People

Lab Director

Kanako Taku

Kanako Taku is a 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 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

Kayla Benson

Kayla is a first year PhD 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 kbenson@oakland.edu

Joey Rhodes

Joey is a first year Master’s student with three bachelor’s degrees in philosophy, sociology, and psychology from Arizona State University. His main interest in psychology concerns examining human behavior through a social and cultural lens, especially when faced with taxing stimuli. He joined the FF-PTG Lab due to its focus on human behavior and response to extremely taxing stimuli, as well as the opportunity to develop and hone his research skills. His long-term goal is to earn a PhD in Psychology so that he can teach as a university professor while simultaneously working on research to add to the current literature in social psychology.  Joey can be reached at josephrhodes@oakland.edu

Kolton Smith

Kolton is a first year Master’s student, graduating from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a minor in youth studies. He became interested in psychology due to his childhood fascination of the show Criminal Minds, which revealed how interesting the human mind can be. Kolton enjoys learning about psychology and how the mind works, specifically how it affects human behavior. After completing his Master’s, he plans to eventually obtain a PhD in counseling psychology. Kolton can be reached at koltonsmith@oakland.edu

Kaylie Williams

Kaylie is a first-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 PhD in clinical psychology in order to work as forensic psychologist and continue research about childhood trauma and its relevancy to the criminal justice system. Kaylie can be contacted at will3145@msu.edu

Undergraduate Research Assistants

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.

Victoria Kaznowski


Victoria is currently a senior at Oakland University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Holistic Health. She joined the lab out of an interest to do research that contributes to clinical psychology. Her personal interests involve exploring how the outdoors interact therapeutically with mental health and if spending time in nature can influence PTG. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, she hopes to pursue a graduate program in clinical psychology. Victoria can be contacted at vkaznowski@oakland.edu.

Isabelle Teasel

Isabelle is currently a sophomore 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 gain experience in research, grow her understanding of the aftermath of trauma, and hopes that learning about PTG will improve the future treatment of patients. Isabelle is interested in studying the relationship between PTG and those diagnosed with chronic diseases of any age group. She is also interested in researching topics relating to well-being, healthcare, and the dark side of PTG and resilience. After completing her undergraduate degree, she is planning to attend medical school to become a physician. Isabelle can be reached at iteasel@oakland.edu.

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, 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 ldordeski@oakland.edu.

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