Graduate Students

Leslie_Acana2_CROPLeslie Acuna, B.S. Leslie is a student in the Health Behavior Research and Evaluation Masters Program. She has worked in Case Management for VA Medical Compensation and Pension. She is eager to participate in research surrounding various aspects of health persuasion. Her fields of interests within healthcare include: chronic and genetic disability management, reproductive health in women, and overall health management in young adults. She is also interested in the relationship dynamics between providers, staff, patients, and vendors as well as their interactions and accessibility within larger healthcare entities.

Alexis Alabastro, M.A. Alexis examines resistance to social influence and persuasion, and holds a strong interest in research methodology and statistical analysis. Her current research includes a study on persuasive sarcasm, minority influence, and the black sheep effect. She also collaborates with other research assistants to investigate components involved in adolescents’ resistance to persuasive anti-drug campaigns and is responsible for designing and executing research using the National Survey of Parents and Youth (NSPY).

Blazek, DanielleDanielle Blazek, M.A. Danielle is a doctoral student in the basic and applies social psychology program. Her research interests rest in the intersection of social influence and prosocial health behavior. Her current research examines the utility of discrete positive emotions on increasing rates of organ donor registration.



Candice D. Donaldson, M.A. Candice is a Ph.D. student in the applied social psychology program, specializing in health behavior. She is interested in topics such as motivation, attitude change, persuasion, health behavior change, and substance use. She is currently the Project Manager on a grant funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that is focused on understanding and overcoming adolescent resistance to anti-marijuana ads by tailoring persuasive appeals based on characteristics of the message receiver.

Sara Hollar, M.A. Sara is a Ph.D. student in Social Psychology. She’s currently studying the effects of goal disruption, as well as messages that may increase help seeking among people with depression.




Lori Garner, M.A. Lori’s research focuses primarily on risk perception and applying social psychological principles in the development of risk-moderating messages. Specifically, she studies risk perceptions regarding and subsequent decision making about health and prosocial behaviors such as organ donation registration. She also studies the role of social context on risk perceptions and behavioral responses to threat.


Amanda Keeler, M.A. Amanda is interested in applying social psychological theories to health promotion. Her current research focuses on encouraging depressed Hispanic populations to seek help from their loved ones by addressing common barriers such as stigma, efficacy, and behavioral capabilities. In addition, she is interested in HIV education and prevention for at risk populations.



Michael Lebsack-Coleman, B.S. Michael is a Ph. D student in the Applied Social Psychology program. His research interests include youth substance abuse intervention and the role of perceived control in illicit substance use. He is currently working in two areas of research. The first is focused on developing a brief intervention for youth targeting marijuana and alcohol use, based in the Theory of Planned Behavior. The second area focuses on the role of subjective norms in tobacco and marijuana use.

Elena A. Lyrintzis, M.A. Elena is interested in applying social psychological principles to health behaviors, specifically the nonmedical use of prescription drugs. Her other research interests include motivation, state-based change, and systemic attitudes.




Heidi Martinez, B.A. Heidi is masters student in the Positive Developmental Psychology and Evaluation program.  She has been involved in research on mothers with depression in the past and currently interested in the role of mindfulness in interpersonal emotion regulation in intimate relationships.



MillerStephenStephen Miller, M.A. Stephen is an advanced PhD student in the social psychology program at Claremont Graduate University.  His research interests focus on attitudes, outcome expectancies, and adolescent health behavior.  Specifically, he has worked on examining the psychosocial correlates to adolescent substance abuse for both licit and illicit substances.  Recently, he has published on the connection between parent cannabis use and child cannabis initiation.  He works under the mentorship of Dr. Siegel and Dr. Crano as a member of the Health Psychology and Prevention Science Institute at Claremont Graduate University.


Tara Parnitvithikul, M.A. Tara is a doctoral student in social psychology.  Her research interests include encouraging help-seeking and increasing social support for individuals with depression.  She is working on research that examines how perceived etiology of depression influences willingness to provide help to individuals with depression.



Andrea L. Ruybal, M.A. Andi is a PhD student of Social Psychology and Health Behavior Research. She is interested in conducting applied research related to health psychology, communication, and persuasion, which is heavily theory and data driven. Her research interests also include depression in minority populations, postpartum depression, drug abuse, and minority influence.




Timothy Silva, B.A. Tim is a PhD student in the applied social psychology program. Overall, he is interested in health persuasion and using social psychological theory to move people from maladaptive to adaptive health behaviors, specifically in the domain of substance use and recovery. Additionally, he is interested in social transformation through the alleviation of the social stigma that surrounds those in recovery from substance use disorders.


charlesCharles Somerville, B.A. Charles is a doctoral student in the Basic & Applied Social Psychology program at Claremont Graduate University. Primarily, his research investigates the nuances of interpersonal behavior in online contexts, particularly where it concerns the user’s experience. Previously, Charles and colleague Joshua Paul developed a novel scale of state aggression in video game contexts to analyze sexist aggression toward women in video games.


