Graduate students 2017

Dr. Elizabeth Allen’s Lab

Jessica Kenny earned her BA in Psychology and Spanish from Pepperdine University in 2010 and her MA in Counseling Psychology from University of Denver in 2013. Broadly, her research interests lie in understanding how system-level factors both impede and improve health outcomes. Specifically, she is interested in understanding how various family dynamics can influence a child’s presenting problems and course of treatment, and how to best integrate behavioral healthcare into medical settings. Working with underserved and culturally-diverse populations is a passion of hers and has been a priority during her training, including a recent Spanish for a mental health immersion program in Peru.; Cohort: Year 5

Arjun Bhalla earned his BA in Psychology and Mass Communication from Rockhurst University in 2012 and earned his MA in Clinical Psychology from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in 2014. His research interests include studying the effects of trauma (physical and psychological) on health and functioning in civilian and military populations, caregiver health, eHealth/mHealth interventions, and psychometric scale development. For dissertation he plans to focus on examining interpersonal factors related to sexual satisfaction in military couples post-deployment. Within the CHP program, Arjun has demonstrated a commitment to diversity through his involvement on the Diversity Council and CHP Diversity Admissions Taskforce. He is a staunch advocate for advancing diversity-related issues in clinical psychology.; Cohort: Year 4

Kelly Soberay graduated with a dual Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice from the University of Dayton in 2005. She also earned a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver in 2010. Kelly is a licensed professional counselor in Colorado. Her research interests include understanding underserved and diverse populations within military psychology, the chronic pain community and their partners, suicide prevention and intervention, and dissemination and implementation science. kelly.soberay@ucdenver.eduCohort: Year 3


Dr Grigsby's labDr. Jim Grigsby’s Lab

Tim Brunelle graduated from the University of Connecticut with a BS in Finance. He returned to school at the University of Colorado Denver and received a BS in Psychology and is currently completing his thesis for an MA in Clinical Psychology. He works with Dr. Grigsby and his primary research interest involves the effect of meditation on executive cognitive function. He enjoys mountain biking, travelling, trying new restaurants and spending time with his wife and friends.; Cohort: Internship

Anson Kairys graduated from the University of Michigan in 2011 with a BA in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science. He worked as a professional research assistant at the University of Michigan's Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center (CPFRC). His research interests are in the field of chronic pain, with particular emphasis on understanding the neural mechanisms that underlie abnormal sensory processing and cognitive dysfunction in disorders such as fibromyalgia and chronic pelvic pain. Anson plans to develop his own research program studying chronic pain conditions and other chronic illnesses. He is currently working under the supervision of Dr. Grigsby on several projects, including the longitudinal analysis of structural MRI scans of chemotherapy patients, looking for alterations in brain gray matter due to chemotherapy treatment. Anson spends his spare time outdoors, running, snowboarding, biking and fishing. He is a huge Michigan Wolverines fan, and spends the weekends watching football and basketball.; Cohort: Year 5

Susanne Withrow graduated from the University of Colorado Denver in 2013 with a BS in Psychology. Through a variety of externships, Susanne has gained experience in addressing health behaviors and psychological concerns for patients with diabetes, asthma, allergies, and infectious lung diseases. She has also obtained specialized training in conducting neuropsychological evaluations and hopes to pursue a career as a neuropsychologist. Her research has focused on cognitive and psychological outcomes in children with hearing loss and adults with prostate as well as breast cancer. She enjoys traveling abroad and the Colorado outdoors.; Cohort: Year 5

Keegan Walker is a native to Colorado and thrilled to be pursuing his PhD in his hometown.  An alum of Metropolitan State University of Denver, he received Bachelor’s degrees in both Psychology and Philosophy.  After attending one year of a philosophy PhD program at the University of Iowa, Keegan decided that the field was not suited to him and began pursuing a field with more dynamic human interaction.  His research interests are focused around variables that impact cognitive functioning, particularly executive functions such as attention, inhibition, organization, and planning.  He is particularly interested in exploring how microbiotic populations within the body affect the brain.  He hopes to enhance (and possibly create) therapeutic interventions based on his findings.  Keegan is a “foodie” at heart and loves playing in the kitchen, entertaining, and talking food, particularly fermented foods like kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, etc.  He also enjoys film, hiking, trying new restaurants, and spending time with “his people.”; Cohort: Year 2


