Dr. Mello's Team



Post Doctoral Research Fellow


Dr. Vani KakarVani Kakar, Ph.D.


Vani Kakar is a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the Mello Lab in the Department of Psychology. She earned her PhD in Psychology from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Her doctoral thesis examined beauty ideals and body image among adolescent girls living in Australia, China, India, and Iran, which was honored with the Vice Chancellor’s Commendation for Academic Excellence in November 2022.


Her academic background includes an M.Phil. in Educational Planning and Administration from the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (2016), an M.A. in Applied Psychology with a specialization in Clinical Psychology from the University of Delhi (2013), and a B.A. Honors in Psychology from Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, India.


Dr. Kakar has two primary streams of research: body image and disordered eating, as well as acculturation and minority experiences. Broadly, she is interested in understanding the role of sociocultural influences (media, family, peers, culture) on the emotional and physical well-being of young individuals, with a particular focus on people of color and individuals living in low-middle-income countries. At present, she is researching how attitudes and experiences within adolescent populations influence their engagement in risky health behaviors, aiming to better understand the contributing factors to promote better health outcomes for young individuals. In addition to Dr. Kakar’s research, she is also a licensed Be Body Positive facilitator.




Research Assistants


Adam SuriAdam Suri, B.A.


Adam is a graduate student in the Psychology SPA (Social, Personality, and Affective Science) Program. He earned his BA from Cal State East Bay and his research interests are mostly wellness-related. Specifically, he wants to research what Wellness techniques students are exposed to based on their socio-economic status and what effects it has on their daily lives.




BusraBusra Dogru, B.A.


Busra is a graduate student at Psychology (Social, Personality, and Affective Science) Master’s at San Francisco State University. She earned her BA from Bilkent University. Her research interests include discrimination, resilience, and the effects of social comparison on depression and anxiety.




NisaJo Nisa Cabilogan, B.A.


Nisa is a rising first-year graduate student in the Social, Personality, and Affective Science Psychology Program at San Francisco State University (SFSU). She obtained her B.A. in Psychology with a summa cum laude distinction from SFSU. Her research interests include discrimination based on social identities and its association with substance use, such as tobacco use. She is also passionate about serving the AAPI and the immigrant (i.e., undocumented) community.




JuanJuan Carlos Argueta Rodriguez


Juan Carlos is a fourth-year undergraduate student dual majoring in Chemistry and Psychology. He is especially interested in research on prescription medications.




karaKara Eytcheson, B.A.


Kara is a senior graduate student in the Psychology (Social, Personality, and Affective Science) master's program at San Francisco State University. She is the Senior Lab Manager in the Social Perception, Attitudes, and Mental Simulation Lab. She also works as a Research Assistant for the Time Lab where she assists with the recruitment process and interview scheduling. She will be applying to Ph.D. programs in the near future.




Manuel Abundis-Morales, B.A.


Manuel is a first-year graduate student in the Social, Personality, and Affective Science (SPA) Program at San Francisco State University. He graduated from University of California Santa Cruz, where he earned bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Latin American Studies/Sociology (combined major). His research interests include access to mental health services within marginalized communities, cross cultural cooperation in online contexts, and bridging gaps in educational attainment.



MaxMax Harrington, B.A. 


Max is a second-year graduate student in the M.A Psychological Science: Social, Personality, and Affective Science (SPA) at San Francisco State University. Max graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Double Major B.S. Psychology and B.A. Comparative Ethnic Studies and a Minor in Child Development. Their research interests include identity safety cues, generational trauma, community, and belonging.



Sean HenniganSean Hennigan, B.A.


Sean is a second-year graduate student in the Social, Personality and Affective Sciences M.A. Program. He graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California with a B.S. in Psychology in 2021 and has since worked as a research associate at UCSF examining game-based learning as a means of healthy behavior change and fostering parent-adolescent communication. He is also a research assistant in the SFSU Personality & Well-Being Lab and Time Lab. His research interests concern topics of LGBTQ+ psychology, the impact social media on political attitude formation, and the development of sexual and gender identities. More specifically, Sean hopes to conduct research related to improving the health outcomes and well-being of LGBTQ+ communities.


tiffanyTiffany Wong


Tiffany is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology with a minor in Education. Her research interests include decision-making, motivated behavior, and the effects they have on the use of technology. She plans on applying to a Master's Program in Research/Experimental Psychology.




