HEART Lab

Heart Lab research logo.

Suffolk University’s HEART Lab seeks to engage in mixed method approach to explore these research topics (mentioned below) to understand health disparities, barriers/access to healthcare, psychosocial correlates of mental health risks and wellbeing, dyadic/systemic relationship dynamics, adversity and adaptation (psychological and technological) pattern of at-risk adults across ethnic groups and women.

  • Health disparities, barriers and access to healthcare issues
  • Eating/Body image issues and psychosocial correlates across ethnic groups
  • Asian mental health risks and alternative healthcare practices
  • Relationship dynamics across family/professional contexts and empowerment
  • Transition from adversity and post-traumatic growth trajectories

Led by Dr. Sukanya Ray, who has supervised multiple Master’s and Doctoral Dissertation projects at Suffolk University as principal and co- investigator. This lab maintains a strong sense of inclusivity, community and teamwork values.

Dr. Sukanya Ray

To learn more about Dr. Sukanya Ray and her work, please visit her faculty page.

Current Availability of Projects for New Graduate Students (year 2023-24)

  • Asian Mental Health Risks and Utilization of Alternative Healthcare Barriers
  • Post-Traumatic Growth and Psychological Wellbeing among BIPOC College Students
  • Interprofessional Collaboration and Positive Impact on Clients/Consumers of Healthcare

Current Graduate Students

Profile Picture of Molly Becker

I am a second-year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at Suffolk University. My research focuses primarily on post-traumatic growth and resilience through the lens of positive psychology and relational health in vulnerable populations. My early research project investigates experiences of adversity and growth for transracial adoptees in the midst of marginalization and family conflict. I received my BA in Psychology at Syracuse University where I participated in research involving the effects of mindfulness interventions on at-risk adolescents, college students and faculty.

Research Interests

Post-traumatic growth, positive psychology, resilience, women’s issues, racial inequality, body image, health disparity, chronic illness, mindfulness, family

Presentations

Becker, M., Robins, H., Steinhilber, K., & Ray, S. (2021). Do Black Mothers Experience Barriers to Care for Postpartum Depression? A Current Perspective. Poster presented at the Association for Women in Psychology (AWP) Conference; 2021, March 6th, Virtual.

Ray, S., Becker, M., Choi, E., Lim, J., Sicilia, R., & Kozlowsky, S. (2021). Microaggression Experience Among Asians in Healthcare, College & Social Settings. Workshop symposium co-facilitated at the Asian American Mental Health Forum; 2021, June 5th, Virtual.

Robins, H., Steinhilber, K., Plezia, S., Becker, M., Ray, S., Wawrzyniak, K. (2021). Conceptualizing Empowerment in the Context of Chronic Pain: A Qualitative Investigation. Poster presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention; 2021, August 12-14th, Virtual.

Steinhilber, K., Robins H., Plezia, S., Becker, M., Ray, S, Wawrzyniak, K. (2021). Challenges and Provider Supports for Chronic Pain Patients During COVID-19: A Qualitative Analysis. Poster presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Convention; 2021, August 12-14th, Virtual.

Becker, M., Bartalotta, A., Helminen, E., Clawson, A., Felver, J. (2018). The effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in the workplace: A pilot study. Poster presented at the Syracuse University Annual Undergraduate Poster Session; Syracuse, NY.

Publications

Becker, M., Bartalotta, A., Helminen, E., Clawson, A., Felver, J. (2020). The effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in the higher education workplace: A pilot study. Journal of Integrated Social Sciences, 10, 136-154.

I am a first-year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at Suffolk University. I received my BA in Psychology at the University of Virginia (UVa). I interned at the Center for Behavioral Health and Technology (CBHT) for three years, where I was involved with research focusing on the development and testing of behaviorally-based treatment programs delivered via the internet. After undergrad, I worked for two years at Northwestern University's Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (CBITs), where I assisted Dr. Andrea Graham in a research project testing a mobile app intervention to address obesity and binge eating. At Suffolk University, I will continue to expand upon my research interests and understand the potential of digital mental health to increase accessibility to broader populations.

Research Interests

health psychology, telehealth, digital mental health, behavioral health, evidence-based interventions, obesity, chronic illnesses or conditions, health-related behaviors, health disparities, body image, accessibility

Current dissertation project: Perceived health disparities, health-seeking behaviors, and COVID-19 challenges as predictors of psychological wellbeing among young and middle-aged adults with chronic health conditions: An exploratory study

Presentations

Chang, A., Weinheimer, E. A., & Graham, A. K. (2020). Collaborating with end-users to design a Mobile Intervention for Obesity and Binge Eating. Accepted for poster presentation at the Association for Psychological Science (APS) 32nd Annual Convention, Chicago, IL, USA. Conference cancelled due to COVID-19.