Dr. Peter Kaplan and Dr. Kevin Everhart’s LabKaplan Everhart Lab

Kathryn Scheyer received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Health Sciences from California State University, Long Beach. As an undergraduate, she obtained research experience in several areas in health psychology such as health disparities risk factors, the impact of stress on behavior and physiological health and effect of maternal, infant and pregnancy mental and physical health. She is currently working in Dr. Kevin Everhart and Dr. Peter Kaplan's lab examining infant cognitive development and recently defended her master’s thesis examining relationships between socioeconomic factors and maternal lifestyle behaviors. Her hobbies include traveling, eating, relaxing, being outdoors, going to the beach, playing with dogs and most importantly spending time with family and friends.; Cohort: Year 3

Sunny (Lindsley) Pence graduated with Honors from San Francisco State University for both her BA in psychology and her MA in Psychological Research- Brain, Mind, and Behavior. She worked for the past five years for the Autism Center of Excellence at UC San Diego as the Lead Clinical Coordinator and Director of Education. Her research interests revolve around healthy and abnormal infant development, particularly with regard to early brain development and genetics. She has a specific interest in epigenetic factors that may lead to developmental abnormalities with the overarching goal of identifying preventive measures to promote healthy infant development. Her clinical interests include working with children who have autism, learning disorders, and social/emotional delays, as well as the parents who care for those children to promote healthy co-parenting relationships that are adaptive to the specific needs of their special needs children. She also works as the program assistant for the MARC-U STAR scholarship- a program dedicated supported stellar undergraduate students who are of a minority background, to increase the diversity of PhD programs. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband and fur babies, dancing, hiking, biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, and all of the other many wonderful outdoor activities that Colorado has to offer.; Cohort: Year 2


Dr. Kristin Kilbourn’s LabDr Kilbourn's lab

Lauren Languido earned her Bachelor's degree with a dual major in International Relations and Spanish from DePaul University. She later completed a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Pre-Clinical Psychology at Northwestern University. Her research interests broadly encompass health disparities, integrative healthcare, and psychoneuroimmunology. She hopes to better understand the impact stressors, such as acculturation, forced migration, and trauma, may have on psychological and immunological health. Moreover, she is also interested in projects that seek to develop culturally relevant interventions and programs that improve overall health and quality of life for underrepresented, chronically ill populations, especially those with cancer.; Cohort: Year 4

David Avram has explored the association between social relationship variables and inflammatory biomarkers in a national U.S. sample. His present research focuses on the interaction between psychosocial variables and immunological indicators within cancer patient and caregiver populations. Dave earned his Bachelors degrees in History from the University of Calgary in 2009, and Psychology from Northern Arizona University in 2012. In 2014 he successfully completed his Master of Arts in clinical health psychology at Northern Arizona University.; Cohort: Year 4

Alaina Carr graduated Magna Cum Laude from University of Colorado at Boulder in 2014. She then worked at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Cancer Outcomes Research Group (CORe) on behavioral strategies to reduce disease- and treatment-related complications in patients with metastatic cancer. Her current research interests include developing and evaluating psychosocial interventions to improve mental and behavioral health in cancer patients and caregivers.; Cohort: Year 2


Dr. Kevin Masters’ LabDr Masters lab

Lacey Clement is a 6th year doctoral student currently on her clinical psychology internship in the Behavioral Medicine track at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC. She received her BA in Psychology from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX and her MA in Clinical Psychology from University of Colorado Denver. Broadly, her clinical and research interests are in understanding and facilitating well-being for patients living with serious, complex, and life-threatening illnesses. Her dissertation aims to examine the role of existential/spiritual factors in end-of-life medical decision making for advanced heart failure patients. She is also interested in program/intervention development and evaluation for both patients with serious and complex illnesses, as well as for the medical providers who care for them. In her free time, Lacey enjoys nature trails with her dog, photography and art, and exploring new and fun coffee shops. lacey.clement@ucdenver.eduCohort: Internship

