Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship Fund

This scholarship is in recognition of Sullivan's ongoing commitment and passion related to issues of multiculturalism and inclusion.

Sponsor: Division 31


The Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship Fund is named after Michael Sullivan, PhD, who served as the assistant executive director for state advocacy in the American Psychological Association. In this position he managed the Practice Directorate's program of making resources available to 60-affiliated psychological associations in every state and several Canadian provinces and U.S. territories. A fellow of APA, Sullivan writes regularly about professional practice issues in psychology for "Professional Psychology: Research and Practice®." This scholarship is in recognition of his ongoing commitment and passion related to issues of multiculturalism and inclusion. 
Funding for the Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship has come from:

  • Sullivan's staff and volunteer colleagues at the American Psychological Association

  • many of the State, Provincial and Territorial Psychological Associations (SPTA)

  • executive directors and volunteer leaders of SPTA

  • Ohio Health Advocacy Network

  • The Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship is funded by generous gifts, grants, contributions, and bequests. Your support of this scholarship benefits important research and community projects. You can make a donation online.


Graduate students enrolled full time at a university or college may apply for the scholarship. The student must be in good academic standing and must be making good progress in his/her program. Any graduate student may apply as long as the funds requested go toward the enhancement of issues of diversity and inclusion.

How to Apply

Submission deadlines:  The call for submissions for the award will go out the preceding autumn. Proposals must be in Microsoft Word or PDF format and follow the template included below. Subject line should include "Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship Proposal - [your name]." Send proposals to Michael Ranney.

Research scope:  The focus of the scholarship is to support graduate level research and training related to diversity and inclusion. Listed below are examples of possible projects in the area of diversity that might be supported by the Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship. The list is not all inclusive, but is provided to offer suggestions:

  • validate emerging methods of assessment, diagnosis, and screening of mental health concerns affecting racially/ethnically diverse individuals

  • examine and evaluate behavior, lifestyles, health needs, and health disparities of racially/ethnically diverse individuals

  • study aging issues in adults who are racially/ethnically diverse

  • explore issues in multicultural counseling

  • develop a cultural framework for counseling specific populations (i.e., the able-bodied, LBGT, multiracial individuals, etc.)

  • design a community project that decreases prejudice within a targeted population

  • implement a culturally sensitive psychological service intervention within an existing group or agency

Award: Awards from $500 to $1,000 per recipient will be granted once a year. Awards will be announced in March each year. Awards are intended to be used to support or assist applicants in covering expenses related to their projects or research.

Winners will be required to provide quarterly updates on the project and write an article about the outcomes. The article may be included in a publication of the Ohio Psychological Association. An evaluation of the project must be submitted to the chair of the Review Committee following the completion of the project.

Submission criteria:  Submissions for scholarships from the Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship Fund should include the following:

  • cover letter addressed to Erica Stovall White, chair of the Review Committee

  • cover sheet provided below and narrative that addresses the (1) rationale for the study; (2) basic question(s) to be addressed by the study; (3) general methodology; and (4) proposed statistical analyses (if applicable)

  • Budgets should be provided that detail projected income and expenses, showing specifically how the scholarship funds will be used.

  • a brief letter of support from a faculty member to the chair of the Review Committee with the proposal, which addresses the student's ability to carry out the project, the feasibility of the project, and the student's ability to complete the project in a timely manner: The letter should not be a testimonial about the student's knowledge, skills, and personal qualities.

Submit proposals electronically to Michael Ranney.

For additional information contact:

The Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship Fund Review Committee 
c/o Michael Ranney 
395 East Broad Street, Suite 310 
Columbus, OH 43215 
Tel: (800) 783-1983

Past Recipients


Rafaella (“Rafi”) Jakubovic’s research focuses on elucidating predictors of risk and resilience among children, adolescents, and families exposed to trauma and chronic stress. The Families Coping with COVID-19 study is an online study that seeks to investigate the psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 crisis among ethnically diverse caregivers of school-aged children residing in low-income, underserved communities. The study will test whether the COVID-19 impact (e.g., infection, isolation, loss of employment, essential worker status); child psychosocial functioning; and caregiver and family psychosocial functioning at baseline predict child and caregiver internalizing and externalizing symptoms. It also will investigate the moderating role of contextual factors (e.g., multiple levels of support for the family, neighborhood cohesion or conflict) on the relations between COVID-19 impact and child and caregiver psychosocial functioning. Rafaella is a third-year student in the clinical psychology doctoral program at Temple University.

