Who We Are

Dr. Leslie Frazier

Dr. Frazier has a Ph.D. in Life Span Developmental Psychology from Syracuse University.  She held a National Institutes of Health/National Institute Aging Post-doctoral Fellowship at the University of California San Francisco Medical School.  


A developmental health psychologist, Dr. Frazier is interested in the intersections among psychosocial factors and identity/sense of self within the context of health and chronic illness in emerging adulthood and later life.

More recently, Dr. Frazier has begun to examine the role of self-regulation, metacognition, and agency in the domains of health and learning.




  Zahra Ava Nazarimehrvarani, M.S.


Ava is a fifth year student in the Developmental Science Doctoral Training Program at FIU. Her master thesis paper titled Emotion regulation, emotional eating, and risks for disordered eating in college women during the transition to adulthood, is under review. At the moment, she is working on her dissertation titled An examination of video-based instruction for students with intellectual disability.

She is also pursuing a BCBA certificate to hopes to become a behavior analyst.

Christopher Clifford M.S.

Chris is a fifth year graduate student studying Developmental Science and Quantitative Psychology at FIU. His master's thesis covered mixed models examining how differences in face processing in infants was related to their later ability to engage socially with others.  His primary research interests involve work that focus on developmental, emotional, and educational quantitative analysis.  Chris's dissertation will apply novel and innovative statistical approaches to the study of developmental data to uncover patterns related to the influence of play to promote adaptive outcomes.

Chris is the statistical consultant on the Play Project.


Qiyang Lin (Minnie), M.S.


Minnie is a Master student studying Cognitive Science in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.  Minnie has been working in the field of metacognition with Dr. Janet Metcalfe. Minnie's master's thesis examined whether playful learning approaches served as mediators or moderators of the influence of personality (optimism/pessimism) on goal-related learning outcomes.

Minnie is the lab manager for the Play Project and is helping to design game-based experimental techniques for the MAPS Project.


Brittany Boyd, M.S.

Brittany entered the Developmental Science doctoral program in 2015. She obtained her Masters degree in 2013 in clinical mental health counseling before embarking on her PhD journey in psychology. As a trained clinician, she realized the lack of diversity in literature surrounding underrepresented populations which peaked her interest in research. Brittany’s studies focus on health disparities in underrepresented populations. More specifically, her focus is on college-aged Black women and their sexual decision making in romantic relationships.  

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Maria Gonzalez Haesler, B. A.


Maria received a B.A. in Sociology at FIU in 2016. Following her undergraduate education, Maria gained over four years of experience working in the field of social services, including psychosocial rehabilitation and behavioral health case management. Maria is returning to FIU in Fall 2021 to pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology, with a focus in Developmental Science. Maria is interested in the biopsychosocial factors that impact health and development.

Maria is an RA on the Play Project


Maria Bazo Perez, M. S.


Maria received her B.S. in Psychology at Complutense University of Madrid, Spain in 2019, studying two years abroad at Western Sydney University, Australia, and West Virginia University, U.S. Afterwards, she received her Master’s degree in Clinical and Health Psychology at Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain. Her primary research interest involves factors related to eating disorders. In Fall 2021, she will pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology with a focus in Developmental Science and specifically disordered eating in emerging adulthood. 


Tianyi Wang, M. S. 


Tianyi was a Data Science Master student at Columbia University. She obtained a B.S. degree in Cognitive Science from UCSD. Her interest is to apply data science and data analytics techniques for solving brain and healthcare related problems. Tianyi had experience analyzing both neural and behavioral data at two linguistics labs. She also interned at a medical research facility to develop machine learning/deep learning models for genetic disease risk prediction. Tianyi is currently a data scientist in the retail area.

Tianyi is a data analyst for the Health & Development Lab

Research Assistants

Ellis Paulk, a Veteran, was awarded the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for outstanding service and dedication to duty.  Ellis is pursuing pre-medical studies at FIU and hopes to attend FIU’s Herbert Wertheim School of Medicine in 2022.

