Emerging Scholars Fellowship / News from Active Minds

Meet Our 2018 Class of Emerging Scholar Fellows!

Active Minds is excited to introduce the incredible 2018 Class of Emerging Scholar Fellows, six young researchers participating in an Active Minds fellowship to study mental health. Over the next five months, the scholars will conduct research and work on completing their fellowship projects.

More information about the scholars:

Andre Banerjee, The Ohio State University

Project Title: Beyond the Therapeutic: Addressing Mental Health Through Landscape

Andre Banerjee is a senior at The Ohio State University majoring in landscape architecture. He is interested in how we as humans interact with the built environment and how design can be used as a medium to address different issues. He is the president of the Active Minds chapter at Ohio State. As a self-described visual and design-oriented person, landscape architecture appealed to Andre as a way to combine his interests to hopefully make an impact, even if it is small, for the future.

This project is focused on how the design of the outdoor built environment on college campuses influences mental health. Andre seeks to uncover what specific features of the landscape and built environment contribute to feelings of fear and anxiety. Read more here.

Bryanna Jones, Ursinus College

Project Title: Forging a Space of Our Own: The Impact of Affinity Housing on the Psychological Wellbeing of Black Students

As a third-year student at Ursinus College and the 2017 Teagle Diversity Fellow, Bryanna Jones conducted independent research on the ways in which affinity housing impacts the psychological well being of Black students on predominantly white campuses. Her research underscored the importance of physical safe spaces for ethnic-racial minority groups.

Her project will take a strengths-based approach (Coghlan & Brydon–Miller, 2014), drawing upon not only the challenges facing Black students but the strengths they bring when coping with racially insensitive experiences in higher education; in order to better understand how to support their college experience. Read more here.

Brian Keum, University of Maryland, College Park

Bruce C. Abrams Foundation Scholar
Project Title: The Impact of Storytelling on Men’s Psychological Help-seeking Attitudes: The Effects of Online Video

Brian Keum is a fourth-year counseling psychology Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland-College Park. He and his advisor Dr. Matthew J. Miller are examining mental health correlates (e.g., coping self-efficacy) of racism, attitudes toward seeking medical and psychological help, health-related issues of the elderly population, and research on acculturation processes. Brian is particularly interested in examining the often-overlooked experiences of marginalization in training, health, and other aspects.

The aim of the study is to harness the potential of storytelling and test the efficacy of a brief, online video intervention for reducing men’s self-stigmatizing beliefs and promoting positive psychological help-seeking attitudes. Read more here.

Meghana Nallajerla, University of Pennsylvania

Project Title: Perceptions of Depression in South Asian Immigrants

Meghana Nallajerla is an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying psychology and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. Through her academics and activism, she has worked to empower South Asian communities, while also bringing an interdisciplinary approach to her field. Her research has especially been informed by a desire to bridge the gap between academia and the grassroots community.

Through this project, Meghana aims to understand the relationship between migration, acculturation, and perceptions of depression in first and second generation South Asian immigrants. Immigrants, despite being some of the fastest growing communities in the United States, are often the least studied. Given that this is a rapidly expanding population that is also at greater risk for disorders such as depression, it is important to understand their perceptions and build foundational knowledge on Asian/immigrant communities so that appropriate cultural interventions may be furthered. Read more here.

Tolulope Ola, Argosy University, Twin Cities

Stephen C. Rose Legacy Scholar
Project Title: Matters of the Mind: Exploring African Immigrant/Refugee Youths Mental Health using Photovoice Strategy

Tolulope Ola holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Demography and Social Statistics from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Master of Science degree in Medical Sociology and a PhD in Population Studies from University of Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria. Recently, Tolulope earned a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Public Health from Argosy University, Twin Cities in Eagan, Minnesota, and is pursuing a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Marriage & Family Therapy at the same university.

Tolulope will research whether or not African Immigrant/Refugee youths’ conceptualization and perception of mental health have any effect on their mental health. Read more here.

Ashley Villarta, California State University, East Bay

Bruce C. Abrams Foundation Scholar
Project Title: The Science of Burnout and How to Prevent It

Ashley Villarta is a post-baccalaureate student at CSU East Bay Pre-Professional Health Program, intending to become a physician. Ashley first became interested in mental health after developing depression during her undergraduate years at University of California, Berkeley. Since then, she has addressed her illness head-on, studying Neurobiology and Conflict Resolution.

The project will research the ways in which burnout and chronic stress affect the brain and body physiologically and the social factors/social determinants of burnout. The research will also focus on the different treatments, coping strategies, and therapies for combatting burnout. Read more here.


The Active Minds Emerging Scholars Fellowship is generously supported by the Scattergood Foundation for Behavioral Health. We would also like to thank the Steve Fund and Bruce C. Abrams Foundation for their generous support of three scholars.