Lab Members

Aaron J. Blashill, Ph.D.

Aaron J. Blashill, Ph.D.

Director

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Dr. Blashill is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at San Diego State University, and core faculty member of the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology.

Associated Faculty

Tiffany Brown, Ph.D.

Tiffany Brown, Ph.D.

Co-Investigator on the Pride Body Project

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Dr. Brown is a Research Scientist at the San Diego State University Research Foundation and a postdoctoral research fellow at the UC San Diego Eating Disorders Center. Her research interests include psychosocial risk factors for eating disorders in male and sexual minority populations, how gastric interoception relates to eating disorder symptoms in anorexia nervosa, and the prevention and treatment of eating disorders and body image disturbance in diverse populations.

Post-Doctoral Researchers

Jamie-Lee Pennesi, Ph.D.

Jamie-Lee Pennesi, Ph.D.

Project Director for the Pride Body Project

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Dr. Jamie-Lee Pennesi is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar with the San Diego State Research Foundation. Jamie-Lee completed her PhD (Clinical Psychology) at Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, in eating disorder prevention. Jamie-Lee’s primary research and clinical interests are in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders, body image issues and disordered eating-type behaviors.

Valerie Douglas, Ph.D.

Valerie Douglas, Ph.D.

Clinical Assessor for the Pride Body Project

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Dr. Valerie Douglas is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar with the San Diego State Research Foundation. Valerie completed her PhD (Psychological Clinical Science) at North Dakota State University and completed a clinical postdoctoral fellowship in eating disorders at the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness. Valerie’s primary research and clinical interests include the roles of weight stigma and emotion dysregulation on disordered eating, suicide prevention, and the prevention and treatment of eating disorders.

Arjan van der Star, Ph.D.

Arjan van der Star, Ph.D.

Project Director for the Suicide Prevention Project

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Dr. Arjan van der Star is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar with the San Diego State Research Foundation. Arjan van der Star completed his PhD (Public Health) at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, studying stigma-related factors driving sexual orientation-based and gender identity-based disparities in mental health. Arjan’s research focuses on the mechanisms underlying these mental health disparities, informing both preventive measures and clinical interventions.

Research Coordinators

Justino Flores, B.A.

Justino Flores, B.A.

Research Coordinator for the Pride Body Project

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Justino is a full-time research coordinator for the Pride Body Project. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in Psychology, Public Health, and Gerontology. He has previously worked in a clinical setting as a primary counselor at Shandin Hills Behavioral Health Center and in research as a lab manager for a neuroimaging lab at the University of California, Riverside. Justino’s interests lie in examining the health disparities of racially and ethnically diverse individuals of the LGBTQ+ community. He hopes to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology.

Jessica Alexander, B.A.

Jessica Alexander, B.A.

Multi-Study Coordinator

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Jess is a full-time research coordinator, working across several projects in the BISH Lab. She graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in Psychology, and has previously worked in research within the Psychiatry Department at Washington University School of Medicine. Jess’s interests lie in looking at ways to utilize technology to prevent and intervene upon suicidality. She hopes to go back to school for a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology, and to continue to conduct essential research in the area of suicide prevention.

Group Facilitators for the Pride Body Project

Michael Edzant, B.A.

Michael Edzant, B.A.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Michael is a group facilitator in the BISH lab who’s role includes co-leading group sessions for the Pride Body Project. He graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Psychology and minor in Counseling & Social Change. His research interests include sexual minority mental health, childhood trauma, chronic stress, the prevention and treatment of mood disorders, and reducing health disparities in underserved communities. Michael hopes to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology.

Anthony DeBenedetto, M.A.

Anthony DeBenedetto, M.A.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Anthony is a group facilitator for the Pride Body Project. He graduated from Tufts University with his bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology and Child Development, and his master’s degree in Clinical Developmental Health and Psychology. Anthony’s research interests broadly include sexual and gender minority mental health and identity development, protective factors of mental health, and health behaviors. Anthony hopes to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology.

PhD Students

Patrycja Klimek, M.S.

Patrycja Klimek, M.S.

5th Year Ph.D. Student

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Patrycja is a graduate student in the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. Her research interests include cognitive and affective mechanisms underlying body image concerns in eating disorders and steroid misuse, and the characterization of heterogeneity within these populations. Further, Patrycja would like to apply findings in these topics to develop effective intervention and prevention programs.

Jack Brady, M.S.

Jack Brady, M.S.

4th Year Ph.D. Student

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Jack is a graduate student in the SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. His research interests include sexual minority mental and physical health disparities, psychosocial associations of HIV prevention and treatment among sexual minority men, the PrEP continuum of care, and associations between gender expression and health outcomes among sexual minority men.

