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Who's Involved

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Lauren E. Gulbas, Ph.D.


As a medical anthropologist and Assistant Professor in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at The University of Texas, my research integrates a unique conceptual lens with advanced qualitative and ethnographic methodologies to understand how people navigate complex sociocultural landscapes in the pursuit of mental health. One of the most exciting elements of my research is the opportunity to collaborate across disciplines to address salient disparities in health and mental health.


Maria de los Angeles Villarreal

Research Assistant

Maria is a fourth-year Social Work major pursuing a certificate in Creative Writing. She is from the border towns of Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Mexico. Growing up in these diverse environments rooted in her an interest in social justice. She is currently a research assistant for the Adolescent Self Harm study. Aside from working in the Advanced Qualitative Lab, she is the president of the Latin Economics and Business Organization and a Social Work Education Enhancement Program peer mentor to help facilitate freshmen transitions to UT. Maria will pursue a Masters of Social Work in the fall.


Isabel Cesani

Research Assistant

Isabel Cesani is a fourth-year Public Health major and first-year MPH student from Temple, Texas. Throughout her time in college, Isabel has developed her interest in health and educational disparities by working on the People's Community Clinic Project and as an instructional teacher fellow to first-generation middle school children. She hopes to attend medical school in the future and continue closing the gap between health and education across all socio-demographic populations.


Amanda Ladd

Research Assistant

Amanda Ladd is a fourth-year BSA Human Development and Family Sciences major at UT Austin. She is minoring in Health Communications and plans to be a pediatric PA in the future. She is originally from Belton, Texas. Amanda is a qualitative data analyst on the People’s Community Clinic team. The focus of this project is coding and analyzing data related to attitudes held by adolescents towards their pre-health screenings.

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Lori Woo

Research Assistant

Lori is a fourth-year student from Austin, Texas double-majoring in Social Work and Plan II. She is a research assistant for the Postpartum Access to Healthcare (PATH) Project, which examines how pregnant and postpartum women in Central Texas navigate public health insurance programs. For her social work honors thesis, she is researching maternal mental health using PATH data. Outside of the lab, Lori is an a cappella music director and member of UT Gymnastics.

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Abigail Arratia

Research Assistant

Abigail Arratia is a first-year BS Biology major at UT Austin on a pre-medical track with aspirations of becoming a pediatric oncologist. In Galveston, TX, she is active in a nonprofit organization that aims to provide necessities and support to homeless women and children. With these experiences, her motives for joining the lab surround supporting the mental health of others and making contributions towards their relief. In the Advanced Qualitative Research Lab, she hopes to learn more about UT’s community and collaborate on projects aimed towards assessing the wellbeing of students.


Natalie Williams

Research Assistant

Natalie Williams is a third-year Social Work Honors student from San Antonio, TX. She is also pursuing a certificate in Intervention & Vulnerable Children as a part of the Bridging Disciplines Program. She is passionate about exploring the intersection of social work practice, mental health, and public health through research and intervention science. She hopes to continue her education through a Master of Social Work program. Outside of the lab, Natalie is a research assistant for the LEAP Educational Psychology Lab, which focuses on the dissemination of youth mental health services, and is a peer mentor within the Steve Hicks School of Social Work.


Kathleen Tiernan

Research Assistant

Originally from Falls Church, Virginia, Kathleen Tiernan is a junior in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. In addition to pursuing a Bachelor’s in Social Work, she is working on a certificate in Human Rights and Social Justice through the Bridging Disciplines Program. Kathleen is interested in the utilization of qualitative research to combat mental health disparities in traditionally underserved communities. She is very excited to be joining the lab this semester!


Chidera Orazulike

Research Assistant

Raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Chidera Orazulike is a first-year Psychology major at UT Austin hoping to become a clinical psychologist in the future. Her interests include finding solutions to the disparities and racial inequities in mental health services, specifically as they pertain to black women. Chidera’s drive for the wellness of black women is fueled by her efforts on the committee for UT’s Black Women Wellness Organization and her own self care through crocheting and thrifting.

Who We Are: Lab Members

Past Members

Who We Are: Our Team
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Adam J Wesevich

Research Assistant

Adam Wesevich graduated from UT Austin with a BS in Psychology and a minor in pre-Health professions, with the hopes of attending medical school. He has worked on the DMHC project for almost three years and is currently in the process of getting a manuscript published, focusing on the different ethical dilemmas faced by medical students in their 3rd-year clerkship. He is also currently working on the Adolescent Self-Harm project, researching a population he hopes to soon be able to assist as he is working towards becoming a psychiatrist.

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