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

Kayla Benson

Kayla is a third-year Ph.D. student with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She became interested in PTG after doing research and working with hurricane victims from North Carolina. Her current research interests involve how communities respond to trauma and crisis, and she is excited to pursue these interests more as she begins her time at Oakland University. Kayla can be reached at

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

Kaylie Williams

Kaylie is a second-year master’s student with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Michigan State University. She is interested in the effects of childhood trauma on the development of psychopathology and on intimate relationships. These research interests stem from her work conducting research in a juvenile court. She was attracted to the lab because of the many opportunities to engage in research relevant to her interests which will help her to achieve her goals. She plans to obtain a Ph.D. in clinical psychology to work as a forensic psychologist and continue researching childhood trauma and its relevance to the criminal justice system. Kaylie can be contacted 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

Dominic Frederick Turcott, DP-C

Dom is a first-year master’s student who earned a bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Detroit Mercy with honors in 2020. He became intrigued with post-traumatic growth and bridging the gap as it relates to practices of cognitive behavioral therapy and substance abuse recovery. Working as substance use and domestic violence therapist, he carries a passion for serving members of the community who are in need. Going further, his research interests include alcohol and drug abuse, religious trauma syndrome, clinic efficacy and efficiency, gun violence, and more. Dom is goal-oriented on completing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology after obtaining his master’s at Oakland in order to one day contribute to greater knowledge through research education while striving to conduct the best therapy he can. He can be contacted at DomTurcott@Oakland.Edu

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Lazo Dordeski

Lazo is currently a senior at Oakland University majoring in Psychology along with a minor in Political Science. He decided to join the lab to gain research experience, and a better understanding of growth after trauma and hopes that acquired knowledge of PTG will help in the legal field. Lazo is interested in studying the relationship between how PTG and racial disparities, inequality, mass protests in the U.S., and justice relate to action-focused growth. After completing his undergraduate degree, he plans to pursue law school to become a lawyer. Lazo can be reached at

Isabelle Teasel

Isabelle, lab manager of FF-PTG Lab, is currently a senior at Oakland University majoring in psychology with a concentration in pre-medicine along with a minor in Middle Eastern studies. She decided to join the lab to grow her understanding of the aftermath of trauma and hopes to learn how to apply PTG within healthcare to improve the future treatment of patients. Isabelle is working on her Honors College Thesis titled, “The Paradoxical Nature of Resilience, Optimism, and Anxiety in Relation to COVID-19.”, which focuses on the paradoxical relationships between resilience, optimism, and anxiety in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. After completing her undergraduate degree, she is planning to attend medical school to become a physician. Isabelle can be reached at

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

Paxton Hicks

Paxton Hicks is a junior at Oakland University. He is majoring in Psychology Major with a minor in biology with aspirations to pursue clinical psychology or other similar pursuits. By a professor’s recommendation and by his own interest in growing his experience, the FF-PTG Lab seemed like the best opportunity for me. He is interested in research related to emotions and their relation to patient outcomes. Paxton can be reached at

Amani Qaqish

Amani is currently a junior at Oakland University, majoring in psychology with a minor in human resources management. She joined the FF-PTG lab to gain hands-on research experience and to understand how post-traumatic growth can affect people in the workplace. In the lab, Amani is interested in exploring work-life balance and burnout in relation to people who have experienced PTG. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, Amani plans to pursue an industrial-organizational psychology graduate program to become an I/O psychologist. Amani can be contacted at 

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