Undergraduate Students

Sarah Eckerstorfer – Lead Undergraduate Research Assistant

Sarah Eckerstorfer is a fourth-year undergraduate studying Developmental Psychology with minors in Integrative Neuroscience, Applied Psychology in Educational and Community Settings, and Racial Justice in Urban. Now, in her third year as a part of The Culture and Family Life Lab, she is excited to take on the role of lead undergraduate RA. The CFL Lab has allowed her to broaden her interests and develop a passion for understanding how ones community assists adolescents in fostering ethnic identity and cultural values. Alongside her work in the lab, Sarah participated in the Summer Educational Research Program (SERP) at the University of Wisconsin – Madison where she researched the establishment of anti-racist, student leadership, and civic action benchmarks for elementary school students. she works as an Inclusion Facilitator for the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. After completing her degree, Sarah plans to take a gap year to work within the Minnesotan school system as well as furthering her research skills before attending graduate school. 

Gabrielle Allen

Gabrielle Allen is a fourth-year student studying Developmental Psychology and is in her first semester in the Culture and Family Life Lab. Her interest in how cultural differences influence development led her to join the CFL team and is eager to work with a group of individuals that share her interest. For the past three years, she has worked with adults with disabilities from many different backgrounds and cultures through a company called ACR Homes. Working at this company has revealed her passion for advocating for others with disabilities and becoming aware of how each individual’s culture has impacted their progress and development. After her last year at the University of Minnesota, she plans on obtaining her Ed.S in School Psychology to become a School Psychologist. She will then work in a school setting and help children with a variety of disabilities obtain an education through creating individualized education plans and environmental changes.


Khadija Abdi

Khadija Abdi is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying Psychology with a minor in Public Health on a Pre-Health track. She participated in the 2021 Multicultural Summer Research Opportunity Program (MSROP) under the mentorship of Dr. Ferguson and graduate student Sarah Gillespie. Her summer research project focused on the Role of 3D Acculturation in the Eating Habits of Black U.S. Immigrant and Refugee Adolescents. Khadija joined the Culture and Family Life Lab because of their unique multidisciplinary approach to research, which provides the perfect blend between psychology, nutrition, and public health. Her research interests include topics surrounding health disparities and health interventions in immigrant/refugee and minority communities. Upon graduating, Khadija hopes to gain clinical experience in healthcare as she prepares to enter the field of medicine. Her ultimate career goal is to advocate for health equity in underserved populations.

Karina Dunford

Karina Dunford is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying Developmental Psychology with a minor in Sociology and is Pre-Med. This is her first semester as a Research Assistant in the Culture and Family Life Lab; she will be working with Project UNITE and The Food, Culture, and Health study. You will also see her working with the Lab’s Twitter page! Her specific interests include abnormal development and disabilities in children and adolescents, and sociology (i.e., social injustice, the affects the legal system has on developing individuals, etc.). In the future, she would like to work in a setting that includes both the justice system and mental health. Her goals include destigmatizing mental health/therapy, aiding in the restructuring of the juvenile justice system towards a focus on reform instead of punishment, and advocating for universal access to quality child care. 

Hattie Gibson

Hattie Gibson is a 3rd-year undergraduate student in her 3rd semester in the CFL lab, primarily working on the FC&H study papers as well as scheduling for the lab. She is majoring in Biology, Society, and the Environment with a minor in public health in the University Honors Program. She is interested in the intersections of health and society and is fascinated with public health and health equity. In the future, she hopes to attend medical school and become a pediatrician to continue work in medicine and developmental health. Alongside work in the lab, she works in the Minneapolis emergency department as a medical scribe, and as a teaching assistant for genetics. v

Salma Ibrahim

Salma Ibrahim is a third-year undergraduate student studying Developmental Psychology with a minor in Integrative Neuroscience. Growing up in a large family and working at a daycare, she developed an interest in the developmental sciences through her proximity to children of all ages and backgrounds. Salma is fascinated with the unique ways in which identities are formed during childhood. She is also very interested in the mechanisms through which culture, resilience, and trauma play a role in development. Currently, Salma is exploring her interests in research and continues to immerse herself in volunteer work primarily with marginalized and underrepresented communities of the Twin Cities. Following the completion of her bachelors’ degree, Salma hopes to further her education to pursue clinical work and/or research in the developmental sciences.

Naw-Amelia Kacher

Naw-Amelia is a senior at the University of Minnesota working towards a Bachelor of Science in Developmental Psychology with a minor in Family Therapy. After graduating, her goal is to attend graduate school to complete a Master in Counseling. Her career goal is to become a child/adolescent therapist for the BIPOC+ community, especially in the Karen community. Her research interests are mental health in the BIPOC+ community and how to improve multicultural education.

Sarri Lane

Saari Lane is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying Developmental Psychology. This past summer, she began working with the Culture and Family Life Lab, since her interests pertain to the development of children, with a strong focus on the influence of one’s culture and family. Saari’s interest in Developmental Psychology arises from her familial upbringing since she often cared for her younger family members. As she began college, she became passionate about increasing psychological awareness, especially as it pertains to developmental requirements. The Culture and Family Life Lab has provided her an opportunity to learn and share current research through dissemination projects that spread knowledge to communities. After graduating, Saari plans to continue onto Graduate School to focus her initiative towards reforming the Juvenile Justice System into a developmentally focussed rehabilitation program.

Kiana Maxwell

Kiana Maxwell is a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Developmental Psychology and minoring in Public Health. Serving her first semester in the Culture and Family Life lab, Kiana is part of Food, Culture, and Health Study. Her interests embrace maternal and infant health, reproductive equity, and postpartum care. After completing her undergraduate education, Kiana aims to attend graduate school to pursue studying maternal health with the intention to expand maternal health support services within Minnesotan communities.

Vivian Pham 

Vivian is a fourth-year undergraduate student currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Developmental Psychology and a minor in Public Health. Following undergrad, she aspires to attend PA school to specialize in either OB/GYN or pediatrics or attend grad school for Public Health where her curiosity lies around the subject of maternal and child health. As an incoming undergraduate research assistant in the Culture and Family Life (CFL) lab, Vivian is looking forward to acquiring new skills and growing as she enters her first semester being a part of the Food, Culture, and Healthy study.

Yu Zhang

Yu Zhang is a third-year undergraduate majoring in Psychology B. A and minoring in Applied Psychology in School and Communities. She is interested in adolescents’ mental health, parenting styles in different cultures, and adolescents’ diet habits during puberty and adolescence. Also, Yu is interested in social media’s influence on adolescents’ development, and this is one of the reasons bring her to CFL Lab. Currently, Yu is exploring and studying educational psychology, the creativity in children and adolescents’ development. Her career goal is becoming an adolescents’ mental health counselor in China because she really wants to help the adolescent who is suffering depression and eating problem.