Ellis is an RA on the Play Project


Juliet  Ramirez is a fourth year undergraduate student studying biological sciences on a pre med track at FIU. She is on the road to pursuing her career as a future physician. 

Juliet is an RA on the Play Project

Alexandra Fiedler is a first year student at FIU. She is studying psychology and hopes to eventually pursue a PhD in the field. In the future, Alexandra plans to use her degree to help others

Alexandra will be RA on multiple team projects.


Steven Del Real has over 260 hours of experience helping people through the Crisis Counseling Center as a certified Crisis Text line counselor. Currently completing his B.A in Psychology, Steven’s goal is to go on earn a PhD in Clinical Psychology with a focus on working with anxiety, PTSD and addictive disorders in Military personnel and their families.


Steven is an RA on the Play Project.

Lev is currently a rising senior at MAST@FIU high school in Miami and has been dual-enrolled at FIU for three years.  During this time, Lev has been serving as a youth attorney for Miami-Dade County Teen Court and a Peer Health Educator for the Health Information Project.  Lev is interested in the intersectionality between health and wellness on psychology and the human body, as he hopes to follow a pre-med track in college.

Lev is an RA on the Play and ED projects


Corrine Azizian is a junior at Hunter College majoring in human biology: body, mind and health, with a minor in chemistry. She is following the pre-med track and hopes to pursue a career as a physician. Corrine spends her free time volunteering as an EMT, and is interested in research that correlates psychology with health.

Corrine is an RA on the Eating Disorders in College Students project.


Maria Jose Collazos

Maria Jose is a junior at FIU majoring in Special Education, General Education Foundation and Policy. Her goal is to earning a doctoral degree.  Maria aspires to discover and incorporate artistic and creative evidence-based practices to enrich the learning experience of children and adults alike. 

Maria Jose is RA on the Play Project.


MAPS Model of Self-Regulation Project


Dr. Bennett Schwartz

Professor of Psychology

Florida International University

Cognitive Processes Lab

Dr. Janet Metcalfe

Professor of Psychology

Columbia University

Metacognition and Memory Lab


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Play & Playfulness in Adulthood Project

Jeanne Cadwallader is a Strategic Advisor and Independent Consultant to new media companies. Co-Founders of Practice Playfulness Program.


Kathy Lubbers is a strategic Leadership Consultant, Coach, and a CEO.

Co-Founders of Practice Playfulness Program.


Sara Lubbers has an MS in Counseling Psychology from the University of Wisconsin. For twenty five years Sara was an elementary school counselor in a suburban community near Madison, WI.  Sara loved her career because she could PLAY daily with children and adults alike. Currently, Sara is active in several organizations, and owns a gardening consulting business.

Cross-cultural Studies of Eating Disorders and Fitness

Pedro Henrique Berbert de Carvalho, Ph.D.

Dr. Pedro Carvalho is an Associate Professor of Physical Education in the Life Science Institute at Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (Brazil). He has a Ph.D. in Psychology (Health-Related Psychosocial Factors) from Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora and M.A. in Physical Education (Exercise and Sports) at the Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora.

A physical educator, Dr. Carvalho is interested in psychosocial factors that influence exercise and eating behaviors, and body image. Dr. Carvalho's current research areas focus on dissonance-based eating disorder prevention and development/cross-cultural validation studies on body image, exercise dependence and eating disorders. More recently, Dr. Carvalho has become interested in intuitive eating and body image and disordered eating in sexual minorities.

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Priscila Figueiredo Campos, M. A.

Priscila Campos is an instructor of Physical Education at Universidade Vale do Rio Doce (Brazil). She has a M.A. in Physical Education (Physical activity and Health) from Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora and B.A. in Physical Education at the Universidade Federal de Viçosa.


A physical educator, Priscila is interested in psychosocial factors that influence exercise and eating behaviors, and body image. Her current research areas focus on cross-cultural validation studies on body image, exercise dependence and eating disorders. More recently, Priscila has become interested in intuitive eating and body image and disordered eating.

Priscila will be coming to FIU to collaborate with the Health and Development research team on intuitive eating in Brazilian and American college students.