Author Archives: taylorlelam

Melissa’s Master’s Thesis Proposal

First year PhD student, Melissa, recently presented her master’s thesis proposal titled The Relationship Between Perceptions of Moral Injury and Posttraumatic Growth in Veterans. Melissa is interested in examining the relationship between moral injury (MI), posttraumatic growth (PTG), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military veterans. Research has found that traumatic events causing PTSD are also likely to cause MI, meaning they often occur together. Research has also found that PTG and PTSD share a curvilinear relationship. Due to this, she predicts that perceptions of MI are correlated to PTG and likely follow a curvilinear relationship as well. She also predicts that different subtypes of MI will have different impacts on PTG levels. Melissa plans to critically examine the nature of the relationship between MI and PTG in order to push for the development of effective intervention programs for military and veteran populations. She believes that if the findings of MI and PTG are significant, research can begin to propose moral healing and moral repair intervention programs for veterans, and potentially, the general public. We are excited to see what Melissa finds and wish her the best of luck!  

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Colin’s Master’s Thesis Proposal

First year master’s student, Colin, recently presented his master’s thesis proposal titled Non-linear Change in Perceived Risk of Mass Shootings in Response to New Information. Colin is interested in examining the types of changes individuals may undergo when impacted by traumatic events such as mass shootings, in order to better understand how the public feels when these events occur and how anxieties may be affected by them. The types of changes he plans to analyze are known as: linear (alpha) change, non-linear recalibration (beta) change, non-linear reprioritization (beta) change, and non-linear reconceptualization (gamma) change. Colin predicts that when participants are shown statistics, regarding the probability of being involved in a mass shooting, they will adjust their perceived risk ratings but not actually have a change in anxiety. He also predicts that when participants are exposed to news articles about a mass shooting, their anxieties will truly increase. Colin believes that if the findings of alpha/beta/gamma changes are shown to be significant for measuring perceived risks of traumatic events such as mass shootings, it can be applied to psychotherapy related constructs. We are excited to see what Colin finds and wish him the best of luck!

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Olivia’s Master’s Thesis Defense Presentation

Second year master’s student, Olivia, presented updates on her master’s thesis proposal titled Pushing Through the Hard Times: Is Growth After Trauma an Influence on Children’s Creativity. Olivia is conducting a study that analyzes the relationships between PTG and Creativity and whether or not the relationship can be affected by the environment and/or personality types. She has predicted that 1) children who experience PTG will be more creative than those who have experienced trauma but show no growth and children who have not experienced trauma at all. With both the trauma experienced group who shows no growth and the no trauma experienced group having the same level of creativity. 2) Environments that foster creativity will affect the level of creativity in children, in addition to the impacts of both trauma and PTG, meaning children with all three will have the highest levels of creativity. 3) Children who’s parents have high levels of extraversion and openness to experiences will be more creative and report more PTG than parents who do not; children who have high levels of both will report more creativity than children who do not, regardless of the parents levels; children with high levels of both and have parents with high levels of both will report the highest PTG. With more data coming in Olivia is able to see many significant findings but is still collecting data and gaining more insight and results. Great work thus far Olivia, we can’t wait to hear more about your findings!

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The PTG Lab Welcomes New Members

The PTG Lab would like to welcome five new members!

Welcome to new graduate student lab member, Melissa! Melissa is a first-year PhD student with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wayne State University and a Masters of Counseling from Oakland University. She is interested in pursuing the relationship between PTG, trauma, and moral injury, particularly as it pertains to military and veteran populations. Her ultimate goal is to identify ways that PTG can be applied in clinical applications for individuals with PTS and a history of trauma. Currently she is assisting in a variety of studies in the lab. Melissa can be reached at

The PTG Lab also welcomes new graduate student lab member, Colin! Colin is a first-year master’s student with a bachelor’s degree in statistics from the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor. His long-term interests lie in clinical psychology, in which he plans to eventually obtain a PhD. He was attracted to the PTG lab because of the excellent opportunities for stimulating research that will help him work towards this goal. His master’s thesis will deal with anxiety and perceived risk of the general public in relation to mass shootings. After completing his PhD he hopes to continue working in academia, preferably as a professor. Colin can be reached at

The PTG Lab would also like to welcome new graduate student lab member, Kara! Kara is a first-year master’s student with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a depth study in biomedical psychological sciences from the University of Alabama. She is interested in the relationship between PTG and the physiology of growth and looking at how the body demonstrates growth following trauma. She became interested in this correlation and how growth physically manifests, which got her interested in PTG and inspired her to want to work in the PTG lab. She hopes to be able to best understand ways to physically measure PTG and identify physical markers of what PTG can look like from a physiological standpoint, especially in the aftermath of trauma or high-stress situations, and work toward finding a way to create a best practice for physicians and medical professionals to use when treating patients following trauma. She plans to continue her education to obtain a master’s degree in psychology with a concentration in biological and basic processes, eventually moving on to earn an MD and become a pediatric neurologist. Kara can be reached at 