Straszewski, Tasha

Tasha Straszewski, M.A. Tasha is a doctoral student in applied social psychology. She is interested in depression, specifically in developing interventions that may increase help-seeking for individuals with depression. Tasha also has an interest in positive psychology and is currently working on incorporating positive psychology elements in help-seeking interventions.


Cara N. Tan, M.A. Cara is interested in exploring the variables that influence the consistency of attitudes and behavior with a special focus on prosocial behavior.  Her current research is focused on understanding the relationship between vested interest and attitude strength.  She is also interested in developing new methods of persuasion based on attitude strength to promote positive health behavior and prosocial behavior.




Emily Warren, M.A. Emily is a Ph.D. student in Applied Social Psychology and holds an M.A.  in Organizational Behavior.  She has conducted research on individual factors that affect responses to goal expectation violations using goal disruption theory (Siegel, 2013).  She is working toward a professional path in program development and assessment.  Two recent examples are the DBOS Peer Mentoring Program and the CGU Alumni Teaching Community.  Both programs aim to facilitate access to important resources and build sense of community among program participants.


rachelle-webbRachelle Webb, B.A. Rachelle is a doctoral student in the Applied Social Psychology program. Her research interests include developing persuasive messages to encourage help-seeking for depression, mental health stigma, and suicide prevention. She has worked with local mental health organizations and the Riverside University Health System Behavioral Health Research & Evaluation Department as an intern. Her current research focuses on the application of narrative transportation theory to encourage people with depression to reach out for help.



Clarence M. Wigfall, MPH. Clarence is an Applied Social Psychology PhD student. Clarence studies the intersection of technology, public health, developmental biology and applied social psychology. He is a 2014 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Bio Arts Awardee for 3D visualization of microCT lung data sets and is a past visiting Professor at the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences, School of Public Health.  Clarence is studying the application of cellular phone technology to public health persuasion tailoring in Mongolia and the U.S. and the use of advanced imaging technology to create hyper-real 3D models as discovery tools to create an immersive experience of observation, modification and manipulation to enhance advanced developmental biology research perception.

Adjunct Members

Tatiana Basáñez, Ph.D. Tatiana studies intergroup processes and health disparities with a focus on persuasion and Hispanics.  She has investigated acculturation and substance abuse and is now seeking to apply research from embodiment and implicit cognitions to health and academic achievement interventions.



Yuliyana Beleva, Ph.D. Yuliyana’s research focuses on persuasion and attitude change in health-related settings, as well as using the power of mass media to promote healthy behaviors. She is interested in applying theoretical frameworks from psychology to increase the effectiveness of health communications and develop social marketing campaigns. Currently, she studies at-risk adolescents’ motivation to accept or reject persuasive messages related to obesity and drug abuse.

061c124-1Ian Johnson, Ph.D. Ian is studying attitude-behavior consistency and ways to increase (pro-health) attitude-behavior consistency through persuasive messages. Ian is also interested in preventing and curbing adolescent drug use via media campaigns, reactance, motivations for nonmedical prescription drug use, and differences in perceived norms surrounding prescription and illicit drugs.



Chris Lamb, Ph.D. Chris is most interested in interpersonal dynamics and how our social relationships influence our attitudes and behaviors (e.g. how parent expectancies can influence youth marijuana use); he is also interested in the application of research exploring prominent social issues, health behavior, and education. Chris is currently exploring how people conceptually understand marriage and the malleability of attitudes toward same-sex marriage. He is concluding an international study exploring the attitudes toward adoption of students in Europe and the United States training in the applied sciences.

Brianna Alyssa Lienemann, Ph.D. Brianna’s research interests focus on improving stigma, attitudes, intentions, and behavior related to depression, suicide, and substance use. This is achieved through the application of persuasion and psychological theories to the creation and evaluation of public service announcements.



Mario Navarro, Ph.D. Mario is interested in health behavior and health promotion specifically in the realm of organ donation. His research interests include attitude-behavior consistency and purposive behavior within the total adult population and familiasm and abnegation within Hispanic populations.


Erin K. O’Brien, Ph.D. Erin is interested in understanding why many large-scale health campaigns do not work, and proposes that this is because their targets are experiencing psychological bleakness, which reduces their likelihood of processing health information. Erin is also interested in studying the relationship between culture and health—how health behaviors are perceived differently based on culture. She is particularly interested in understanding what factors account for Latino health disparities and Latino health advantages.


Benjamin D. Rosenberg, Ph.D. Ben is in interested in applying social psychological and communication research to address social and health problems. Particularly, Ben’s research focuses on health attitudes, messaging, and persuasion; adolescent obesity; heightened drive state; and the interplay between technology and behavior.


Julia Tang, Ph.D., M.S.W. Julia is a developmental psychologist interested in understanding how decision making about health behaviors occur during the transition between adolescence to adulthood. Julia’s past research has also involved examining needs of cancer patients and survivors and the relationship between health related quality of life (HRQOL) and survivorship. She is currently working on studying the trajectories of healthy and health risk behaviors during adolescence and young adulthood using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health).