People

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

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Whitney is a fifth 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 assessing the impact of various types of sea mammal interactions on children’s mental health and conservation behaviors, examining the impact of pets on PTG, running a program that teaches teen parents about PTG, and teaching a class in Positive Psychology. Whitney can be reached at wdominick@oakland.edu.

Melissa Engle

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 mengle@oakland.edu.

Olivia Rothig

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Olivia is a second-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. Her master’s thesis and current research focuses on the way creativity is affected after children experience challenging events. She hopes to find support for the importance of creativity in overcoming challenges. Olivia got involved with the PTG lab because it compliments her interests and future goals. She enjoys 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 ostorch@oakland.edu.  

Qandeel Minal

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Qandeel is a second-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 qminal@oakland.edu

Colin O’Brien

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 colinobrien@oakland.edu.

Kara Pado

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 earn an MD and become a pediatric neurologist. Kara can be reached at kapado@oakland.edu 

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Brooklin Adams

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Brooklin is currently a senior 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 Bmadams234@oakland.edu.

Taylor Elam

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Taylor is currently a senior at Oakland University, majoring in psychology and minoring in writing and rhetoric. She joined the lab due to her interest in social/personality psychology and wanted to learn about personality characteristics associated with PTG. During her time in the lab, Taylor plans to study various aspects of PTG, especially the emotional reactions individuals may have following trauma. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend graduate school for social/personality psychology to study deception detection, micro-expressions, and nonverbal communication. Taylor can be reached at telam@oakland.edu.

Kat Fraus

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 kfraus@oakland.edu.

Josealyn Pontius

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 jlpontius@oakland.edu.

High School Students

Reema Gowda

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Reema 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 reemagowda@yahoo.com.

Fatima Bhatti

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Fatima 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 bhattifatima4.0@gmail.com.

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