Lab Director

Kanako Taku

Kanako Taku is a Professor of Psychology who is a leading scholar on post-traumatic growth (PTG).  As a clinical psychologist certified in Japan, she has conducted a series of cross-cultural research on the subject of 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

Taylor Elam

Taylor is a first-year Ph.D. student with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology with a minor in writing and rhetoric that she obtained from Oakland University. She initially joined the lab as an undergrad due to her interest in emotions and individual differences related to trauma, PTG, and resilience. Her current research interests include understanding emotions, nonverbal communication, and person perception in clinical settings. Taylor can be reached at

Lewis Luttrell

Lewis is a first-year Master’s student with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a minor in applied statistics from Grand Valley State University. He became interested in PTG due to his own experiences in the Marine Corps and getting to meet other veterans with similar backgrounds and experiences, but drastically different outcomes. His primary interest concerns the changes in cultural and ethnic impact on self and social identities as society continues to promote and encourage diversity. Following his instruction, at Oakland University he intends to continue his education in pursuit of a Ph.D. Lewis can be reached at

Paxton Hicks

Paxton Hicks, a former undergraduate student and research assistant of the FF-PTG lab, has now joined the lab as a graduate student. His concentration focuses on social personality psychology. As a first-year graduate student he will be continuing to observe tipping points in deceptive behaviors. He hopes to expand this topic into several domains such as looking social contexts and how this may influence these behaviors. His experience in the lab motivated these interests in tipping points and answering when someone commits to a change; especially when it comes to lying. Paxton passion lies in academia and with aspirations of obtaining his Ph. D. in the future. Paxton can be reached at

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Natalie Safo

Natalie is currently a junior at Oakland University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Health Communication. She joined the lab to gain experience in research about PTG and further specify her interests. After completing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to obtain a Ph.D. in clinical psychology to work as a therapist and continue research. Natalie can be reached at

Amber Efthemiou

Amber is currently a junior at Oakland University, majoring in psychology and minoring in holistic health. She joined the lab to gain research experience and learn more about PTG as a whole and in relation to behavioral psychology. Amber is generally interested in studying non-pharmacological interventions for mental disorders related to traumatic life events in adulthood and later life. After completing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to attend graduate school and later practice clinical psychology. Amber can be reached at

Amani Qaqish

Amani is currently a junior at Oakland University, majoring in psychology with a minor in human resource development. She joined the FF-PTG lab to gain hands-on research experience and to understand how various research topics in the lab apply to individuals in the workplace. Amani is completing a research project exploring the tipping points behind employment. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, Amani plans to pursue a graduate degree in industrial and organizational psychology. Amani can be reached at 

Avery Machuk

Avery is currently a Junior at Oakland University majoring in psychology with plans to continue her education and become a therapist. She decided to join the lab to gain a deeper understanding of posttraumatic growth and hopes to learn how to utilize posttraumatic growth to treat her future clients. Avery will begin working on her Honors College Thesis during this upcoming semester and in doing so she hopes to further explore psychological constructs in relation to young adults and adolescents, who she hopes to work with after becoming a licensed therapist. Avery can be reached at

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