Principle Investigator & Lab Director

Dr. Alli Cipra

Dr. Cipra is the director of the Social Development Lab (SDL) at Governors State University. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology. She received her PhD in Human Development from Indiana University. Prior to joining the faculty at Governors State University in 2014, she served as faculty at Siena Heights University. As a systems theorist, her interests are wide-ranging and interdisciplinary. One of her main lines of research focuses on the development of resilience across the lifespan. A second theme focuses on the transition to college, particularly for underrepresented groups.

Curriculum Vitae

Lab Coordinator

Jessica Beckmann

Jessica Beckmann is the Lab Coordinator for the Social Development Lab. She began a Master’s of Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Governors State University in Fall 2020. She served in the lab as an undergraduate Research Assistant for a year and a half prior to her current position as lab coordinator. Jessica’s research interests are focused around gender disparities and trauma, along with societal expectations may impact individual development.


Research Assistants

David Swanson

David Swanson is an advanced standing graduate student in the Department of Social Work. His research interests are rooted in trauma, concentrated on children and families. He also served as an undergraduate research assistant in 2018-2019 with the social development lab. Before this, he served in the 2019 GSU-UIC GUIDE Summer Fellowship for Cancer Research, focusing on minority populations in cancer disparities research. He aspires to research trauma and social determinants of health to advocate for social justice through clinical practice.

Rachel Beckmann

Rachel Beckmann is a Research Assistant and has been involved in the lab for two years. Beckmann is in her third year of pursuing a degree in English with a double minor in Psychology and Marketing. She is interested in research pertaining to societal expectations and the impact such expectations have on one's identity.

James Zumhagen

James Zumhagen is a senior at GSU majoring in pre-medicine biology. This is his second year as part of the Social Development Lab. He is currently on track to enter an MD/PhD program post-graduation and has a strong interest in research.

Mireli Cortez

Mireli (Ellie) Cortez is a senior at Governors State University studying psychology with a concentration in pre-clinical psychology and minoring in philosophy. She is interested in working with children from the Latinx community and combating the community's mental health stigma. She is also interested in research that relates to how childhood trauma affects adolescents' resilience.

Ruben Lopez

Ruben Lopez is a junior majoring in Pre-clinical Psychology with additional interest in Gender Studies. He has interest in clinical community counseling psychology in higher education.

Eunice Gomez

Eunice Gomez is a junior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Addictions. She has an interest in psychology, specifically in education and health disparities. In her free time, she enjoys baking and volunteering within her community.

Victoria Gutierrez (Bio coming soon.)


External Research Assistants

Ruqia Alzoubi is a software engineer, with almost two years of experience working in the field. She has an interest in psychology, specifically in the topic of parental personality and child development.

Grier Casagrande

Grier Casagrande is a post-bachelor research assistant at Governors State University who majored in Psychology with a concentration in pre-clinical, and a minor in addiction studies from the same institution. She is planning on attending graduate school for public policy and criminal justice in the near future, where she would like to focus on working with policies on drug education and harm reduction methods. Grier is also interested in educating drug harm reduction methods and about the opioid epidemic. In her free time, Grier loves to spend time with her two German Shepherds and (virtually) seeing her friends.

Joseph Stull

Joseph Stull is an external research assistant with Governors State University. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a double major in Neuroscience and Exercise Science, as well as a Spanish Minor. He also competed in Division 1 Athletics on the track and field team as a hammer thrower. After completing his undergraduate work, he went on to earn a Master of Public Health degree from Emory University. Following graduation, he worked in Johnson County, Kansas doing public health emergency preparedness. He is now planning to return to school to pursue a doctoral program in psychology. Joseph’s interests include family dynamics and specifically paternal bonding to children.