Grad Students


Emily Ross, M.A.

Thesis:  Identification of areas of patient need using the cancer support source program (2017).

Dissertation: The Reciprocal Effect of Gastrointestinal Health on Psychological Distress and Disability in Emerging Adults (Proposed, Anticipated Defense March 2021)

Bio: Emily earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts from the Clinical Psychology Master’s Program at the Sanford/Lake Mary Campus of the University of Central Florida. During her time in the master’s program, Emily was involved in research and clinical work in the area of clinical health psychology, focusing on health promotion and reduction of distress and psychiatric symptoms in patients with cancer. Emily’s research interests include psycho-oncology, health behaviors in individuals with chronic diseases, facilitating integration of psychology in medical settings, and cognitive and emotional processes involved in well-being and adjustment to stress. Outside of school, Emily enjoys tennis, playing piano, the beach, and spending time with her family.

Michelle Keck, B.S.

Thesis: Examing the Role of Anxiety and Depression in Predicting Dietary Choices in Emerging Adults (2020)

Bio:  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. Prior to joining the Health Psychology lab, Michelle served five years in the U.S. Navy. She also spent two years as a research assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Anxiety Disorders lab, where she was involved in research related to phobia, tics and compulsions. Michelle’s research interests include health-related lifestyle factors (e.g., diet), as well as occupational trauma among healthcare providers and service members. Outside of school, Michelle enjoys cooking, reading, video games and spending time with her family. Michelle has a passion for dark chocolate and spicy food, and is a self-proclaimed chocoholic and chilihead.


Jonathan Mitchell, M.A., M.S., Ph.D.

Thesis: Measurement of negative affectivity in psychometrically defined schizotypy using facial electromyography (2013)

Internship: Brown University | Providence, RI,  Warren Alpert Medical School, Track: Behavioral Medicine/Health Psychology

Dissertation Cardiac autonomic control in patients with metabolic syndrome (2016)

Bio: Originally from Wilton, Connecticut, Jonathan completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Miami in 2007 with a double major in Music Education and Psychology. After completing his first Master’s degree at UCF, he joined the doctoral program to develop a program of research and practice in health psychology and behavioral medicine. Jonathan was involved in a number of clinical services both inside and outside the Department of Psychology as a Visiting Assistant Professor from 2016-2017 where he served as a behavioral health consultant at the UCF College of Medicine primary care clinic (UCF Health). He is currently a Psychologist at the USF Counseling Center.

Jonathan’s research is translational in nature and focuses heavily on topics of clinical relevance. He has conducted investigations on mindfulness assessment, affective processes in individuals at risk for severe mental illness, and statistical modeling of sexual assault risk perception in females. His dissertation involved the overlap of psychological and physical features in chronic illness, with a focus on understanding how psychophysiological processes (particularly autonomically-mediated cardiac responses) relate to both disease progression and treatment adherence. He has been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals, including PLoS ONE and Psychiatry Research. Outside of work, Jonathan enjoys surfing, cooking, travel, and playing guitar and piano like a boss. On occasion, he gets to relax with his wife and dog.

Jonathan is currently a staff psychologist at the USF Counseling Center and Coordinator for their Postdoctoral Fellowship in Health Psychology

Frances Deavers, M.S., Ph.D.

Thesis: Modeling risk for sexually transmitted infections in women in a court-ordered substance treatment program (2014)

Internship: Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston

Dissertation: How does brief cognitive behavioral therapy work? potential mechanisms of action for veterans with physical and psychological comorbidities (2017)

Bio: Frances graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in the Spring of 2011 with a B.A. in Psychology.  During her undergraduate career she interacted with patients and helped with the administration of a token economy at Austin State Hospital. Under Dr. James Pennebaker, she conducted research on television watching, behavior, and language in depressed populations, and completed her undergraduate honors thesis on couples’ linguistic styles. She has published multiple works in the area of Primary Care Health Integration. She completed her dissertation examining mechanisms of CBT in patients with COPD. Frances enjoys outdoor activities, attending concerts, Thai food, and all things Texas.

She is currently a Psychologist at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston.

Natasha DePesa, M.S., Ph.D..

