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Kristen L

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)


mental health, psychology (eating behavior, health behaviors, stress, weight stigma, weight issues, body image, social connection, social relationships, mind-body connection)


Hi, I'm Kristen! I'm currently a PhD candidate in Health Psychology at UCLA, where I study health behaviors, social connection, weight stigma, mental health, and physical wellbeing. My interests can be traced back to high school, where I noticed how dangerous and prevalent diet culture and body image issues were among my peers. I wondered, "How do we prevent this? How can we promote a healthier relationship to food and our bodies?" These questions sparked my interest in eating behavior and weight issues, which led me to become a body image activist at UC Berkeley, conduct research on the science of behavior change at USC, and work at various eating disorder clinics. All of these experiences eventually paved the way to graduate school, where I can now test the very questions I had wanted answers for as a high school student! Unsurprisingly, I love food and experimenting in the kitchen, growing my vegetable garden (especially tomatoes), and hosting dinner parties. I also enjoy spending whatever free time I have outdoors and hiking mountains.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Mental Health and Health Behaviors

Can eating Ben and Jerry's ice cream make us feel less lonely? How does fat shaming lead to disordered eating and unhealthy weight control behaviors? In what ways does social media (e.g., Tik Tok trends) influence our food choices? If you've ever been curious about HOW and WHY we eat the way that we do, then I would love to help you develop a research project that interests you!

Social Connection and Physical Health

Are friendship breakups stressful? Are loneliness and social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic linked to depression? Can a loving-kindness meditation increase feelings of belonging? In what ways does social support buffer the stress of school? If you're interested in social relationships, belonging, or any other aspects of social connection and how these impact our psychological and physical health, then let's chat!

Coding skills


Teaching experience

1) I have 10+ years of tutoring experience working with middle school and high school students. I primarily teach writing, reading, history, psychology or other social sciences, and executive functioning. 2) I have been a teaching associate for a number of undergraduate courses, including Research Methods in Psychology, Research Methods in Health Psychology, Intro to Psychology, and Intro to Health Psychology. 3) Thus far, I have mentored 28+ undergraduate research assistants, more than half of whom come from underrepresented backgrounds. I meet with my students weekly, providing professional development workshops on graduate school applications, curriculum vitae development, and data cleaning and analysis. I'm also a mentor for UCLA’s Psychology Research Opportunity Programs (PROPS), which provides a $2,500 stipend and rigorous research training to historically underrepresented students. 4) I served as a graduate mentor for a two-week summer research intensive program funded by the National Science Foundation for underrepresented minority (URM) community college students. The goal of this program is to get more URM students into the research pipeline. I led workshops on research modules such as experimental design and mentored students on their research proposals and professional development plans to support their academic goals.



University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley)
BA Bachelor of Arts (2014)
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
MA Master of Arts (2020)
Health Psychology
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Health Psychology

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