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Meet the Research Collaborative

The Research Collaborative comprises a group of Purdue faculty and staff who are actively engaged in research on one or more Steps to Leaps pillars (i.e. Well-Being, Grit, Leadership, Networks, and Impact). We seek to establish evidence-based approaches to assessing and enhancing student well-being and resilience.



Jorge A. Banda

Dr. Jorge Banda’s research merges the fields of exercise science, public health, and social psychology to develop creative solutions to improve child health. His research interests focus on 1) developing, evaluating, and disseminating community-based interventions to decrease sedentary behavior, increase physical activity, and prevent and treat obesity in children and 2) using accelerometers and innovative data analysis strategies to improve estimates of child sleep, sedentary behavior, and physical activity. Dr. Banda’s research uses an interdisciplinary team approach to accomplish these research aims, involving social psychologists, exercise scientists, nutritionists, statisticians, and physicians.


Elliot Friedman

Dr. Elliot Friedman is the William and Salley Berner professor of Gerontology in Human Development and Family Studies in the college of Health and Human Sciences. His research interests include how psychological experiences affect biological processes related to health with an emphasis on physiological regulation in middle and later life, psychological well-being and health, biopsychosocial integration and successful aging.


Allison Godwin

Allison Godwin, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education and of Chemical Engineering (by Courtesy) at Purdue University. She is also the Workforce Development Co-Director for CISTAR, the Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. Her research focuses on how identity, among other affective factors, influences diverse students to choose and persist in engineering. Dr. Godwin graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in chemical engineering and Ph.D. in engineering and science education. Her research earned her a National Science Foundation CAREER Award focused on characterizing latent diversity, which includes diverse attitudes, mindsets, and approaches to learning to understand students’ identity development during undergraduate engineering education. 


Abrar Hammoud

Abrar Hammoud is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Purdue Polytechnic’s Department of Technology Leadership & Innovation. She teaches project and problem-based design through approaches that blend and integrate traditional academic disciplines.

Her research interests include processes of resilience as communicated through meaningful work, in addition to narratives of failure expressed via visual, artistic, and technical mediums, and their impact on failure tolerance and creativity. Through this blend of topics, she believes that students will engage in both art and technology with a deeper understanding of the impact they have in their lives and well-being and the lives of others.


Franki Kung

Dr. Franki Kung is an Assistant Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology and directs the Conflict and Mindset Collaboratory at Purdue University. His interdisciplinary research generates knowledge to improve conflict management of individuals and organizations. Ongoing projects focus on transforming tensions in social conflicts into synergy, developing better conflict communication tactics, and identifying healthier approaches to manage multiple personal goals.

Nasreen Lalani, PhD, MScN, RN

Dr. Nasreen Lalani is an experienced researcher, clinician, and educator with diverse background in nursing and health disciplines for more than 25 years. Her experience spans three continents—working in Pakistan, Australia and North America (US & Canada). Dr. Lalani is primarily a qualitative researcher, with a research focus in the areas of aging and palliative care, spirituality and wellbeing, caregiving, and resilience in disaster recovery. Her current AgSEED grant is aimed at improving palliative care services in rural Indiana, USA. She is working on a community engagement initiative ‘Families tackling tough times together’ to improve the resilience and wellbeing among families’ during COVID-19 with an interdisciplinary team of researchers and Purdue Extension groups. Dr. Lalani is also working with research collaborators from the US, UK and Pakistan developing models to improve spiritual and existential wellbeing of university students and caregivers in the community. She has contributed to multiple publications and given presentations at regional and international levels. 


Seungyoon Lee

Seungyoon Lee (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is an associate professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. Her research focuses on the evolution of communication, knowledge, and collaboration networks and its implications for individual well-being and community resilience. Her recent projects examined the evolution of creative interaction and social ties in project teams; social support and social networks among people and organizations in disaster recovery and resilience; and the determinants and outcomes of network multiplexity.


Nichole Ramirez

Nichole Ramirez is the Assistant Director of the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) program in the College of Engineering. In an effort to promote well-being at all levels in education, her research focuses on the experiences of engineering students and practitioners living with mental health conditions. Nichole served as President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) West Central Indiana, and she currently advises NAMI on Campus at Purdue University, a student-led affiliate. She received her Ph.D. in engineering education and M.S. in aviation and aerospace management from Purdue University. 


Louis Tay

Louis Tay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. He has expertise in well-being, assessments, and data science. He is a Provost Fellow on the Steps to Leaps initiative and oversees the following: (a) Steps to Leaps assessments; (b) research on Steps to Leaps topics (e.g., leadership, grit); (c) developing evidence-based interventions for students; and (d) creating and teaching courses aligned with Steps to Leaps (e.g., Science of Well-Being). 


Xinrui (Rose) Xu

Xinrui (Rose) Xu is a career services consultant from the Center for Career Opportunities that serves students from all backgrounds on the Purdue West Lafayette campus. She provides individual and group career coaching, as well as workshops for classrooms and student organizations. Her goal is to empower students to not only pursue their career dreams but also embrace the personal and professional development gained through this journey.

Xinrui earned her Ph.D. in engineering education from Purdue University and works on research projects related to engineering students’ major choice, career decision-making, professional competency, and mental health. 


Xiang Zhou

Dr. Xiang Zhou is an assistant professor of Counseling Psychology in the College of Education. He has provided counseling services to students at multiple university counseling centers during his clinical training. His research focused on ethnic-racial minority youth and families, and his work has examined the ethnic-racial minority college students’ ethnic identity development, experiences of discrimination, and sense of belongingness in college.