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Lab Team

Dr. Susan Bluck, Professor, Lab Director

For more information on Dr. Bluck, visit her profile.

Emily Mroz, Graduate Assistant

Emily is a doctoral candidate in her final year of her PhD studies. Her are of concentration is Developmental Psychology with a focus in Gerontology. She received her Bachelor’s degree in 2015 from the University of Buffalo, where she majored in both Psychology and Gerontological Health and Human Services. Her research interests involve functions of autobiographical memory as applied to experiences of death, dying, and grief. Her research spans the adult lifespan, but she is particularly interested in older adult populations and patient- caregiver relationships. Her completed Master’s Thesis investigates how young people may prefer to memorialize lost loved ones. Her dissertation project, with data collection currently underway, examines how place of death can affect memories from the final days of a deceased spouse’s life. Emily also assists with quality improvement projects at UF Health, enhancing palliative care program outcomes and delivering patient education pertaining to advance care planning decision-making. In her free time, Emily hikes mountain trails, swims in the freshwater Florida springs, and works on expanding her collection of houseplants.

Shubam Sharma, Graduate Assistant

Shubam is a doctoral candidate in Developmental Psychology at the University of Florida. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia, with minors in Statistics and Human Development and Family Science. Her research investigates the internal and external resources that individuals can use to promote resilience in the face of challenging life events. Her completed Master’s Thesis examined the role of protective factors from different levels of the socio-ecological environment in buffering the effects of cumulative risk and negative behavioral health outcomes among high-risk adolescents. In the Life Story Lab, her research investigates how the personal past can be utilized as an internal resource for resilience. Her dissertation is specifically examining how narrating challenging life event memories with a sense of purpose can foster resilience in older adults. In her spare time, Shubam enjoys reading, exploring new coffee shops, and spending time with her family and friends.

Josh Perlin, Graduate Assistant

Josh Perlin is a first-year graduate student in the UF Life Story Lab. For his undergraduate, he attended Emory University, where he earned a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Ethics. At Emory, he cultivated an interest in narrative identity and lifespan development through his research in Dr. Robyn Fivush’s Family Narratives Lab. After graduating, he was a lab manager for the Identity and Diversity Lab at Duke University under the direction of Dr. Sarah Gaither. His research interests broadly concern how our life stories change over the course of adult development. In particular, he is interested in the ways that religion/spirituality can facilitate “the good life” and successful aging (e.g., generativity, vital involvement, self-transcendence, ego integrity, etc.). When he is not thinking about the good life, he attempts to live it by spending time with friends, listening to Paul Simon, and enjoying any and all musical theatre.

Kiana Cogdill-Richardson, Research Assistant

Kiana recently graduated the University of Florida, earning both a B.S in Psychology as well as a B.A in English. She fell in love with Life Story Lab after attending one of their ‘Death Over Dinner’ events. Kiana’s research interests include both narrative identity and positive psychology; specifically, how narrative identity can be utilized to both function and flourish optimally. In her spare time, Kiana plays board games with friends, knits scarves and reads in her hammock.

Rachel Wisolmerski, Research Assistant

Rachel is a fourth-year psychology and religion double major with a minor in communication studies. Rachel’s interest in the Life Story Lab started with her volunteer work with Meals on Wheels and her experience working with people of all ages. She’s especially interested in dignity at the end of life and the formation of the life story in relation to meaningful events. When she’s not in the lab, Rachel enjoys serving as the president of UF Psychology Club and volunteering for the Alachua County Crisis Center. She loves to practice yoga, cook, and spend time with her friends and family.

Nerea Anaya-Dominguez, Research Assistant

Nerea obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Florida. Her interest in the memory lab started after enrolling in Dr. Bluck’s Death and Dying course. She is interested in how the fear of death can be both a motivating force for some and a demotivating force for others. She is interested in learning from the stories of others and how death has impacted their lives emotionally, physically and mentally.

Lance Madow, Research Assistant

Lance is a fourth-year psychology major with a minor in communication studies. Lance originally discovered the Life Story Lab through participating in one of their “Death Over Dinner” events and quickly became interested in a multitude of their projects.He has a special interest in the intersectionality of death and universal virtues, how thoughts of one’s deaths can affect your own view of life. For fun, Lance likes to read or watch anything sci-fi related and plays Dungeons and Dragons with friends.

Riley Gallivan, Research Assistant

Riley is a third-year health science major at the University of Florida. Her interest in the aging process started in high school while working in nursing homes and volunteering at a hospice. In college, Riley continues to volunteer with the senior population at the Gainesville Senior Center and through No One Dies Alone at Shands. She joined the Life Story Lab because of her interest in the aging process and how different factors can ease anxiety about the death and dying process. Riley is also a Campus Diplomat, which is an ambassador to the Dean of Students office. When she isn’t in the lab, Riley enjoys reading and spending time outdoors.

Elizabeth Barbour, Research Assistant

Elizabeth is a fourth-year psychology major with minors in disabilities in society and innovation. Her interest in the Life Story Lab stemmed from observing her own grandfather as many of his friends and loved ones passed away, making her consider how major events like losing a loved one affect us. She saw the Life Story Lab’s research is applicable to all, as we are all connected through either our own or other’s deaths.  Elizabeth is hoping to pursue a graduate degree in counseling psychology, focusing on either gerontology or pediatrics. She also is a RA in Dr. Fedele’s Pediatric Behavioral Health Lab and a volunteer at the Alachua County Crisis Center. In her free time, she enjoys finding new binge-worthy tv shows, discovering cheeses, watching old SNL, and traveling to new places.

Amanda Hall, Research Assistant

Amanda is a third-year Psychology major with a minor in Sociology. Her interest in the Life Story Lab began while taking Dr. Bluck’s Gerontology class. She is interested in how death plays a role in one’s life story as well as how the integration of loss into one’s life story contributes to resiliency. Amanda hopes to pursue a graduate degree in Counseling Psychology with a specialization in grief counseling. In her free time, she enjoys reading romance and historical fiction novels, volunteering with her community service fraternity (Alpha Phi Omega), and spending time with friends and family.

Mason Mellott, Research Assistant

Mason is a fourth-year psychology major with a minor in sociology. He is interested in examining how life events and relationships help to develop a person’s sense of identity and self, particularly as it pertains to the LGBTQ+ community. He joined the Life Story Lab to engage further in this interest, as well as to gain a greater understanding of how psychological research is performed in order to better inform future career decisions. Additionally, Mason currently volunteers as the Design Team Coordinator for SwampCon, a free multi-genre convention hosted by Gator Anime in the Reitz Union. In his free time, he enjoys drawing, painting, and hand-crafting replica costumes of video game characters, as well as playing tabletop roleplay games such as Dungeons and Dragons with his friends.

Tamara Lentini, Research Assistant

Tamara is a third-year student at the University of Florida, where she is pursuing a dual degree in psychology and public relations. Within the field of psychology, she has a special interest in addiction and grief. She joined the Life Story Lab due to her interest in how death, whether it be one’s impending death or the death of a loved one, impacts someone’s sense of identity and mental state. In the future, Tamara would like to pursue a degree in counseling psychology. For fun, she loves to scuba dive, edit videos, read and spend time with family, friends and her dog Mishka.