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Travis Research Institute


Gender and Human Sexuality

Steve Simpson, PhD


Psychology Building 139
Fuller Theological Seminary
180 N. Oakland Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101-1714


[email protected]





The mission of our lab is to produce forward-thinking and inclusive research regarding gender and human sexuality, particularly considering the role that religious experience plays in this field of study.


LGBTQIA+ Identity Development and Microaggressions: Differences Between Evangelical and Secular College Students

In this study, we looked into the experiences of LGBTQIA+ students and alumni of secular and evangelical colleges and compared their experiences. More specifically, we examined participants’ experiences of microaggressions and dimensions of sexual minority identity development. We also surveyed how LGBTQIA+ students who are racial or ethnic minorities experience microaggressions as compared to white LGBTQIA+ students. 


The Relationship of Nontraditional Sexuality with Guilt and Shame Proneness and Church Attendance

In this study, we looked into the experiences of Christians who had broken “purity pledges'' and Christians who had come out as members of the LGBTQ+ community. More specifically, we considered how such actions impacted their church attendance and their proneness to guilt and shame.


Faculty and Principal investigator

Stephen Simsopn

Stephen W. Simpson

Associate Professor of Psychology

Dr. Stephen (Steve) Simpson, a dedicated professor at Fuller since 2001, specializes in couples therapy and adolescent and adult individual therapy. He has historically taught the human sexuality course, clinical foundations course, and many others. His research centers on relationships, sexuality, and the intersection of the LGBTQIA+ community and religion. With extensive clinical experience, he has contributed articles to scholarly journals and authored popular books. Dr. Simpson is a sought-after speaker and seminar leader for therapists and lay audiences alike, covering topics such as sex, dating, parenting, and Christian living.



Becca Acuff

Becca Althoff is a 6th year PhD student studying Clinical Psychology. She is currently on her internship, which focuses on neuropsychological assessment in children and adolescents. As a clinician who primarily works with children, she utilizes trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), attachment-based psychotherapy, and LGBTQIA+ affirming psychology. She is interested in child neuropsychological assessment, child behavioral assessment, and clinical work with at-risk populations. Her current research interests are around gender identity, sexual orientation, and the role of religion in human sexuality. Her dissertation focuses on microaggressions experienced by sexual and gender minority and multiple minority students in evangelical and secular higher education.

Victoria Mackey

Victoria Mackey is a 4th year PhD student studying Clinical Psychology and is the current research fellow for the Gender and Sexuality lab. Clinically, she is interested in working with college students and uses a psychodynamic-eclectic approach. She is also interested in the assessment and diagnosis of Autism spectrum in children. Her master’s thesis examined dimensions of sexual minority identity development in college students and her current research focuses on LGBTQIA+ peoples’ experiences of belonging in non-affirming religious higher education.

Jake Maxwell

Jake Maxwell is a 3rd year PsyD student studying Clinical Psychology. His current research interests include the psychology of men and masculinities. He has provided individual therapy in community mental health settings and has experience conducting neuropsychological and psychodiagnostic assessments. In his spare time, Jake enjoys playing soccer and spending quality time with his wife and kids.

Mia Covello

Mia Covello (she/her) is a 3rd year Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student. Her research interests are centered around religious trauma, well-being within the LGBTQIA+ community, and intersections of LGBTQIA+ identities and religion. Clinically, she is interested in working with individuals who have experienced religious trauma, and she is interested in working with people who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. She currently works from a relational psychodynamic perspective in her therapeutic work.

Gry Apeland

Gry Apeland is currently in her 2nd year of the PhD Clinical Psychology programme with a specific interest in religious trauma in the LGBTQIA+ population. She previously holds a MSc in the Psychology of Coercive Control from the University of Salford in the UK where her fascination with high control religious groups first originated. As such, both her research and clinical interests can be found in the intersection between religion, trauma, and manipulation. When she is not diving into the depths of the human psyche she can be found climbing rocks or tinkering with her emotional support spreadsheet.


Erin Ramsey
Moriah Conant
Ivana Ecklund

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Contact Us

Jim Cummings, MDiv, MA
Research Administrator
[email protected]

Office Hours

8 am–5 pm


Room 326
180 N. Oakland Ave

Pasadena, CA 91182