The TimeLab is located in EP 510.


Students who are interested in joining the Time Lab should send an email to Dr. Mello at zmello@sfsu.edu that includes a brief statement about career goals, CV/resume, and GPA.



Selected Alumni



Betsy Centeno, Doctoral Student

University of California, Santa Cruz

Social Psychology

Betsy's research interests include racial/ethnic identity, racism, colorism, educational outcomes, psychological well-being, and health disparities among marginalized groups, with a focus on Latinx populations.





Hilary Bridges

Hilary Bridges, M.A.

LPC Assistant Executive Director, Kids Crossing

Hilary is a Licensed Professional Counselor.








Ilke Bayazitli, Doctoral Student

University of California, Berkeley

School Psychology

Ilke's current research interests include the well-being of underrepresented adolescents, talent development and gifted education, and time perspective.






Jamie Jaramillo

Jamie Jaramillo, Ph.D.

Early Career Scientist, Oregon Social Learning Center

Jamie is passionate about the treatment and prevention of cascading negative health effects following adversity, such as mental disorders, substance use, and addiction.





LauraLaura Finan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Illinois State University

Laura's research interests include how social-ecological factors contribute to adolescents' and young adults' health and health risk behaviors.






Selected Alumni (continued)


(Name, former position with Dr. Mello, current position) 

Alexa L. Davidson, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Executive Director at the San Geronimo Valley Community Center 

Alyssa Youngquist, M.A. Student, Clinical Research Coordinator, University of California, San Francisco

AnnMarie Stiasny, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Graduate Student, Counseling, Northcentral University

Daniel Grafil, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Masters Student, School Psychology, San Francisco State University

Dante D. Dixson, Ph.D., Undergraduate Research Assistant, Associate Professor, Michigan State University

Dilrani Bhadare, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Ph.D., Clinical, Alliant University

Erica Walker, Psychology Honors Program Student, M.A. Student, San Francisco State University

Erick Romero, Psychology Honors Program Student, Edgewood Center for Youth

Isaac C. S. Wiggers, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Graduate Student, Industrial/Organization, Seattle Pacific University

Julia Moon, M.A., Student & Graduate Research Assistant & Project Coordinator, Clinical Research Coordinator, University of California, San Francisco

Julie Chandler, Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology, Central Michigan University

Laura Yitzzel Alcaraz, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Masters in Science, School Psychology, San Francisco State University

Lee H. Hand, Undergraduate Research Assistant, English Instructor, China USA Society English Centers

Liliana Celesia Moore, M.A., Graduate Student, Clinical Research Coordinator, San Francisco VA Medical Center

Patricia L. Monaghan, Graduate Research Assistant, Ph.D., Clinical, Florida Institute of Technology 

Victoria C. Paoloni, Psychology Honors Program Student, M.A. Student, San Jose State University



Lab Photos


Berkeley Presentation



















Spring 2024

Dr. Mello's presentation at the Insitutute of Human Development (University of California, Berkeley)


Adam's Birthday 2024



















Spring 2024

(Top row, from left) Kara Eytcheson, Dayanne Herrera Suarez, Dr. Mello

(Bottom row, from left) Manuel Abundis-Morales, Christopher Garcia, Melissa Espana, Adam Suri, Busra Dogru, Tiffany Wong, Dr. Kakar


Winter holiday party























Winter 2023

(From the left) Adam Suri, Busra Dogru, Manuel Abundis-Morales, Juan Carlos Argueta Rodriguez, Sarah Purnell


























Fall 2023

(From the left) Dayanne Herrera Suarez, Busra Dogru, Manuel Abundis-Morales, Dr. Kakar, Dr. Mello, Adam Suri, Tiffany Wong


