Cultural Diversity & Adolescent Development Research Lab

Principal Investigator

Maria I. Iturbide, Ph.D.

Maria’s program of research focuses on understanding factors associated with adolescent well-being. In the last few years her research has evolved from examining ethnic minority families to focusing on Latino adolescents’ internalizing and externalizing behavior. Specifically, her work concentrates on ethnic identity development, acculturation, acculturative stress, and their link to adolescent risk behavior and positive development. She utilizes quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods in her research.



Poster - Perceived Stress as a Predictor of College Students' Self-Esteem and School Connectedness

Graduate Lab Members


Tsolak Michael Kirakosyan, Lab Manager

Tsolak Michael Kirakosyan graduated with a Bachelor’s in Psychology at Cal Poly Humboldt and is currently pursuing a Master’s in academic research under the guidance of Dr. Iturbide. He explored numerous research labs in the psychology department before realizing that his true passion lies in identity studies from both a social and developmental perspective. His research looks at ethnic identity as a buffer against the detrimental effects of acculturation stress. Being of Armenian descent, his research will look at the Armenian-American experience. He hopes that his research will guide strategies to ease the experiences of both immigrants and native-born ethnic minorities.

Karla Moreno

Karla Moreno graduated spring 2018 with a B.A in psychology. She is currently commencing her first semester in the school psychology graduate program at Humboldt. Her interest includes the experience of minority students, specifically immigrant students, and the impact this places on their academic achievements. In addition, she is interested in research involving ethnic identity and acculturation within first and second generation. As a first-generation migrant student, she hopes to adopt intervention strategies within the academic setting and plans on assisting educators to adopt models of social support and classroom competence. 

Karen Villa

Karen Villa graduated with a Bachelor’s in psychology. Is currently working on a Masters in Academic Research with an emphasis in Developmental Psychology. Her interests include cultural diversity and its effects in academic achievement, as well as the resilience in adolescents. She hopes to do research that will further provide inclusivity for young Latinx students and their academic performance.

Sarai Escalante

Sarai Escalante obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology in 2018 from Cal Poly Humboldt and is currently in her first year in the Academic Research Master's Program. Being a first-generation and immigrant, her current research focus on dual-identity on immigrant students and she is interested in moral development, prejudice especially speciesism, and anxiety disorder related to acculturation.

Undergraduate Lab Members

Klaudia E. Acosta

Klaudia Acosta is in her 4th year at Humboldt where she studies psychology as an undergraduate. She has always been interested in teaching after graduating or working with first generation college students. Being a first-generation college student herself, it’s important to her to help students navigate their way around a college campus for the first time. Working with others is something that she has always been passionate about and psychology has helped find many different fields she’s interested in.

Octavio Alvarez Hernandez Jr 

Octavio Alvarez is a Psychology Major with a minor in Philosophy. His main interest is in cognitive psychology and would like to continue research in that subfield, however he is also interested in helping inner city children by one day becoming a social worker or a teacher. He hopes this lab can help him further understand the factors and circumstances these children face in order to help them more efficiently. 

Shaun Aksionczyk

Shaun E. Aksionczyk is in his Senior year at Cal Poly Humboldt. He is majoring in psychology with a communications minor. Having the unique experience of growing up around many ethnic-cultures in Hawai’i and being of Puerto Rican, Filipino, and Russian descent motivate him to learn more about cultural psychology in lab. Specifically, seeing how people operate through a cultural lens. He plans to pursue a Clinical Psychology Psy D and hopes to end up back on one of the islands working with children and families.

Delilah Cervantes

Delilah Cervantes is a third year undergraduate here are Cal Poly Humboldt with a major in Psychology and a minor in Multicultural Queer Studies. She hopes to take a more clinical approach to psychology once entering graduate school in hopes of being able to work in a hospital setting with children/adolescents that have mental and terminal illness. In addition, she is interested in research on how mental health, sexual and gender identities as accepted or perceived in different cultures and the impact this may have on an individual's path to personal acceptance and expression.

