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Meet the Research Team

Professor Olympia Palikara, University of Warwick, UK (PI)

Olympia Palikara is a Professor of Educational Psychology and co-director of postgraduate research programmes in the Department of Education Studies, University of Warwick, UK. Her research interests concern the educational and psychosocial outcomes of children with developmental disorders. Recent research aims to identify the individual and contextual factors associated with children's wellbeing, sense of school belonging and school climate. She is currently Convener of the Psychology in Education Standing Committee of the European Federation of Psychologists' Association (EFPA) and co-chair elect of the Division of Educational and Child Psychology (DECP) of the British Psychological Society.

Professor Bonnie Nastasi, Tulane University, USA (Co-I)

Bonnie Kaul Nastasi, Ph.D., (Kent State University, 1986) is Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of the Trauma Specialization in the School Psychology PhD Program at Tulane University. She has engaged in mixed methods research and development (R&D) to inform culturally relevant assessment and intervention approaches for promoting psychological well-being and reducing health risks, both within the US and internationally; including school-based projects in Sri Lanka for 20 years, community-based projects in India for 12 years, and school-based projects in New Orleans for 12 years. She also directed a multiple-country study of student psychological well-being, with colleagues from ISPA. She is Past-President of the International School Psychology Association, and APA’s Division 16 Senior Scientist Award recipient for 2019.

Professor Kris Varjas, Georgia State University, USA (Co-I)

Dr. Varjas is a Professor in School Psychology and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University. She also is the Director of the Center for Research on School Safety, School Climate, and Classroom Management. Dr. Varjas’ research efforts include school- and community-based projects investigating staff and teacher wellbeing, mental health, trauma-informed practices, creating safe and affirming classrooms, bullying, homophobic bullying, social emotional learning, school safety, and school climate. She has worked on collaborative interdisciplinary research efforts in China, India, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Sweden and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Brandi Ansley, Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, USA

Dr. Brandi Ansley is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, MI, where she teaches courses in secondary transition and human diversity. She also manages the seminar for special education preservice teachers. Her research and professional development line focuses on educator empowerment, which includes wellbeing, social-emotional competence, and interpersonal dynamics among faculty and staff from all levels and roles

Raquel Gutierrez, Tulane University, USA

Raquel Gutierrez, M.S., is a graduate student in the School Psychology Program at Tulane University. She uses participatory culture-specific intervention models in consultation to develop and evaluate culturally appropriate programs and interventions in schools. She has partnered with New Orleans charter schools to consult on the development and implementation of social-emotional learning programming, discipline protocols and behavior interventions as well as school-wide bus-riding behavior interventions. Currently, she is collaborating with teachers to co-construct a shared definition of teacher well-being with the goal of implementing effective and sustainable system-wide teacher well-being interventions. Raquel is a founding member of TU Alianza Graduate Student Association which provides Latino graduate students with support, mentorship, resources, and networking opportunities at Tulane and in the community.

Cat Jones, University of Warwick, UK

Cat is an ESRC funded PhD student at the University of Warwick. Her research focuses on parental engagement with schools and parental engagement with learning in the home. Cat is also a qualified and passionate primary school teacher who continues to spend time in the classroom as a supply teacher. She holds Masters degrees in Social Science Research and Educational Leadership – both from the University of Warwick – and a Bachelors degree in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford.

Aleksandra Krupina , Georgia State University, USA

Aleksandra Krupina is a 3rd year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at Georgia State University. Before joining the School Psychology Department, Krupina served children and families as a behavioral therapist at Marcus Autism Center, providing direct services and behavioral therapy as a part of a multi-disciplinary treatment team. Presently, she works as a graduate research assistant for Center for School Safety, School Climate and Classroom Management and Project NURTURE. She also serves students of Gwinnet County School District in Georgia as a school psychology intern engaged in student support, evaluation, special education, intervention and consultation. Professional interests include trauma intervention and prevention, trauma informed care, youth suicide prevention and resilience.

Carrie Lorig, Georgia State University, USA

Carrie Lorig is an advanced doctoral student in School Psychology at Georgia State University. She is a graduate research assistant in The Center for Research on School Safety, School Climate, and Classroom Management, working on a federally funded project called The Network for Urban and Rural Teachers United for Residency Engagement (Project NURTURE). Her research interests include trauma and trauma-informed care, LGBTQ+ students, and international school psychology. She is a member of the National Association of School Psychologists LGBTIQ2-S Committee. She previously taught high school students in international settings and college undergraduates as an adjunct professor of creative writing and literature. As a psychological intern in Coweta County Schools, she conducts psychological evaluations, provides counseling support to students, consults with staff regrading academic and socio-emotional prevention and intervention, and has provided resources and professional development to teachers and psychologists regarding trauma and the use of trauma-informed strategies in the classroom.

Maggie Tikka, Tulane University, USA

Maggie Tikka, M.A., is a graduate student in the School Psychology Program at Tulane University. She is interested in using participatory action research to collaborate and consult with children and other stakeholders in schools to develop and implement culturally-specific interventions and policies which meaningful include child voice to increase school connectedness among culturally and linguistically diverse students, and ultimately all students. Currently, she is collaborating with teachers and researchers world wide to co-construct a definition of teacher well-being during COVID-19 with the goal of developing and implementing teacher well-being initiatives informed by teachers themselves. Maggie has worked with children in K-12 public schools in Chicago, IL and Denver, CO as well as in Lyon, France and Nakhon Nayok, Thailand. She also enjoys skiing, climbing, cooking, and crocheting.