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Center for Arts in Medicine

Professional Development: Intensives, Training, Internships

Interdisciplinary Research Lab

CAM Interdisciplinary Research Lab

The Center for Arts in Medicine's Interdisciplinary Research Lab is a highly dynamic research lab comprised of 35 undergraduate and graduate students, research associates, and faculty from the arts, health sciences and other disciplines. With faculty mentorship, students provide research assistance on an array of studies that represent collaborations across numerous disciplines. Students are also supported in designing and executing their own research. The program engages students in interdisciplinary research, helps them develop research and leadership skills, and encourages creativity in interdisciplinary research. To learn more about current and past work completed by this team and/or the Center for Arts in Medicine faculty and staff, please visit our Research and Publications page.

Join the Interdisciplinary Research Lab!

The Center for Arts in Medicine Interdisciplinary Research Lab is currently conducting an array of research studies. These studies offer opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to gain experience with qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research. Areas of research include arts and health communication, patient satisfaction, music in emergency and trauma care, and theatre and health communication. Our research assistants engage in a wide variety of tasks, including literature review, data collection, analysis, and hands-on work in the field. This dynamic team meets every Friday from 2-4:30pm and research credit is available.

Applications to join the lab will open in Spring 2022. More information about the next application cycle will be posted here soon. If you have any additional questions, please e-mail Nicole Morgan at nmorgan@arts.ufl.edu

Student Research

Undergraduate Student Research
  • Applied Theatre for Adult ADHD; Amanda Gerulski, University Scholar Awardee
  • Preferential Music for Pediatric Burn Patients; Nico Manhas, Medical Scholars Program
  • Suicide Prevention Through Theatre Intervention; Ariel Reich, University Scholar Awardee
  • Assessing Music Activity for Children on the Autism Spectrum; Michele Cabeza, University Scholar Awardee
Graduate Student Research
  • Graphic Medicine and Clinical Empathy Development in Pre-Health Undergraduates; Nicole Morgan, University Scholar Awardee
  • The Impact of Arts Activities on Workplace Satisfaction in Pediatric Waiting Rooms; Anna Martin
  • Amplifying the Self: Music Education and Health, Kristen Perry
  • Considering Patient Preference for Structured versus Non-Structured Art Activities, Jillian Olmo

Interdisciplinary Research Team Members

Jill Sonke, Director, Investigator

Jill Sonke is director of the Center for the Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida (UF) and Assistant Director of UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine. She serves on the faculty of the UF Center for Arts in Medicine, and is an affiliated faculty member in the School of Theatre & Dance, the Center for African Studies, the STEM Translational Communication Center, the One Health Center, and the Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration.  Jill is also an Entrepreneurship Faculty Fellow in the UF Warrington College of Business, and serves on the editorial board for Arts & Health journal, and the board of Citizens for Florida Arts. Click here to view full biography.

Dr. Virginia Pesata, Investigator

Dr. Pesata is a nurse educator, nurse practitioner and researcher.  She has worked in several settings in home health, community hospitals, academic medical centers, and universities as a pediatric and family nurse practitioner, and in roles in nursing administration, research and higher education. She received a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from George Washington University and two Master of Nursing degrees as both a Family Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. Her certifications include Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified and Nurse Executive Advanced-Board Certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Her research studies and publications are related to nursing and healthcare leadership, administration, HIV, health literacy, global health, the use of the arts in health communication, and the integration of the arts in hospital settings. Click here to view full biography

Jenny Baxley Lee, Faculty Investigator

Jenny Baxley Lee, MA, BC-DMT, is a Lecturer and Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist with the University of Florida's Center for Arts in Medicine in the College of the Arts. She is affiliated faculty with the School of Theatre and Dance and the STEM Translational Communication Center and serves on the Research Committee in the College of the Arts. Jenny is an active member of the American Dance Therapy Association and served on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Dance Therapy as Book and Film Review Editor. Click here to view full biography

Dr. Dionne Champion, Faculty Investigator

Dionne's work has focused on the design and ethnographic study of learning environments that blend STEM and creative embodied learning activities, particularly for children who have experienced feelings of marginalization in STEM education settings (e.g. African Americans, girls).  She is interested in understanding the ways these populations draw on their everyday practices and use their bodies as resources.  She explores STEM engagement through making and embodied experienceto construct broader conceptualizations of cognition that substantively intertwine STEM learning and development, attending to the affective, social and emotional while broadening STEM knowledge and understanding. Click here to view full biography.  

