Current Doctoral Students

Current Doctoral Students

First Year

Tarik is a first-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program and a member of the Global Mental Health Lab at Teachers College, Columbia University. He graduated from Georgetown University in 2016, where he studied International Health and Psychology. In 2017, he completed the MSc Global Mental Health program run by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and King's College London. Before enrolling at Teachers College, Tarik was the Program Manager for the Kovler Center Child Trauma Program in Chicago, a program of Heartland Alliance International that provides mental health and social services to refugee and immigrant youth who have experienced trauma. Previously, he also had the opportunity to conduct research on febrile convulsions in Tanzania and adverse life events and depression in Ethiopia, evaluate the implementation of Grand Challenges Canada funded global mental health programs with both the Mental Health Innovation Network and Results for Development Institute, and work on mental health policy, training, system strengthening, and research in Freetown with King's Sierra Leone Partnership. During his undergraduate studies, Tarik gained direct service experience providing case management and advocacy services with LIFT-DC and as part of a mobile team providing street-based outreach and harm reduction services with HIPS-DC. Tarik's research interests include the adaptation, evaluation, and implementation of mental health interventions for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers and for under-resourced settings, as well as mental health service inequities in high-income settings.


DJ is a first-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University. He holds an MA in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College (2020) and a BS in Psychology from Grand Canyon University (2018). In the Global Mental Health Lab, he works on the implementation and dissemination of mental health services to under-served and under-resourced populations, with an emphasis on serving the Veteran community. DJ is particularly interested in system-wide interventions to reduce Veteran suicide, exploring how culturally informed community engagement can enhance the success of the military-to-civilian life transition, and how social factors influence the trajectory of treatment-seeking behavior. Before enrolling at Teachers College, DJ served as an Air Traffic Controller in the US Air Force for six years and was involved in over 200,000 flying operations. As a MA student, he was the assistant evaluator on a program evaluation of the Veterans Treatment Track in New York's 9th Judicial District. He also had a leading role in the implementation and dissemination of the ETS Sponsorship program for transitioning servicemembers, which is now a nationwide VA and DoD program.

Third Year

Anika Alix

Anika is a third-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

Kati is currently a third-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 disseminate and implement 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).

Fourth Year

Jillian M. Arnez

Jillian is currently a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University and has been working with the Global Mental Health Lab since 2014. She earned an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College in 2016 and a B.A. in Psychology, with minors in Anthropology and Religious Studies, from Kenyon College in 2011. 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 trauma and chronic stressors, women's and maternal mental health, implementation science, mechanisms of change in therapy, and the intersection of physical health and mental health. Her clinical and research work has focused on sexual and domestic violence, 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 also worked 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

Anne is a fourth-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.


Fifth Year

Alaa Alhomaizi

Alaa is a fifth-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

Cheryl is a fifth-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program. She graduated from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 2016, with a B.A. with double First Class Honors in Psychological and Behavioral Sciences. She has been a Research Assistant at the Global Mental Health Lab since 2015, with a special focus on research and capacity building in Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) as an effective treatment for mental health conditions in displaced populations around the world. Currently, she manages the Global Challenges Research Fund, Research for Health in Conflict grant (GCRF, R4HC-MENA, United Kingdom) for the scaling-up of IPT delivery and research capacity in Lebanon for persons affected by the Syrian crisis, in partnership with Lebanon’s Ministry of Public Health, National Mental Health Programme. She also assists on a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)-funded pilot study for the implementation of IPT for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. With a skill set in Qualitative Research Methods, she also co-leads a Qualitative Research Working Group for doctoral and Masters students in the Lab. 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 investigate the influence of psychosocial safety climate and work environment on burnout among humanitarian aid workers, in order to systematically implement "caring for the carers” in sustainable global mental health and capacity-building efforts.

Srishti Sardana
M.Sc., M.A.

Srishti Sardana, MSc., MA, is a doctoral candidate in the Clinical Psychology program and Lab Coordinator of the Global Mental Health Lab at Teachers College, Columbia University. She 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, UNHCR funded IPT implementation for treatment of depression among Rohingya refugees in
Cox’z Bazar, Bangladesh & Congolose and Burundian Refugees in Tanzania, another project focused on developing a practical toolkit for climate justice and mental health for community-based organizations, 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 served as an officer in the juvenile offender unit at the Institute of Juvenile Justice, Delhi Police, India and initiated a narrative therapy-based intervention project in collaboration with a team of Australian psychotherapists for youth offenders committed for felonies and sex offence. Srishti is currently working on developing her research program that studies social capital and social support networks, and is adopting innovative methods of studying these constructs from a dual economic-mental health lens to examine the potential mediating role of conflict and support in recovery from depression among Stateless Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Sixth Year

Dalal Alhomaizi

Dalal Alhomaizi is a sixth-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.

Seventh Year

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

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?

Eighth Year

Marina Marcus

Marina Marcus is an eighth-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.

Recent Graduates

Ceren Sonmez

Ceren recently graduated from 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 coordinated a project aiming to build capacity in Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Jen Kao

Jennifer Chienwen Kao recently graduated from the 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.

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