Lian Liu’s research focuses on interventions for promoting mental wellness and academic persistence of children, particularly those from underserved backgrounds and who have experienced trauma. During the COVID-19 pandemic, school staff, teachers, and administration have been a system of support and first responders for school-aged children. The negative effects of COVID-19 and other adverse childhood experiences may be exacerbated for children from diverse backgrounds. The strain on teachers can lead to increased stress, burnout, and ultimately turnover. Given the vital role they play in reducing the negative impact of trauma on children, it is important to understand the factors that contribute to teacher stress and burnout to best ameliorate their effects. The study examines how administrative support and dimensions of teacher self-efficacy related to teaching during the pandemic contribute to teachers’ stress, and how stress is related to teacher wellness outcomes, such as poorer mental health and burnout. Lian is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the counseling psychology program at Lehigh University.

Shola Shodiya-Zeumault’s research explores the role of resistance and collective action in mental health and wellbeing in communities affected by environmental racism. Environmental racism or disparities in exposure to environmental degradation, and the exclusion of racially marginalized communities from environmental leadership is one form of structural oppression with significant mental health consequences. Black women may be the most vulnerable to the mental health consequences of environmental injustice in the United States. This project examines the perspectives of Black women engaged in grassroots environmental activism on the ways in which their resistance to environmental injustice in their communities impacts their mental health and wellbeing, and that of their families and communities. This project may create opportunities for psychologists and community activists to co-create action-based therapeutic interventions that can reduce psychological distress related to environmental injustice. Shola is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in counseling psychology at Georgia State University. Please find out more about her work in this video.


Diane Keister’s research interests include disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder for underserved populations and the dissemination and implementation of culturally competent assessments and interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder and underserved populations. Her current research studies are investigating factors influencing treatment-seeking attitudes for individuals with developmental disabilities within indigenous populations using a community-based participatory research model. Keister, oringally from Richmond, Virginia, is a second-year student of the clinical psychology PhD program at Idaho State University.

Erica Peppers’ research interests explore the physiological impact of minority stressors on mental health and health inequities. Her current research aims to better understand the chronic stress of gendered racism by exploring its impact on salivary alpha amylase (sAA), for which there is emerging evidence for its use as a noninvasive and sensitive biomarker of chronic stress. I would like to understand how dysregulated physiological stress responses inform health disparities experienced by African American women. Clinical implications of this work include potential contributions to deciphering what innovative methods could be developed and sustained to help mental health practitioners better meet the needs of African American women in a culturally relevant manner. My goal is to provide evidence to practitioners of the chronic nature in which gendered racism is experienced, to inform culturally competent care and to improve psychotherapy outcomes for African American women. Peppers is a fifth-year counseling psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Tennessee.

Alec Smidt’s research focuses on the effects of interpersonal betrayal and institutional betrayal on those who have experienced these harms. Of particular interest to him is how institutional betrayal may exacerbate the effects of interpersonal trauma, and how certain groups (e.g., women, sexual and gender minorities) may be more at risk than others for experiencing both interpersonal and institutional betrayal in a variety of institutional contexts. Alec’s dissertation investigated how institutional courage (i.e., supportive, validating and comprehensive responses to reports of harm) and institutional betrayal affect psychological and physical health, as well as workplace outcomes, for individuals who have experienced sexual harassment in their workplaces. Currently, he is focusing on adapting Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for transgender and gender-expansive youth, as well as characterizing non-suicidal self-injury in this population. Smidt is is a psychology fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine. He is also a PhD candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Oregon.


There were three recipients of the Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship in 2019.

Alena Borgatti’s research investigates whether social networks are implicated in differential response to weight loss treatment among African-American and Caucasian participants with obesity. Social Network Analysis (SNA) will be assessed across four predominantly African-American weight loss groups at eight weeks, six months, and one year into treatment to assess whether group social ties can improve attendance and weight loss. This study is theoretically and clinically innovative in several ways, as it will be the first to: a) compare networks of in-group social support between African American and Caucasian participants in regards to weight loss; b) examine social networks in a behavioral weight loss program for adults; c) evaluate the impact of social networks on racial disparities in behavioral weight loss treatment outcomes. Borgatti is a first-year student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Kyle Simon’s project is to conduct a confirmatory factor analysis on the Conceptual Future Parent Grief (CFPG) for LGBTQ+ individuals scale, a measure designed to assess conceptual grief that LGBTQ+ individuals may experience based on loss of a future parent identity. The CFPG scale has been found to show relationships with LGBTQ+ identity authenticity, depression, and perceived as well as enacted stigma, important preliminary evidence of conceptual future parent grief as a construct for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Additionally, Simon works on the “Stories and Experiences of LGBTQ+ Families from Youth” Project (SELFY) led by faculty adviser Rachel H. Farr, PhD, and has two ongoing collaborations: the first is with A.P. Bos PhD, (University of Amsterdam) and Samanth Tornello, PhD,(Penn State) as part of the Intended Parenthood Study, and the second with Stephen Russell, PhD, and Sara Mernitz, PhD, (University of Texas at Austin) investigates how LGB individuals conceptualize the meaning of kinship, family, and parenthood. Simon is a third-year student at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky.

