Health Equity, Agency, Racism and Trauma (HEART) Lab

  •  HEART Lab Goals



    Lifespan investigation of how psychosocial and contextual stressors can affect both mental and physical health outcomes



    Understanding the ways in which poor health outcomes in marginalized populations arise and are maintained by psychological and contextual/social processes



    Development of culturally-relevant models for prevention-oriented interventions among underserved and underrepresented populations

  • Current Projects

    Contextual and Health Behavior Effects on Epigenetic Aging Among African Americans

    October 2019-October 2022, Primary Investigator: Carter

    The purpose of this award is to expand Dr. Carter's skill set to include new techniques in examining methylation-based mechanisms linking social influences with health and health behavior.

    Exploring the Interconnected Influence of Trauma and Racial Discrimination on Stress-Related Disorders Comorbid with HIV in African American Women

    September 2018-Present, Primary Investigator: Carter

    This pilot grant utilizes qualitative, quantitative, and psychophysiological assessments to understand the multifaceted experiences of HIV-positive and HIV-negative African American women.

  • Completed Projects

    Exploring Synergies Between Parent Life Experiences and Positive Parenting: A Feasibility Study of Self Care with African American Mothers Who Have Experienced Prior Trauma

    January 2019-October 2019, Co-Primary Investigator: Carter

    This pilot project examined the feasibility and initial outcomes of African American mothers with high levels of trauma exposure who participate in Safe Care.

  • Heart Lab News

    Check Out What We've Been Up To!

  • The Team

  • Executive Director

    Dr. Carter

    Executive Director

    Dr. Carter examines how racial and cultural characteristics (e.g., racial identity, Africentric worldview, racial composition of communities, and place-based factors) influence health. A common theme in her work has been examining how racial discrimination effects development and exacerbation of chronic illnesses. She aims to enhance our ability to tackle health disparities in underserved and underrepresented communities.

  • Graduate Research Scholars and Staff

    Simone Sanders

    Graduate Student

    Simone is a second-year graduate student at GSU. She received her B.A. in Clinical Psychology from Tufts University in 2018, and since then, she has worked as a clinical research assistant in the Psychosis Research Program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. She is interested in exploring the intersectionality between generational trauma and psychosis within the Black community, and she is interested in contributing to the development of culturally-informed interventions for racial/ethnic minority individuals experiencing complex mental illness.

    Ifrah Sheikh

    Graduate Student

    Ifrah is a third-year doctoral student. Her research focuses on the relationship between racial oppression and trauma psychopathology in immigrant, refugee, and racial minority populations, as well as the influence of identity-related factors on outcomes. Before pursuing her PhD at GSU, Ifrah worked extensively with marginalized communities in various clinical and research settings, including research on the development of culturally-informed treatment models for trauma-exposed refugees and research on racial microaggressions.

    Jacob Julian

    Graduate Student

    Jacob earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science and Psychology at SUNY New Paltz. He worked at Columbia University's Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health on multiple research projects examining psychosocial, behavioral, and biological processes effect on health. As a third-year graduate student, he is interested in examining trauma and optimization of trauma treatment models within historically marginalized populations while using multiple methodologies and levels of analysis, such as self-report and physiological measures. Fun Fact: Jacob enjoys long, romantic walks to the fridge.

    Grace Packard

    Graduate Student

    Grace is a first-year graduate student at GSU. Grace's research focus is on how different axes of oppression that contextualize violence, specifically sexual assault and intimate partner violence, affect mental health outcomes. She is also interested in how community-based responses to sexual assault and intimate partner violence can be informed by these relationships. Fun Fact: She has a love for thrift stores, especially when travelling.

  • Undergraduate and Post-baccalaureate Research Assistants

    Andre Athy

    Research Assistant

    Andre is a Georgia State Alumni with a Bachelors degree in Psychology. He is currently striving to earn a Masters in Biostatistics and has a strong passion for research in studying behavioral risk factors within his community. Andre's goal is to conduct analytic methodology, data-collection systems, detection algorithms and scan statistics to document health trends for the CDC. Fun Fact: Andre enjoys true-crime cases in his free time.