Megan Grigsby is a 7th year doctoral student currently on her clinical psychology internship at Kennedy Krieger Institute/Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. Megan received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Cedarville University, and her Masters of Arts in Clinical Psychology from the University of Colorado Denver. Her research interests include studying how religion/spirituality within close relationships may impact health. She recently proposed her dissertation “Prayer and Sleep’s Effects on Cardiovascular Reactivity and Self-Regulation Among Christians.” She is also interested in better understanding factors that are related to improved relationship quality and decreased stress, and studying how these factors may impact health. Megan enjoys music, nature, chai tea, trying new foods, and cooking with her husband.; Cohort: Internship

Kaile Ross graduated with a BA in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame in 2007. Prior to starting graduate school, she worked as a research coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Washington working on a variety of projects from smoking cessation interventions to sexually transmitted disease medication trials. Her research interests include developing and testing interventions to improving health behaviors, quality of life, and spiritual well-being for individuals with chronic illness. In her spare time she enjoys trail running, climbing 14ers, and snowshoeing with her husband and dog.; Cohort: Internship

Christianne Biggane graduated in 2015 with BA degrees in Nutritional Sciences and Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Florida. As an undergraduate, she worked with electroencephalography (EEG) and psychophysiology equipment to examine the fear response. She is interested in the intersection of mindfulness and exercise with mental health. She enjoys backpacking, yoga, lingering in coffee shops, cycling, and live music.; Cohort: Year 3

Christina Rush is a 2nd year doctoral student. Christina received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish from Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, and her Master of Arts in psychology from American University in Washington DC. Her research interests include grace, unconditional love, mind-body medicine, and components of religion and spirituality that contribute to well-being in patients and healthy populations. Whenever possible she savors time with her husband and family, exploring Denver, coffee, exercise, and travel.; Cohort: Year 2

Katie Schneider is a 1st year doctoral student. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Kalamazoo College, with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her graduate studies she worked on adult inpatient units at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services and on pediatric inpatient units at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, where she also assisted a pediatric clinical health psychologist in research. Her primary research interests include the relationship between health and existential aspects of human experience, specifically meaning, purpose, and spirituality. In her spare time Katie enjoys yoga, reading, traveling, hiking, and is excited to begin wedding planning with her fiancé.; Cohort: Year 1


Dr. Krista Ranby’s LabRanby lab

Jennalee Wooldridge received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Neuroscience and in Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado Boulder. She holds a Master's degree in Psychology from San Diego State University. Jennalee is interested in understanding the interaction between physiological and psychological factors as they relate to health behaviors and outcomes in populations with chronic conditions. Jennalee’s dissertation examined a collaborative implementations intentions intervention for increasing physical activity among couples where at least one partner was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In her spare time, Jennalee enjoys running, hiking and spending time friends and family. She is currently completing her predoctoral internship at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in the Behavioral Medicine track.; Cohort: Internship

Sydneyjane Varner received her BA in psychology from the University of South Alabama and her MA in clinical psychology with a concentration in research methods from Columbia University. Sydneyjane is interested in understanding the bidirectional associations between close romantic relationships and health, particularly as they relate to women’s health issues, such as chronic psychosomatic illness and reproductive health. Her thesis project focuses on examining how dyadic health behaviors and relationship quality during pregnancy translate to the postpartum period and their impact on physical and mental health outcomes among couples expecting the birth of their first child. In her spare time, Sydneyjane enjoys cycling, spending time with family and friends, and exploring Colorado with her dog.; Cohort: Year 1