Publications

Chang, A., Winquist, N. W., Wescott, A. B., Lattie, E. G., & Graham, A. K. (2021). Systematic review of digital and non-digital non-pharmacological interventions that target quality of life and psychological outcomes in adults with systemic lupus erythematosus. Lupus, 30(7), 1058–1077.

Graham, A. K., Neubert, S. W., Chang, A., Liu, J., Fu, E., Green, E. A., Kornfield, R. & Nicholas, J. (2021). Applying User-Centered Design Methods to Understand Users' Day-to-Day Experiences Can Inform a Mobile Intervention for Binge Eating and Weight Management. Frontiers in Digital Health, 3, pp.651749.

Mattos, M. K., Chang, A., Pitcher, K., Whitt, C., Ritterband, L. M., & Quigg, M. S. (2021). A Review of Insomnia Treatments for Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Aging and disease, 12(4), 1036–1042.

Additional information about Sophia will be forthcoming.

My name is Natasha Ramanayake and I am a fourth-year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at Suffolk University. I have a BA in Psychology from Boston University, an MA in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College Columbia University and an MA in Clinical Psychology (Health Emphasis) from the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. My early research project examined perceived barriers to mental health care and the use of complementary and alternative services. I am currently working on my dissertation focusing on organizational cultural responsiveness.

Research Interests

My research interests lie in the field of mental health disparities, especially among the Asian community.

ERP: Perceived Barriers and Utilization of Mental Health Services among Asians

(Completed Dissertation defense in Spring 2021)
Dissertation Project: Healthcare Leaders’ Role in Organizational Cultural Responsiveness

Selected Publications and Presentations

Ramanayake, N.P., Ray, S., Harkins, D., Driscoll, B., Ozit, S. (2019). Cultural competence in health care: a multilevel approach. Manuscript submitted for publication. 

Driscoll, B. & Ramanayake, N. (2019). A design for the study of disparities in health care for LGBTQ+ persons. Poster presented at Q-Med: Building LGBTQI+ Leaders in Health Care Conference, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.

Warren, L., Sullivan, L., Ramanayake, N., Sandstrom, H., Greenberg, E., Adelstein, S., Lou, C. (2019). Evaluation of Maine’s preschool expansion grant. Paper presented at the 2019 Society for Research in Child Development Biennaial Meeting, Baltimore, MD.

Driscoll, B. & Ramanayake, N. (2019). Barriers to healthcare for trans women. Poster presented to the 2019 Association for Women in Psychology Annual Conference, Newport, RI.

Dennis, C., Ray, S., Ramanayake, N., Driscoll, B., Cole, C., & Liu, Y. (2019). Together we can break the wall: a feminist approach. Rountable discussion at the 2019 Association for Women in Psychology Annual Conference, Newport, RI.

Steinhilber, K., Grenier, L., Shea, L., & Ramanayake, N. (2019). Developing a contextual model of feminist mentorship in academia: using feminist journeys to guide empowering mentorship. Roundtable discussion to the 2019 Association for Women in Psychology Annual Conference, Newport, RI. 

Godon-Decoteau, D., Kaitz, J. Ramanayake, N., Steinhilber, K., Xiu, Z., & Phan, T. (2018). Reflections on clinical training, supervision and mentorship. Panel discussant at the inaugural conference of Integrative and Holistic Approaches to Mental Health Care for Asians; Newton, MA: September 2018.

Ramanayake, N., Ray, S., Sienkewicz, M., & Ozit, S. (2018). Why should we study Asian women’s body image issues? Poster presented at the 2018 American Psychological Association Annual Convention, San Francisco, CA: August 2018.

Suchday, S., Santoro, A. F., Ramanayake, N., Lewin, H., Almeida, M. (2018). Religion, spirituality, and globalization reflected in life beliefs among urban Asian Indian youth. Psychology of Religion & Spirituality.

Ramanayake, N.P., Ray, S. & Toth, I. O. (2017). Do Asians prefer complementary and alternative medicine? A meta-analysis approach. Poster presented at the 2017 American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Washington, D.C: August 2017.

Ray, S., Ramanayake, N. P., Cole, C. L., & Lee, J. J. (2017). Peer teasing and body image issues among diverse ethnic women. Poster presented at the 2017 American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Washington, D.C.: August 2017.