C. Nicole White’s prior research found that black female college students were less likely to seek help after experiencing a sexual assault than their white peers. She aims to discover whether black female college students’ self-endorsement of "Strong Black Woman" mediates the relationship between experiencing traumatic life events and help-seeking in response to those events. This study represents an important step in better understanding the mechanisms of the Strong Black Woman image and its outcomes for black women. This will be the first study to connect self endorsement of Strong Black Woman to actual help-seeking behavior in response to a wide range of traumatic life events. The results from this study will inform future research on Strong Black Woman and how the stereotype may contribute to both positive and negative outcomes for black women, in addition to further explaining the low rates of help-seeking for black women following traumatic events. White is a fourth-year student at the University of South Carolina.


There were two recipients of the Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship in 2018.

Anna Abate’s research focuses on the relations between perceptions of the justice system, chances for success, ethnicity and recidivism among juvenile offenders. Moreover, her research includes investigating the role of trauma in the development of aggression and stereotype threat on offending patterns and aggression in inpatient adolescents and justice‐involved youth as well as the impact of racial differences in parental expectations on parental dysfunctional discipline. Currently, she examines neurobiological and social cognitive mechanisms associated with the mental and behavioral outcomes of stereotype threat in a police encounter among minority young adults. As the first study to examine the relations among stereotype threat, social cognition, cortisol/testosterone, aggression and affective states, her research seeks to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms by which stereotype threat relates to psychopathology in minority young adults. Abate is a third-year doctoral student at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

Kathleen Collins’ research explores the intersection of LGBTQ mental health and psychotherapy process work through the use of mixed methodology. Her recent projects include testing the ability of online expressing writing interventions to reduce distress in LGBTQ adults who have experienced heterosexism and conducting a task analysis of these writing responses to identify micro‐processes that progress in productive and unproductive ways. Her current project uses grounded theory to analyze interviews with participants who completed the aforementioned study to understand what they found helpful about the process of expressive writing. Through this work, Kathleen aims to gain a nuanced understanding of how people derive benefits from expressive writing so as to inform the development of low‐cost, population‐specific and empirically‐supported interventions that help LGBTQ people heal from experiences of marginalization. Collins is a second-year doctoral student in clinical psychology at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.


There were two recipients of the Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship in 2017.

Liz Weber Ollen’s research focuses broadly on diverse couples and families, with an emphasis on adversity and trauma through the use of qualitative methodology. Her past work included examining adverse experiences of LGBTQ families formed through foster care and adoption, including the impact of public policy on family dynamics. More recently, Liz has explored help seeking in LGBTQ communities related to accessing couples therapy, brief relationship interventions, and resources for dating violence/sexual assault. Her dissertation marries her interests of LGBTQ couples, interpersonal trauma, and help seeking to explore the ways in which diverse women navigate experiences of interpersonal trauma in same‐sex relationships. In an effort to include the voices of those who have multiple marginalized identities, Liz deliberately aims to include diverse samples in her work on LGBTQ issues and often utilizes a minority stress framework. Ollen is a fifth-year doctoral student in clinical psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Madison Silverstein’s research Scholars Committed to Opportunities in Psychological Education (SCOPE) aims to reduce education disparities amongst individuals of color by providing culturally competent mentoring and training to undergraduate students of color who are interested in pursuing graduate education in psychology. SCOPE’s mission is to strengthen relationships between faculty and participants, increase participant knowledge of the graduate application process and provide participants with resources they need to be successful applicants to psychology graduate programs. At this time, more than 40 undergraduates of color have graduated from the SCOPE program, with the majority seeing a decrease in their stress levels about applying and an increase in self‐efficacy, confidence and knowledge about the application process and the GRE. Silverstein is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Auburn University Clinical Psychology program.


There were two recipients of the Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship in 2016.

Stacy Ko’s study tests a moderated mediation model in examining the link between family appearance-focus, perfectionism and body image dissatisfaction in the South Korean college student population. The results from this study serve to specifically delineate the development and intensification of body image dissatisfaction among Korean college students, thus having the potential to contribute to interventions that might mitigate the impact of factors contributing to body image concerns. Ko is a Korean-American student in the counseling psychology department at Iowa State University.

Chassitty Whitman’s research seeks to elucidate the complex processes of gender identity development among non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals. In addition, her project seeks to understand relationships between experiences of gender-based discrimination and/or victimization and mental health (flourishing, grit) and psychopathology (depression, anxiety) among individuals who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming. Whitman is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at the City University of New York.


There were two recipients of the Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship in 2015.