Gillian Lloyd’s interests in cancer began at the cellular level and grew into a widespread analysis of comprehensive and coordinated care. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Wake Forest University with a degree in Biology and then completed a Pre-Clinical Psychology Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program at Northwestern University. During the post-baccalaureate program, she joined Dr. Siobhan Phillips’s Exercise and Health Lab (EHL) and began researching the determinants and health outcomes of physical activity participation in breast cancer survivors. As a PhD student in Dr. Krista Ranby’s Healthy Couples Lab, she plans to explore how cancer survivors’ social environment, particularly intimate partners, directly influence survivors’ physical activity participation and indirectly contribute to cancer prevention, treatment and recovery. She is particularly interested in physical activity promotion as regular exercise is associated with enhanced psychological well-being, increased physical and cognitive functioning and decreased disease risk in both healthy and survivor populations. Ultimately, it is her goal to work as a clinical psychologist and research scientist at a NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in order to conduct cutting-edge research on the bidirectional relationships between physical activity and biopsychosocial outcomes while simultaneously providing evidence-based, quality, cancer care.; Cohort: Year 1


Dr. Edward Dill’s LabDill lab

Diana Graham graduated from the University of California San Diego with a BA in Human Development and from San Diego State University with an MA in Psychology. During her master’s program she became involved in neuropsychological and behavioral testing for children who had been prenatally exposed to alcohol. She is now working with Dr. Edward Dill in assessing pediatric populations with chronic illness, particularly intractable epilepsy and cystic fibrosis. In addition to understanding the development of mood disorders associated with living with chronic illness, she is also interested in changes in neuropsychological competence with ongoing treatments related to chronic illness and in relation to transplant eligibility. In her free time she enjoys outdoor activities like hiking and snowboarding and seeing live music around Denver.; Cohort: Year 4

Holly O’Donnell graduated, cum laude, with a BA in Psychology from Middlebury College in 2012. Before beginning graduate school, she worked for a nonprofit called The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, which is an organization that serves children with serious illnesses and their families. In this role, she worked with children in pediatric hospitals throughout New York City. As part of Dr. Dill’s lab, she is working on a project examining psychosocial correlates with employment status in individuals with Cystic Fibrosis. In her free time, Holly enjoys hiking, skiing and being in the mountains.; Cohort: Year 4

Kassie Guenther graduated with highest distinction from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln with her BA in Psychology. Her research interests encompass a broad range of pediatric health issues. Specifically, she is interested in child mental and physical health promotion and treatment, chronic illness, risk and protective factors of children suffering from illness, familial systems and the intersection between youth mental and physical health. In her spare time, Kassie enjoys being outdoors with friends and family.; Cohort: Year 3


Dr. Jonathan Shaffer’s LabSchaffer lab

Amy Frers graduated from Eastern Washington University with a BA in Psychology in 2016.  She is interested in chronic pain and disease management, mindfulness, and the efficacy of third wave therapies for improving quality of life in these patient populations. As part of Dr. Shaffer’s lab, she is working on a project which will adapt an ACT based group intervention for survivors of spontaneous coronary artery dissection to a mobile app. When she has free time, she enjoys exploring the outdoors, playing board games, and rock climbing.; Cohort: Year 2

Adam Harris graduated with a BA in Psychology from the University of Connecticut in 2016. His research interests include the relationship between diet, exercise, and mindfulness, and their effects on mental well-being. He plays jazz piano and saxophone and does stand-up and improv comedy.; Cohort: Year 2

Tiffany Ju is a first year graduate student in Dr. Jonathan Shaffer's lab and received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from UCLA. Prior to graduate school, Tiffany was involved in research on chronic pain and digestive diseases at the UCLA Center of Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience. She has also worked on studies of depression in heart failure at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include improving treatment outcomes and coping with chronic illness and cardiovascular disease.; Cohort: Year 1


Dr. Amy Wachholtz’s Lab Wachholtz lab

Trelsie Sadler is a 1st year doctoral student. Trelsie received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA and her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Addiction specialization from the University of Denver in Denver, CO. Her research interests include pain and substance use issues that contribute to patients overall health and quality of life. Whenever possible she enjoys time with her family, hiking, reading and traveling. ; Cohort: Year 1

Caitlin Kienzler is a 1st year doctoral student. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Following graduation, Caitlin continued her work with the University of Illinois, first as a lab manager and then as coordinator of the Lifelong Brain and Cognition Laboratory, studying cognition over the lifespan with an emphasis on neuroplasticity. Her research interests include chronic pain and pain management, substance use, and spirituality. She enjoys coffee, reading mystery novels, and running the Cherry Creek trail. ; Cohort: Year 1