Cultural Diversity & Adolescent Development Research Lab

Principal Investigator

Maria I. Iturbide, Ph.D.

Maria is a developmental psychologist whose program of research focuses on understanding cultural factors associated with adolescent and young adult well-being. Specifically, her work concentrates on ethnic identity development, acculturation, acculturative stress, diveristy, equity, and inclusion and their links academic success, social development, risk behaviors, and positive development. She utilizes quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods in her research.


Current Lab Members

Francesca Messina

Co-Lab Manager


Francesca is a first year graduate student at Cal Poly Humboldt pursuing a master’s degree in academic research of developmental psychology. Her research interests include increasing cultural humility in mental health practices and developing effective methods for early detection of serious mental illness in diverse populations. Francesca looks forward to increasing her experience with culturally diverse research within the lab.

Bernardo Sosa-Rosales

Co-Lab Manager 

Bernardo is currently a graduate student in the Academic Research psychology program with an emphasis in developmental psychology. They are interested in the importance of cultural psychological concepts such as acculturation, minority stressors and how that impacts students in predominantly white institutions. Joining the lab was a no brainer for them as helping alongside creating and conducting studies with historically underrepresented groups


Leti Armenta Villa

Leti  joined the lab to gain knowledge in reading, conducting and applying research. Seeing the lack of diversity in psychological services pushes Leti to approach research with a cultural perspective to be a better asset to her community. In the future, with the knowledge gained in this lab, she hopes to have a better interpretative approach to aid communication with individuals who have a language barrier and the psychological services they might need. Leti wants to work with minority groups and be a resource that helps them further develop in their areas of interest.

Santos Beltran

Santos is currently a senior who is expected to graduate with a Bachelors degree in Psychology by the end of Fall 2023. They are interested in pursuing a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) at Cal Poly Humboldt. They would like to become a therapist who specializes in working with children who have gone through trauma. They joined the research lab due to an interest in analyzing the ways cultural diversity and identity affect different aspects of social identity and how identity is formed. Studying research that deals with minority groups through this lab will equip them with knowledge that will be essential in their future endeavors.


Melissa Torres Escalante

Melissa is currently a senior student in the Psychology program at Cal Poly Humboldt and is expected to graduate in Spring 2023. Her future plans include returning to Cal Poly Humboldt as a graduate student in the Academic Research program. The reason why she decided to join the lab was to gain new insight and knowledge working under Dr. Iturbide, as well as exploring new areas within the field of cultural psychology.

How to get involved

Contact Dr. Iturbide at

Conference Presentations

(*indicates student authors)

*Jimenez-Madora, E., *Bumgardner, E., *Sosa-Rosales, B., Cherry, K. D., Iturbide, M. I., & Villarreal, B. (2022, April). The impact of COVID-19 on academic stress and achievement goal orientations in college students. Poster to be presented at the annual meeting for the Western Psychological Association, Portland OR.

*Sosa-Rosales, B., *Perez, A., *Jimenez-Madora, E., *Bumgardner, E., *Cherry, K. D., & Iturbide, M. I. (2022, April). Minority stress and psychological adjustments moderated by stress appraisals. Poster to be presented at the annual meeting for the Western Psychological Association, Portland OR.

*Timin, S., Iturbide, M. I., Villarreal, B., *Sosa-Rosales, B., & *Jimenez-Madora, E. (2022, April). Threat stress appraisals moderate the relationship between social support and degree commitment. Poster to be presented at the annual meeting for the Western Psychological Association, Portland OR.

Villarreal, B. Iturbide, M. I., *Jimenez-Madora, E., *Magallanes, S., *Lara, L., & *Armenta Villa, L. (2022, April). Students’ experiences with diversity, equity, and inclusion in research methods courses. Poster to be presented at the annual meeting for the Western Psychological Association, Portland OR.

*Cherry K. D., *Foster, A., *Sosa-Rosales, B., *Estrada, D., *Mixon, K., & Iturbide, M. I. (2021, April). College students’ virtual involvement at an HSI: Positive outcomes for some. Poster accepted for the annual meeting for the Western Psychological Association, virtual conference.

*Foster, A., *Cherry, K. D., *Salazar, T. A., & Iturbide, M. I. (2021, April). College students’ club involvement: Benefits in school connectedness. Poster presented at the annual meeting for the Western Psychological Association, virtual conference.

*Cherry, K. D., *Davis, M, *Salazar, T. A., *Sosa-Rosales B., *Kirakosyan, T., *Foster, A., *Jimenez-Madora, E., *Mariscal, M., *Delluna, K., *Estrada, D., Iturbide, M. I., & Villarreal, B. (2021, April). College students’ hardiness: Predicted by perceived stress and explained by stress appraisals. Poster presented at the biennial meeting for the Society for Research on Child Development, virtual conference.

