Principal Investigator

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Heidi Hamann, PhD

Dr. Heidi Hamann is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona. She is a clinical health psychologist specializing in psychosocial and behavioral oncology. She is interested in the psychosocial consequences of a cancer diagnosis and interventions to ameliorate significant concerns. Her recent work has identified stigma as a considerable challenge for patients with lung cancer. Another recent focus is on cancer survivors, including efforts to improve their quality of life and physical activity levels. In her free time, Dr. Hamann enjoys spending time with her family, running slowly, and listening to podcasts.

Doctoral Students

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Sarah Price, M.A.

Sarah is a fifth year clinical psychology graduate student. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in the Biological Basis of Behavior. After graduation, Sarah contributed to several research projects at the Perelman School of Medicine, aimed at developing breast cancer screening tools, tracking treatment outcomes and quality of life among patients with cutaneous sarcoidosis, and, more recently, providing smoking cessation counseling and pharmacotherapy to patients who continue to smoke after cancer diagnosis. 

Sarah currently contributes to several ongoing PRO lab projects, including the implementation of a collaborative care intervention to treat depression among cancer survivors. She is especially interested in the assessment and treatment of psychological distress and health-compromising behaviors (e.g. tobacco use, chronic opioid use, poor sleep) in the context of cancer care. Sarah spends as much of her free time as possible outside; she especially enjoys rock climbing, camping, and hiking. 


Tara Torres

Tara is a second year clinical psychology graduate student. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Afterward, she contributed to research on pain management interventions for children with cancer at CHOC Children’s Hospital in Southern California. She then worked as a clinical research coordinator at Stanford University where she managed clinical trials examining the impact of cancer treatments on sleep, neurocognitive functioning, and quality of life among breast cancer patients. 

Tara currently works on a project focused on improving patient-physician communication through the implementation of an implicit bias refresher training for UofA medical students. Her research interests focus on healthcare provider communication, symptom management, and unmet needs of underserved and stigmatized cancer populations. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, biking, and antiquing. 

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Elizabeth Ver Hoeve, M.A.

Elizabeth is a fourth year clinical psychology graduate student. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2010 with a degree in Neurobiology. After college, Elizabeth worked as a clinical research coordinator at the University of California San Francisco Breast Care Center where she coordinated cancer clinical trials for early and late stage breast cancer patients and at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia where she coordinated psychosocial mHealth interventions for young adult cancer survivors.

Elizabeth currently works on several projects including development of an intervention to improve patient navigation and support throughout cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. Her research interests include stress and coping, lung cancer stigma, and medication adherence. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys swimming, yoga, and spending time with her family.

Graduate Research Assistants


Yvonne Bueno, OTR/L, MPH

Yvonne is currently a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) candidate in the College of Public Health, in Maternal and Child Health, with a Health Psychology minor.  She obtained her Master of Public Health at the U of A in 2014.  Her interests include improving health equity for vulnerable populations, especially women and children.  She obtained her BS in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 1997, and has worked as a pediatric occupational therapist for 20 years.

In the PRO lab, Yvonne assisted with conducting a qualitative pre-intervention needs assessment with our community partner, to identify barriers to cancer care and care coordination for underserved patient populations.  Currently, she also serves as our lab manager and the liaison to the national program office.  Yvonne enjoys playing soccer, and traveling to connect with friends and family.


Gaby Coronel

Gaby is a second year Master of Public Health (MPH) graduate student in the Public Health Policy and Management concentration. She received a Bachelor's of Science in Public Health from East Tennessee State University in 2017. She then served two years in the Peace Corps as a Health Promoter working with a rural health center that supported an agricultural community in coastal Ecuador. Her projects mainly focused on sexual and reproductive health, HIV education, and public health surveillance improvement.
Gaby works with the Un Abrazo Para La Familia project supporting research delivery and analysis. Her research interests include working on community-based solutions to structural health disparities and increasing access to and quality of care for underserved populations. In her free time, Gaby enjoys baking, spoiling her dogs, and reading.


