we value multidisciplinary cross-cultural collaboration

lab Director

Na Zhang, PhD

Dr. Na Zhang is an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Connecticut. Her primary appointment is at the Stamford campus. As a family scholar and prevention scientist, her program of research analyzes the intrapersonal and interpersonal pathways involved in the development of psychopathology and resilience among youth and adults who were exposed to stressful or traumatic experiences. A major focus of her research is on the development and evaluation of behavioral parent training programs that consider parents as the agents of change. She has investigated how effective parenting may lead to resilience outcomes in children from at-risk families and the applications of mindfulness training as an intervention strategy to strengthen and optimize parenting programs. She is a qualified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher trained at Brown University. She consults for the Peace at Home Parenting Solutions.

Current GRADUATE Researchers

Yuanyuan Zhang, MA

Yuanyuan Zhang is a doctoral student (Advisor: Dr. Na Zhang) in the Department of HDFS at UConn. She obtained her Master’s degree in Applied Psychology at the East China Normal University. She is interested in studying mindfulness, health and well-being in the family context, as well as the application of mindfulness interventions in various domains. Specifically, she is interested in mindful grandparenting and the co-parenting relationship between parents and grandparents in multigenerational families.

Sarah Wen Warykas, MS, RDN

Sarah Wen is a doctoral student (Advisor: Dr. Kim Gans) in the Department of HDFS at the University of Connecticut (UConn). She earned her B.S in Dietetics and M.S in Nutritional Science from UConn. She is also a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) who completed her Dietetics Program at UConn. Her current work focuses on mixed methods research (qualitative and quantitative) to inform the design and evaluation of community nutrition interventions that target families and youth in childcare settings. These interventions help improve social and physical environments that influence children’s eating behaviors to prevent obesity, improve health and wellness, and reduce health disparities.

Nathaniel Stekler

Nathaniel (Nate) Stekler is a doctoral student (Advisor: Dr. Preston Britner) in the Department of HDFS at UConn. He earned his B.S. in Psychology (minor in Philosophy) from Union College (NY). He is interested in ​​early attachments and how adverse childhood experiences can moderate associations of early attachments with personality, emotions, relationships, and worldviews. Additionally, he is interested in how adverse environments such as homelessness negatively affect the attachment relationship. He also wants to work to develop interventions and policies that address the impact of homelessness and adverse childhood experiences on the attachment relationship.

Current undergraduate Researchers

Abigail Ricketts

Abigail Ricketts is a junior and honors student at UConn (Stamford). She is a Psychological Sciences major with minors in Sociology and HDFS. Abigail is passionate about improving children’s mental health and desires to help them through their developmental, emotional, and social issues. She is interested not only in improving these issues but also in preventative methods to reduce the chances of children developing mental health problems. She plans to pursue a PhD in Clinical Child Psychology to achieve her goal of becoming a Clinical Child Psychologist with an aim to positively impact the lives of the children she will encounter. Abigail has been involved with research on first-generation college students and has been working with faculty to determine and implement beneficial programs to meet the needs of this population of students on her campus. 

Alexa Molina

Alexa Molina is a sophomore and honors student at UConn (Stamford). She is a Political Science and Psychological Sciences double major. Alexa has a keen interest in the social welfare of children and their respective families and hopes to assist this part of society through future studies in family law. She truly desires to make an impact in the lives of families and their children that can change their mindsets for the better. Alexa, through honors, will serve as a UNIV1784 facilitator and PATH mentor, striving to create welcoming environments and build meaningful relationships among peers. As a part of FRAME lab, she wishes to learn more about mindfulness and its correlation with humanistic aspects.

Victoria Almazan

Victoria is a sophomore at UConn Stamford majoring in Psychological Sciences with minors in English and HDFS. She has strong interests in health disparities in minority communities. In particular, Victoria is interested in the study of restrictive eating disorders in Latino communities in the aspects of cultural sensitivity in treatment, psychosocial factors leading to eating pathology, and access to treatment. In the future, Victoria is interested in pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology in order to continue research and treat child/adolescent populations.


Golda S. Ginsburg, PhD

Dr. Ginsburg is a professor in the School of Medicine at UConn. She has been developing and evaluating interventions for youth who struggle with a range of psychiatric disorders for over 25 years. A primary focus of her research is on the best approach to treat and prevent anxiety disorders—one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders in youth. Dr. Ginsburg has been the PI or Co-PI on over 10 federally and/or privately funded clinical trials, including a study of Unified Treatment of Adolescent Emotional Disorders in Community Clinics, and a study of a family-based prevention of child anxiety and its long-term follow-up. Dr. Ginsburg also completed a NIMH-funded K24 Mid-Career Investigator Award examining biomarkers of pediatric anxiety.

Athena Chan, MSSc

Athena Chung Yin Chan is a doctoral candidate in Family Social Science at University of Minnesota. Her program of research seeks to advance knowledge in two interrelated areas: (a) family stress and resilience, and (b) intergenerational relationships and healthy aging. Through building this program of research, her goal is to use her research findings to inform culturally tailored family and aging practices, services, and policies. She is an incoming Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University starting in August 2023.


  • Meghan Cunningham, Research Trainee, 2021 Spring
  • G. Hilal Kuscul, Research Assistant, 2021 Fall
  • Chelsea Valdez, Visiting Student, 2022 summer
  • Fatima Serrano, Work-Study Research Assistant, 2021 Fall – 2022 Spring
  • Emily Fritzson, Research Assistant, 2022 Fall
  • Suge Zhang, Research Trainee, 2022 Fall