People

SMILE Lab Team

Arora
Prerna Arora, Ph.D.
Lab Director & Principal Investigator

Dr. Arora is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Health and Behavioral Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Texas Austin, completed her predoctoral clinical internship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, with a specialization in Clinical, Community and School Psychology, and served as a postdoctoral research and policy fellow at the Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine. Dr. Arora’s research focuses on issues of access and quality of care for historically underserved youth and adolescents. In particular, Dr. Arora’s research focuses on identifying risk and protective factors in the development of depressive disorders among ethnic minority and immigrant-origin youth; barriers to help-seeking among ethnic minority and immigrant-origin youth and families; and developing and implementing culturally-informed school and community-based prevention and intervention programming for youth internalizing disorders. Dr. Arora’s work is grounded in a participatory action research approach and incorporates the use of mixed methodology. She also has additional lines of research in international school-based research efforts and behavioral health integration in pediatric primary care.

Olivia Khoo
Ph.D. Candidate in School Psychology

Olivia is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the School Psychology program at Teachers College. She is an international student from Malaysia and completed her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Education at Rutgers University - New Brunswick. Her research interests are in access to mental health services among racial and ethnic minority and immigrant-origin youth; culturally sensitive prevention and intervention programs; and the use of mixed methodology to assess these areas. She is also a certified instructor in the Youth Module of the Mental Health First Aid training curriculum and has had various professional experiences working with children with developmental, emotional, and behavioral difficulties within school, residential, and clinical settings."

Karissa Lim
Karissa Lim
Ph.D. Student in School Psychology

Karissa is a second year Ph.D. student in the School Psychology program at Teachers College. She is originally from Franklinville, NJ, and completed her B.A. in Psychology and Rhetoric & Communication Studies at the University of Richmond. Her research interests include BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) youth mental health, with a particular focus on Asian immigrant communities, and culturally-informed school psychology practices.

Kayla Parr
Kayla Parr
Ph.D. Student in School Psychology

Kayla is a third year Ph.D. student in the School Psychology program at Teachers College. She is originally from Freehold, NJ and graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in International Studies with a minor in Ethics and International Social Justice. Her research interests include the implementation of culturally-informed and trauma-informed healing practices for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and immigrant-origin youth and families at the individual (e.g., individual, family) and broader systems (e.g., public schools, hospitals) levels. Specifically, her research focuses on the cultural adaptation of evidence-based psychological interventions and using principles of measurement-based care to engage BIPOC youth and families in mental health treatment. She is pursuing the New York State Bilingual Extension Certificate in Spanish.

Kayla Staubi
Kayla Staubi
Ph.D. Student in School Psychology

Kayla is a second year Ph.D. student in the School Psychology program at Teachers College. She is originally from Rye, NY, and completed her B.A. in Human & Organizational Development, and Medicine Health & Society at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests include understanding both the resilience and the internalizing mental health effects and anxiety/mood disorders resulting from traumatic experiences, as well as studying culturally-informed and trauma-informed prevention and intervention practices. She is committed to supporting typically underserved communities that often experience chronic stressors, specifically culturally and linguistically diverse and immigrant youth and families, as well as those who have experienced trauma.

Affiliate Faculty

Courtney N. Baker
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Tulane University

My research agenda focuses on understanding and facilitating the translation of evidence-based practices into school and community settings that serve children, youth, and families at risk for poor outcomes. This includes children who live in poverty, racial and ethnic minority children, and children who have experienced trauma. The goal of my research program is to eliminate disparities in mental health and academic achievement by improving the dissemination and implementation of high-quality prevention and intervention programs. In order to achieve this goal, my research program focuses on three interrelated objectives: 1) understanding developmental contexts that are central to disparities in the health and academic outcomes of vulnerable populations; 2) understanding antecedents and consequences of high fidelity implementation; and 3) addressing barriers to the high-quality implementation of prevention/intervention programs. I use a community-engaged approach in my research as a best practice when working with marginalized communities.

Elizabeth H. Connors
Elizabeth H. Connors
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine

Dr. Connors’ work focuses on improving the quality of mental health promotion, prevention and intervention services in critical access points for children, adolescents and their families such as schools and primary care settings. Dr. Connors conducts training, consultation and research in partnership with district and state teams to select and implement low burden, evidence-based practices to promote student mental health and wellbeing. Dr. Connors is currently conducting research to select and test implementation strategies to increase the use of measurement-based care among school mental health clinicians based on participatory research methods and principles of implementation science.

Lorey M. Wheeler
Co-Director, Nebraska Academy for Methodology, Analytics & Psychometrics; Research Assistant Professor, Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Taking a strengths-based approach, Dr. Wheeler’s collaborative program of research focuses on the role of family in normative youth development, including outcomes related to interpersonal relationships, psychosocial and educational adjustment, and health, among ethnic minority and understudied families, particularly those of Mexican origin. Grounded in cultural-ecological and developmental perspectives, her work highlights macro forces (e.g., gender, culture) and proximal and distal contexts (e.g., families, workplaces, schools), and the mechanisms by which these systems link to youth development and family dynamics. A second focus of her research pertains to complex research designs and statistical models used to answer questions about ecological, developmental, and relational phenomena, and the translation of these methods into useful tools for researchers. 

 

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