3rd Annual South Florida Student Research Symposium: Updates & Award Winners


If you were unable to attend our 3rd Annual South Florida Student Research Symposium, we have you covered. Read on for a synopsis of the day’s events and our conference winners!

Dr. Steven Proctor welcoming everyone to the Symposium

Senior Research Professor and Symposium Organizer, Dr. Steven Proctor, welcomed everyone to the symposium, and shared a number of research accomplishments from Miami campus faculty. He noted that the Miami campus has tripled the number of peer-reviewed publications in the past 3 years compared to the preceding 3-year period, and also had multiple external research grant applications submitted by faculty in the past 3 years; the first ever for this campus. He indicated that research activity not only helps both Albizu students and faculty, but it also enhances Albizu’s national reputation.

The Provost, Dr. Joseph Bascuas, providing the opening remarks

Our new Provost, Dr. Joseph Bascuas delivered the opening remarks in which he emphasized the importance of science.

Dr. Domingo Margues presenting on “The Dialectics of Validation in DBT and in Families”

Our Keynote Speaker was Dr. Domingo Marques from Albizu University’s San Juan campus. Dr. Marques presented on “The Dialectics of Validation in DBT and in Families.” He talked about the different types of validation used in DBT, how to identify emotions in clients, and how to decrease maladaptive behaviors while strengthening and increasing adaptive skills.

Dr. Kristen Farrell-Turner presenting on “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Related Medical Conditions”

Our second invited speaker was our own Dr. Kristen Farrell-Turner from Albizu University’s Miami campus. Dr. Farrell-Turner presented on “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Related Medical Conditions: Biobehavioral Mechanisms and Implications for Mental Health Treatment.” She reviewed the diagnostic criteria for PCOS and how mental health professionals can help clients cope with these symptoms, including the myriad benefits of exercise.

Undergraduate and graduate students presented the findings from their research in two scheduled poster sessions alongside Albizu University faculty members who supervised their work.

Three students were selected to receive the Early Investigator Research Award; one from each level of study (i.e., bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral). Recipients of the Early Investigator Research Award each received a personalized plaque and small research grant.

Early Investigator Research Award winners Rachel Llerena (2nd from left), Christina Perez (center), and Heidys Prieto (2nd from right) alongside Dr. Steven Proctor and Dr. Amy Ellis

For her project titled, “The Relationship between Attachment, Family Environment, and Dissociation in Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse,” Heidys Prieto (from the Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology program) was named this year’s Early Investigator Research Award recipient at the Doctoral Level.

For her project titled, “Play-based Intervention as a Therapeutic Strategy to Increase Pragmatic Skills in Children with ADHD,” Christina Perez (from the Master’s in Speech and Language Pathology program) was named this year’s Early Investigator Research Award recipient at the Master’s Level.

And in the Undergraduate Category, we had our highest rated submission overall across all levels, for her project titled “Sex Differences among Mandated College Student Drinkers,” Rachel Llerena (Bachelor’s in Psychology program) was named this year’s Early Investigator Research Award recipient at the Undergraduate Level.

In addition, 5 Honorable Mentions were awarded to those poster submissions judged to indicate special worthiness.

  • Dinisha Blanding (Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology program)
  • Luis Garcia (Bachelor’s in Psychology program)
  • Maudy Sanchez (Bachelor’s in Psychology program)
  • Lisandra Mendoza (Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology program)
  • Clara Thompson (Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology program)


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