Relational and Ecological Aspects of LGBTQ Lives (REAL Lives Lab)

Relational and Ecological Aspects of LGBTQ Lives

(REAL Lives Lab)

Dr. Liz McConnell


Website: REAL Lives Lab


The REAL Lives Lab focuses broadly on socio-contextual influences on health and wellbeing for sexual and gender minority populations. We recognize that people’s lived experiences are shaped by their intersectional identities and how these are situated within broader systems of power and inequity. We are interested in multilevel factors (e.g., at the individual, interpersonal, setting, and structural levels) that shape health and wellbeing for sexual and gender minority populations. We examine factors that contribute to mental and physical health disparities as well as those related to resilience and thriving. We value qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods, including tools that support relational and multilevel analyses (e.g., social network analysis, GIS). As our lab grows, we plan to pursue translational research related to clinical practice and intervention with LGBTQ people and communities.
Previous projects have focused on the following areas:
  • Family support and mental health among LGBTQ youth
  • Multilevel drivers of racial disparities in HIV among young men who have sex with men
  • Facebook experiences of LGBTQ youth
  • White privilege awareness and racial justice engagement among college students
  • Relational and community aspects of minority stress and resilience

Future research directions include:

  • Interpersonal influences on mentalhealth for LGBTQ+ people of different races/ethnicities
  • Collaborative social network visualization as a tool for therapeutic assessment & intervention
  • Family of origin and chosen family relattionships across the lifespan
  • Trauma-informed approaches for clinical intervention with LGBTQ+ people
  • Training clinicians in LGBTQ+ affirmative mental and behavioral healthcare


  • Attendance and active participation in weekly lab meetings.
  • Individual mentoring meetings at least 1x/quarter.
  • Completing a variety of research-related tasks, including: literature reviews, study design, IRB applications, participant recruitment, data collection, data analysis, and dissemination of findings. Specific duties will be determined based on both student interests and project/lab needs.
  • Collaborating as co-authors on conference presentations and/or publications.
  • Contributing to a positive and supportive lab culture that supports members’ broader professional development.


2-3 students will be invited to join the lab each year.

Application Instructions:

Please submit the following materials to Dr. McConnell ( by the application deadline:
  • Cover letter (1-2 pages) detailing your fit with the lab, previous research experience, research goals for graduate school, and long-term career goals
  • Curriculum vitae (including 3 references with email contact information)
  • Current unofficial PAU transcript
  • Research proposal from PAU’s Research Methods course
  • Select students will be invited to interview to learn more about their possible fit with the lab. Accepted students will be notified on the PAU uniform notification date, and will have the option to start in Spring.


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