Russ Levesque

Russ Levesque received his undergraduate degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Spanish and Political Science.  Upon graduation, he served in the Peace Corps as an Appropriate Technology for Family Health volunteer from 2004-2006.  Living in Xalapán, Guatemala, he was involved in helping rural families build water tanks, latrines, cooking stoves, and overseeing other simple and affordable health projects.  Russ is currently immersed in the Masters Entry to the Profession of Nursing Program at U of A as a 2021 cohort.  Being a Peace Corp Coverdell Fellow at the University has afforded him the opportunity to be a part of the PRO lab team.  He is excited to learn and contribute to team endeavors while living in this unique and beautiful desert setting. 

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Juanita Trejo, MPH

Juanita is the Project Coordinator for Un Abrazo Para La Familia™, an intervention for co-survivors of cancer survivors, and was a Depression Care Manager, working with cancer patients suffering from depression, in the COPE-D Project. She received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Merced in 2014. After college, Juanita served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador from 2015 to 2016 in the Youth Development sector.

In May 2018, she received her Masters of Public Health Degree from the University of Arizona in Health Behavior Health Promotion. Her research interests include health care barriers in underserved populations and the effect of interpersonal relationships on health in minority populations. In her free time, Juanita enjoys spending gardening, spending time with her family and dogs, traveling, and giving back to the community.


Becca Verlaque

Rebecca Verlaque is a Research Assistant for the COPE-D team and is studying in the University of Arizona's Masters Entry to the Profession of Nursing (MEPN) program. Becca received her undergraduate degree from UCLA in 2012, majoring in International Development Studies. After graduating from UCLA, Becca served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal for 2 years, focusing on community health education and capacity building. After Peace Corps, Becca returned home to California where she spent several years working in international grants management. Realizing that she missed working interpersonally on healthcare issues, she switched to a job in the public health sector while completing pre-requisites for nursing school. She moved to Tucson in 2019 to begin her nursing program and began working with the COPE-D team shortly afterwards. She's grateful for the opportunities she has had to practice therapeutic, professional communication with COPE-D study participants and will miss the RA role when she graduates in August 2020! In her free time, Becca loves hiking, biking, camping, watching Tucson's sunsets and monsoons, and admiring other people's dogs.


Laura Zelis

Laura Zelis graduated from the University of Arizona in 2020 with a BA in Music and minors in Biochemistry & MCB. She currently works as an RA in the PRO Lab and assists in scheduling intervention tasks, updating the PRO Lab website, and running the Twitter account. She is additionally working as a lead medical scribe at the UA Cancer Center and is anticipating applying to medical school in June of 2021. Laura has a great interest in working with underserved communities and is thankful for the wonderful volunteer opportunities she has discovered at the UA. Some of these include volunteering in medical clinics in Mexico and serving the homeless community of Skid Row while on the Honors Alternative Spring Break trip to Los Angeles. In her free time, Laura enjoys hiking, playing the cello, and eating the wonderful food Tucson has to offer.

Undergraduate Research Assistants


Kelsey Bawden

Kelsey is an undergraduate junior majoring in Neuroscience with a Psychology minor. She is currently a research assistant for the PRO-Lab COPE-D program that specializes in improving mental health in cancer patients with depression. In her free time she volunteers with "A Moment of Magic" foundation to bring magic to the lives of pediatric cancer patients. In the future Kelsey hopes to further work with cancer patients  to improve their lives during treatment and survivorship.


Nicole Benjamin

Nicole is an undergraduate student majoring in physiology and minoring in psychology. She works on campus as a student athletic trainer with the U of A football team. She also works at El Rio community health center as a medical assistant. She plans to go to medical school after completing her undergraduate degree. She is passionate about bridging the gaps of health disparities in the medical field and serving the underserved.  


Deven Contreras

Deven is an undergraduate junior at The University of Arizona majoring in Physiology and Psychology with minors in Spanish and Biochemistry. He volunteers at Clinica Amistad which is a free clinic serving the underrepresented community and Z Mansion which serves the populations experiencing homelessness. He is also the Director of Public Relations for a student run organization called Mobile MediCats. In the future Deven plans on pursuing ­­medical school and strive towards becoming a surgeon to focus on serving the underrepresented community. ­­