The PTG also welcomes new undergraduate research assistant, Kat! Kat is a junior at Oakland University majoring in psychology with a minor in Chinese language. She decided to join the lab to gain in-depth research experience, receive mentorship from other members, and investigate how children experience PTG and trauma. In the future, Kat would like to study psychoeducational approaches for dealing with trauma, specifically for children and young adolescents. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend graduate school and use what she has learned in the lab to specialize in developmental science. 
Kat can be reached at

Finally, the PTG Lab would like to welcome new undergraduate research assistant, Josealyn! Josealyn is a junior at Oakland University, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Theatre. She joined the lab due to her interest in research and statistics within psychology and wanted to learn more about posttraumatic growth. During her time in the lab, Josealyn plans to work with the Deaf community, specifically how relationships may change after experiencing PTG and how these changes may differ from people outside of the Deaf community. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology followed by studying Clinical Neuropsychology. Josealyn can be reached at

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The PTG Lab Welcomes Summer Research Assistants

The PTG Lab would like to welcome two summer research assistants!

Welcome to undergraduate student research assistant, Shannon! Shannon Carley is a senior at Kalamazoo college, majoring in Psychology. She joined the lab because of her interest in developmental psychology and desire to gain research experience. During her time in the lab she is interested in learning more about PTG, its relationship with PTSD, and social support. After finishing her undergraduate degree, Shannon plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Shannon can be reached at

The PTG Lab also welcomes undergraduate student research assistant, Jenny! Jennifer Greenlee is currently a senior at Oakland University, majoring in Psychology and minoring in History. She became interested in the lab because she was curious about research and wanted to learn more. During her time in the lab she will be assisting Olivia with her thesis research study titled Pushing Through The Hard Times: Does Growth After Trauma Enhance Creativity in Children? Over the summer, Jenny hopes to gain a better understanding of how the research process works and learn about posttraumatic growth in children. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend graduate school for School Psychology. Jenny can be reached at

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27th Annual Meeting of Minds Conference

The Meeting of Minds conference provides a yearly opportunity for undergraduate students from Oakland University, University of Michigan-Dearborn, and University of Michigan-Flint to share research accomplishments through oral and poster presentations. On May 10th, U of M-Flint hosted this year’s event, and lab members Velinka, Brooklin, and Taylor attended and shared their projects. These studies have also been published in Meeting of Minds online Journal.

Velinka and Brooklin presented their project titled How do Immigrant Parent-Child Adaptation Differences Affect Psychological Distress and Personal Growth in Immigrant Youth? They examined the psychological effects of youth-perceived parent-child adaptation differences and potential posttraumatic growth (PTG). They predicted that smaller-perceived adaptation differences will yield lower levels of psychological distress. The findings suggest that the degree of parent-child adaptation differences may affect distress and growth in youth.

Brooklin presented her and Nico’s project titled Medical Mishaps: Does a Physicians Specialty Determine Severity? They examined the relationship between physician’s specialties and the severity of medical mishaps that have been reported. They predicted that physicians who specialize in surgical units would be more likely to report involvement with serious medical mishaps and physicians who specialize in non-surgical units would be more likely to report involvement with minor medical mishaps. They found that both hypotheses were supported when looking at serious and minor medical mishaps among each group. They believe understanding the psychological changes physicians may go through when mishaps are committed can aid in clarifying the impact of medical mishaps, as well as, creating teaching aids.

Brooklin also presented her and Nico’s research project titled Varying Effects of Experience has on the Kinds of Medical Mishaps Occurring During a Physician’s Practice. They examined how years in-practice can influence the severity of medical mishaps a physician made within the past five years. They predicted that physicians who have been practicing in their specialty for less than 10 years would be involved in medical mishaps considered “missed information” while those practicing for 11 years or more would make medical mishaps considered “potentially harmful.” Even though the research did not yield significant results, it helps in understanding the importance of medical mishaps, and how they are committed. It also furthers the discussion of creating training programs that teach physicians how to avoid medical mishaps, and what to do if they do happen.

Taylor presented her and Nico’s research project titled Thoughts of Dropping out of High School and Posttraumatic Growth: Examining the Influence of a Negative Neighborhood Environment. They examined the influence of negative neighborhood characteristics on an adolescent’s thoughts of dropping out of high school and the likelihood they will experience PTG. They predicted that students with negative neighborhood characteristics would be more likely to have thoughts of dropping out of high school and due to stress, would be more likely to report higher levels of PTG. Although the research did not produce significant results, it helps to understand the sociocultural elements that may influence academic achievement and growth.