Esmeralda Espinoza

Esmeralda Espinoza is in her final year of the undergraduate psychology program at Humboldt. Her interest to psychology consists of wanting to learn about the various behaviors humans show, including the different ways of problem-solving. She specifically wants to focus her studies as a marriage family therapist to help work with minority groups among different cultures.  


Erick Fuentes

Erick Fuentes will be graduating in spring 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He recently joined this lab to further obtain experience in research. He was intrigued with the elements that ultimately have an affect on the well-being of adolescents. He further wishes to pursue his graduate studies in school psychology, providing educational and psychological services within children and youth from diverse backgrounds. 

Desiree Garcia

Desiree is in her 3rd year of the undergraduate psychology program at Cal Poly Humboldt and is also obtaining a minor in family studies. She is interested in working with Latinx students in the school environment, as well as families from different cultural backgrounds. Once she graduates for Humboldt, she looks forward to attending graduate school and furthering her education. 

Miami Liscano

Miami Liscano is in their final year at Humboldt in the undergraduate psychology program and getting a minor in sociology with a focus on criminal justice. They are interested in forensic psychology and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) also People of Color (POC) adolescences. Being a person of color and LGBT Miami is interested in seeing how LGBT and POC adolescences are treated in the system and ways to help them avoid committing crime. They hope to continue their work in getting a Master's degree and help contribute research to the field.

Yadira Mendoza

Yadira Mendoza is a senior at Cal Poly Humboldt who is double majoring in Business Administration and Psychology. She uses aspects of psychology, such as understanding the critical role mental and emotional factors play in influencing an individual, towards her emphasis in marketing. Furthermore, she is interested in understanding internal and external factors associated with the development and well-being of individuals, especially those that belong to minority groups. Upon graduation, she hopes to continue her graduate studies on either developmental or behavioral psychology.

Charles Moore

Charles Moore is a senior in Humboldt's undergraduate psychology program and is pursuing a minor in Multicultural Queer Studies. His interests include LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and more) topics and the intersections of queer identity and race. Particularly, he wants to contribute to the growing body of research on transgender identities and use the research to promote and improve transgender inclusion.

Victoria Nazario

Victoria Nazario is a senior at Cal Poly Humboldt, currently studying psychology and journalism. She is from the city of Rosemead, located in Los Angeles. Victoria currently works at the Latinx Center for Academic Excellence and Cal Poly Humboldt’s food pantry, Oh Snap. She has always had interest in human development and cultural diversity. However, her passion is in public health, specifically women’s health. On her free time, she writes for the bilingual newspaper, El Leñador. After college, Victoria plans on going back to Los Angeles with her loved ones, and hopes to continue her education in women’s health. 

Briana Quinteros

Briana Quinteros is a psychology major in her last semester at Humboldt, graduating in fall 2018. She plans to pursue a degree in counseling psychology and possibly continue with a PhD program in order to be a college professor. Briana is interested in creating an inclusive environment for her future clients and students, hoping to be a source of comfort for those from diverse backgrounds. 

Danny Reyes-Lopez

Danny Reyes is a 4th year psychology major originally from Riverside, CA. He came to Humboldt for the great weather and adventurous hikes! After college he is planning on attending grad school at the University of California Riverside (UCR) where he is ultimately studying to be a high school teacher.

Hayley Roberts

Hayley is currently a senior at Cal Poly Humboldt, planning to graduate in the fall of 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Specifically, she is interested in Developmental Psychology and currently works with toddler-aged children at the Humboldt Children’s Center. After graduation, Hayley plans to combine this passion and work experience and pursue a master’s degree in social work. 

Bernardo Sosa-Rosales

Bernardo is currently a senior in the undergraduate psychology program. He is interested in the importance of culture/diversity and how it brings various forms of thinking across individuals with different experiences, thought processes and behaviors because of that cultural variation. In the near future, he is focused on attending Graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in Counseling to provide diverse individuals with the tools and support needed for a mentally healthy wellbeing.