Alyssa Engelke

Alyssa is from Gilbert, Arizona and currently an undergraduate senior at the U of A. She is pursuing a degree in Psychological Science and has a minor in Spanish. Alyssa is a research assistant for the Psychosocial Research in Oncology (PRO) Lab and is involved in several organizations on campus and within the community. She is currently planning on attending graduate school to get her Master’s in Counseling with an emphasis in Rehabilitation and Mental Health. Alyssa hopes to be able to help people understand that they are not alone and can overcome the difficulties of mental health. Alyssa is from Gilbert, Arizona and currently an undergraduate senior at the U of A. She is pursuing a degree in Psychological Science and has a minor in Spanish. Alyssa is a research assistant for the Psychosocial Research in Oncology (PRO) Lab and is involved in several organizations on campus and within the community. She is currently planning on attending graduate school to get her Master’s in Counseling with an emphasis in Rehabilitation and Mental Health. Alyssa hopes to be able to help people understand that they are not alone and can overcome the difficulties of mental health. 


Mary Foulk

Mary is currently an undergraduate studying at the university of Arizona, majoring in general psychology. She is a Bachelor of Science major and was born and raised in a small town southwest of Phoenix called Laveen. She is currently a research assistant for the Psychosocial Research in Oncology (PRO) Laboratory. For her career goals, she wants to be a psychologist or a counselor specifically working for the Latter-Day Saint Family Services. She wants to work with families and children who are struggling. In her free time, her hobbies include painting mostly abstract paintings, hiking, and crocheting.



Diana Garcia-Rojas

Diana is an undergraduate senior at the University of Arizona majoring in Psychology and Spanish. She is currently a research assistant at the Psychosocial Research in Oncology (PRO) Laboratory. Diana plans to attend graduate school to get a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.  During her free time, she enjoys reading, watching TV shows and movies, and spending time with her dog.


Daniel Hernandez

Daniel is an undergraduate senior at the University of Arizona he is majoring in psychology and care, health, and society. He is currently a research assistant for the Psychosocial Research in Oncology (PRO) Laboratory and has also worked in the Neuroscience of Reinforced Learning (NRD) Laboratory. He is from Buena Park CA located in the Orange County area. His career goals are to become a clinical health psychologist and work with underprivileged communities along the U.S./Mexico border, and to conduct research on health disparities and health promotion with the Hispanic community. He hopes to help individuals with any barriers that hinder their daily lives, being a student himself with a visual impairment and someone who has also worked with students with disabilities he understands how difficult it can be to overcome obstacles that are related to a chronic illness.


Ivana Klymko

Ivana Klymko is a sophomore studying Physiology and Spanish with a minor in Psychology. She hopes to attend medical school when she graduates. Some fun facts about her is that she is fluent in Spanish, loves to swim, and has different colored eyes!


Erin McLoughlin

Erin is an senior at the University of Arizona. She is majoring in psychological sciences and minoring in Public Health. She is from Phoenix, Arizona. Erin works as a Research Assistant for the  Psychosocial Research in Oncology (PRO) Laboratory, and has worked as a Teacher’s Assistant and Learning Assistant. She is also a Pediatric Volunteer at Banner University Medical Center in Tucson. In her free time, she likes to paint, work out, and spend time with friends. 


Jahnvi Patel

Jahnvi is an undergraduate junior at the University of Arizona majoring in Psychological Sciences and minoring in Biochemistry. She is currently a research assistant for the Psychosocial Research in Oncology (PRO) Laboratory working with Tara on her project to improve patient-physician communication. Jahnvi hopes to go into the medical field and one day be a pediatric physician, so this lab can be extremely useful to learn how to communicate with patients and be the best doctor you can be for them. Through this lab and her degree, Jahnvi aims to raise awareness on how one's mental and physical health are both essential to a successful recovery process once she is in the medical field. In her free time, Jahnvi likes to spend time with friends and family, do an art project, go hiking, and watch a new tv show or movie!

Lab Alumni


LiseAnne Gregoire

As a member of the PRO lab, LiseAnne collaborated with other lab members to create a REDCap that could capture specific EMR data from cancer patients. Currently, she works as a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She primarily works on studies for kiddos with meningitis and encephalitis with the Infectious Disease department. Recently, she has added Genetics to her research portfolio and will be working on two projects for rare genetic diseases. Being in the PRO Lab helped her become qualified for the job at CHCO because of my experience with REDCap and data abstraction. Most importantly, the PRO Lab helped her gain confidence in her research knowledge, skills and abilities. In the upcoming years, she will be applying to accelerated BSN programs in hopes of becoming a research nurse, and will also be applying for a Master in Public Health with an emphasis in epidemiology. Without being a member of the PRO lab, she would not have found her career and her home in research.


