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

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Lauren Harrison

Lauren BioLauren Harrison is  a Senior at Oakland University majoring in psychology with an exploratory minor in communications. She joined the PTG lab in the Winter 2016 semester to deepen her understanding of the research process through the lab’s rigorous environment. Upon entering the lab, she was interested in the relationship between narcissism and PTG and is currently exploring the relationship between the two constructs in her study Survey about Images of Psychosomatic Disorder or Posttraumatic Growth. Lauren will be graduating from Oakland this upcoming April and plans to attend graduate school to obtain a PhD in psychology. She is currently applying to schools that specialize in the field of geriatrics. Lauren can be reached at

 Jenna Duroino

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-10-15-53-pmJenna is currently a Senior at Oakland University and is majoring in psychology and writing and rhetoric. She originally joined the PTG lab because of her passion for helping people cope with and recover from stress, while also pursuing her interest in research. In particular, Jenna is interested in examining the relationship between resiliency and posttraumatic growth and is currently working on a new study exploring these two constructs in relation to many other constructs such as coping, rumination, and social support. Jenna’s other research interests broadly include training, teamwork Her long term goal is to use her research findings to develop a resiliency training program. Jenna will be graduating from Oakland University this coming April and plans to attend graduate school to obtain a PhD in industrial organizational psychology. Jenna can be reached at:

Kyle Vens

img_5361Kyle currently a junior at Oakland University and is majoring in psychology and minoring in Christian studies. He joined the PTG lab because he finds posttraumatic growth to be a more positive approach to trauma and something that should be studied more in-depth. He has an interest in how PTG affects spirituality and plans on studying how an individual experiences spiritual growth as a result of a traumatic event. After graduating from Oakland, Kyle plans on going to graduate school to obtain a masters in clinical psychology. Kyle can be reached at: Last semester, he presented an article to the lab and represented the PTG Lab at Psi Chi’s RA Workshop. He has recently presented another article to the lab.


Velinka Marton

img_5123Velinka is currently a junior 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:

Kayla Strunk

Kayla BioKayla is currently a Junior at Oakland University and is majoring in psychology. She became interested in joining the PTG lab because she finds the construct of posttraumatic growth interesting and relevant to many people. During her time in the lab, she hopes to study many different aspects of PTG. More specifically, she is interested in how children of abuse and neglect experience PTG. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology with a focus in forensics. Kayla can be reached at

High School Student

Reema Gowda


Reema Gowda is currently a sophomore at Stoney Creek High School. She recently joined the PTG lab to support her budding interest in psychology, but specifically PTG after reading several articles and books on it prior to joining. She is particularly interested in growth found in individuals residing in inner-city neighborhoods and the different causes of growth. As she continues her years in high school, she hopes to progressively become more involved within the lab and possibly pass over these interests into her undergraduate years. She can be reached at:

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