Gender Workshop
























Fall 2023

(From the left) Manuel Abundis-Morales, Dayanne Herrera Suarez, Juan Carlos Argueta Rodriguez, Busra Dogru, Dr. Mello, Dr. Kakar, Adam Suri, Tiffany Wong 


SRA 2023






















Spring 2023

(From the left) Julia Moon, Betsy Centeno, İlke Bayazıtlı, Dr. Mello, Jo Nisa Cabilogan, Juan Carlos Argueta Rodriguez, Nada Habash, Daniel Grafil


cose showcase


























Spring 2022

Nada Habash, Aleen Ohannesian, Julia Moon, Juan Carlos Argueta Rodriguez, İlke Bayazıtlı


Time Lab picture














Fall 2021

(Top row, from left) Julia Moon, Dr. Mello, Lena Azzouz

(Bottom row, from left) İlke Bayazıtlı, Betsy Aracely Paredes Centeno


Spring 2021

























Spring 2021


(Top row, from left) Betsy Aracely Paredes Centeno, Dr. Mello, Jules Kutner

(Second row, from left) Jesse Simnegar, Lena Azzouz, Julia Moon

(Bottom row, from left) Erick Romero, Liliana Celesia Moore


spring 2020

Spring 2020

(Top row, from left) Lindsey Seril, Julia Moon, Jules Kutner

(Second row, from left) Lena Azzouz, Dr. Mello, Erick Romero

(Bottom row, from left) Rebecca Lieber, Liliana Celesia Moore


timelab 18 19

Time Lab 2018–2019

(Top row, from left) Natasha Govind, Bianca Gonzalez, Daniel Campos, Aldo Pizano, Dr. Mello, Aimee Montano, Khoi Tran, Jack Chase

(Second row, from left) Melissa Gonzales, Jena D'Amico, Lindsey Seril, Julia Moon, Jennifer Wahleithner

(Bottom row) Kendra Ferguson


comp combined


Spring 2019

Julia Moon, a first-year graduate student working under the direction of Dr. Mello, won first place at the 33rd Annual California State University Student Research Competition! She presented her project entitled, "Time and Trepidation: An Examination of Thoughts and Feelings about the Past, Present, and Future and Anxiety among Adolescents" in the Behavioral and Social Sciences, Graduate Division. Congratulations, Julia!

Credit for left photo goes to Jordan Kubat Photography, 2019



Spring 2018            

(From left) Adelaja Abosede, Dr. Ekundayo, Dr. Mello


The 5 people in the photo are dressed formally at a convention, posing and smiling at the camera.

Spring 2017

(From left) Laura Alcarez, Liceth Solis, Dr. Mello, Julie Chandler, Celeste Lopez



Spring 2016

(From left) Manpreet Kaur, Dr. Mello, Alyssa Youngquist 



High School Data Collection Summer 2016

(From left) Manpreet Kaur, Mariah Sewell


academic year 2015-16

Academic Year 2015–2016

(From left) Clemens Rade, Maryam Tavakoli, Caitlin Collins, Dr. Mello, Erica Walker, Victoria Paoloni, Gabriela Solis, Julie Chandler, Alyssa Youngquist 


spring 2015

Spring 2015

(From left) Izzy Mayes, Dr. Mello, Alexa Davidson, Christina Marquez, Alyssa Youngquist, Erica Walker



Summer 2014

Victoria Paoloni

(Photograph courtesy of Diane Fenster)


spring 2013



Spring 2013

(From left) Dr. Mello, AnnMarie Stiasny, Jamie Jaramillo, Isaac C. S. Wiggers

The photo was taken at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.


academic 10-12


Academic Years 2010–2012

(From left) KrisAnn McBroom, Hilary Anton-Stang, Tavia Sharpe, Laura Finan, Dr. Mello, Carmen M. Gutíerrez, Lee A. Hand

The photo was taken at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

Time Lab picture