Skip to Main Content
  • John Pachankis

    Associate Professor of Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences)

    John Pachankis studies the mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. His research specifically seeks to identify the psychological and social influences that might explain LGBT individuals’ disproportionate experiences with several adverse mental health outcomes, like depression and substance abuse. He uses social epidemiological, experimental, and mixed methods approaches to conduct this research. Drawing on his background as a clinical psychologist, his ultimate goal is to translate the results of these studies into psychosocial interventions to improve the health of the LGBT community. You can learn more about his research at

  • Kriti Behari

    Postgraduate Associate

    Kriti Behari is senior research assistant with the ESTEEM Project. She graduated with an MA from Stony Brook University in 2018. She is interested in the development and maintenance of depressive disorders, as well as in psychotherapy interventions and their adaptation, implementation and personalization. Kriti hopes to get her PhD in Clinical Psychology. 

  • Alex Belser

    Clinical Research Fellow, Pachankis Lab

    Alexander Belser, MPhil, PhD, is a Clinical Research Fellow with the ESTEEM Program at the Yale School of Public Health.  Previously he was a Fellow in the Department of Applied Psychology at New York University, where he taught graduate coursework in psychotherapy.  Alex has two primary areas of research: (1) preventing suicide and improving mental health outcomes among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning youth, (2) psychedelic-assisted clinical research to reduce anxiety, depression, alcohol abuse, and post-traumatic stress.  He has published a number of peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and serves as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Psychopharmacology.  Alex completed his clinical and research training at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, Bellevue Hospital, and the New York Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University Medical Center.  

    To see Alex's CV, please click here ( 

    To see Alex's website, please click here (

  • Cal Brisbin

    Cal Brisbin is a graduate of Oberlin College and an NYC Research Assistant in LGBT Mental Health for the ESTEEM Program. His research interests include status-based rejection sensitivity, self-regulation, cross-cultural psychology, and implicit bias. He also serves as a research assistant for the Center for Justice at Columbia University.

  • Charles Burton

    Associate Research Scientist in Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences)

    Dr. Charles Burton's research examines emotional flexibility—the ability to experience and regulate emotions across a variety of contexts—and its influence on health and health-related behaviors. In one line of research, Dr. Burton charts the basic mechanisms of emotional flexibility using experimental, survey, and daily diary studies. In a second and related line of research, Dr. Burton applies these tools to social issues by examining emotional flexibility's capacity to buffer against experiences of stigma and discrimination, as well testing interventions that target emotional flexibility as a means to improve health disparities among stigmatized groups. 

  • Nitzan Cohen

    Nitzan is a third year doctoral student at Fordham's Counseling Psychology program. Her clinical experience and interests range from working with children on the autism spectrum, to college students, young adult sexual minority individuals, and women, in particular. While working on her bachelor's degree in Israel, Nitzan had studied Attachment-Based Family Therapy for sexual minority individuals and their parents, among other projects, at Dr. Gary Diamond's psychotherapy lab at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Nitzan's main research focus is on sexual fluidity manifestations in sexual minority women, and studying the intricacies of women's sexuality which have been traditionally absent from generic research. She is also currently partaking in several other research projects studying attitudes on sexual assault, and gender differences in the effects of stigma on mental health.

  • Benjamin Fetzner

    Postgraduate Associate

    Ben is originally from a small town called Granby in Northern Connecticut, where he spent the first 18 years of his life. He then attended college at Colgate University, where he studied Music and Psychology and directed an a cappella group. Ben happily joined the ESTEEM Program as a research assistant in May of 2018, and currently resides in Brooklyn. During his free time Ben enjoys playing the piano, marveling at the miracle that is mass transit, and eating Chipotle.

  • Tyler Harvey

    Originally from South Carolina, Tyler is a graduate student in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at Yale School of Public Health. His interests are in health equity and care delivery systems for marginalized populations. At ESTEEM, Tyler particularly enjoys addressing the social determinants of health among queer communities and utilizing intersectionality within public health practice. 