Lexie Convertino, B.S.

Lexie Convertino, B.S.

3rd Year Ph.D. Student

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Lexie is a graduate student in the SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. Prior to moving to San Diego, she completed her bachelor’s degree at Northeastern University in Psychology and a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her research interests focus broadly on the effect of stress on the development and maintenance of disordered eating and body image concerns. Particularly, Lexie focuses on traumatic stress and sexual trauma in the development of disordered eating. She also has a line of research in the interaction of minority group stressors on the development of body image.

Christopher Albright, B.S.

Christopher Albright, B.S.

2nd Year Ph.D. Student

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Chris is a graduate student in the SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in clinical psychology. His research interests broadly include sexual minority mental health, reducing health disparities in minority and other vulnerable populations, HIV prevention and treatment, addressing minority stress within the context of mental health, and global mental health. He hopes to one day develop and implement culturally-tailored interventions through community-based research.

Isaiah Jones

Isaiah Jones

Recruitment Coordinator

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Isaiah joined the BISH lab as a scholar from the joint SDSU/UCSD Creating Scientists to Address Cancer Disparities summer enrichment program in 2018. He is also a first-generation undergraduate student pursuing a major in Psychology and minor in Counseling and School Psychology at SDSU, a teaching assistant for Dr. Katherine Turner, and an Initiative for Maximizing Student Development Scholar. After obtaining further research experience, he intends to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology, so that he can continue with contributing to the field of research, apply what he is learning to a therapy/intervention setting, and even try his hand at teaching. His research interests include mood, anxiety, and personality disorders, as well as the community-based coping strategies surrounding those disorders.

Stephanie Dutra

Stephanie Dutra

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Stephanie is currently a 3rd year undergraduate at San Diego State University majoring in Psychology with a minor in Counseling and Social Change. Her research interests broadly include traumatic stress and sexual trauma as well as racial minority health issues. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in mental health care and eventually go back to school to pursue a graduate degree.

Elena Lents

Elena Lents

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Elena is currently a third year undergraduate student at San Diego State University majoring in Psychology and minoring in Counseling and Social Change. Her research interests broadly include anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and body image concerns. After graduation Elena plans to pursue a degree in Clinical Psychology.

Elena Arnold Perea

Elena Arnold Perea

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Elena is a third year undergraduate at SDSU majoring in Psychology. Her research interests include exploring intersectionality in the field of psychology, traumatic stress, personality disorders, and anxiety disorders. After graduation, she plans to continue working on becoming a Mental Health professional by pursuing a graduate degree.

Mary Clukey

Mary Clukey

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Mary is a 2nd year undergraduate student at San Diego State University majoring in Psychology with a minor in honors interdisciplinary studies. Her research interests broadly include personality, anxiety, and eating disorders, as well as traumatic stress. After graduation, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology. 

Liana Manriquez, B.A.

Liana Manriquez, B.A.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Liana is a recent graduate from San Diego State University with a major in Interdisciplinary Studies in Psychology, Political Science, and Spanish. Her research interests include anxiety disorders and body image concerns, as well as health disparities within the latino and disabled communities. After gaining more research experience, Liana plans to attend graduate school and pursue clinical psychology.

Juliana Tesselaar

Juliana Tesselaar

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Juliana is a third year undergraduate at SDSU majoring in Psychology and minoring in Communication.  Her research interests include examining eating disorders, body image concerns, and suicide prevention in athletes and minority communities.  After graduation, Juliana plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Sports Psychology.

Graduate Students

William Grunewald, M.A.

William Grunewald, M.A.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

William was a master’s student from 2018-2020 in the BISH Lab. He is now a graduate student at the University of Miami Ohio in their Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program under the mentorship of Dr. April Smith.

Kelsey Nogg, M.A.

Kelsey Nogg, M.A.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Kelsey was a master’s student from 2016-2018 and a research coordinator on the PrEP and ACS studies from 2018-2019 in the BISH Lab. She is now a graduate student at the University of Colorado, Denver in their Clinical Health Psychology Ph.D. program under the mentorship of Dr. Krista Ranby.

Katie Rozzell, M.A.

Katie Rozzell, M.A.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Katie was a master’s student from 2017-2019 in the BISH Lab. She is now a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in their Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program under the mentorship of Dr. Janet Latner.

Kalina Lamb, M.A.

Kalina Lamb, M.A.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Kalina was a master’s student from 2016-2018 in the BISH Lab. She is now a graduate student at Oregon State University in their Health Psychology Ph.D. program under the mentorship of Dr. Sarah Dermody.

