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

    Ifrah Sheikh

    Graduate Student

    Ifrah is a fifth-year doctoral student in clinical psychology at GSU. Her research is focused on the relationship between racialized oppression and trauma symptomatology, with special emphasis on how culturally-salient factors like racial identity may be protective for those who experience multiple marginalization, such as migrant, refugee, and racially minoritized groups. Ifrah takes a community-based lens to enhancing resilience across the lifespan and is committed to conducting translational research that informs the development of culturally-centered prevention and intervention options. She has published on memory and sexual assault trauma, fear processes in PTSD, the protective potential of racial identity profiles in buffering the effects of racial discrimination on PTSD symptoms, social connectedness as a protective factor in the relationship between racial discrimination and trauma cognitions, and psychological outcomes in forcibly displaced Muslims. 

    Jacob Julian

    Graduate Student

    Jacob is a fifth-year doctoral student in clinical psychology at GSU. 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 fourth-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.

    Simone Sanders

    Graduate Student

    Simone is a fourth-year graduate student in clinical psychology 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.

    Grace Packard

    Graduate Student

    Grace is a third-year graduate student in clinical-community psychology 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.

    Omorewo (Rewo) Oshe

    Graduate Student

    Omorewo is a third-year graduate student in the clinical—community psychology PhD program at GSU. Her research interests include investigating the relationships between physical and mental health in African Americans. She is specifically interested in working with individuals who have sickle cell disease and exploring how different factors of resilience and experiences of racism impact health and quality of life. She's also interested in seeing how some of the systemic aspects (like how Medicaid is accepted outside of hospitalized settings, how the views and policies of opioid use impact individual patient care and provider decisions and interactions, the disparities between pediatric and adult sickle cell care) impact individuals. In her free time she loves laying in her hammock, eating spicy food, taking naps, and taking pictures of and drawing clouds.

  • Staff & Undergraduate/Post-baccalaureate Research Assistants

    Keianna Moyer

    Research Coordinator

    Keianna is a current working on her Masters in Public Health at Georgia State University. She completed her undergraduate studies 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 her Masters in Public Health and continuing into 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.

    Briana Raven

    Research Coordinator

    Briana Raven is a previous M.S. graduate student who studied Neuroscience at Georgia State University. Her research interests include discovering non-invasive techniques and coping strategies to combat mental health disparities, discrimination, and racism specifically in the Black community. She is also heavily interested in analyzing how racism, health disparities, and stress can impact the brain and if these factors can lead to neuroplasticity alterations. Briana’s goal is to eventually obtain a doctorate degree either in Neuroscience or Psychology which will lead to her goal of conducting clinical-focused research while utilizing neuroimaging in a laboratory setting. Her hobbies include: cooking, reading, and loving God.

    Precious Ajiero

    Research Assistant

    Precious is currently a junior at Emory University majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology(NBB). Her research interests lie in the intersection between psychology, neuroscience, and human health and their use in understanding Mental Health illnesses in underrepresented populations. Precious’ goals include attending Medical School and later becoming a Pediatrician. She wants to specifically serve underserved communities who unfortunately fall victim to the growing disparity gap in our healthcare system. Fun Fact: She’s Nigerian American, enjoys traveling, listening to music, and cooking new foods.

    Casey Aghedo

    Research Assistant

    Casey is an undergraduate student at Georgia State University studying Psychology. She is passionate about researching effects of racial trauma on child development, as well as the effect of racial and socioeconomic disparities on psychopathology . Her goal is to become a Clinical Psychologist by completing a Doctor of Psychology in clinical psychology and eventually open her own practice. Fun Fact: She likes to write poetry, crochet, and draw abstract art.

    Heather Lundi

    Research Assistant

    Heather is a Georgia State Alumni who graduated with a BA in Psychology. She has a strong passion for understanding how racial and gender-based issues affect adolescent development. She is also interested in studying how racial and systemic disparities harm the intersectionality of Black individuals. Her goals is to become a licensed therapist with a focus on helping adolescents. Fun fact: she loves to hike, binge watch TV shows, and paint.

    Rose Francois

    Research Assistant

    Rose is currently an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology at Georgia State University. Her research interests include racial trauma and neurodiversity, intersection of race and gender, and mental health amongst Black LGBTQ+ people. She also has a strong passion for investigating the impact of colonial parenting styles on childhood development. Her goals include attending graduate school to specialize in Community Psychology and becoming a licensed psychologist. From there she hopes to continue her research endeavors and provide community organized Mental Health Counseling.

    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.

    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.

    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.

  • 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.

    Ashanti Brown

    Past Research Assistant

    Ashanti is currently a graduate student in the Clinical/Community Psychology program at Georgia State University under the mentorship of Dr. Isha Metzger. 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.

    Andre Athy

    Past Research Assistant

    Andre is a Georgia State Alumni with a Bachelors degree in Psychology. He is currently earning his Masters degree in Biostatistics in the Public Health School at Georgia State University 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.