Bio Profile

John Pachankis, PhD

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...

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Kriti Behari

NYC Research Assistant in LGBT Mental Health

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. 

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Alex Belser, MPhil

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,...

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Cal Brisbin, BA

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.

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Charles Burton, PhD

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...

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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...

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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.

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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. 

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Skyler Jackson, PhD

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...

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Erin McConocha

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.

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Zachary Rawlings

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.

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Jillian Scheer, PhD, MA, BA

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Jillian Scheer’s research broadly focuses on the impact of epidemic violence on the prevalence of mental health issues among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations. Within this scope of research, Dr. Scheer has three primary related interest areas: (1) identifying the effects of two sources of trauma, stigma and interpersonal violence, on cognitive and affective processes and mental health outcomes among LGBT individuals; (2) examining the relationship between structural...

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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. She earned her M.A. in Psychology at Stony Brook University. Tenille currently works as a Clinical Therapist on the ESTEEM and EQuIP projects. Her research focuses on the use of complex quantitative modeling to investigate mental and physical health disparities structurally and...

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Arjan van der Star, MSc, BSc

Postgraduate Fellow

Arjan van der Star’s research focuses on the question how stigma operates at several levels surrounding the individual and how it may impact the mental health of sexual and gender minorities. More specifically, through his research, Arjan seeks to further the understanding on how policies and laws can structurally harm or protect the mental health of sexual and gender minorities, and so may also serve as tools to prevent adverse mental health as a result of stigma among these groups. Arjan...

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Katie Wang, PhD

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 health disparities across various marginalized populations, including people with mental illnesses and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. She uses a combination of experimental and survey methods to examine the impact of stigma on mental and behavioral health outcomes, such as depressive symptoms and substance use. She is also interested in developing interventions to...

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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...

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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. 

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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...

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T.J. Sullivan, BA

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.

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Jaclyn White-Hughto

Predoctoral Fellow, CIRA

Jaclyn White Hughto, MPH, is a doctoral student in Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. Her research includes understanding the social, spatial, and individual-level risk factors driving health inequities in sexual and gender minorities. She is also interested in identifying strategies to increase the uptake of biomedical interventions and developing behavioral interventions to prevent adverse sexual and psychosocial health outcomes in at-risk populations. Mrs....

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