Morgan Yacoe, Research Coordinator II

Morgan Yacoe is an interdisciplinary artist, researcher, and educator. She is a Research Coordinator for the Center for Arts in Medicine. She is also an Assistant Adjunct Professor within the School of Art and Art History and Resident Artist and Curator at the 4Most Gallery. Her goal as an artist is to work creatively with people and materials to facilitate greater opportunity, awareness, and integrated learning through traversing seemly disparate disciplines. Click here to view full biography. 

Nicole Morgan, Research Coordinator and Graduate Assistant

Nicole Morgan is a Research Coordinator and Graduate Assistant for the Center for Arts in Medicine. Nicole is a UF alum, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in Health Education and Behavior and a minor in Health Disparities in Society. She has experience conducting and coordinating research within the CAM Interdisciplinary Lab and at the Institute on Aging in UF’s College of Medicine. She has also designed and implemented quality improvement initiatives within UF Health’s Department of Neuromedicine and in the College of Medicine Equal Access Clinic. Her research interests include the arts in public health, as well as the connection between aesthetic experiences and wellbeing. Click here to view full biography. 

Aaron Colverson, Graduate Assistant

Aaron Colverson is a 3rd-year doctoral student in ethnomusicology, with partnering research in neuroscience. His Master's thesis explored relationships between music and empathy, documenting prosocial behaviors in a computer-based ball-tossing game while participants did and did not listen to music. He is now exploring relationships between rhythm perception, learning and performance in young (ages 18-35) and old (55+) adults. Aaron has been with the CAM research lab since 2015 and has worked on several projects, including the scoping reviews of the literature documenting the roles of the arts in health communication and wellbeing, and the systematic review on the arts and suicide prevention and survivorship. He endeavors to maintain connection with the lab throughout his doctoral career and continue to build interdisciplinary opportunity on the University of Florida campus through the diverse network of the Center for Arts in Medicine.

Megan Ayotte, Graduate Assistant

Megan Ayotte is a Graduate Assistant for the Center for Arts in Medicine with a focus on the Research Database. Megan completed her undergraduate studies at the University of North Florida with a double major in History and Anthropology. After graduating, Meganserved as an AmeriCorps intern in Jacksonville, Florida doing community assessment work for an environmental non-profit. She is currently in her second year of the Museum Studies program at the University of Florida and is in the process of obtaining a certificate in Historic Preservation. She has interests in exhibition development, collections management and digital story telling.

Miju Ku, Graduate Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Natalie Rella, Communications Coordinator

Natalie graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Public Health. After graduation, Natalie worked for the Department of Children and Families as a Child Protective Investigator. Natalie was awarded a Maternal and Child Health Fellowship to study for Masters of Public Health at the University of South Florida where she specialized in community health, health communication, and health disparities. While at USF, Natalie was awarded the USF Graduate Challenge Grant and led a research team that explored the effects of paternal involvement on maternal and child health outcomes. Natalie also worked as a research coordinator for the Social Marketing Group and on a project that used SMS technology and to promote Long-Acting Reversible Contraception. After graduation, Natalie worked at UF’s GatorWell Health Promotion Services as a Health Promotion Specialist for over 6 years. During this time Natalie expanded the creative services and digital media operations for the department, implemented health communications campaigns, and provided Wellness Coaching, among (many) other things. Natalie took a professional pause to get a second human settled into the world before joining the CAM team. In any professional capacity, Natalie finds passion in work that contributes to improving individual and collective quality of life and closing the health disparities gap. Natalie is inspired to learn new and effective approaches to carry out that mission. As much as she likes to work, she likes to play: going on adventures with family and friends, making music, cooking delicious food, moving in her body, and taking time to reset in nature.

