Veteran VVell-Being Lab


Through collaborative and interdisciplinary research, we are acquiring knowledge, skills, and points of view necessary to find solutions with new approaches to meeting challenges in employment, psychosocial adjustment, and wellbeing. We are specifically interested in understanding psychological, social, biological, and environmental factors affecting employment, well-being, quality of life, resilience, and life adjustment in people with disabilities, including Service Members, Veterans, and their family members with disabilities.


I have been also conducting research with national and international scholars examining factors examining employment, psychosocial adjustment, quality of life, and well-being in individuals with disabilities, including psychiatric disabilities, cognitive disabilities, and physical disabilities. Our team focuses on multiple project goals such as: (1) how to create best support for employment in people with disabilities from different minority backgrounds, (2) how to improve wellbeing and overall health outcomes for people with disabilities and chronic conditions, and (3) how to improve quality employment outcomes in people with disabilities including Veterans with disabilities.


In addition to micro level research, I have been able to collaborate with researchers to conduct research examining factors that may improve quality of rehabilitation counseling and other allied health professions. I have been part of Empower Change funded by Paso del Norte Health Foundation to enhance quality of life and well-being in Paso Del Norte Region (El Paso, Southern New Mexico, and Juarez). We have developed research strategies and policies that aims to enhance well-being in our region. 


Overall, the primary goal of my research program is to examine modifiable biopsychosocial risk and protective factors affecting employment, psychosocial adjustmentresiliencewell-being and happiness, and employment in individuals with disabilities, including Veterans with disabilities through the lens of contemporary evidence-based theories, including positive psychology. 


Please see below for some of our research topics and themes.

Dr. Umucu is part of $16.7 Department of Education Grant to improve quality employment in people with disabilities. This project title is the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center for Quality Employment (VRTAC-QE). We aim to upgrade and increase the competencies, skills, and knowledge of state VR agencies to enhance their capacity to implement and sustain employment strategies and supporting practices to enable people with disabilities, including Veterans with disabilities, to achieve quality employment and career advancement, particularly competitive integrated employment. Dr. Umucu is leading efforts to improve employment outcomes for Veterans with disabilities and Hispanics with disabilities.

Dr. Umucu is also part of the Disability Innovation Fund. The Disability Innovation Fund ($15.8 million) – Career Advancement Initiative Model grant funds are from the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration. Funds will be used over a five-year period to develop and use career pathways in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine that benefit racial, ethnic and other marginalized individuals with disabilities.

We have been interested in research explaining well-being of Veterans and their family members. We aim to develop models and interventions helping  Veterans with and without disabilities and their family members promote their well-being, life satisfaction, and quality of life. Specifically, we have been working with Student Veterans to increase their college adjustment, well-being, and quality of life.

My colleagues and I focus on psychosocial adaptation to chronic illnesses and disabilities. We work together to research factors affecting the quality of life among individuals with chronic health conditions, such as mental and physical illnesses and disabilities.

I am working on evaluating and validating positive psychology and character strengths interventions for individuals with chronic conditions, including Veterans with and without disabilities. We are interested in understanding how some of the foundational positive psychology constructs help individuals with chronic conditions achieve their life goals (e.g., community participation). 

I have been also interested in examining factors affecting quality of life in individuals with mental illnesses. Recently, we collected some data from Veterans with mental illnesses so that we will explore factors affecting quality of life in Veterans with mental illnesses. 

I have developed some expertise on test construction and have been working on multiple projects developing new scales or validating existing scales in different populations. I have implemented both traditional and contemporary test construction methods. As I enjoy statistics and methodology, I collaborate with many other researchers to work on their statistical analyses. I am also serving as a statistician and evaluator on multiple Federal grants.

I have been part of a research team housed in UW-Madison and the Madison VA where researchers investigate Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. My role is to examine positive psychological modifiable factors predicting dementia. Recently, we present our work at the AAIC.