Lab Members

Michael A.R. Sanchez

Michael is a second-year master’s student in the Department of Counseling Psychology.  Michael was raised in Jacksonville, North Carolina. After graduating from Stanford (’12) with a B.A. in East Asian Studies, Michael joined the tech start-up Airbnb in their early days as a Recruiter to help counsel and advise applicants on their career exploration and decision-making. During his tenure at Airbnb, Michael designed and led Airbnb Connect, a 6-month apprenticeship program to provide members from underrepresented backgrounds further training and a pathway to transition careers into software engineering. Michael’s research focuses on investigating how structural forces related to power, privilege, and oppression impact vocational and psychological outcomes for individuals. Michael’s research interests include differential status identity, cultural mismatch theory, social mobility, social class worldview model, and social class migration. On a more personal note, Michael enjoys playing Dungeons & Dragons, creative writing, and reading existential philosophy.

Katie Luotto is a counseling psychology Ph.D. student at UW-Madison. She was raised in Sunnyvale, California, and graduated with a B.A. in history from the University of Notre Dame. Before moving to Madison, she worked in Washington, D.C., as a federal consultant supporting suicide and sexual assault prevention programs. She is interested in the relationship between work and identity and the role of social class in psychotherapy, and is excited to continue research and dialogue on issues relevant to working people. In her free time, she enjoys road trips, camping, and spending time with her sisters.

Kevon Williams

Kevon is a second-year post-BA PhD student in the Department of Counseling Psychology at UW-Madison. He was born and raised in Inglewood, California, acquiring his Bachelors of Arts in Psychology at California State Polytechnic University – Pomona in 2018. Broadly, his research interests are analyzing sociocultural determinants (e.g. social/cultural identity, social class, geopolitical variables, and historical/environmental trauma induced by systematic prejudice) impact on held perceptions, mental health, and education/career outlooks. He currently assist Dr. Mindi Thompson in a mixed method analysis of college internships influence on HBCU students in STEM at UW-Madison’s Center for Research of College to Workforce Transition. Additionally, he is a National Academy of Sciences Ford Foundation Fellow whose professional goals are to be a tenure track professor bridging the communication gap between research and ethnic minority communities through pursuing community participatory research and inspiring diversity in academia. In his free time, Kevon enjoys exercising/hiking, drawing, watching tv/anime, playing video games, joking with friends, and traveling.

Pilar Gauthier (Menominee/Ho-Chunk)

Pōsōh! Pilar is a Counseling Psychology Ph.D. student at UW-Madison. She is from the Menominee Indian Reservation; a resilient and beautiful community located several hours north of Madison. Pilar is a licensed professional counselor in Wisconsin and is now focusing on neuropsychology. Pilar is on Dr. Thompson’s research team and studying the impact of poverty on underemployment among women. She is a current Fellow in the Graduate Training Program to develop a Mental Health Equity program that aims to provide psychology services to rural communities in the state. Pilar’s research interests are concerned with healing and wellness in Indigenous communities, with particular focus on intergenerational trauma and comorbid PTSD and addiction. She earned her Bachelors of Science in First Nations Studies and Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling at Western Washington University. She is a member and mentee of the National Society of Indian Psychologists. Outside of school, she enjoys spending quality time with her children and family doing their favorite activities, including, family dinners, playing rummy and watching the Marvel movies.

Zoua Lor

Zoua Lor is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Counseling Psychology. She is a proud daughter of two refugees, the third of nine children to obtain a bachelor’s degree, and the first in her family to pursue a PhD. Prior to her doctoral studies, Zoua received her B.A. in Psychology with a Statistics Concentration from St. Olaf College. Her research broadly focuses on the clinical applications of cultural psychology and the intersection of well-being, cultural identity, and student development. Zoua is a member of Dr. Mindi N. Thompson’s Work and Wellness Lab and is involved in several projects concerning collegiate and mental health outcomes. In her free time, she likes to listen to crime podcasts, explore skincare, and watch children’s movies.

