top of page


Project SPIRiT Final Background_edited.png

Lab Director

Dr. Kirsty A. Clark (she/her/hers) is a social and psychiatric epidemiologist. She serves as an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Health, and Society and Public Policy Studies at Vanderbilt University and as Associate Director of the Vanderbilt LGBTQ+ Policy Lab. Dr. Clark’s program of research focuses on examining mental health disparities, especially suicide, disproportionately impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) populations and developing evidence-based interventions to disrupt the course of such disparities. She has published more than 60 peer-reviewed papers focused on LGBTQ+ mental health. Dr. Clark is the PI of a NIMH K01 award which aims to use novel real-time assessment methods to capture associations between stigma-related stressors and suicidal ideation among LGBTQ+ adolescents in the US Southeast. At Vanderbilt University, she teaches LGBTQ+ Health Disparities in the Department of Medicine, Health, and Society. 

2023 Vanderbilt Headshot_Clark.JPG

Clinical Director

Dr. Melissa Cyperski (she/her/hers) is a licensed clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor with the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Cyperski provides mental health services in an outpatient care setting. She also works as an educator and supervisor, training students and community partners in trauma-informed, affirmative mental health practices. She is passionate about improving access to quality care for diverse populations. Dr. Cyperski considers it an honor to serve and advocate for LGBTQ+ children, adolescents, young adults, and their families. She is the Clinical Director for the lab, collaborating with the team around procedures and protocols that support discovery and implementation of research in a sensitive manner. We value your safety, privacy, and wellbeing.

Graduate Students

Kaitlyn Phillips (she/her/hers) is a second-year master’s student in the Community Development and Action program. She graduated from the University of South Carolina in May 2022 with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Counselor Education. At the University of South Carolina, Kaitlyn served as a research assistant in a lab examining individual, interpersonal, and structural factors impacting the health experiences of different communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a CDA student, her research goals are community-oriented and emphasize the role of structural stressors on community wellbeing and functioning. She is interested in the role of comprehensive sexual education as a preventative intervention against perpetration and victimization of gender-based violence. Outside of the lab Kaitlyn enjoys cooking, painting, traveling, and going to concerts. 

KP headshot_edited_edited.jpg

Emma Walker (she/her/hers) is a second-year master’s student in the Quantitative Methods program. She graduated summa cum laude from The Ohio State University in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Musical Theatre. At The Ohio State University, Emma served as a research assistant in the Cognitive Development Lab. Her research goals are public health and policy. She plans to pursue her PhD in Social and Behavioral Sciences. Outside of the lab, Emma is the President of Queering Education and Development. She also enjoys
reading and spending time with her dog, Myla.


Alexandros (Alex) Nikolaidis Konstas (he/him/his) is a first-year master’s student in the Quantitative Methods program. He graduated from Davidson College in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Science (Magna Cum Laude, Honors in Psychology) and double majored in Psychology and Studio Art. During his undergraduate studies, Alex worked on multiple research projects that primarily revolved around identity and online phenomena, presented at conferences, and worked on a publication as an equal first author. He is broadly interested in research on identity, social perception, and inclusivity. In his free time, Alex enjoys visiting art museums, drawing, and spending time with friends.


Undergraduate Students

Elisa Park (she/her/hers) is a senior undergraduate student majoring in Medicine, Health, and Society and Political Science. Guided by Dr. Clark, she is working on a senior's honors thesis examining the disparities in academic outcomes among sexual and gender minority youth in different educational settings. Elisa is interested in the effects of social and environmental factors on minoritized people and how policy or other interventions can aid or inhibit progress in protecting the health and wellbeing of minority populations. She hopes to learn more about how oppression and discrimination manifests in physical and mental health issues and how to navigate using both quantitative and qualitative data in her research methodology. In her free time, Elisa enjoys talking walks around the Nashville area, keeping up with a sport (hockey), and curating music playlists.


Nikita Rohila (she/her/hers) is a junior undergraduate student majoring in Psychology and Medicine, Health, and Society. As a research assistant in the Clark lab, Nikita assists with Project SPIRiT data collection and is currently working on a mixed methods study to understand LGBTQ+ adolescent and young adults’ daily identity-related experiences. Nikita is specifically interested in understanding how health inequity affects minoritized groups and the role of policy in addressing disparities. In Nashville, she serves on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s state policy committee and works as a field advocate. During her free time, Nikita does sports and concert photography, is reading  in any cozy, sunny corner on campus, and is always on the lookout for a new café to explore.

Project SPIRiT Final Background_edited.png

Ingrid Shragge, B.A. (2023-2024) | Currently: Multisensory Research Lab at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

Alex Argiros, M.Ed. (2021-2023) | Currently: Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Student at McGill University

Joseph Sexton, B.S. (2022-2023) | Currently: Vanderbilt Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellow

Danait Issac (2022-2023) | Currently: Undergraduate Student at Vanderbilt University

Rachel Marlowe, M.Ed. (2021-2022) | Currently: Clinical Translational Research Coordinator at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Lab Alumni

bottom of page