    Ashanti Brown

    Research Assistant

    Ashanti graduated from Georgia State University with a BA in Psychology. She has a particular research interest in the adverse effects of racism and trauma in the African-American community, particularly with adolescents and women. Her goals include obtaining a doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology in order to specialize in women's and adolescent issues, anxiety, and trauma in the near future. Fun Fact: She loves all things Beyoncé, traveling, anything that glitters and is pink, and her typical perfect day is watching Harry Potter marathons.

    Kimberly McKoy

    Research Assistant

    Kimberly is currently a freshman neuroscience major at Georgia State University. She has a research interest in how racial trauma and implicit racial bias in the healthcare system contributes to African American infant mortality rate during physician interactions. Her goals include attending medical school to specialize in medical trauma. Fun Fact: She loves to shop and watch Netflix.



    Ciara Corbett

    Research Assistant

    Cierra has a BA in Psychology with a minor in African American Studies. Her research is centered around reducing health disparities with a focus on infant mortality rates, maternal mortality rates, bias in treatment, and lack of access to care for Black women and children. Post graduation, Cierra will be a licensed clinical social worker and plans on opening a counseling practice along with community centers in urban areas around Atlanta and other metropolitan cities. She also hopes to create a scholarship fund for Black women pursuing careers in psychology or social work. Fun Fact: She will travel very far for food. The furthest to date has been Sweden!

    Kelly Eason

    Research Assistant

    Kelly is an undergraduate student at Georgia State University studying Psychology. She has a strong passion for gender-based issues under the patriarchy as well as understanding how the intersection of systematic oppression on minority racial groups affect these. Her goal is to attend graduate school and become a college professor and executive director of a research lab one day. Fun Fact: Kelly is really, really good at Minesweeper.

    Devon Slaughter

    Research Assistant

    Devon, a Fall 2019 Georgia State graduate, is interested in the impact of generational trauma among the African American community. He hopes to examine the negative physical and psychological outcomes associated with high trauma exposure on economically disadvantaged African American men. Additionally, he is interested in community-based interventions and its implications as it relates to resilience and healing in the African American community. Fun Fact: He enjoys challenging himself by learning about topics that are outside of his comfort zone. For instance, if you join him for a car ride, his stereo is always tuned into NPR.

    Keianna Moyer

    Research Assistant

    Keianna is an undergraduate student at Georgia State University studying Public Health with a minor in Biology. She is passionate about researching racial disparities in chronic disease outcomes in the Black community, as well as racial and socioeconomic disparities in maternal and child health. Her goal is to become a Public Health Physician and a Medical Director by completing a Masters in Public Health and a Doctor of Medicine dual-degree program. Fun Fact: Her favorite hobby is watching true-crime documentaries and dramas and solving them before the end of the show.

    Gifty Ayawvi

    Research Assistant

    Gifty is a fourth-year psychology major with a minor in Human Services at the University of Georgia. She has research interests in the effects of racial discrimination on the physical and mental health outcomes of people of African descent, discrimination in healthcare, provider trust, and psychological help-seeking stigma among African American families. She is also interested in how the effects of history (colonialism and American chattel slavery) has contributed to stigma and healing among African American families. Her goal is to obtain a doctorate degree in Clinical Health Psychology to specialize in therapy for chronically ill individuals and conduct research to help mitigate the effects of racial health disparities. Fun Fact: She speaks four languages, three of which are tribal Ghanaian languages and is a skilled seamstress and fashion enthusiast.

  • Lab Alumni

    Dominique La Barrie

    Past Research Coordinator

    Dominique La Barrie is currently a graduate student in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences Ph.D. program at the University of Georgia, with a concentration in Developmental Psychology. Dominique completed her Bachelor of Science degree at Georgia State University with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology in 2017. Dominique served as the research coordinator of the HEART lab at Georgia State University from 2018-2019, examining racial health disparities and the impact of high trauma exposure on families. Her research endeavors in the HEART lab, alongside other research experiences, led to the development of her broad interest of trauma effects on the family unit. Specifically, her main interests include intergenerational trauma and how it affects family relationships, parent child dyadic relationships, and child internalizing disorders.