Izzie Jado

Izzie Jado helped with transcribing focus group records and the initial brainstorming of a code tree with Julie, Yvonne, and Deborah. During her last year with the PRO Lab team, she helped contact patients for COPE-D under the supervision of Sarah and even got to present on initial findings at the 2019 UA Undergraduate Research Symposium with the help of Sarah. Currently, she works in EMS research at the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center. Although the research she does is related to prehospital interventions, she has found this to be a wonderful intersection of public health and health disparities research as the medical directors she works with pilot interventions with the agencies they work with. She is currently working on applying to medical school through the P-MAP program at the College of Medicine-Tucson, and plans on applying to MD/DO schools normal cycle in 2021 as well. She really appreciates the mentorship she received from being a part of the PRO Lab team. The team embraced her and taught her how to be investigative and that public health and medical interventions are enhanced by that investigative nature. She thanks the PRO Lab team for allowing her to develop her research skills in an uplifting environment.


Yilin Liu

Yilin Liu worked in the PRO Lab during the 2019-2020 school year and graduated with a degree in Psychology in May 2020. She currently lives in China training undergraduate students who are interested in studying psychology in the United States. Her goal is to get a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Working in the PRO Lab helped Yilin to have more knowledge of doing research


Nurhyikmah Lothfi

Nur graduated from the University of Arizona in 2018 with Bachelor of Science degrees in Psychology and Care, Health and Society. In January 2018, Nur joined PRO Lab as a research assistant to explore her interests in community health and continued to work as a research specialist since her graduation. Her main tasks included daily lab management, data/project management and coordination, and liaising with research personnel. Nur found her direct involvement in the management and coordination of different projects in the lab essential to her goal as a researcher in the fields of public health and psychology. Nur was able to participate in varied events and activities that promote her growth and contribution to the lab. 

In 2019, Nur enrolled in a Master of Public Health at the University of Malaya in her home country. Nur plans to pursue graduate school to solidify her knowledge and exposure in implementation science to give back to the underserved and vulnerable population in Malaysia and hopefully globally; one of the main takeaways she learned from the lab. As an alum, Nur appreciated that the PRO Lab is a multidisciplinary lab led by outstanding (female) researchers that continuously empowers its members and community thrive for quality connections. 


Karen Rico

Karen spent two years working on evaluating the patient navigation program and the biases of medical students towards Hispanic cancer patients. In May 2020, she received a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson. Karen is currently an internal medicine resident at the University of Washington. As a Hispanic physician, she is devoted to a career focused on improving health disparities in underserved cancer patients through her practice and research.


Brianna Siegle

Brianna (Bri) Siegle graduated from the University of Arizona in May 2020 with a Bachelors of Science in Psychological Sciences and Care, Health, and Society and minors in Biology as well as Family Studies and Human Development. In Fall of 2019, she joined the PRO lab and was working with data involving an individual with cancer diagnosis and how this related to depression and opioid use. She is currently applying to PA (Physician Assistant) programs with the goal of becoming a pediatric Physician Assistant. She is grateful for the amazing people that she has worked with at the time with the PRO lab as they have been mentors for her during her senior year.

Roxanne Vann

Roxanne Vann

Roxanne Vann graduated from the University of Arizona with a major in Psychological Science and Pre-Medicine. She participated in the Native American Cancer Prevention/Undergraduate Biology Research Program (NACP/UBRP). She is from San Carlos, AZ located on the San Carlos Apache Tribe Reservation. She was born and raised on the Navajo and Apache Reservation. Her Native American (Navajo) clans are Naaneesht’ ézhi Tábąąhá (Zuni Water edge), Chíshí (San Carlos Apache), T ł ‘ááshchí’í (The Red Bottom People clan), and Bilagáana (Caucasian). Her career goal is to become a physician practicing in OB/GYN or General Surgery. Her goal is to give back to her Native American community, by giving them the best treatment and care that they deserve. She wants to be a voice for her Native American people by being a good role model and setting a good example to the younger generation. She also would like to give hope to those that are chasing a dream to never give up and keep going.