  • Skyler Jackson

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Dr. Skyler Jackson’s research focuses on the ways individuals’ social identities (e.g., race, gender, sexual orientation) shape their everyday lives and influence health and well-being. In particular, he is interested in how experiences of stigma—if not adequately coped with—interfere with psychological functioning and contribute to health disparities. Relying of a broad range of methodological approaches (e.g., microlongitudinal, experimental, qualitative), Dr. Jackson’s current projects examine complex, understudied manifestations of stigma across sexual, racial, and gender minority populations, including (a) intersectional stress among individuals holding multiple marginalized identities (e.g., LGBTQ people of color, Black women), and (b) border identity stress among populations holding identities that defy binary categorization (e.g., bisexuals, multiracial people, transgender/nonbinary individuals). Emerging interests include assessing the mental health consequences of dehumanizing experiences and the study of interventions aiming to reduce stigma-related stress among marginalized populations.

  • NYC Project Coordinator

    Erin joined the ESTEEM lab in 2016. She holds a Master of Public Health in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the Yale School of Public Health.

  • Zach holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. He currently resides in New York City where he works for an eating disorder treatment center and is completing his doctorate in clinical psychology. Prior to moving to New York, Zach worked in Denver for several nonprofits and in private practice where he primarily treated survivors of trauma and abuse. His work and writing have been featured in The Huffington Post and Vice.

  • Jillian Scheer

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Dr. Jillian Scheer’s research broadly focuses on understanding and addressing the co-occurring epidemics (i.e., syndemics such as physical and sexual violence exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder, substance use) facing sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals. Dr. Scheer's interdisciplinary scholarship seeks to: 1) identify the biological, cultural, social, and structural determinants of SGM-related disparities in alcohol misuse and mental health comorbidities and 2) guide intervention development to ameliorate alcohol misuse among at-risk SGM individuals, including those exposed to violence.


  • Tenille Taggart

    Tenille is a Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Psychology at Stony Brook University. She earned her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies at San Diego State University and her M.A. in Psychology at Stony Brook University. Tenille currently works as a Clinical Therapist on the ESTEEM and EQuIP projects. Her primary research interests focus on (1) examining minority identity-related (e.g., sexual orientation, gender identity, race/ethnicity, etc.) mental and physical health disparities and its correlates, and (2) quantitative methods and psychometrics.

  • Mike Yepes

    As a Master of Public Health student in Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at the Yale School of Public Health, Mike’s research focuses on studying the psychosocial factors and socioecological models influencing HIV/STI prevalence in queer communities of color.   As a part of the ESTEEM-conneCT team, Mike is interested in exploring interventions to improve mental health outcomes and increase harm reduction strategies among queer men of color. Mike has previously worked at Fenway Health in Boston, MA as a health navigator performing HIV/STI testing, counseling, and linkage to care for Spanish speaking LGBTQ individuals. 

  • Seyi Adeyinka

    Former NYC Project Coordinator

    Oluwaseyi (Seyi) Adeyinka, MPH, is the former Project Coordinator for the Yale School of Public Health ESTEEM Program in New York City. She is currently pursuing her passion for equitable health and patient care at New York University School of Medicine. 
  • Xiang (Justin)  Cai

    Research Assistant 2015-2017

    Xiang (Justin) Cai, MPH, worked as Research Assistant with Esteem Research Group from June 2015 to May 2017 while earning his Masters degree in Public Health with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health. His research includes understanding how sexual behaviors, minority stress and cultural differences influence the mental and physical health disparities among sexual minorities. He is particularly interested in identifying the risk factors associated with urban migration among gay men. Mr. Cai worked at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, conducting research studies with younger Transgender women in San Francisco and the Bay area. In his Honor Thesis, he explored the influence of acculturation and nativity on the mental health disparities among gay Asian men in the U.S. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston University.
  • Kirsty Clark

    Research Assistant 2014-2016

    Kirsty Clark, MPH is currently pursuing her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She completed her Master of Public Health in Social Behavioral Sciences at Yale School of Public Health in 2016. Her primary research interests include: (1) investigating the social epidemiology of disease among sexual and gender minorities; and (2) developing evidence-based interventions to address health needs among vulnerable populations. Through the mentorship of Dr. John Pachankis, Kirsty has worked on a number of projects related to the health of sexual and gender minorities. She is currently the co-PI on a project developing a prison staff training on cultural competency surrounding transgender inmates, as well as the previous project coordinator on an initiative developing a psychometric scale that measures with-in group stressors among gay and bisexual men that may contribute to their HIV risk. Kirsty received her BA in psychology from the University of Virginia in 2011 and prior to her studies at Yale, she worked as a Psychosocial Human Research Coordinator at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA.
  • Adam Eldahan

    Former Project Coordinator

    Adam Ismail Eldahan, MPH, was Project Coordinator for the Yale School of Public Health ESTEEM Program in New York City. In this role, he coordinated ESTEEM's cognitive behavioral treatment study for young adult gay and bisexual men with major depressive, anxiety, and/or substance use disorders. 