Josealyn Pontius, an incoming research assistant for the fall semester, came to show her support for the lab members that presented, and learn of other undergraduate research.

Overall, the conference was a success and another great opportunity to share the hard work of many!

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Whitney’s Dissertation Update

Fourth-year PhD student, Whitney, recently presented the second part of her dissertation on Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT). She conducted a study that analyzed the impact of a 3-day wild dolphin assisted therapy program on children. She gathered data from children with various physiological and psychological disorders. Whitney predicted that the children’s heart rate would decrease over the span of the 3 days by being in the water with the wild dolphins. She also predicted that the stress levels will decrease in the children and they will perceive the program as enjoyable and helpful. Her results showed that the heart rate in children decreased for the majority of the time and there were perceived decreases in stress/anxiety levels in most of the children as well. Overall, the participants found the program to be both enjoyable and helpful based on the personalized nature of the program and how it was specifically catered towards helping them and their special needs. Whitney plans to continue to gather data that measures the impact of DAT on children. Wonderful job Whitney and good luck with future research!

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Taylor’s Article Presentation

First semester undergraduate student, Taylor, recently gave her first article presentation, reflecting her research interests: emotions, deception detection, and behavioral psychology. Taylor chose the article Pathways to Posttraumatic Growth Versus Posttraumatic Stress: Coping and Emotional Reactions Following the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks by Crystal L. Park, Carolyn M. Aldwin, Juliane R. Fenster, and Leslie B. Snyder, published in 2008. This study aimed to explore common reports from the American population of both distress and positive outcomes after television exposure of the attacks. The researchers hypothesized that there would be a relationship between coping, emotions, posttraumatic growth (PTG), and posttraumatic stress (PTS). They also hypothesized that positive coping would be more expressive through anger and would, therefore, lead to PTG while negative emotions would be more expressive through depression, leading to PTS following the terrorist attacks. Results showed that the relationship goes both ways. Meaning, emotions influence coping and coping influences emotions. They also found that although anger is often perceived as a negative emotion, it could prompt an individual to seek positive coping skills and potentially lead to PTG. The researchers concluded that the information found in the results shows how growth may be achieved by practicing positive coping skills because of arousal or motivation from anger. Taylor plans to continue researching emotions and behaviors in relation to PTG throughout her time in the lab as well as in her future career goals within behavioral psychology. Great job on your article presentation, Taylor, and good luck with future research!

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Congrats to Velinka!

Congratulations to Velinka! Her paper, “Youth perceptions of intergenerational discordance and immigrant well-being” was selected as the second place winner of the Kresge Library’s Frank Lepkowski Undergraduate Research in Writing Award!

Also, she recently successfully defended her senior’s thesis. Velinka’s presentation was an update of her honors independent study. She is interested in exploring youth perceptions of acculturation, the process of adapting to a new culture, and individual factors between immigrant youth and their parents after coming to the United States. Velinka has taken a mixed methods approach, using qualitative and quantitative methods, to examine youth-perceived parent-child gaps in acculturation and emotion processing. She is interested in exploring how those gaps affect immigrant youth with varying outcomes, such as acculturative stress, somatic symptoms, depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms, as well as post-traumatic growth (PTG). Findings will contribute to the expanded Acculturation Gap-Distress Model and help clarify the effects of adapting to a new culture at differing rates. This will help provide information for people of all ages who may struggle with acculturating, as well as educators, clinicians and physicians who may assist those individuals. Wonderful job Velinka, and good luck with further research!

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Olivia’s Master’s Thesis Proposal

Congrats to first-year masters student, Olivia, on her successful proposal presentation, which has been approved by the committee. Recently, Olivia presented an overview of her masters thesis proposal titled Pushing Through The Hard Times: Does Growth After Trauma Enhance Creativity in Children. Olivia is interested in analyzing a new topic of creativities’ impacts on children’s abilities to move past trauma’s and experience posttraumatic growth (PTG). She is also interested in seeing if there are environmental and personality factors that play a role in the relationship. Stemming from the Kilmer’s Model, which suggests that creativity plays a indirect role in the push towards growth, Olivia will be looking at direct correlations between PTG and its impact on creativity. As there are only two major studies that examine the relationship between creativity and PTG, both with adult populations, Olivia plans to gather data that will show the need for fostering and encouraging creativity among children and support her prediction that PTG can spark creativity among those who experience it. We are very excited about Olivia’s work and wish her the best of luck!


She presented two studies at the 4th Annual OU Graduate Student Research Conference on March 15th, 2019.

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