Caitlin Cavanagh’s research focuses on the overrepresentation of Latino youth in the juvenile justice system. To understand the mechanisms of support that may differ among Latino and non-Latino youth, it is necessary to investigate the primary support system for youth on probation: their parents. Cavanagh’s study examines justice system treatment, offending trajectories and how the youth-mother dyad dynamically responds to justice system contact for Hispanic/Latino families. Using a sample of first-time youth offenders and their mothers interviewed longitudinally, Cavanagh’s goal is to develop a cultural framework around which to create recommendations for policy makers. Cavanagh received her bachelor of arts from the University of Rochester and is currently in her final year of the PhD program in developmental psychology at The University of California, Irvine.

Barbara Wood Roberts’ research explores whether culture has an impact on the accuracy of perspective-taking and pain perception in a health care setting. Roberts’ project will illuminate the scientific community and the public about the differences in how we listen to each other in one of society’s most important relationships: the patient-provider dyad. Adding to the body of information about the ways that cultural interactions effect health care disparities means the results of this study can possibly play a role in the reduction and eventual elimination of such disparities. Roberts received her bachelor of humanities from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is currently a second-year PhD student in experimental psychology at Idaho State University.


Two winners out of a competitive field of 20 were selected. 

Calia A. Torres of the University of Alabama focused on furthering the understanding of the pain experience and pain management strategies used by Hispanic patients with chronic pain, who are served at the Federally Qualified Health Center in Central Alabama. Her qualitative approach evaluates cultural influences to determine their relationship to pain management disparities among Hispanic patients and seeks to identify potential cultural determinants in the way Hispanics report and manage pain. 

Jeremy J. Eggleston of Fordham University examines the concept of post-traumatic growth following diagnosis of HIV/AIDS in minority-identified populations, often facing double stigmas of both ethnic minority status and sexual orientation. These stigmas often create impediments to accessing medical and mental health care. This research will examine the factors that work to promote a personal growth model of adjustment amidst chronic and pervasive levels of social-cultural stigma and shame.


Two winners out of a competitive field of 20 applicants were selected. 

Jin Kim's research examines disparities in mental health treatment access, utilization, and outcomes in ethnic minority populations, with a particular emphasis on Asian Americans. This study in particular examines psychosocial barriers and facilitators of help-seeking among Asian American college students who are in psychological distress. The overarching goal is to better understand why underutilization has persisted as a major disparity among Asian Americans, and how to address this problem to close the gap in unmet need. 

David Lick's research integrates methods from various disciplines to better understand prejudice against members of stigmatized groups. He is especially interested in how low-level features of the target (e.g., facial features, body shape, body motion) and higher-level features of the perpetrator (e.g., identity threat, intergroup contact) interactively shape prejudice in the early moments of person perception. His upcoming study will test how visual exposure to masculine faces affects evaluative biases against real women who vary in their gendered appearance.


Two winners out of a competitive field of 23 applicants were selected. 

Marisa Franco's research is focused on health outcomes for people of Black/White mixed race heritage. She is investigating the physiological responses to race-related stressors for this under-studied and at-risk group. The study will assess whether racial identification and levels of chronic social invalidation influences physiological stress responses to race-related stressors. 

Anahi Collado-Rodriguez is her third year of graduate study. Her research is focused on evaluating a novel depression treatment, Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression (BATD), in Latinos with limited English language proficiency. BATD has demonstrated efficacy but has not been evaluated in Latinos.


The winner of the 2011 Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship is Ana Fernandez, MA, of Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus. The Sullivan Scholarship Award helped fund Fernandez's dissertation research titled, "Bilingual Hispanics and Linguistic Cues to Self-Construal." This research is intended to further the understanding of how use of a particular language influences bilingual Latino immigrants' conscious and unconscious sense of self.


The winner of the 2010 Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship was Ariz Rojas, MA. Rojas is in the fifth year at the College of Arts and Sciences/University of South Florida (USF). The Sullivan Scholarship Award will help fund Rojas' dissertation research. Rojas is in the Doctoral Training Program in Clinical Psychology at USF. She is actively involved in USF's chapter of Psi Chi National Honor Society in Psychology, the University Psychology Association and the USF psychology department. Her dissertation is entitled, "The Role of Acculturation in Adolescent Mental Health and Academic Achievement: Mediational Pathways." This research is intended to further the understanding of developmental processes within Hispanic families. This research is clinically relevant with implications for how to help families function better.


In 2009, Sangetta Parikshak, MS, was the winner. Parikshak is in the clinical child psychology doctoral program at the University of Kansas. Parikshak was a past recipient of the American Psychological Association's Minority Fellowship. Her research involved examining the motivation for academic success in low-income African-American youth. This research was conducted in conjunction with Operation Breakthrough, a Kansas City, Missouri community organization that serves 600 low income African-American children, ages 1-16.


The 2008 winner was Janelle Hines, MA, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cincinnati. Hines research project enlisted youth with sickle cell disease to develop educational materials and programs to inform the community about sickle cell disease and empower youth living with the disease.

Last updated: May 2021Date created: August 2014