Anna Kawennison Fetter

Se:kon (Hello)! Anna is currently a ​fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Counseling Psychology. Anna has a passion for undergraduate student development and previously worked in Residence Life at the University of Oregon, where she led countless icebreakers. She completed her Master’s in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Native American Studies at Dartmouth College. Anna’s research focuses on marginalized student experiences in higher education, with emphasis on  identity development, the cultivating of supportive spaces and systems, and well-being. She currently works as a part of the College Internship Study team, studying the role of internships in student experiences at minority-serving institutions. For her dissertation, Anna is completing a study on the mental health impacts of historical loss among Native American students in higher education and the protective factors that support well-being. In her free time, Anna loves being outdoors, adoring her kitten Milo, and spending time with friends and family.

Nataly Ibarra Stewart

Nataly is a fifth-year PhD student in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She was born in Mexico, moved to the US when she was five years old, and grew up in Michigan. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Brain, Behavior, & Cognitive Science from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and a Master of Public Health degree prior to beginning her doctoral studies in psychology. Nataly is passionate about neuropsychology and her career goal is to become a board certified neuropsychologist specializing in adults. She is currently participating in the APPIC match process for pre-doctoral internship. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her family, cuddle with her Chinese Crested dog, and go to Orangetheory Fitness classes.

Jessica Perez-Chavez

Jessica G. Perez-Chavez is a Counseling Psychology Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was born in the beautiful city of Morelia located in Michoacan, Mexico and grew up in the vibrant Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. She received her B.A. from Cornell University where she majored in Psychology and earned two minors in Latin American Studies and Latino Studies. Her research interests include: the experiences of Students of Color and immigrant students, as well as multiculturalism, race, and racism. She currently is involved in the College Internship Study, a mixed-methods study that explores the relationship between college internships and student outcomes. She is also assisting with Dr. Thompson’s study on the impact of psychological factors on student’s career decision self-efficacy. One fun fact about Jessica is that in 2011 the Chicago hybrid-cumbia band Quinto Imperio, wrote a heart-felt song about her.


Mun Yuk Chin, PhD

Mun Yuk Chin is staff psychologist at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and grew up in both Malaysia and Singapore. Mun earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Northwestern University. Her research focuses on the subjective experiences of social class, sexuality, and gender, as well as their connections with perceived stigma and mental health. For her dissertation, Mun investigated the effects of social class concealment among low-income undergraduate students. As a psychologist, she is passionate about working with college students and community members from underrepresented backgrounds. Outside of work, Mun enjoys trying new foods, watching birds, and reading young adult fiction.

Tiffany Jones, PhD

Tiffany Jones is a staff psychologist at the University of Kentucky. She was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland and earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cornell University. Throughout her clinical training, she nurtured a passion for working with college students from diverse academic, social, and racial backgrounds. Broadly, her research primarily focuses on the experiences of racial and ethnic minority students in higher education, with a special emphasis on topics related to academic persistence, mentoring, well-being, and belonging. For her dissertation, Tiffany examined the effects of a text-messaging intervention on fostering increased faculty-student interactions among first-generation college students. In her free time, she enjoys trying new recipes, hairstyling, traveling, and spending time with loved ones.

Pa Her, PhD

Pa Her is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling Psychology at UW-Madison and Assistant Director of the Counseling Psychology Training Clinic. She is a mother to a curious young boy.  She is passionate about working with college students and has worked with underrepresented students as an academic advisor, a peer mentor coordinator, an instructor, and a psychotherapist. Her research examines students’ of color experiences in higher education and focuses on topics such as persistence, vocational development, social class, self-efficacy, and racial discrimination. Her clinical interests are adjustments and life transitions, trauma, cultural issues, relationship issues, academic performance, and career challenges. During her free time, she enjoys times with her friends and family, playing frisbee, traveling, cleaning, and cooking.

