Meet Our Research Team! 

Postdoctoral Fellow

Nikolette Lipsey, PhD

Nikolette is a Postdoctoral Fellow working with Dr. Laura Widman and Dr. Jeni Burnette at North Carolina State University. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Asian Studies from Furman University. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Florida, working with Dr. James Shepperd. Broadly, her research interests include topics related to health, information avoidance and information decisions, and impression management. Through all of her lines of research, her aim is to better understand how people make decisions about potentially threatening information, and how people factor others into those decisions. She has a strong interest in applying social psychology theory to improve health outcomes and inform decision making.


Nikolette enjoys traveling, drinking tea, getting really invested in TV shows, and hanging out with her two perfect cats – Luna & Henrietta Pickles. 

Graduate Students

Abby Nance, MFA
6th Year doctoral student

Abby joined the Applied Social and Community Psychology program in 2015. She has an MFA in Creative Writing and taught college composition and journalism courses. As a writing instructor, she developed research interests in the health outcomes of writing interventions, and the connection between diction and resilience.


Abby is a book worm who loves to write, learn, listen to podcasts, make jam, swim, and take long rambling walks. 

Reina Evans 

4th year doctoral student

Reina Evans, BS, is a doctoral student in the Applied Social and Community Psychology Program at North Carolina State University. She received her bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Neuroscience from St. Edward’s University, where she began research on the long-term effects of early sex education on the sexual health of emerging adults. Her research broadly examines adolescent health with a focus on sexual communication, positive sexuality, and community-based intervention practices. With the support of the Doug Kirby research grant, she will conduct a meta-analysis on sexual health interventions for Black and Hispanic youth to better
understand what factors contribute to more effective interventions for these adolescents.


Reina enjoys hiking, camp fires, board games, dim sum, and playing fetch with her hound dog, Nala.

Hannah Javidi

3rd year doctoral student

Hannah entered the Applied Social and Community Psychology program in Fall 2018, after receiving a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is broadly interested in adolescent sexual health. In particular, she is interested in exploring factors that influence adolescents' consent attitudes and the impacts of technology and social media on sexual communication, as well as the application of game technologies to sexual health education interventions. 


Hannah enjoys traveling, singing, acting, and spending time with her Siamese cat, Winnie.

Julia Brasileiro
2nd year doctoral student

Julia is a doctoral student in the Applied Social and Community Psychology program. She has a Bachelor’s in Public Health and a Master of Public Health, specializing in maternal and child health from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She has been working in public health in East Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the United States on projects related to HIV/AIDs, family planning, cervical cancer, gender-based violence and maternal health. Her research is broadly focused on understanding the bidirectional relationship between mental and physical health and developing and evaluating integrated community-based interventions to improve the overall health of adolescents.


Julia enjoys yoga, sipping hot tea, travelling, and hanging out with her husband, toddler and two dogs.

Jeffrey Hurst
1st year doctoral student

Jeff Hurst is a first year graduate student. He did his bachelors at Brigham Young University majoring in psychology and minoring in statistics and family studies. Broadly he is interested in improving adolescents' sexual health with a particular emphasis on online sexual health such as pornography use and sexting. He is also interested in the role that parents have in their children's sexual development and hopes to develop an intervention that increases parent's efficacy in talking to their children about sexual health.


In his free time, Jeff enjoys being outdoors and spending time with his wife and three cats.


Post-Baccalaureate  Research Assistant

Leah Powell

Leah graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.  

In her free time outside of lab, she enjoys spending time at home with her two cats Jasper and Arya.  She also enjoys listening to music and spending time with her friends and family.  

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Megan Armstrong, Senior


Megan is a third-year student studying Psychology and Applied Nutrition with a minor in Spanish.  She hopes to study the ways in which proper nutrition impacts brain development, particularly in under-developed communities.  She plans to attend graduate school after serving for a year or two in the field of public health.


In addition, Megan is deeply passionate about the environment and has a great sense of adventure. She loves traveling and backpacking and most activities that involve being outdoors!

Sunshine Spiva, Senior


Sunshine was born and raised in Wilmington, NC but later moved and grew up in Columbia, SC. She came to NC State in order to feel more at “home” back in her home state. She is pursuing a double major in Psychology and Spanish with a minor in Linguistics and recently studied abroad in Argentina where she fully developed her love for the Spanish language and culture. She expects to graduate in May of 2021 and hopes to continue her education in graduate school continuing her studies in Psychology.


In her free time, you can find her working at the IHOP on Hillsborough, volunteering with her sorority and traveling!

Noelle Smith, Senior


Noelle is a senior from Mooresville, NC (right outside of Charlotte) and moved to Raleigh to get a bachelors degree in psychology. After graduation, she hopes to attend Duke or UNC - Chapel Hill to earn a PhD in clinical psychology. She hopes to work with patients of all ages, and she hopes to provide pro bono psychological care to military veterans and individuals who cannot typically afford it.


In her free time, Noelle likes to listen to music, watch Netflix, weight train, and rock climb.

Sam Katowitz, Senior


Sam was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has always been a fan of NCSU and is currently working towards his goal of receiving his bachelors degree in Psychology. Sam is extremely interested in mental health counseling with college students. With the intent of studying abroad next year, he is learning to be bilingual with English and Spanish. Sam believes that becoming bilingual will increase the range of those who he can assist in their struggles with depression, anxiety, and mental illness. After receiving a degree in Psychology, Sam plans to attend Graduate school and continue learning about mental health counseling and Spanish.


In his leisure time, Sam enjoys working out, mindfulness meditation, reading, and playing video games with friends.

Teen Health Lab Alumni

Past  Graduate Students

Kristyn Kamke, PhD  -

Kristyn graduated in July 2018 with her PhD from the Applied Social and Community Psychology Program at NC State. Broadly, Kristyn's work aims to understand the etiology of adolescent health outcomes to inform health promotion interventions, particularly among marginalized and health disparity populations. While her primary interest is in adolescent sexual and relationship health, Kristyn has also conducted work focused on understanding racial/ethnic disparities in tobacco use and cessation as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities from 2018-2020. She recently began second postdoctoral fellowship at the Rape Incest and Abuse National Network (RAINN), where she will focus on 1) evaluating the use of a new mobile app designed to aid sexual assault survivors in seeking support and managing their mental health, and 2) understanding concerns of youth sexual assault survivors contacting the National Sexual Assault Hotline. 

J. L. Stewart, PhD  -

J graduated in May 2020 with her PhD from the Applied Social and Community Psychology program. J's research broadly focuses on sexuality and sexual health among adolescents and emerging adults. All of her work is guided by a rights-based approach to positive sexuality development. This approach posits that all people are entitled to fully experience, express, and enjoy their sexuality safely and consensually. Specifically, she explores topics such as parent-child sexual communication, sexual fluidity, consensual non-monogamy, HIV/AIDS, and technology-based sexual health interventions. J is currently revising an F32 postdoctoral fellowship application at NIH to continue with her research on adolescent and young adult sexual health. 

Past Project Staff 

Joy Massey, MPH
Rossana Roberts  
Justin Harris
Bev Porter, MBA

Past  Undergraduate and Postbac Research Assistants

Caroline Gainey
Clara Jane Maynard
Madison Morrow

Cecily Jones

Blythe Lane
Brian Messina
Olivia Sandin  

Chantelle Linthicum

Isaac McDaniel
Ndella Njie
Irene Ball

Maiya Whiteside 

Haejin Sim
Kiersten Kronschnabel

Kavi Wilson

Samantha Legg

Madison Johnson

Jackie Lanning

Gabbie Consing

Interested in joining our lab? 

GRADUATE STUDENTS:  Dr. Widman is accepting applications for Fall 2020. 


UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS:  Unfortunately, we are no longer accepting applications for Fall 2020. Please check back next semester for any new updates.

Last updated:

July 2020