Benjamin Rooney, M.A.

Benjamin Rooney, M.A.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Ben was a master’s student from 2015-2017 in the BISH Lab. He is now working at San Diego Veteran’s Affairs as a Research Health Science Specialist.

Research Coordinators

Devon Kimball, B.A.

Devon Kimball, B.A.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Devon was a research coordinator on the Pride Body Project from 2017-2020 in the BISH Lab. She is now a graduate student at the Michigan State University in their Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program under the mentorship of Dr. Jae Puckett.

Undergraduate Students

Boyu Wei, B.A.

Boyu Wei, B.A.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Boyu was an undergraduate student from 2017-2020 in the BISH Lab. She is now a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in their Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program under the mentorship of Dr. Janet Latner.

David Rivera, B.A.

David Rivera, B.A.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

David was an undergraduate student from 2018-2020 in the BISH Lab. He is now a graduate student at the University of California Santa Barbara’s clinical, counseling, and school psychology Ph.D. program under the mentorship of Dr. Alison Cerezo.

Marlene Crespo

Marlene Crespo

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Marlene is a first generation undergraduate student that has graduated from San Diego Mesa College with an Associate’s Degree. She will be attending SDSU to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She was an SDSU/UCSD Creating Scientists to Address Cancer Disparities program scholar. Her research interests broadly involve racial minorities disparities, sexual minority health, eating disorders, body image, cancer disparities, mood and anxiety disorders. Marlene wishes to pursue her PhD in Clinical Psychology in the near future.

Nicole Garcia Martinez, B.A.

Nicole Garcia Martinez, B.A.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Nicole was a research assistant at the BISH Lab from 2019-2020. She graduated from SDSU with a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial & Organizational Psychology and a minor in Cultural Proficiency. She is currently providing ABA therapy to children ages 0-7.

Sabrina Le, B.A.

Sabrina Le, B.A.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Sabrina is a first-generation college student. She just finished her degree in psychology at San Diego State University. She has a strong interest in neuroscience as well as how culture and ethnicity, particularly within minority populations, influences cognition and behavior. She hopes to pursue a career in the medical field.

Manuel Gonzales, B.A.

Manuel Gonzales, B.A.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Manuel was an undergraduate student from 2016-2019 in the BISH Lab. He is now a graduate student at the SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology under the mentorship of Kristen Wells, Ph.D.

Adoril Oshana, B.A.

Adoril Oshana, B.A.

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Adoril was an undergraduate student from 2016-2019 in the BISH Lab. He is now a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in their Organizational Science Ph.D. program.

Bethany Mendenhall, B.A.

Bethany Mendenhall, B.A.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Bethany was an undergraduate student from 2017-2019 in the BISH Lab. She is now working in the San Diego area as a group fitness instructor.

Rilo Blashill

Rilo Blashill

Rilo is Aaron’s pride and joy. He enjoys lying in the sun on the deck, wearing rainbow gear, getting belly rubs, and being the subject of Aaron’s many, many pictures. In the future, he hopes to be babysat by members of the lab and continue to be spoiled, as he deserves.

Charles “Charlie” Douglas

Charles “Charlie” Douglas

Charlie is Valerie’s right hand pup. He enjoys pretending to be a cat and standing in front of Valerie’s webcam during meetings, repeatedly pawing at Valerie’s leg during assessments, and stealing the cat’s wet food. In the future, Charlie hopes to receive the adoration of every human he sees on his daily walks.

Baby Convertino

Baby Convertino

Baby is Lexie’s direct supervisor. She enjoys sitting in laps while purring loudly during meetings, walking across keyboards while analyses are running, and batting at the door while Lexie’s seeing patients. In the future, Baby hopes to pursue long naps and catnip toys.

Chocolate Bar Jones

Chocolate Bar Jones

Chocolate is Isaiah’s neediest distractor. Her research interests include shamelessly stalking you for food, being included on the couch, and barking at strangers for walking outside. Chocolate hopes to receive more attention and human food in the near future.

Loki

Loki

Loki is Jess’s foster coworker. His current research interests include determining the secrets of the laser pointer, getting belly rubs, and training the humans to feed him treats all the time. In the future, Loki hopes to obtain more cuddles, go on more walks outside, and finally catch the red dot.

Hammy Arnold Perea

Hammy Arnold Perea

Hammy is Elena’s dedicated coworker. He is passionate about sleeping all day, and running all night. He also enjoys waking up in the middle of his naps for snacks. In the future, Hammy hopes to discover new fingers to bite.