Thesis: Affective and autonomic responses to erotic images among young women with and without sexual difficulties (2015)

Internship: General Track- Health Psychology Emphasis, James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital, Tampa, FL

Dissertation: Effectiveness of an interdisciplinary chronic arthritis pain group intervention in an outpatient healthcare setting (2016)

Bio:  Natasha, a Los Angeles native, completed her undergraduate training at California State University Northridge in 2010. While in the Health Psychology Lab, she explored and expanded her interests in working in a health setting. Recent papers/projects have examined condom use among women in mandated substance use treatment, female sexual (dys)function, and physiological and affective responses to erotic photos. Natasha aims to gain knowledge and experience that will facilitate a career in integrated healthcare. She completed her dissertation with a rheumatologist at UCF Health, a joint physician practice affiliated with the UCF College of Medicine, to develop a multidisciplinary chronic pain management program for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. She and the physician were awarded an internal grant through the College of Medicine to fund this program. Outside of academia, Natasha is an avid hockey fan (go Kings!) and loves to read, be outdoors, and probe the infinite tastes of the culinary world.

She is currently the Primary Care Mental Health/Behavioral Medicine Fellow at the Durham V.A.

Keri Dotson Bayley, M.S., Ph.D.

Internship: Brown University | Providence, RI,  Warren Alpert Medical School, Track: Behavioral Medicine/Health Psychology

Dissertation: Subjective-Objective Discrepancies among Patients with Sleep Complaints in the Outpatient Setting (2018)

Bio: Keri received her B.A. in Psychology from Georgia State University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2010.  She then attended the University of Central Florida, where she has received her M.S. in Clinical Psychology and completed her doctoral training in July 2018. Keri completed her predoctoral internship in Behavioral Medicine at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University.  Her dissertation examined sleep misperceptions among medical patients using consumer activity monitors (Fitbit Charge HR™).  Her research and clinical interests largely overlap and include health behavior change and the use of technology in integrated care settings as well as interprofessional education and training for health promotion. In her free time, Keri enjoys doing DIY projects, going on day trips with her husband, and relaxing at home with their two dogs, Bayley and Kahlua.

Keri is currently a Postdoctoral Research Clinician at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston.

Andel Nicasio, MS.Ed., M.S., Ph.D.

Thesis: Examination of attitude-behavior discrepancy in familism and its relation to symptoms of depression among Latinos (2016)

Internship: Charleston Consortuim (Medical University of South Carolina/Ralph H. Johnson VAMC)

Bio: Originally from the Dominican Republic, Andel completed a B.A. in Organizational Psychology at the Pontifica Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra. She then received a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling from Hunter College, New York. Andel has experience working with community agencies servicing racially and culturally diverse groups. From 2009-2013, she was an adjunct faculty member at John Jay College for Criminal Justice, Department of Latin American and Latinos/as Studies. Prior to joining the Lab, she worked as Research Coordinator for the Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence at the New York State Psychiatry Institute-Columbia University Department of Psychiatry. There, she conducted mental health services research and led the coordination of the DSM-5 Field Trial for the Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI). Currently, her research interests are centered on adapting evidence-based practices and interventions for racially and culturally diverse populations with serious mental illness. She is also interested in the impact of public and self-stigma in people with serious mental illness. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, baking, some crafts, and entertaining family and friends.

Andel is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina.

Chelsea Wiener, B.A., M.S., Ph.D.

Thesis: Relationships between information adequacy, illness perceptions, and distress among survivors of differentiated thyroid cancer (2016)

Intenrship: The VA Boston Healthcare System Psychology Internship Training Program

Dissertation (Defended): Brief Behavioral Health Intervention Program for Patients with Stable Coronary Artery Disease (2019)

Bio: Chelsea is an advanced student in the clinical psychology doctoral program. She completed her undergraduate training at Washington University in St. Louis in the Spring of 2012. Prior to joining the Health Psychology lab, Chelsea worked in research and clinical settings with focuses on substance use and substance use disorders. Since joining the Health Psychology lab, Chelsea has explored other research interests such as psycho-oncology, and the treatment of endocrine disorders such as thyroid disease and diabetes. Clinically, Chelsea is passionate about work in integrated care settings.  She has defended her dissertation, which tested an intervention for patients with cardiovascular disease in an outpatient cardiology clinic within a patient-centered medical home (PCMH). Outside of the lab, Chelsea is a fan of creating new food concoctions, playing with her puppy, and spending time with family and friends.

She is currently completing her Post-Doc at the Durham VA, North Carolina