For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

mPOWER Summer Research Fellowship

Diverse professionals collaborating 

The Minority Pipeline for Obesity and Eating Disorder Research (mPOWER) fellowship is designed to provide research experience and mentorship to underrepresented racial/ethnic minority individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in eating disorders and/or obesity research.


Racial and ethnic minorities are dramatically underrepresented in academia, psychological science, and in the obesity and eating disorders research fields. The WELL Center is dedicated to the mission of combating this problem by promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field. The WELL Center mPOWER program is designed to provide high quality, hands-on research experience and mentorship to individuals at a range of training levels (undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, graduate) who otherwise may not have ample opportunities to access such experiences. Fellows who complete this program will be competitive candidates for high-quality post-baccalaureate research coordinator positions, PhD programs (e.g., clinical psychology, public health, or other sciences), and/or postdoctoral research fellowship positions. There may be opportunities at the end of the program to continue as a research assistant in the WELL Center.

Fellowship Description

The mPOWER Fellowship is designed to mentor young researchers from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in the obesity and eating disorders fields. mPOWER Fellows will complete research in the WELL Center for 40 hours per week for 8 weeks during the summer. Fellows will receive a stipend of $5,000, plus an additional $2,000 for living expenses (if the fellowship is completed in person). During the program, the fellow will:

  • Conceptualize and make progress on an independent research project
  • Serve as a research assistant on ongoing lab projects
  • Receive intensive mentorship in careers in research and obesity/eating disorders research
  • Participate in lab research and project meetings, clinical supervision meetings, and trainings
  • Be assigned at least one faculty and and one WELL Center PhD student or postdoc mentor


Applicants must:

  • Be from an underrepresented racial/ethnic minority background (e.g., Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander)
  • Demonstrate a strong academic record
  • Possess a desire to pursue an academic research career
  • Have specific interest in obesity or eating disorders research


  • Applications are due December 1, 2023 and fellowship decisions will be made in early February, 2024 for Summer 2024 fellowships.
  • Applications include basic demographic information, short answer essays, resume or CV, and ranking of faculty mentors
  • Finalists will complete interviews with potential mentors over videoconference


"My experience in the program has surpassed my expectations. I’ve been able to develop facilitation and clinical skills through my role as an interventionist on a behavioral weight loss intervention. I’ve also developed a deeper understanding of contemporary issues in the field of the obesity and methodological solutions to address those problems. On a practical level, faculty and graduate students have provided invaluable insight into time and project management as well as writing productivity. It’s been incredibly impactful to be surrounded by faculty, graduate students, and postdocs who are passionate, intentional, and innovative in their approach to helping people live holistically healthy lives."

"The feature of the mPOWER fellowship that stood out the most to me was its mentorship. Even virtually, the faculty and staff at the WELL Center demonstrated their investment in my academic and professional success. In meeting with a variety of WELL Center members including PI’s, graduate students, and research coordinators, and I was introduced to their networks of people in fields I was exploring interests in."

"Completing an independent research project was a daunting task to face as someone who had never done one before, but my graduate student mentors were excellent resources to collaborate with and learn from. In addition to walking me through the steps to complete an independent research project, they provided insight on various academic and professional opportunities in the field of psychology research, as well as the steps I could take to make myself a more competitive candidate for those opportunities. Overall, I can confidently say my time with the WELL Center was one of the most beneficial opportunities I have experienced in my academic career."

Program Faculty

Applicants will be asked to select and rank which faculty members they are most interested in working with. The below faculty can all serve as mentors for mPOWER Fellows. There may be opportunities to be jointly mentored by two faculty.

2023 Fellowship Class


Grace Knight

Grace is an undergraduate student at Williams College pursuing a double major in psychology and French, as well as a concentration in global studies. Her research interests are in mending the data gap on eating disorder demographics, as well as finding ways to encourage youth, especially from marginalized communities, to adopt healthy eating habits. Long term, she intends to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and use her education to help adolescents from underrepresented backgrounds


Ivy Dang

Ivy is an undergraduate student at Williams College pursuing a double major in Psychology and English. She is particularly interested in health behavior research and hopes to investigate predictors, interventions, and treatment adherence strategies for eating disorders and obesity. She worked as a research assistant for the Williams College Health Lab where she helped with the design and planning of a study investigating predictors of dietary and physical activity lapses. In the future, she aims to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and apply her research to better current treatments for psychological disorders or develop and disseminate new interventions.

2022 Fellowship Class


Abigail de la Merced

Abby is a recent graduate of UCLA where she majored in Psychobiology. Her research interests include withdrawal pertaining to food addiction, behavioral weight loss interventions, and cancer prevention. Post-grad, Abby continued working on research at the WELL Center, and has recently began working as a medical assistant and indoor spin instructor. She intends on pursuing a medical degree in the future.


Chinemerem Nwamza

Chinemerem is a 2022 mPOWER fellow.


Asari Henshaw

Asari is a 2022 mPOWER fellow.

2021 Fellowship Class

Danyel Smith, WELL Center mPOWER Fellow

Danyel Smith

Danyel is a passionate advocate for health equity. She currently holds a Master’s in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Her research interests are fueled by extensive community engaged work. As a volunteer coordinator and program associate with a local health non-profit (Greater Richmond Fit4Kids), committed to reducing childhood obesity, she facilitated nutrition education programs and increased access to affordable fresh foods in underserved communities. Now, as a third-year doctoral student in Health Psychology at VCU, Danyel’s research explores factors related to cultural identity and group norms that influence eating behaviors in African Americans. The overall goal of her line of research is to increase the cultural relevance of weight-related, health-promotion behaviors among African Americans.

Helena Sanchez, WELL Center mPOWER Fellow

Helena Sanchez

Helena is a recent graduate of Wesleyan University where she majored in Psychology with a minor in Dance. Helena's primary research interests are in novel treatment for eating disorders and assessing predictors of disordered eating among adolescents and emerging adults. Post-grad, Helena plans to continue working in research and eventually attend a PhD program for clinical psychology with hopes of being a clinical psychologist with a focus on adolescents and emerging adults.

Vivi Perry

Vivi is an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing a degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Spanish. Her research interests include adolescent mental health, the role of body image in the development of eating disorders, and psychiatric comorbidity in those with eating disorders. She intends to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology.