Current Doctoral Students

Current Doctoral Students


Second Year


Anika Alix
M.A.

Anika is a second-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program. She graduated from the University of Miami in 2016 where she majored in both French and Psychology. In 2018, Anika graduated with her MA from the Clinical Psychology program at Teachers College. As a master’s student, she worked as a Research Assistant in the Sexuality Women and Gender Lab and Global Mental Health Lab. Throughout her MA degree, Anika had the opportunity to work on the development and implementation of the Uganda IPT-G for maternal depression and child health project, and she helped in a qualitative study examining the experience and treatment of postpartum depression in Kuwait. Currently, Anika works on the NYC Thrive project, which aims to examine the efficacy of IPT in the treatment of perinatal depression in the primary care setting in New York City. She is also a researcher on the Ethiopia IPT-G study, which examines the treatment of depression among mothers and fathers by lay health workers in under-resourced regions. Finally, Anika is the project lead analyzing the mixed-methods clinical data from the IPT-G study in Uganda, which utilizes qualitative research methods to examine progress notes from the treatment of maternal depression by lay health workers. Anika’s research interests include maternal and perinatal psychology, the screening and treatment of perinatal depression in diverse and/or under-resourced settings, qualitative research methodology, and the psychology of childbirth.

Kati Lake
M.A.

Kati is currently a second-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University. In the Global Mental Health Lab, Lake works with colleagues to explore ways in which to implement and disseminate services to those who are most in need. Specific populations of interest to Lake are those effected by sexual violence as well as military Service members and Veterans. Lake has more than a decade of experience in program management and policy development and analysis. Previously, Lake served as the Vice President of Consulting Services at RAINN, where she led the organization’s consulting services and business development. Before joining RAINN, Lake was a Lead Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, where she led teams in the design, development, execution, and evaluation of personnel policy and programs across the Department of Defense, including suicide and sexual violence prevention and response. Before that time, Lake served as a Schedule C political appointee at the White House, providing support at the Department of Defense for military families. Lake holds a master of arts in clinical psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University as well as a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a focus on political communications from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio).

Third Year


Jillian M. Arnez
M.A.

Jillian is a third-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She holds an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College (2016) and a B.A. in Psychology with minors in Anthropology and Religious Studies from Kenyon College (2011). As part of the Global Mental Health Lab, Jillian contributes to projects assessing the implementation and dissemination of mental health services to under-served and under-resourced populations. She is particularly interested in women's mental health, trauma and chronic stressors, implementation science, mechanisms of change in therapy, and the intersection of physical health and mental health/mental health care in hospital and medical settings. Her past clinical and research experience is with sexual violence/domestic violence survivors, LGBTQIA populations, military service members and veterans, sex workers, refugees and immigrants, perinatal women, and mental health in hospitals. During her time in the MA program, she volunteered with the TC Resilience Center for Veterans and Families and the Loss, Trauma, Emotion Lab. Prior to that Jillian volunteered as a Medical Advocate with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and a sexual violence peer counselor with Kenyon College. She has also worked for Brigham and Women’s Hospital in healthcare administration.

Anne Renaud
M.A.

Anne is a third-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program. She received her B.A. in Human Development and Social Relations at Kalamazoo College and her M.A. in Psychology in Education at Teachers College. As a master's student at Teachers College, Anne began work in the Global Mental Health lab assisting with qualitative research studies assessing the mental health needs of home-based sex workers in India and of unaccompanied immigrant children in the US. Previously, she worked with adults with severe mental illnesses at a community mental health organization and volunteered in the Clinical Alternatives to Punitive Segregation unit at Rikers Island leading a weekly yoga group. Anne is interested in adapting effective mental health interventions for low-resource populations to meet their unique contextual needs. She is currently working on a project to build capacity of interpersonal psychotherapy and integrate mental health treatment into primary care settings in Lebanon and another project aimed at IPT dissemination for treatment of maternal depression in New York City.

Fourth Year


Alaa Alhomaizi
M.A.

Alaa is a third-year doctoral student and is the principal investigator of a qualitative study investigating the adjustment and acculturation of Arab women in the U.S., and in a qualitative study investigating postpartum depression and its care pathways with women and key stakeholders in Kuwait; She has been a research assistant (TC Global Mental Health Lab) during which she assisted in various projects to obtain psychological services and health services for Syrian refugees in Jordan. Previously, at the NYU Bellevue Stress and Resiliency Study she assisted in study of factors predicting PTSD in individuals admitted to the emergency room with life threatening injuries; Massachusetts General Hospital, Division of Global Psychiatry: assessed the impact of trauma on Liberian children’s self-esteem, self-concept, and resilience. She is also the co-founder for Standing for Psychological Education and Awareness in Kuwait.

Cheryl Rie
B.A.

Cheryl is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program. She graduated from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 2016, with a B.A. (Hons.) in Psychological and Behavioral Sciences. She has been a Research Assistant at the Global Mental Health Lab since 2015, with a special focus and skill set in Qualitative Research Methods and IPT capacity-building projects for displaced populations. Currently, she manages the Global Challenges Research Fund Research for Health in Conflict (GCRF R4HC-MENA, United Kingdom) grant for the scaling-up of IPT delivery and research capacity in Lebanon for persons affected by the Syrian crisis, as well as assists on a UNHCR-funded pilot study for the implementation of IPT for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. In her clinical work and personal life, she is also sustained by deepening her understanding of the immigrant experience. For her dissertation and beyond, she is developing her research program to address burnout and resilience among humanitarian aid workers, to systematically implement “caring for the carers” in sustainable global mental health and capacity-building efforts.

Srishti Sardana
M.Sc., M.A.

Srishti is a fourth-year doctoral student and has assisted on various projects with aims to study efficacy and effectiveness of IPT and other related intervention variables in low- and middle-income countries. She assists on studies including the Grand Challenges Canada funded IPT scalability for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, developing social-emotional learning packages for incoming Chinese youth enrolling in U.S. undergraduate programs, assessing fidelity and adoption of IPT for depressed adolescents in Nepal, UNHCR funded IPT implementation for treatment of depression among Rohingya refugees in Cox’z Bazar, Bangladesh and has implemented a pilot study to assess the mental health needs of home-based female sex workers in rural India. Before enrolling at Teachers College, Srishti was employed in the juvenile offender unit at the Institute of Juvenile Justice, Delhi Police and initiated a narrative therapy-based intervention project in collaboration with a team of Australian psychotherapists for youth offenders committed for violent and non-violent crimes. Additionally, she helped a local mental health NGO to build the monitoring and evaluation platform of the Building Bonds project, which trained 100,000 men and boys to become active stakeholders in prevention of violence against women and girls in Delhi, India. Srishti is the co-founder of Sishu Vikas, an NGO providing low to no cost mental services to the local communities. Srishti is currently working on co-developing a tool to measure networks of received and perceived social support, and the potential mediating role of conflict and support in recovery from depression among Rohingya refugees within an IPT intervention pilot study, for her dissertation.

Fifth Year


Ceren Sonmez
M.A.

Ceren is a fifth-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. She received her B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Galatasaray University and M.A. in Developmental Psychology from Koç University, both in Turkey. Ceren is currently working as an adult psychology intern at New York Presbyterian Hospital/CUMC. She is completing her dissertation applying network analysis on  symptoms of depression and anxiety among primary care patients in India. Prior to starting her doctoral studies, Ceren worked at the New York State Psychiatric Institute assisting with research on the correlates of suicidal behavior among patients with depression and borderline personality disorder. Ceren is currently working on a project aiming to build capacity in Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Dalal Alhomaizi
M.A.

Dalal Alhomaizi is a fifth-year doctoral student at the Global Mental Health Lab at Teachers College (TC), Columbia University. She completed her undergraduate education at Northeastern University in Boston, MA where she attained a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology. Dalal has worked as a research assistant at the Chester M. Pierce, MD Division of Global Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital where she worked on global research, policy, and development projects in low-income and resource-poor countries. She has also co-founded the first mental health anti-stigma campaign SPEAK alongside her twin sister in her home country Kuwait. Prior to starting her PhD, Dalal completed a Masters of Arts in Clinical Psychology at TC. Dalal’s research interests include help-seeking behavior, program development and evaluation, psychotherapy research, and psychometric research with a specific interest in resource-poor countries. Dalal's dissertation will explore the development and validation of cross cultural psychometric measures for Kuwait.

Sixth Year


Jen Kao

Jennifer Chienwen Kao is a 6th year PhD student in Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. She received her B.S. in Neuroscience from Brown University. Her research interests include the factors affecting maternal mental health and child outcomes, and the adaptation and implementation of psychosocial interventions in low-resource settings.

Arielle Jean-Pierre

Arielle Jean-Pierre is a sixth-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at Teachers College. She received her B.S. in Psychology from Duke University. She has worked as a NSF researcher on differences in symptom manifestation of PTSD in Haiti 2010 Earthquake survivors. Her current research investigates differences in rates of health promoting behaviors affecting child nutrition outcomes between depressed and non-depressed mothers and additionally explores the impacts of women's empowerment and social support on maternal depression.

Larissa Portnoff
M.S.

Larissa is a fifth-year doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her present research with Dr. Lena Verdeli focuses on implementation and dissemination of evidence-based treatments for global mental health populations. Her undergraduate research at the University of Denver looked at the MAOA gene in female juvenile offenders within a sociocultural context. While at UCLA under the direction of Dr. David Miklowitz she examined how psychoneuroimmunology and neural correlates are related to psychosocial treatments in pediatric bipolar disorder. A recent publication was included in Psychiatry Research titled Inflammatory Cytokines and Nuclear Factor-Kappa B Activation in Adolescents with Bipolar and Major Depressive Disorders (Miklowitz, et al., 2016). Alongside Dr. Jamie Feusner her research centered on risk/reward systems and relapse in eating disorders. Another recent publication was included in Journal of Eating Disorders titled What Happens After Treatment? A Systematic Review of Relapse, Remission, and Recovery in Anorexia Nervosa (Khalsa, et al., 2017). Her future research aims to include using novel research techniques to identify risk and resilience factors while acknowledging gaps in available treatment options. The human experience necessitates encounters with suffering, how can we build spaces and communities that support authentic connections?

Seventh Year


Marina Marcus
M.P.H

Marina Marcus is a seventh-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego, and an M.P.H. with an emphasis on Global Public Health from the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. She has previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Ethiopia and worked with the World Health Organization on the programmatic development and implementation of the Mental Health Gap Action Programme. Her dissertation focuses on the impact of the 2016 election and ensuing immigration policy on clinicians providing psychotherapy services to undocumented immigrants from Central and South America.

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