Lab Director

Kanako Taku

Kanako Taku is an Associate Professor of Psychology who is a leading scholar on post-trauamtic growth (PTG).  As a clinical psychologist certified in Japan, she has conducted a series of cross-cultural research on the subject for 14 years on how people change psychologically, cognitively, socially, and spiritually after traumatic events. Click here for her contact information, click here for resume (curriculum vitae), here for publications, and here for current research interests.

Graduate students

Whitney Dominick


Whitney is a third year PhD student, with a Bachelors in Psychology from Colorado State University. She is interested in pursing the relationship between animals and PTG, particularly as it pertains to traumatized children. Her ultimate goal is to establish an animal assisted therapy program for traumatized children utilizing dolphins in the wild. Currently she is assisting in a study of PTG in medical professionals, analyzing the qualitative data about the relationships between adolescents’ understanding of PTG in regards to their demographics, and examining what elements in support, including spending time with animals specifically, may be beneficial in fostering PTG. Whitney can be reached at 

Jess Kopitz

Jess BioJess is a first year masters student with a bachelor’s degree in communications, advertising, and public relations from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She is interested in the relationship between trauma and personality, and looking at the positive aspects of classically deemed negative personality traits. She became interested in look at the potential positive outcomes of classically deemed negative trauma through growth, which got her interested in PTG and inspired her to want to work in the PTG lab. She hopes to be able to redefine negative personality traits in an adaptive sense by showing the positive uses and features of them, especially in the aftermath of trauma or high stress situations, and work toward de-pathologizing personality disorders in light of trauma. She plans to continue her education to obtain a PhD in clinical pathology to be able to implement her research findings in clinical settings. Jess can be reached at

Alvin Nicholas

Alvin BioAlvin is a first year graduate student with a bachelors degree in psychology from Oakland University. He is interested in research involving achievement, stress, motivation, and resiliency. For his masters thesis he would like to study how motivation can impact stress levels to enhance or promote efforts of success. He would also like to examine how failure to achieve could lead to an increased sense of wisdom or positive perception of gained experience. The work that the PTG lab does got Alvin interested in joining. Alvin hopes to use what he learned in the lab to work toward his long-term goal of becoming a clinical psychologist, and working with individuals with psychopathology. Alvin can be reached at

Olivia Rothig

olivia-website-bio-photo-e1538073244896.jpegOlivia is a first-year master’s student with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology and a minor in early childhood from the University of Michigan-Flint. She is currently interested in the short term and long-term effects that trauma and abuse can have on children. Additionally, she is interested in creativity and the development of the creative process. She hopes to connect these two interests for her master’s thesis. Olivia got involved with the PTG lab because it compliments her interests and future goals, and she is looking forward to working alongside others with similar interests. She plans to apply what she learns in the PTG lab to a future career as a child psychologist at a children’s hospital. Olivia can be reached at

Megan Hubarth

megan-website-bio-pic.jpgMegan is a first-year master’s student with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan-Flint with minors in early childhood and substance abuse. During her time at Oakland University, she plans to study PTG in those effected by trauma at all ages, especially in children. Megan joined the lab to expand her knowledge of PTG, examine how individuals are affected by trauma over time, and identify different coping methods utilized after trauma. In the future she hopes to work with children who are victims of abuse and neglect in the foster care system. Megan can be reached at

Qandeel Minal

Qandeel Bio PicQandeel is a first-year master’s student with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Oakland University. She hopes that the research skills she develops in the PTG Lab will help her with a future career as a clinical psychologist. After completing a master’s degree, Qandeel aspires to obtain a PsyD in clinical psychology and eventually open her own private practice to pursue what she loves. Qandeel can be reached at


Undergraduate Research Assistants

Velinka Marton

IMG_7380Velinka is currently a senior at Oakland University majoring in psychology. She became interested in joining the lab because she finds the construct of posttraumatic growth encouraging and full of potential. During her time in the lab, she hopes to study how PTG is identified and fostered in immigrants, refugees, and other migrating individuals.  After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans on pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology. She plans to use what she learns in the PTG Lab for a future career that may include promoting posttraumatic growth therapeutically. Velinka can be reached at:

Alex Orille

Alex bio picAlex is a junior at Oakland University majoring in psychology with a minor in biology. He decided to join the lab in order to gain rigorous lab work experience and deepen his understanding of PTG. More specifically, Alex is interested in the biological effects of PTG and how it relates to physiological changes in the brain. Upon graduation, Alex plans to pursue a PhD in behavioral neuroscience or neurobiology. Alex can be reached at

Nicholas Elias

Nico bio picNicholas is a junior at Oakland University working toward a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in biology. He joined the lab because of his interest in how individuals change following a traumatic event. Specifically, he is interested in seeing how those dealing with severe medical diagnoses, as well as those closest to them, change following the diagnoses. He plans to begin the application process to medical school next year in order to work toward his goal of becoming a physician. Nicholas can be reached at

Brooklin Adams

gZWj6UUBQO25HLk29qfxvABrooklin is currently a junior at Oakland University, majoring in psychology. She became interested in joining the lab because she would like to learn about how posttraumatic growth is relevant to society, at large, and how the construct benefits people on an individual level. During her time in the lab, Brooklin hopes to study many aspects of posttraumatic growth, especially the way it can be fostered in veterans. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend graduate school for industrial and organizational psychology. Brooklin can be reached at

High School Students

Reema Gowda

Reema bio picReema is currently a senior at Stoney Creek High School. This is her second year interning in the lab. She originally joined the PTG lab to learn more about research on this topic and to connect her interest in psychology with medicine. Particularly, she is interested in the relationship between the experience of medical trauma and PTG, as well as the connection connections between PTG, PTSD, and PTS. During her time in the lab, she hopes to continue supporting PTG research through literature reviews, and building her own research. She also plans to promote the understanding of PTG in her school and community.  Reema can be reached at:

Fatima Bhatti

20180317_001043-e1521290903818.pngFatima is currently a senior at Stoney Creek High School. This is her first year interning in the PTG lab. Fatima originally joined the lab to begin learning about psychological research and statistical analysis. Her future goals include a career in Psychiatry, and she is interested in developing research experience toward that end. During her time in the lab, she would like to examine the connections between PTG and childhood development, its relation to brain physiology, and the role of isolation. She plans to do this through literature reviews, developing research questions, and presenting her work to the lab. Fatima can be reached at:


Blog at

%d bloggers like this: