Thrive Lab


Lab Projects


The Thrive Lab endeavors to understand the nature of human thriving and the personal strengths and environments that promote thriving among diverse persons. In particular, our empirical research focuses on spirituality, religion, virtue development, and purpose. Our interdisciplinary scholarship integrates philosophical, theological, and psychological perspectives to further understand thriving and spirituality.

Lab Members


Leanne Bishara

Thrive Scholars Fellow

About Leanne

Leanne is a fourth year PhD student in Fuller's Clinical Psychology program, studying parenting and moral development. She has presented her research at various psychological research conferences. Leanne also has a fellowship with the San Diego Psychoanalytic Center; is being intensively trained in British Object Relations theory and psychotherapy at the Psychoanalytic Center of California; and offers depth-oriented psychoanalytic psychotherapy and supervises therapists-in-training at Fuller Psychological and Family Services.


Fred Defoy

Thrive Scholars Fellow

About Fred

Fred is a third year PhD student in Fuller's Psychological Science program. He holds an MA from Wheaton College in Christian Formation and Ministry and is a professional vocational coach (ICF).

Fred is currently working alongside Dr. Pam King on JoyRide: Thriving on the Road to Joy and Emerging Adult Spiritual Exemplars. His hope is to contribute to the discussion of helping others embrace their vocation and connect them to their purpose.

Esther Tan Head Shot

Esther Tan

Thrive Scholars Fellow

About Esther

Esther is a third year PhD student in Fuller's Psychological Science program. She holds a EdM from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is also an experienced educator who has helped to pioneer a few new nation-wide projects in the field of social-emotional development and career development and guidance in Singapore. On several occasions she has brought together research, practitioners, and policy to bridge the gap from conceptualization to implementation.

Her research interests include socio-emotional well-being, career and purpose, and identity development. She has a particular interest in understanding how Third Culture kids and adults thrive in a globalized world and how their vocational calling and decisions are formed. 


Jennifer Vaughn

About Jennifer

Jennifer Medina Vaughn, MS, is a doctoral candidate in Psychological Science at Fuller Graduate School of Psychology. She is a bilingual and bicultural licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with special interest in high-risk children and adolescents. As a doctoral student and King Research Fellow at the Thrive Center for Human Development, her research has focused on the impact of spirituality and hope on adolescents exposed to poverty and violence in El Salvador and Rwanda. Jennifer is a recent recipient of the Student and Early Career Committee (SECC) of the Society for Research in Child Development dissertation research funding award. Her dissertation project examines the mechanisms through which neighborhood socioeconomic status impacts young children of immigrants’ psychosocial well-being.

See Jennifer's work with the Compassion International (CI) Study of Positive Youth Development here.


Abbey Craigg

About Abbey

Abbey is a sixth year PhD student in Fuller’s Clinical Psychology program. She holds a Master of Arts in Psychology from Fuller Graduate School of Psychology. In her clinical work, she is passionate about helping children overcome obstacles to become thriving young people. She has also worked with young and emerging adults as a Resident Director at Mount Vernon Nazarene University and as a Student Chaplain at Fuller Theological Seminary. Her research interests include spirituality, identity, and purpose among emerging adults. Her recent and current work involves validating the use of the Measure of Diverse Adolescent Spirituality in emerging adult populations.



Casey Taylor

About Casey

Casey Taylor is a fifth year doctoral candidate at the Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, where she has engaged in research as a member of the Thrive lab. Her interest in adolescent development and thriving began during her undergraduate studies. As a member of the Thrive Lab, she has had the opportunity to further study adolescent thriving and the importance of caring adult relationships as developmental assets.  She learned about the significant qualities of effective caring adult relationships during her master's thesis research titled, "The Effects of Mentoring on Adolescent Thriving". Inspired by the catalytic potential of caring adult relationships in the lives of youth, Casey has continued to pursue her interest by pursuing her dissertation focusing on caring adult relationships in thriving youth, who have faced great adversity and live in diverse contexts. Her current research aligns with her clinical passion, and she aims to work with youth and families affected by trauma. Casey aspires to continue growing in her knowledge of adolescent thriving, and hopes to build her clinical career by supporting resilience and aiding the thriving of youth overcoming risk and adversity.


Sean Noe

About Sean

Sean is a first year PhD student in Fuller's Clinical Psychology program. He completed his bachelor’s in psychology at Point Loma Nazarene University. He also has experience as an educator and tutor, working with middle school and high school students in San Diego, California. His research interests are examining how aspects of religiosity and spiritual experience relate to youth and adolescent development. He has a particular interest in understanding religious experience and how this can help youth and adolescents develop and thrive.

"I love being a part of the Thrive Center because I deeply believe in the research we do! The Thrive Center’s focus on positive development sparks some of the conversations that I think have been long overdue in our field and it is exciting for me to be a part of this research."


"Being a part of the Thrive Center gives me a sense of purpose in the pursuit of understanding and promoting positive youth development, and the Center's aim of applying research into practice helps me to live out that purpose in the lives of youth."



Study with the Thrive Center

Interested in joining the Thrive Center as a student researcher? We study thriving in diverse populations, pioneering new ways to promote human thriving.

Find out more about the advanced degrees in the School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary.