Principal Investigator and director


Dr. Jay Bettergarcia, Ph.D.

Jay Bettergarcia is an Assistant Professor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Jay's research focuses on LGBTQ+ mental health and wellness, transgender-affirming therapy, and diversity teaching and training. Jay loves working with various collaborators, including professors, staff, students, and community members to create social change with the LGBTQ+ community. 

Ph.D. Counseling Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara

M.A. Social Psychology, San Francisco State University  

B.S. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Read more about Dr. Bettergarcia's research and publications on the Cal Poly faculty page here

Click here to view Dr. Bettergarcia’s CV.

Pronouns: They/Their/Theirs 

project coordinator

Elissa feld

M.P.P. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

B.S. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Lab Manager


Bonnie rose thomson

Bio: Bonnie is a second year Psychology major with minors in Child Development and Music. Her research interests include how to best train therapists to work with LGBTQ+ populations, risk and resiliency factors for substance abuse, and positive psychology. After graduation, she plans on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology and working with underserved populations. Outside of school, she enjoys playing the flute, reading, traveling, musical theatre, and petting cats and dogs. 

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Research Assistants 


Karen Shoriz

Bio: Karen is a Cal Poly Alumni who graduated in June of 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a minor in Women and Gender studies.  After pursuing further research, she plans to apply to doctoral programs in Social Neuroscience. 

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


Hayley Rostek

Bio: Hayley is currently a third year psychology major with a history minor at Cal Poly. Her research interests include internalized stigma, the effects of minority stress on LGBTQ+ populations, as well as abnormal psychology and social psychology in general. She hopes to pursue a clinical or counseling degree in the future. 

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


Lab Alumni

Cory kent (She, her, hers)

Sara Gutierrez (She, her, Hers)

Nicole Shanley (she, her, Hers)

Marcos ramirez (he, him, His)

lucy mcneil (She, her, Hers)

Dylan landon (he, him, his)

Emily thiebaud (she, her, hers)

emily markese (She, her, hers)

bryce grijalva (she, her, hers)

Bailey Arthur (She, Her, Hers)

Andrea Hilbrant (She, Her, Hers)

noemi lopez (she, her, hers)

hannah finn (she, her, hers)

Sophia Renteria (she, her, hers)

Emma wedell (she, her, Hers)

Amanda shrewsbury (she, her, hers)