    Mr. Eldahan's previous research includes assisting on the development on an intervention for health care providers to increase their awareness about HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and promote equitable access to PrEP for marginalized groups. He has also conducted research on HIV risk among men who have sex with men (MSM) in small urban areas, focusing particularly on issues related to geographic mobility, stigma, and sexual- and social-networking technologies. 

    Mr. Eldahan earned his MPH (2014) in Social & Behavioral Sciences with a concentration in Global Health from the Yale School of Public Health as a Dean's Scholar and holds a Bachelor's degree (2009) in Science in Society and Molecular Biology & Biochemistry from Wesleyan University. He is also Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, having worked as a rural health outreach worker in Khmis-Takate, Morocco from 2010-2012.

    He is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Nursing Practice at Columbia University School of Nursing. 

  • Melvin Hampton

    Postdoctoral Fellow in Chronic Diseases

    Melvin Hampton is a postdoctoral fellow in CIRA's NIMH Interdisciplinary HIV Prevention Training Program. He earned his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from New York University, as well as a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. Prior to coming to CIRA, Dr. Hampton was an APA MFP Minority Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Fellow, an NIH/NIDA Diversity Supplement Fellow, and a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow.

  • Rebecca Pepe

    Research Assistant 2014-2016

    Rebecca Pepe, MPH worked as Research Assistant at Esteem Research Group from 2014 to 2016 while pursuing her Masters of Public Health in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division of Chronic Disease Epidemiology. She is now a Clinical Research Coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania. Her main research seeks to understand how income inequality in stigmatized populations is related to mental and physical health outcomes. Additionally, she is interested in psychological traits and communication styles in health industry leaders that affect workplace culture and performance. Currently, Ms. Pepe works at the Global Health Leadership Institute on Leadership Saves Lives, a three-year intervention examining how hospital organizational culture reduces Acute Myocardial Infarction mortality in patients. She graduated from Binghamton University gaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Anthropology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
  • T.J. Sullivan

    NYC Research Assistant in LGBT Mental Health; Senior Research Assistant

    T.J. Sullivan, B.A., is a senior research assistant for the ESTEEM Program based in New York City. His research broadly focuses on how stigma- and trauma-related stress impacts individual and interpersonal functioning, particularly among the LGBTQ+ community. Prior to working at Yale, T.J. received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and French and Francophone Studies from Penn State University.

  • Katie Wang

    Assistant Professor of Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences)

    Dr. Wang's research broadly focuses on the role of stigma as a psychosocial determinant of mental and behavioral health disparities. She received a K01 mentored scientist career development award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to investigate the associations among mental illness stigma, emotion dysfunction (i.e., intense, prolonged negative affect and/or difficulties in regulating one's emotions), and substance use among adults with depression. Some methodological approaches utilized to accomplish this research include psychophysiological assessments (e.g., heart rate variability, salivary cortisol) and ecological momentary assessment (e.g., daily diaries). Dr. Wang is also involved in a number of projects on sexual minority mental health, including a stigma coping intervention designed to address co-occurring depression, anxiety, and alcohol use problems among young sexual minority women.

  • Jaclyn White-Hughto

    Faculty Investigator, Brown School of Public Health

    Dr. Hughto is former predoctoral fellow in CIRA's NIMH Interdisciplinary HIV Prevention Training Program. She worked as a predoctoral fellow in the Esteem Lab from 2014 to 2017 while she completed her PhD in Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. She is now a faculty investigator in Epidemiology and Behavioral and Social Sciences at the Brown School of Public Health. Her research aims to [1] document the structural-, interpersonal-, and individual-level factors that contribute to health inequities for sexual and gender minorities and other marginalized populations; and [2] develop and test community-based interventions to improve the health of at-risk communities.