajna Jowaheer (she/her)

Yajna Jowaheer is currently a graduate student in the MA in Psychology program at American University. She previously obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience in 2018 at the College of William and Mary where she conducted her undergraduate honors thesis on the effect of implicit and explicit prejudice on perceptions of people of different races. Her research interests include investigating the relationship between psychological stressors and substance use in underrepresented populations and the moderating effects of protective factors to help address mental health disparities.

Steven Smathers (he/him)

Steven Smathers is a graduate student in the master's program in psychology at American University. He also works in AU's Office of Research Integrity where he serves as an analyst for the AU Internal Review Board. His research interests include theoretical and methodological advancements in transprejudice measurements, mitigating stigma related to gender diversity, and bolstering protective factors to prevent psychopathology in queer populations.


Undergraduate Research Assistants

Sophie Hathaway (she/her)

Sophie Hathaway is currently a Senior at American University pursuing her BS degrees in Public Health and Health Promotion with a certificate in ethical leadership. Originally from rural Massachusetts, she is interested in the intersections between rurality, minority stressors for LGBTQ+ individuals, and how risk factors for poor health outcomes can overlap between the two. She joined the lab to gain practical experience both in data analysis and with the population she aims to serve in her work as a future public health professional.


Mariya Malik (she/her)

Mariya Malik is currently a first year student at American University majoring in Psychology and minoring in Neuroscience on the pre-med track. In the past, she has done a TEDx Talk addressing the underrepresented struggle first and second generation immigrants face regarding their mental health, and how these issues can be combated by an accounting for intersectionality in healthcare treatments and finding a way to educate and spread awareness among communities who are trapped behind cultural barriers. She joined the lab in hopes of doing work addressing these kinds of health disparities, as well as gaining practical, analytical and research skills.

Louise Plever (She/Her)

Louise Plever is excited to be a new Research Assistant in the Lavender Lab! She is studying Public Health (BS) here at AU. She is from Asheville, NC and loves to hike! She is interested in LGBTQIA+ health and creating a more inclusive health system. She hopes to attend PA school and pursue a Masters degree in Public Health!


Zoe Smith (she/they)

Zoe Smith is currently a Sophomore at American University pursuing her BS degree in Psychology with a double minor in Justice, Law, and Criminology and Sociology. They are currently interested in the adverse effects juvenile incarceration has on childhood developmental milestones. In addition, she is interested in how gender dysphoria negatively affects individuals in the LGBTQ+ community’s mental health. She is grateful to be a part of this lab and for the experience to work with communities she hopes to help.


Kai Wasson (he/him)

As a third year in the Public Health Scholars Program, I am happy to be rounding out my AU undergraduate career on campus. In May, I will be graduating with a BS in Public Health and a minor in Sociology. I am currently a Research Assistant in the Department of Health Studies’ Lavender Lab, where I work on projects that study health disparities among sexual minority youth. I also work with a faculty member on their research into HIV and ageing populations. In the future, I hope to pursue a career in health research, and I plan on returning to college for my MPH. Next year, I will be staying on at AU in the MA in Sociology Research and Practice program.


Lavender Lab Research Team Alumni

  • Moataz Salim
    Fall 2020–Summer 2021
  • Lindsay Sarfo
    Fall 2020–Spring 2021
  • Farshad Bazargani
    Fall 2018–Summer 2021
  • Roma Kaczmarkiewics
    Fall 2019–Spring 2020
  • Marnina Hornstein
    Summer 2019–Spring 2020
  • Shannon Tuohey
    Fall 2018–Summer 2021
  • Sofia Flynn
    Fall 2018–Summer 2021
  • Julia Harris
    Fall 2018–Spring 2020
  • Quinn Anderson
    Summer 2018–Spring 2020
  • Uma Neelakantan
    Summer 2019
  • Adam Majeski
    Fall 2018–Spring 2019
  • Eli Hernandez
    Fall 2018–Spring 2019
  • Blaine Johnson
    Spring 2018
  • Harrison Ferachi
    Spring 2018
  • Britton Perry
    Summer/Fall 2017
  • Liliana Ascencio
    Fall 2017