*Sosa-Rosales B., *Cherry, K. D., *Estrada, D., *Foster, A., *Jimenez-Madora, E., *Kirakosyan, T., *Mariscal, M., *Davis, M, & Iturbide, M. I. (2021, April). Ethnic identity as a buffer between negative campus experiences and psychological distress. Poster presented at the biennial meeting for the Society for Research on Child Development, virtual conference.

*Cherry, K. D., * Sosa-Rosales, B., *Villa, K. B., Villarreal, B., & Iturbide, M. I. (2020, March). Acculturative stress and hardiness in college students of colors’ academic performance, internalized, and externalized behavior. Poster presented at the biennial meeting for the Society for Research on Adolescence, San Diego, CA (conference cancelled).Presented virtually March 2021.

*Taylor, J. R., * Sosa-Rosales, B., Iturbide, M. I., & *Kirakosyan, T. M. (2020, March). College students acculturative stress and wellbeing: Examining school connectedness as a moderator. Poster presented at the biennial meeting for the Society for Research on Adolescence, San Diego, CA (conference cancelled).

*Roberts, H. R., *Aksionczyk, S. E., *Kirakosyan, T. M., & Iturbide, M. I. (2019, May). Threat appraisals: Mediator of acculturative stress and wellbeing among Armenian Americans. Poster presented at the annual Humboldt State University’s IDEA Fest, Arcata, CA.

*Velasquez, G., * Sosa-Rosales, B., *Liscano, M., *Kirakosyan, T. M., & Iturbide, M. I. (2019, May). Examining the validity of the Multidimensional Acculturative Stress Inventory adapted for Armenian Americans. Poster presented at the annual Humboldt State University’s IDEA Fest, Arcata, CA.

Iturbide, M. I., & Hayes, R.(2019, March). Diversity and inclusion in teaching: Do students notice our efforts? Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society of Research on Child Development for their Developmental Science Teaching Institute. Baltimore, MD.

*Kirakosyan, T. M., *Hansen, M., *Gastelum-Hernandez, G., *Avila, A. & Iturbide, M. I. (2018, April). Perceived stress as a predictor of college students' self-esteem and school connectedness. Poster presented at the annual Humboldt State University’s IDEA Fest, Arcata, CA.

Previous 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 majored 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.

Zaida Carling

Zaida graduated with a bachelors in psychology and a minor in ethnic studies. She is interested in becoming a therapist and working with lower income communities and minority groups. She is interested in getting her masters in Marriage and Family Therapy at Fresno State University. She chose to join this research lab because she feels like more research needs to be done involving people of color and she feels like what she learns here will give her knowledge and tools to work with minority groups in the future.

Delilah Cervantes

Delilah Cervantes gradauted from 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.

Kathryn Delluna

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Kathryn Delluna graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Kathryn joined the lab to gain experience in research. Kathryn is interested in working with children and adolescents that are located within the community of Humboldt County’s education system. She is interested in research about mental health and family relationships. Kathryn plans to continue her education after graduating and obtaining her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.

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.

Esmeralda Espinoza

Esmeralda Espinoza  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 grdauted 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 gradauted from psychology program at Cal Poly Humboldt with  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. 

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.

Tsolak Michael Kirakosyan 


Tsolak Michael Kirakosyan graduated with a Bachelor’s in Psychology at Cal Poly Humboldt and 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.

Miami Liscano 

Miami Liscano graduated from psychology program and with 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.

Ahmad Logan

Ahmad is a Humboldt State graduate with a Bachelors in Psychology. He is currently applying for his Masters in Forensic Psychology. He aspires to become a Forensics Psychologist in hopes of assisting the DOJ with those in need of help. He has rejoined Maria’s lab to gain more research experience.

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.

Shelley Magallanes

Shelley (They/Them/Elle) is a Psychology graduate from Cal Poly Humboldt and is in their second year working in the CDAD lab. They plan to pursue their master’s degree in the future. In the meantime, they work to expand the capacity of university sexual violence prevention organizations through the nonprofit, Recognize Violence, Change Culture (RVCC). They are passionate about providing access to resources and support to communities of color and the queer community, and enjoy utilizing their love of art to encourage others to stand up against systemic violence.


Yadira Mendoza

Yadira Mendoza double majored 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 graduated from the undergraduate psychology program with 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 stuided psychology and journalism at Humboldt. She is from the city of Rosemead, located in Los Angeles. Victoria worked 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. 

Rosalina Ortega

Rosalina Ortega graduated with a BA in psychology. She plans to pursue a master's degree to further her education because she is interested in working with youth in the incarcerated system. She joined this research lab because she wanted to obtain experience in research as well as learn more about cultural diversity. 


Karla Moreno

Karla Moreno graduated with B.A in psychology and a Masters in he school psychology 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. 

Aubrey Pellicano

Aubrey Pellicano was 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.

Briana Quinteros 

Briana Quinteros graduated 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  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 graduated 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. 

Esmeralda Ruiz

Esmeralda Ruiz majored 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. 

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.

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 graduated 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.

Karen Villa

Karen Villa graduated with a Bachelor’s in psychology and 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.

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.

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.