Kelly O'Donnel


Kelly O'Donnel

Clinical Trauma Psychology, Ph.D. Candidate


Kelly O’Donnel, B.A., is a first year graduate student in the trauma track of the Clinical Psychology PhD program at UCCS, and a member of Kristin Samuelson's research lab. She earned her bachelors degree at the University of Michigan, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Gender and Health Studies. During her time there, she had the opportunity to conduct traumatic stress research involving cognitive flexibility and fear conditioning paradigms using animal models of PTSD through the Ann Arbor VA. Following her undergraduate year, she was awarded an international Bonderman Fellowship and traveled to 15 countries around the world learning about disaster response and mental health resources in developing countries, international migration, and refugee trauma. Prior to beginning graduate school, she also spent time working in the Developmental Research Laboratory at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Outside of the lab, Kelly enjoys mountaineering, running, baking, and travel.

Research Interests

Kelly’s research interests include global mental health, trajectories of adaptation in refugees, and dynamic models of resilience following complex forms of trauma. Her M.A. thesis (anticipated defense June 2021) is examining the COVID-19 pandemic from a framework of traumatic stress, using theoretical perspectives from contexts of continuous trauma in order to inform nuanced methodological assessment of peritraumatic stress response contemporaneous with prolonged ongoing traumatic events.