2017 Centennial Doctorate Degree Awardees

During the fall of 1987, the Graduate College and the Division of Campus Life established awards to recognize outstanding achievement and contributions of graduate students at the University of Arizona who have shown academic achievement despite facing challenging social, economic, or educational obstacles.

Roman Palitsky - Centennial Doctoral Degree Award RecipientRoman Palitsky

Roman Palitsky is a student in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at the University of Arizona. His research examines cultural and existential principles in health psychology, with a focus on distress, religion, and emotion.

Roman was born in Minsk, Belarus. His family immigrated to the United States as refugees when he was six years old. He completed a dual BA in psychology and religion at the City University of New York, and a Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. Having experienced immigration, attending high school near the World Trade Center on 9/11, and exposure to a range of world cultures, Roman’s interest in psychological and cultural contributions to resilience began at an early age, and motivate his current research.

Roman is interested in cultural factors that shape responses to adversity. Grounded perspectives from existential psychology on one hand, and social and clinical psychology on the other, his research addresses themes of suffering interpretation, enculturated representations of space and time, and the influence of cultural factors on cardiovascular health. His dissertation will examine the role of emotion regulation as a mechanism in the association between religion and cardiovascular health among bereaved persons.

Roman is currently vice-president of the Arizona Meditation Research Interest Group, and is a psychology representative to the Associate Graduate Council for the College of Science.  He has been awarded a student research grant from the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling for the development of a measure of emotion regulation flexibility.

Roman intends to pursue a research career as a clinical psychology researcher, continuing to investigate cultural contributions to resilience.

Ariana Stickel - Centennial Doctoral Degree Award RecipientAriana Stickel

Ariana Stickel was born and raised in San Diego, California. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from San Diego State University (SDSU) as a first-generation college student. Ariana cites her maternal grandmother as her biggest influence. Ariana’s grandmother reads fortunes, and Ariana expected her first psychology class to teach her to do the same. Although psychology was different from what she anticipated, she became interested in psychological science, especially cognitive aging research. However, Ariana was disappointed to find that aging research may not apply to Hispanics, including her grandmother and other family members.

As a student in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, Ariana investigates the influence of cardiovascular and genetic risk factors on day-to-day functioning, cognition, and brain structure among Hispanics. Along with her own research, Ariana advises high school and undergraduate researchers in Dr. Lee Ryan’s Cognition and Neuroimaging Laboratory on projects that are presented at regional and national conferences. 

Ariana has made it her mission to provide quality mentorship to students of all backgrounds. One way she fulfills this goal is through the time she volunteers. She currently volunteers for programs at UA and SDSU, including the Arizona Science, Math, Engineering, and Math Scholars Program, the Undergraduate Biology Research Program, and the Aztec Mentor Program, working to build professional development skills among undergraduates. To this end, she encourages students to bring science to their community in ways such as participation as judges in high school science fairs and science related activities in the community.  Ariana serves on several departmental committees such as the Psychology Department Diversity and Data Blitz Committee, that strengthen collaborations among scientists as well as the larger community.

Ariana is the recipient of several national awards, including the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and the Philanthropic Educational Organization Star Scholar Award. She has also received intramural awards, including the Initiatives to Maximize Student Diversity Fellowship, the Galileo Scholar Award, and the Undergraduate Biology Research Program Outstanding Graduate Student/Postdoc/Technician Mentor Award.

Ariana aims to maintain a career that improves access to science and academia for underrepresented community members, and she aspires to enhance our understanding of cognitive aging, especially among the Hispanic population.