Core Academic Research Team


Debra A. Hope, Ph.D.
(She/Her/Hers)

Dean of Graduate Education
Aaron Douglas Professor
Department of Psychology
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Dr. Hope received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from University at Albany-State University of New York in 1990 and joined the department at UNL in the same year.  At present, she is a Professor and Dean of Graduate Eduation. Her current research interests focus on two primary areas: (a) mental health impacts of stigma and discrimination, particularly for gender and sexual minorities, and (b) anxiety disorders with a focus on social anxiety disorder.

Dr. Hope is the director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic, one of the specialty services within the Psychological Consultation Center. The current research focus is on disemination of evidence-based treatment, particularly using technology and other innovative approaches. Another area of interest is understanding the gender effect in anxiety. The research on stigma and discrimination is primarily focusing on the work through Trans Collaborations.

Dr. Hope teaches classroom and practicum courses on cognitive-behavioral therapy, a senior level course on clinical psychology, and an undergraduate course on the psychology of diversity. 

 


Dr. Richard Mocarski
(He/Him/His)

Associate Vice President for Research
San José State University

Dr. Richard Mocarski is a Health Communication and Critical, Rhetorical Studies scholar. He is currently the Associate Vice President for Research at San José State University. Dr. Mocarski's research uses critical and cultural rhetorical strategies to expose the ways in which stigma increases barriers to health care for disenfranchised groups that typically have high health disparities.

 


Dr. Sharon N. Obasi
(She/Her/Hers)

Associate Professor and Program Chair of Family Science
University of Nebraska Kearney

Having received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Western Ontario Dr. Obasi’s early research examined hormonal influences on taste and palatability with particular emphasis on the impact of cholecystokinin on food intake. Her current research in Family Science focuses on identity at the individual, familial and community levels exploring the interplay between identity and access to affirming and culturally responsive care.

 


Allura Ralston, M.A.
(She/Her/Hers)

Graduate Research Assistant
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Allura received her M.A. in Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2018 and is currently pursuing her PhD. She previously received her B.A. in Psychology from Temple University. Broadly, Allura's research and clinical interests include social anxiety, minority stress processes, and mental health disparities in LGBTQ+ communities. Additionally, she is interested in treatment dissemination and implementation strategies (particularly technology-assisted treatments) for these and other traditionally underserved communities.

 


Zach Huit, M.A.
(He/Him/His)

Graduate Research Assistant
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Zach graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and is broadly interested in the role of family and social environments in development. More specifically, he is interested in how family and relational structures impact the development of LGBTQ+ individuals and ways in which that can be used to inform services for the LGBTQ+ communities. He is also very interested in how familial and social environments impact victims of child maltreatment. Zach works as a Graduate Research Assistant with Trans Collaborations and is pursuing his PhD in Clinical Psychology at UNL.

 


Brenna Lash, M.A.
(She/Her/Hers)

Graduate Research Assistant
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Brenna graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2014 with her B.A. in City planning/Urban studies and from Boston University in 2016 with a Master in Public Health. She is currently engaged in research as a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research interests include how to best conduct ethical, collaborative, and representative research with transgender and gender diverse participants, and improving access to quality mental health services among transgender populations.

 


Colton Nisley
(He/Him/His)

Graduate Research Assistant
University of Nebraska-Kearney

Colton graduated in 2019 with his B.S in Psychology and Biology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and is currently pursuing his M.S.E. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling through the University of Nebraska at Kearney. As a Graduate Research Assistant under the supervision of Dr. Sharon Obasi, Colton is currently involved in research surrounding family resilience and has interest in issues surrounding LGBTQAI+ mental health and wellbeing.

 


Sage Volk
(She/Her/Hers)

Graduate Research Assistant
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Sage graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2020 with her B.A. in Psychology and minors in LGBTQ/Sexuality Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies. Sage is broadly interested in investigating how support in various contexts either benefits or harms LGBTQA+ individuals. She strives to understand in which ways social support can act as protective factor against negative effects of having a marginalized identity. Sage is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at UNL.

 


Niko Vehabovic
(They/Them)

Graduate Research Assistant
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Niko graduated from the University at Buffalo in 2019 with their B.A. in Psychology and from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2021 with their M.A. in Clinical Psychology and an Advanced Certificate in Sexuality, Women, and Gender Studies. They are interested in studying gender euphoria, resilience, and protective factors to evaluate their impacts on mental health and wellbeing with TGD individuals. They are currently pursuing their Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

 



TRANS COLLABORATIONS ALUMNI

 


Natalie Holt
(She/Her/Hers)

  • Natalie graduated in Fall 2021 with her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Nebraska Lincoln
  • Her area of interests include minority stress processes and the delivery of culturally-responsive mental health services to TGNC communities.

 


Robyn King
(She/Her/Hers)

  • Robyn graduated in Spring 2019 with her Ed.S. in School Psychology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney
  • Her area of interests include elementary-aged children and bullying with a focus on investigating the negative effects of bullying on children who identify as transgender or gender diverse.