Zainab completed her Ed.M. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she took part in a research collaboration with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to evaluate available psychosocial and educational services for refugees in Iran. She subsequently earned an MSW from the University of Michigan, focusing her research and clinical work on delivering trauma-informed clinical services to refugees. She was a Child Welfare Scholar and was trained in assessments and treatments of children impacted by abuse and neglect. Zainab completed a post-MSW fellowship at the Boston Children's Hospital where she worked as a psychotherapist at the Division of Adolescent Medicine.

Upon joining the Stanford Graduate School of Education, Zainab began exploring the cultural adaptability of mental health and psychosocial support services (MHPSS) for refugees in different contexts. She has carried out multiple projects in different refugee settings in Iran, Lebanon, Greece, and Mexico to study how sociocultural contexts can influence what is considered adaptive developmental competencies in forcibly displaced children. Zainab engages in ongoing community-based participatory research projects to explore how MHPSS programs designed by international NGOs can take these nuances into account. Her current work focuses on building and evaluating a culturally responsive, trauma-informed, social emotional learning (SEL) program for refugee adolescents in Tijuana, MX. Zainab's research at the Stanford GSE has also included mixed-methods studies of ethnic and racial identity development, biculturalism, and psychological well-being among Native American adolescents.

Zainab is an MA candidate at the Stanford Department of Psychology, focusing her thesis on comparing how global SEL programs for diverse populations promote social and emotional competencies for children. Working closely with the Culture and Emotion Lab, she is especially interested in the extent to which these programs account for the heterogeneity in children's sociocultural backgrounds and experiences. She also leads the Refugee Mental Health team at the Department of Psychiatry Muslim Mental Health Lab, where she explores cultural concepts of distress among refugee adolescents.

Research Interests

  • Adolescence
  • Immigrants and Immigration
  • Parents and Family Issues
  • Psychology
  • Social and Emotional Learning

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

I focus on designing brief Social Emotional Learning interventions that can be implemented for use with children within emergency zones, e.g., war zones, refugee camps, etc. I use principles of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and trauma-informed teaching to build and evaluate programs for refugee children's prosocial and emotion regulation skills. I am particularly interested in building on parental capacities during refugee children's transitions throughout their migratory experiences.