SMBI Team Members
Dr. Lisa Miller
Lisa Miller, Ph.D., is Professor af Psychology and Education, and Director of the Clinical Psychology Program at Columbia University, Teachers College. She is also Director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute. Dr. Miller’s research has been published in journals including JAMA-Psychiatry, American Journal of Psychiatry, and the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. She has appeared on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and Weekend Today as an expert psychologist. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and three children.
Suza Scalora is a student in the Spirituality Mind Body (SMBI) Summer Intensive Master’s Degree Program in Clinical Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research interests include: spirituality as an opening to emotional mind-body self-awareness; the physiological and emotional affects of negative self-talk and rumination; spirituality as a foundation to healing, meaning and purpose. She is the Co-Director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute and the Director the SMBI Wellness Center at Teachers College.
Sarah Sherman, is a second-year doctoral student in Interdisciplinary Studies, within the departments of Clinical Psychology and Organization and Leadership. Her research interests are related to mind, body, and wellness initiatives within organizations and professional settings. She is currently the Director of the Spirituality Mind Body Summer Intensive Master’s Degree Program and the Co-Director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute and is leading a pilgrimage series with students, faculty and staff.
Jennifer Drapkin, M.S., is a second-year doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University, earning her Ph.D. in clinical psychology. After a 12-year career as a journalist and yoga instructor, Jennifer returned to school to study the connection between mind, body, and spirit. Jennifer received her B.A. in psychology from Yale University, her M.S. in journalism from Columbia School of Journalism, and her yoga instructor certification from Laughing Lotus College of Yoga in New York City. Jennifer hopes that by building better inner worlds, we can build better outer worlds, too.
Clayton McClintock is a second-year doctoral student in clinical psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to beginning doctoral work, he also led spirituality-based practice and education groups in South Boston and in Beijing. His current research interests include the integration of contemplative and body-based spirituality with psychotherapy and a synthesized understanding of universal spiritual development.
Elsa Lau, M.A., is a doctoral student in clinical psychology with an interest in spiritual diversity, psychoneuroimmunology, and medical outcomes. Her research at McGill University and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center investigates psycho-oncology across the lifespan, from prevention and biomarkers to psycho-spiritual intervention and palliative care. Her current work focuses on cross-cultural spirituality, mind-body practices, and psychophysiology. She is also co-director of the spiritually-based Columbia Wellness Center, and oversees the development of workshops and seminars.
Alexandra Jordan, M.A.,M.S., is a fourth-year doctoral student in clinical psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. After working in the magazine publishing industry for four years, she returned to school to pursue her M.A. in psychology from Teachers College. As a doctoral student, she has focused on research exploring the influence of spiritual processes on adolescent development. Specific research projects have included a study of the impact of motherhood on identity development and the impact of religious community involvement on adolescent moral awareness and identity cohesion.
Lorne Schussel, M.A., is a 4th year doctoral student in clinical psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College focusing on the utilization of novel mind-body practices with at risk populations. Before joining the lab, Lorne conducted research in the laboratory for Advances of Consciousness and Health in Arizona, shot free lance film for Discovery Health, and worked in a hospital with suicidal patients. Inspired by the deep spiritual work of the late healer, Dr. Gary Weaver, and under Dr. Miller’s supervision, Lorne developed a practice known as “The Best Self Visualization Method.” His technique has been featured in New York Times, ABC-online, and the Huffington Post. Lorne was an invited speaker at the United Nations, where he adapted the technique for global conflict resolution. His method has also been recently added to a curriculum for mental health and resilience at LIJ-North Shore Hospital. Lorne continues to explore the nascent literature of consciousness, health and spirituality, and has published his work in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
Larissa Portnoff is a first-year doctoral student in clinical psychology at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. Larissa graduated from University of Denver in 2011 with a B.A. in Psychology. Her undergraduate research looked at the MAOA gene in juvenile female offenders with Dr. Julia Dmitrieva. In the years following graduation she worked at UCLA as a research assistant to Dr. Miklowitz, Dr. Feusner and Dr. O’ Connor examining severe mental illness in youth and adult populations. In the CHAMP clinic she examined the psychoneuroimmunology of pediatric bipolar disorder and how neural correlates of psychosocial treatments respond in the prefrontal cortex and limbic systems.
Currently, she plans to continue using novel techniques to understand the factors that pervade severe mental health disorders and the role of spirituality in youth. When are developmentally sensitive periods? What makes a child prone to risk or resilience for psychopathology? How does this fit into the context of the socio-cultural environment? Presently, she is the managing editor for the APA journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice and developing a psycho-spiritual intervention centered on interconnectedness for the SMBI Wellness Center.