Lab Team


Dr. Susan Bluck, Professor, Lab Director 

For more information on Dr. Bluck, visit her profile.

Emily Mroz, Graduate Assistant, Lab Manager

Emily is a doctoral candidate in Developmental Psychology with a focus in Gerontology. She received her Bachelor’s degree in 2015 from the University of Buffalo, where she majored in both Psychology and Gerontological Health and Human Services. Her research interests involve functions of autobiographical memory, particularly in situations involving death and dying. She is interested in older adult populations and patient- caregiver relationships, as well as the functions of remembering lost loved ones. Her completed Master’s Thesis investigates how young people may prefer to memorialize lost loved ones based on their death anxiety and past experience with death. Emily also assists with quality assessment projects at UF Health involving palliative care program outcomes.

Raihan Noman, Research Assistant

Raihan is in his fourth year at the University of Florida and is majoring in Mathematics and Psychology. Raihan has been interested in photographic and autobiographical memory and their influence on day-to-day functioning since he was in high school. In an effort to pursue this interest further, Raihan decided to get involved in the Life Story Lab. Outside of the lab, Raihan volunteers for Haven Hospice, where he spends time with terminally ill patients and their caregivers. In his free time, he enjoys reading, playing instruments, and spending time with friends.

Krista Smith, Research Assistant, Webmistress  

Krista is a Psychology and International Studies major with minors in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance and Leadership in her third year at UF. While taking Dr. Bluck’s Gerontology course, Krista became interested in the Life Story Lab and its focus on autobiographical memory. She has always been fascinated by memory and nostalgia, and the role each plays in determining life satisfaction. When not in the lab, Krista enjoys spending time at coffee shops, going on service trips, listening to music, and making smoothies.

Hanna Akerland, Research Assistant

Hanna is in her third year at the University of Florida, and majoring in Psychology and Spanish. Hanna’s research interests involve the ways in which autobiographical memory affects our sense of identity. In particular, how life events typically considered a crisis situation, might take a significantly different direction depending on factors such as personality traits and social expectations. As an international student from Finland, the opportunity to study abroad has shaped her curiosity about the ways in which cultural standards affect the stories people tell themselves about their own lives. When she is not in the lab, she enjoys long dinners in good company, sour patch, and pretty views.

Cecilia Padron, Research Assistant

Cecilia is a second year Applied Physiology and Kinesiology major with ambitions of a career in medicine. The Life Story Lab piqued her interested because of its intriguing focus on death as a part of the life story and how death awareness shapes the individual’s journey. She aspires to the quote, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” and is always welcome to unique experiences, adventures, and especially, food. Among other activities, Cecilia is proud of coaching for Girls on the Run where she can share her passion for running and building strong girls.

Sam Stilley, Research Assistant

Sam is in her third year at the University of Florida majoring in Psychology, Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. Sam’s interest in memory started during her teen years based on interaction with her grandmother’s fight with Parkinson’s disease and helping her mother recover from a stroke. Sam has been doing neuroscience research since high school and has recently joined the Life Story Lab because of her interest in how memory is affected throughout aging. Sam is involved in Friends Across the Ages, a volunteer group in Gainesville where she gets to spend time with and visit those living in local nursing homes. Sam is also the chair of her sorority’s philanthropy which benefits children’s literacy and she is a Gators March for Babies delegate. In her free time, Sam enjoys traveling and exploring new places.