​2021-22 Student Research Assistants

Alexa Jaskiel, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Alexander Cohen, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Alex Rodriguez, Student Research Assistant

Alex is a graduate student at the University of Florida where she is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Health with a Graduate Certificate in Arts in Public Health.  Her research interests include Preventative Health, Arts in Public Health, and Health Disparities.

During her undergraduate at UF, Alex worked for four years in UF’s Performance Psychology Lab where she led a university funded project focused on exercise and anxiety and had the opportunity to present and publish her research.

Alex has found working in the Arts in Medicine Interdisciplinary Lab rewarding as each of the faculty and research assistants are intrinsically motivated to further the research in this field. On a personal level, Alex loves to sing and minored in Theatre during her undergraduate.

Following her masters degree, Alex intends on pursuing a PhD in Public Health with a focus on Arts in Public Health research.

Alyssa Walters, Student Research Assistant

Alyssa Walters is an Art History major on the pre-med track. Alyssa has an interest in the visual arts, and how they can be used to improve the lives of others. She is also interested in how cultural differences can affect medical care, and learning how to ensure that all patients receive the same quality of care. In the future, Alyssa aspires to become a physician. 

Amanda Gerulski, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Ann-Marie Derias, Student Research Assistant

Ann-Marie Derias is currently a second-year psychology major on the pre-med track working to obtain the Music in Medicine Certificate. She is very interested in the power of the arts to promote healing and enhance well-being. She has put her love of music into practice by serving as Director of Musical Development for Dream Team, an organization dedicated to brightening the lives of the children on the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Shands Children’s Hospital. In this role, she has been exploring how music can help alleviate some of the pain that the children in the units endure. She strongly believes that the arts should play an integral role in healthcare and hopes to apply her findings as a future physician.

Camille Eyman, Student Research Assistant

Camille Eyman is an undergraduate student at the University of Florida majoring in Data Science, minoring in Computer Science, and pursuing a Music and Medicine certificate. Growing up an active member of Gainesville’s artistic community, Camille has continuously  been influenced by the arts. She recognizes the power that art holds and is passionate about using that power to help others. While working in the lab she hopes to learn more about the connection between arts and health, specifically as it pertains to using the arts as a tool for education and community healing. 

Caroline Davidson, Student Research Assistant

Caroline Davidson is a sophomore neuroscience & spanish student interested in pursuing pediatric medicine. She is a pianist of fifteen years and a dancer of twelve years. Caroline is a recipient of the Emerging Scholars award and works as a research assistant in Burke Neuroscience lab on projects surrounding diet and memory disorders. Caroline is passionate about interdisciplinary approaches to healing and enjoys exploring the relationship between arts and health. She is most interested in how the arts can alleviate the physiological effects of toxic stress & adverse childhood experiences. Caroline hopes her experience with art in medicine will enrich her future pediatric practice. In her freetime, Caroline enjoys vegan cooking & exploring Gainesville. 

Caroline Wagner, Student Research Assistant

Caroline Wagner-Jacobson is a 2nd year master’s student in the Arts in Medicine graduate program at the University of Florida. Caroline is an actor, dancer, singer, and improv performer. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in theatre from Arizona State University, she performed professionally across the United States, directed and choreographed hundreds of shows, and taught theatre classes to kids and adults. In 2009, Caroline merged her passion for the arts with her passion for helping others and dove headfirst into the field of arts in health. She has facilitated theatre engagement with hospitalized pediatric patients, low-income school children, at-risk families affected by HIV/AIDS, inpatients recovering from substance abuse, and U.S. Veterans. She believes in the power of using the arts in healthcare and community settings. Caroline is honored to be here and eager to learn from her experience as a member of the CAM Interdisciplinary Research Lab.

Delaney Ding, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Devin Valdez, Student Research Assistant

Devin Valdes is a Health Science major on the pre-med track. From a young age, he has been heavily involved and influenced by the arts (especially music) and loves to see how such an impactful medium can benefit patients. He is passionate about the idea of patient-centered care in medicine and is interested in exploring the applications of it-- especially in underrepresented communities. Devin is grateful for the exposure and opportunities that the research lab and the Music in Medicine certificate program have provided him and looks forward to future involvements.

