Health Psychology Research Team

Dr. Tucker’s Health Psychology Research Team investigates psychological and behavioral factors associated with attaining and maintaining health.

Initial research conducted by this team focused on health-risk and health promoting behaviors among culturally diverse youth living with at least one chronic illness and living in low-income families (each youth’s mother also participated). This 18-month study (called the Children’s Health Self-Empowerment Project) was funded by the Florida Department of Health and implemented in conjunction with Children’s Medical Services in Gainesville, Florida. Findings from this study indicated that the effects of a workshop intervention differed for African Americans as compared to White Americans relative to various health promoting behaviors (e.g., eating a nutritious diet). Subsequently, Dr. Tucker was awarded a 3-year grant by the PepsiCo Foundation to build on and extend the focus of the Children’s Health Self-Empowerment Project. The goal of this recently completed multiphase research study (called the Family Health Self-Empowerment Project) was to evaluate a comprehensive set of integrated interventions designed to modify and prevent overweight and obesity among children, adolescents, and adults.

One important focus of the Health Psychology Research Team has been to develop and empirically test Dr. Tucker’s literature-informed, culturally sensitive Health Self-Empowerment Theory, which asserts that health promoting behavior can be predicted by the following five health-related psychological variables: health motivation, health self-efficacy, health self-praise, active coping skills, and health responsibility. Findings from the Children’s Health Self-Empowerment Project provided support for Health Self-Empowerment Theory in terms of predicting health promoting behavior among (a) culturally diverse youth living with at least one chronic illness and living in low-income families and (b) these youths’ mothers. These research findings informed the development of culturally sensitive health self-empowerment theory-based health promotion interventions which were then tested in the Family Health Self-Empowerment Project.


Graduate Students:

Victoria A. McNeil

Victoria is currently enrolled in the Counseling Psychology Ph.D program at the University of Florida. She received her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Central Florida and her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in African American Studies from the University of Florida. Her master’s thesis is entitled “Religious Coping, Religious Forgiveness, and Health-Related Stress among African American/Black Women”.

Her research interests are:

  • Health disparities
  • Culturally sensitive health care
  • The impact that racism and discrimination have on transgenerational minority health and identity

Jaime Williams

Jaime is currently enrolled in the Counseling Psychology Ph.D program at the University of Florida. She received her M.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida, her M.S.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Miami, and her B.A. in Psychology, International Studies, and Spanish from the University of Miami. Her master’s thesis is entitled “Endorsement of Mind-Body Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practices among Culturally Diverse Patients” and her dissertation topic is “Motivators of and barriers to engagement in health-promoting behaviors (e.g., healthy eating; physical activity; treatment seeking, satisfaction, and adherence) among people with physical disabilities”.

Her research interests are:

  • Health disparities
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Complementary and alternative medicine

Khanisha Nicholson

Khanisha is currently enrolled in the Counseling Psychology Ph.D program at the University of Florida. She received her B.S. in Biomedical Sciences and B.A. in Psychology both from the University of South Florida. Her research interests are related to first generation Caribbean Americans assimilating to American culture and their ability to resist depression, anxiety, or stress. She enjoys laughing, acting & solving puzzles!


Congratulations to the following RA’s for receiving these awards!

Undergraduate RA Awards from Summer 2017:

Outstanding Researcher Award: Nofel Karatela

Researcher of the Semester: Jasmine Felix

Graduate RA Awards from Spring 2017:

Outstanding Researcher and Administrator Award: Tara Morrissette

Outstanding Researcher and Administrator Award: Guillermo Wippold

Undergraduate RA Awards from Spring 2017:

Excellence in Research Leadership Award: Kelsey Williamson

Outstanding Researcher Award: Grace Hanvey

Researcher of the Semester Award: Ramonica Radway

Researcher of the Semester Award: Emmalee Barett

Researcher of the Semester Award: Kelly Signer