Tyson Pankey, PhD

Tyson is a post doctoral fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He grew up in both the Baltimore and Kansas City metro areas. Tyson completed undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Exercise & Sport Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hills (Go Heels) and received his Master of Public Health degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine & Public Health (Go Jayhawks). Tyson’s research interests broadly focus on health disparities, social determinants of health, and health service provision among underrepresented and under- resourced patient populations. Tyson’s dissertation examined the influence of race- based stressors and coping processes on the personal and professional well- being of Black medical students. In his free time, Tyson enjoys sports, music, horseplay, and sharing hilarious memes with friends and family.

Maggie Sampe, PhD

Maggie Sampe is health psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hospital. She was born and raised in northeast Wisconsin and is a happy beneficiary of the University of Wisconsin System, earning her bachelor of arts in psychology  at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her master of science in counseling psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Maggie is broadly interested in the connections among the mind, body, and one’s sociocultural experiences; this common thread informs her professional interests in the effects of interpersonal trauma and trauma recovery, client and therapist effects, the therapeutic relationship, and psychotherapy process and outcome. Her dissertation focused on the impact of therapist mindfulness on the ability to manage countertransference reactions and relate effectively with one’s clients. When not busy with clinical work and research, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their two dogs, traveling, cooking, knitting, and running.

Jacob Diestelmann, PhD

Jake Diestelmann is a Clinical/Health Psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at the Marshfield Medical Center in Marshfield Wisconsin. His professional interests include Posttraumatic Stress and trauma and recovery, depression and anxiety disorders, in-depth diagnostic and assessment services, health psychology and the integration of behavioral health into primary care and specialty medicine. His research experience started in UW-Madison’s psychology department where he engaged in research on cultural influences of perception and attenuation. As an undergraduate, he was able to help run a research lab, engage with research participants, and turn data into research publications. At the end of his master’s training and into his doctoral studies he extended his research training into areas of direct impact for underserved and vulnerable populations. He secured a National Science Foundation research assistantship aimed at increasing STEM interests in middle youth, particularly among girls. This project allowed him to take the lead in developing the project’s research ideas and theoretical constructs. He trained six middle schools across the state of Wisconsin to implement curriculum interventions, and took the lead in data collection and analysis, as well as publications. These experiences led him to focus on social class research with his advisor, Dr. Mindi Thompson. They co-authored and published several articles on social class experiences. He worked on quantitative and qualitative explorations of low income clients’ experiences in psychotherapy, which highlighted the under-examined perspectives of clients from low income backgrounds. Additionally, their research examined how mental health practitioners perceive working with clients from low-income backgrounds. His dissertation focused on how societal beliefs about fairness influence outcomes and expectations for psychotherapy treatment among participants from lower social class backgrounds. Additionally, Dr. Diestelmann has successful captured 32 Zubats in Pokemon Go.

Rachel Nitzarim, PhD

Rachel Nitzarim is a proud graduate of UW Madison’s Counseling Psychology program and was incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Thompson as her advisor and mentor throughout her graduate studies and early career. Currently, Rachel is the Doctoral Training Director in the Clinical PsyD department with a rank of Assistant Professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology-Chicago Campus. She obtained her Ph.D. from the Department of Counseling Psychology at UW-Madison in 2015. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at The Counseling and Mental Health Center at The University of Texas at Austin and her post-doctoral work at Student Counseling Services at The University of Chicago. Throughout her training and early career, she has cultivated an interest in psychologist training, competency development and clinical supervision. Additionally, her research on social class and psychotherapy process and outcome has resulted in numerous publications in various career, qualitative and Counseling Psychology journals as well as a number of presentations at professional conferences. Finally, after training in a number of community mental health and counseling centers, and obtaining licensure as a Clinical Psychologist in the state of Illinois, she has found a passion for long term, psychodynamically-oriented and interpersonally-based clinical work. In addition to her position at The Chicago School, she is currently providing psychotherapy services to adolescents, adults and couples at her group private practice, Smith Psychotherapy Associates S.C. Areas of interest include issues related to social class, unemployment, low-income populations, psychotherapy process and outcome, psychology training, clinical supervision and psychologist competency. Outside of work, Rachel enjoys going to yoga, walks by Lake Michigan with her puggle and spending time growing her [urban] garden.