Research Team

Rachel Ayala Guzman, B.S. Rachel is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Health Psychology program and is mentored by Dr. Abby Braitman. Her research interests include identifying potential psychosocial risk factors (e.g., emotional well-being) related to problematic alcohol use among young adult college students as well as examining racial differences in alcohol use behaviors. Her non-academic interests primarily involve visiting local coffee shops and restaurants or attending local events during the weekend to support her favorite small businesses. As a native Californian, she also loves any excuse to go to the beach and is a proud plant mom who is always happy to introduce new members to her ever-growing plant family! 

Samantha A. Fitzer, M.S. Samantha is a 4th year Ph.D. student in the Health Psychology program and is mentored by Dr. James M. Henson. She graduated from North Dakota State University in 2020 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. Her research interests include risky health behaviors among college students and young adults, specifically in the field of vaping nicotine and cannabis. During her free time, Samantha enjoys exploring local events and coffee shops. She also loves to read, relax at the beach, and bake goodies for her friends and family. 

Josh Lawton, M.S. Josh is a 1st year Ph.D. student in the Kinesiology and Rehabilitation program and is co-mentored by Dr. Christopher Rhea. He graduated from East Carolina University in 2021 with a B.S. in Exercise Physiology. In 2023, Josh graduated from East Carolina University with a M.S. in Kinesiology with a concentration in Biomechanics and Motor Control. His current research interests include sub-concussions in the active military population, and heart-rate variability in the veteran population.

Jennifer L. Shipley, M.S., M.P.H. Jennifer is a 5th year Ph.D. student in the Health Psychology program and is mentored by Dr. Abby Braitman. She graduated from California Lutheran University in 2014 with a B.S. in Exercise Science and a minor in Psychology. In 2016, Jennifer graduated from The University of Arizona with an M.P.H. in Health Behavior Health Promotion. Her current research interests include health behaviors in the college student population, especially in the area of high-risk alcohol and cannabis use.

Elin Kata Sigurgeirsdottir, B.S. Elin graduated from Old Dominion University in 2023 with a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Chemistry where she was a part of the women’s NCAA division I swimming team. On the road to medical school, Elin seeks research experience following several years of working in a clinical setting with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Originally from Akureyri, Iceland, Elin is always happy to be in the warm weather near the beach and spend time outdoors. She also enjoys baking for herself and her roommates as well as taking care of her plants.

Ilianna Natalia Romanzo, B.S. Ilianna graduated from Old Dominion University in 2023 with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Addiction Prevention & Treatment while being a part of the D1 Women’s Rowing team. On the road to a doctorate in Sports Psychology, Ilianna seeks research experience following 10 years as a coxswain. She is currently training for the Coastal Rowing World Championships and has a passion for working with athletes. Originally from New York state, Ilianna loves to spend time at the beach, read, and cook for her family.