Kaitz, J.E., Ramanayake, N. P., Ray, S., & Randazzo, S. (2016). Embracing a feminist approach to teaching and training in psychology. Poster presented at the 2016 Northeast Conference for Teachers of Psychology Annual Meeting, Worcester, Massachusetts; September 2016. 

Alvarez, K., Wang, Y., Alegria, M., Ault-Brutus, A., Ramanayake, N., Yeh, Y. H., ... & Shrout, P. E. (2016). Psychometrics of shared decision making and communication as patient centered measures for two language groups.Psychological Assessment, 28(9), 1074.

Santoro, A.F., Suchday, S., Benkhoukha, A.B., Ramanayake, N.P., & Kapur, S. (2016). Adverse childhood experiences and religiosity/spirituality in emerging adolescents in India. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 8(3), 185-194.

Suchday, S., Ramanayake, N.P., Benkhoukha, A., Santoro, A.F., Marquez, C., & Nakao, G. (2014). Ayurveda: An alternative in the United States. In Gurung, R. A. R. (Ed.) Multicultural Approaches to Health and Wellness: Key Issues and Medical Systems (Vol. 1). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, LLC

I am a fourth-year graduate student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at Suffolk University. I received my BA in Psychology from Boston University, where I did an honors thesis on the parent-child relationships and sex education as they relate to body image and eating issues. My Early Research Project continued this line of research by examining power dynamics in the father-daughter dyad as a predictor of body image dissatisfaction and maladaptive eating patterns and qualitatively exploring themes of empowerment in this relationship. My dissertation explores gender and ethnic healthcare disparities from the perspective of adults with chronic pain. In general, my research uses a feminist perspective to study empowerment as a protective barrier against mental health risk. Other projects of mine have explored feminist mentorship, self-care, and community-based support for exercise and nutrition. Along with my friend and colleague, Lynne-Marie Shea from Suffolk University’s Community Action-Based Research Lab, I have also created a platform to promote womxn’s holistic health and wellness on Instagram (@healthofeverykind) and webpage: www.healthofeverykind.com.

Research Interests

Women's mental health, family systems, body image, maladaptive eating, chronic pain, feminism, empowerment, women's health disparities, power inequity

(Completed Dissertation defense in Summer 2022)
Dissertation Project: Disparities in the Experience of Chronic Pain and Utilization of Pain Care
Services: An exploratory mixed-methods approach

Presentations

Steinhilber, K.M., Ray, S., Sienkiewicz, M. E, & Dennis, C.D. (2020, August). The role of fathers in women􀂶s empowerment process. Poster presented at the American Psychological Association Convention, Virtual.

Steinhilber, K.M., Grenier, L.I., Shea, L.M., Ramanayake, N.P.. (2020, March). Barriers to feminist mentorship: Graduate Student Perspectives. Paper presented at the Teachers College Winter Roundtable, New York, NY.

Steinhilber, K.M., Ray, S., Liu, Y., Cole, C. (2019, August). The Development of Body Satisfaction: How do parents empower their daughters? Poster presentation at the American Psychological Association Convention, Chicago, IL.

Steinhilber, K.M., Grenier, L.I., Shea, L.M., Ramanayake, N.P.. (2019, March). Developing a contextual model of feminist mentorship in academia: Using feminist journeys to guide empowering mentorship. Discussant at the 44th Annual Conference of the Association for Women in Psychology, Newport, RI.

Shea, L.M., Steinhilber, K.M. (2019, March). From being good to being well: Putting health and wellness decisions back into the heads of those making them. Discussant at the 44th Annual Conference of the Association for Women in Psychology, Newport, RI.

Godon-Decoteau, D., Kaitz, J. Ramanayake, N.P., Steinhilber, K.M., Xiu, Z., Phan, T. (2018, Sept.). Reflections on Clinical Training, Supervision and Mentorship. Panel discussant at the inaugural conference of Integrative and Holistic Approaches to Mental Health Care for Asians, Newton, MA.

Miller, A.N., Steinhilber, K.M. (2019, April). Reframing Self-Care as an Act of Resiliency: A workshop for social justice advocates of marginalized identities. Workshop presented at the Suffolk University Social Justice Summit, Boston, MA.

Publications

Steinhilber, K. M., Ray, S., Harkins, D. A., & Sienkiewicz, M. E. Father-Daughter Relationship Dynamics in Body Image and Eating Patterns Among Women: An exploratory study. (In Press). Women and Health.

Hodges-Simeon, C.R., & Steinhilber, K.M. (2016). Speech volume. In Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer International Publishing.