Esmeralda Ruiz

Esmeralda Ruiz is a 3rd-year undergraduate student majoring in psychology and Spanish. She has always had a passion for learning about the complex ways humans think and behave, which is what ultimately led her to switch her major from kinesiology to psychology. As a first-generation college student herself, she is interested in learning how others, especially ethnic minorities, adapt to the environments around them and the impacts it may have on their academic achievement and ethnic identity. 

Amanda Tarin

Amanda Tarin is in her last year in the undergraduate psychology program at Cal Poly Humboldt. She is interested in social psychology with specific interests in diversity, inclusivity, equity, and culture. She is looking forward to attending graduate school after her graduation and wishes to pursue research in culture and the societal acceptance of diversity and inclusivity.

Juliana (Jewels) Taylor 

Jewels is in her senior year of the undergraduate psychology program. Currently, she works in applied behavioral analysis, but is interested in pursuing a master's degree in School Psychology. The main focus of her studies is to help students succeed academically with support and resources.

Giselle Velasquez

Giselle plans to graduate with a Bachelor's in Psychology and a minor in Business Management Spring 2019 from Cal Poly Humboldt. Though, very much interested in the various disciplines' psychology has to offer, she wishes to pursue greater involvement in the realms of sociocultural, and cognitive psychology. She plans to pursue an MS degree in engineering psychology with a focus in development and evaluation of auditory and multimodal interfaces and incorporate it on a multi-cultural level.

Maya Williams

Maya Williams is a Senior at Cal Poly Humboldt and is receiving her undergraduate degree in Psychology. She is interested in pursuing a career in family therapy with a focus on grief counseling. She believes that the African American community needs more resources and awareness when dealing with mental health issues.


Previous Lab Members

Geyra Gastelum-Hernandez

Geyra Gastelum-Hernandez is interested in forensic psychology. She currently works at the Humboldt County juvenile hall as a Correctional Officer, and is interested in research having to do with juveniles in the system and how physiological, sociocultural, demographics affect their lifestyle. She is a Latina and that's another reason why she is interested in research with Dr. Iturbide. She is interested in how coming to a rural area from a big city can psychologically, mentally, and physically affect the wellbeing of a student who cannot find a comforting community that they can thrive in.

Melissa Hansen

Melissa Hansen’s main interest for her career in psychology is focusing on adversive childhood experiences and childhood trauma, and how those impact us later in life as far as our emotion and social development. She joined this lab because it gives her the opportunity to learn more about the development of people with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and how their experiences affect their social and emotional development.

Hector Lopez

Hector graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and minor in Multicultural Queer Studies in Spring 2018. Hector is currently on a gap year before pursuing a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. Hector’s interest in Counseling Psychology includes human sexuality and cross-cultural intervention, and is interested in how sociocultural identities influences mental health – especially amongst minority groups. Since joining Dr. Iturbide’s research lab, they have contemplated possibly exploring a doctoral degree in the future, thanks in part to Dr. Iturbide’s “¿y por qué no?” (and why not?) attitude.

Aubrey Pellicano

Aubrey Pellicano is a Master’s student in the Psychology Department’s Academic Research program at Cal Poly Humboldt. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from California State University, Long Beach where she worked as a research assistant in the Culture and Social Identity Development Lab. Aubrey spent two years working and volunteering for nonprofit organizations focused on children, adolescents, and young adults. She plans to pursue a PhD in Developmental Psychology and is interested in studying cultural and social effects on performance and engagement in education.

Danielle Siegel

Danielle Siegel is in her final year of the undergraduate psychology program at Humboldt. She currently works in a behavioral health organization that applies the principles of applied behavioral analysis (ABA) in family settings. Her interests pertinent to the lab include looking at the experiences of people of color who also belong to a sexual minority group, and how the unique combination of these factors affect the health and lives of these individuals.

Mai D. Vue

As a psychology student with a minor in Communication, Mai Vue is interested in how language shapes cultural identity and family communication. She is interested in how different communication styles affect parenting, work and family life, and individual resilience. She wants to use her research to help families communicate more effectively and to help organizations better assist the needs of families.