Gabrielle Hammond, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon. 

Gabriella Martinez, Student Research Assistant

Gabbie Martinez is currently a sophomore majoring in Art History on the Pre Med track. She was a dancer, a competitive cheerleader, and played the drums during her younger years. Therefore, the arts have been a part of her life since she can remember. She has a passion for studying art and am very interested in studying the many ways that art can minimize pain. She truly believe art has a huge impact on public health. 

Gisselle Perez, Student Research Assistant

Gisselle Perez is currently a Junior at UF majoring in Biology and completing a Music in Medicine Certificate on the Pre-Med track. Since childhood, Gisselle has always had a passion and love for the arts. Through her hobbies of the piano, singing, and theatre, she has seen first-hand how the arts have impacted her and those around her. She joined the CAM Research Lab during her Freshman year and has been in the lab as a Research Assistant ever since. Through the lab, Gisselle wishes to continue learning how the arts can contribute to both instututional and public health in the hopes that she may create and serve healthy minority communities in the future.

Janika Stokling, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon. 

Jesseca Antoine, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon. 

Jose Santana, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon. 

Jordan Maurer, Student Research Assistant

Jordan Maurer is an undergraduate pre-medical student at the University of Florida majoring in Biology and minoring in both Dance and Health Disparities in Society. Jordan has grown up with major influence from the arts community, attending performing arts middle and high schools as well as dancing competitively for 12 years. Seeing first-hand how the arts have impacted her own individual health, she joined this lab hoping to see how this interaction can benefit others on a larger-scale. Jordan aspires to become a doctor and use the knowledge she has learned in this lab to improve her patients’ individual experiences by incorporating the arts once she is able to practice medicine in the future.

Katrina Cawaing, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Kimberly Correia, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Kylie Wheeler, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Lance Pancoast, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Lavanya Durai, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Mariana Occhiuzzi, Student Research Assistant

Mariana is an Argentinian musician, educator, artist in health, and a graduate student in the Arts in Medicine program at UF. She is passionate about the intersection between the arts, health, and culture. She hopes to help build and develop this field in Latin America, contributing to interdisciplinary research, professionalization, and policymaking.  

Naoosha Mohammad, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Nico Manhas, Student Research Assistant

Nico Manhas is a pre-medical student pursuing a degree in Biology as well as a certificate in Music in Medicine. Along with the database division of the Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory, he evaluates and analyzes emerging research for a number of studies related to the arts and medicine. As an aspiring physician, he is particularly interested in the clinical, operative relationship between music and physiological processes, cardiac reactivity, and a range of surgical procedures. Through this laboratory, Nico is working to develop an evidence-based paradigm for utilizing traditionally unconventional treatments in developing forms of healthcare.

Nikita Kulkarni, Student Research Assistant

Nikita Kulkarni is a second year student pursuing a Health Science Major, and a Visual Arts in Medicine Certificate on the pre-medical track. She is passionate about the arts, medicine, and education. She loves working with kids, and is interested in becoming a pediatrician in the future. Through the lab she hopes to learn more about the integration of the arts in medicine to improve patient recovery process and community health.

Tessa Brinza, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Sarah Braceras, Student Research Assistant

Sarah Braceras is a Biology and Anthropology dual degree student on the pre-medical track. Her passion for the arts is rooted in creative writing, literature, design, and watercolor. Seeking to explore the duality of science and human cultural diversity, Sarah is interested in the intersections of art, culture, medicine, and mental health at the lab. She has aspirations to become a Forensic Anthropologist. 

Stefany Marjani, Student Research Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Yanlin Wang, Student Research Assistant

Yanlin Wang is a recent graduate of the University of Florida, where she received B.S and M.S. in Horticultural Sciences. She is passionate about alternative therapies and she has been volunteering in the therapeutic horticulture program at Wilmot Gardens since 2018. She currently works as the Gardens & Landscape Manager at the Harn Museum of Art. She enjoys reading, hiking, painting, and cooking in her free time.

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