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Diversity Science

Human behavior is potentially shaped by numerous influences: differences related to sex, culture, social class, income, race, ethnicity, language, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and ability status, among others. As the study of human behavior, the discipline of psychology is well-positioned to be a leader in research and theorizing on the lived experience of diverse subgroups of individuals. Yet mainstream psychological inquiry has for the most part not sought to problematize how psychological functioning may be affected by the above-noted differences.

The Diversity Science Cluster was formed in 2013 with the aim of foregrounding the study of psychological dimensions of intersectional social identities with respect to sex, gender, race, ethnicity, cultural identity, age, language, sexuality, etc.  This cluster consists of a group of faculty and graduate students (see below). Individually and collectively, members of the group seek to conduct research and engage in other efforts to diversify the questions, conceptual frameworks, methods, and populations studied in psychological research with the goal of making the science, practice, and teaching of psychology more inclusive and more representative.

To facilitate intellectual exchange and build a supportive community of scholars engaged in diversity science, broadly construed, the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences has allocated dedicated research and meeting space for shared use by cluster members.

Profiles of cluster members as they relate to diversity science are summarized below. For further information, please consult individual faculty website links. Prospective graduate students or visiting scholars are invited to contact any of the members of the cluster.

Core Faculty

Allegra Midgette (Social & Personality)
My research
investigates the origins and social processes that support individuals in developing an understanding of justice and learning how to care for others in an inequitable and unjust world. My work addresses two key questions: How do we come to care about each other and about justice within the family? How do we become just in the face of inequality?To investigate these questions, I employ a mixed methodology that places the experiential reality of children and their families at the forefront. The long-term goal of my work is to characterize how cultural, societal, and family practices influence individual moral development, with the ultimate aim of supporting the creation of interventions that contribute to individuals’ development into more caring and just individuals.
Vani Mathur
Vani Mathur (Social & Personality: pain; empathy; cultural neuroscience)
My primary research interests are related to understanding the sources of disparities in pain, and the specific mechanisms by which social and cultural factors alter pain experience and pain physiology. Pain is a major public health problem with significant physiological, psychological, social, and societal consequences. Pain also disproportionately affects certain sociodemographic groups, and disparities exist at every level of the pain experience. I approach the problem of pain disparities from two directions – investigating the different ways social factors influence one’s own pain, and also alter pain perception and empathy for others. To tackle these problems, my lab utilizes behavioral, psychophysical, and neuroimaging methodologies. Other lines of research also include cross-cultural examinations of pain and empathy and studies of social-environmental effects on health. My teaching interests include interdisciplinary courses such as health psychology and social and cultural neuroscience.
Isaac Sabat
Isaac Sabat   (I/O;  reducing unfair discriminatory treatment of stigmatized employees/ remediate workplace obstacles)
My current program of research broadly focuses on understanding and improving the working lives of stigmatized employees. I am particularly interested in examining strategies in which these employees can engage, such as disclosing or acknowledging their identities, to effectively remediate the workplace obstacles that they face.   I have conducted various interrelated projects that examine how the effectiveness of expressing one’s identity is impacted by the extent to which stigmas are previously known, visible, or discovered by others over time. This is a novel area, given that disclosures have previously been conceptualized as a dichotomous, all-or-nothing phenomenon.  I look forward to continuing this line of work aimed at reducing unfair discriminatory treatment within and outside of the workplace.
Idia Thurston
Idia Thurston(Clinical Psychology)
My research aims to understand why certain groups of people experience a greater health and disease burden and to promote health equity among youth and families. Our CHANGE* lab engages with communities to understand individual, familial, community, and cultural risk and protective factors among marginalized and underserved populations. We develop strength-based, culturally-responsive programs and interventions that consider intersectional identities of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and sexuality to enhance well-being, reduce stigma, and promote self-empowerment.
*Challenging Health disparities in Adolescents and Nurturing Global Empowerment

Jyotsna Vaid (Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience:  multiple language experience and cognition; social construction of merit in academia
My research examines cognitive, neurocognitive, and psycholinguistic aspects of membership in linguistically and culturally diverse communities. One line of inquiry examines longterm repercussions of the widespread practice of language brokering in immigrant or refugee families, in which children act as linguistic and/or cultural intermediaries for family or community members. More broadly, my research seeks to explore new ways of theorizing language competence beyond a privileging of “the native speaker”.  An emerging interest is on the social construction of mainstream scholarship in psychology and its implications for evaluating merit.
Associate Faculty Members

Mindy Bergman
Mindy Bergman (I/O:  stigma; organizational climate; well-being)
My research examines the organizational causes and psychological consequences of harassment and discrimination in the workplace and whether these processes differ across sex and race. My work also focuses on the experiences of women in the workplace, especially the in masculine work contexts such as the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines, police work, and the military. I have also combined my research program with service to the university by developing, leading, and delivering training to faculty search committee members on implicit bias and its role in the faculty selection process.

Rebecca Brooker  (Developmental Psychology)
Emotional and Biological Risk Factors for Anxiety Problems in Early Life >Neurodevelopmental Correlates of Risk for Psychopathology>Identifying Normative and Atypical Developmental Trajectories of Emotion Development>Gene-environment Interplay in the Development of Risk for Anxiety Problems

Paul R. Hernandez (Teaching, Learning & Culture)
Broadening Participation in STEM among Historically Underrepresented Groups>Career Development>Longitudinal Experimental & Quasi-experimental research designs>Mentoring Relationships>Motivation.Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)>Social Influence>Undergraduate Research Experiences.

Daniel Howard (Sociology)
Opioid Use, Substance Use, Cultural Competency and Workforce Diversity>Minority Health and Racial Health Disparities Research>Health Services Research>Health Policy, Program Development and Evaluation>Epidemiological Patterns of Disease among African Americans and the Minority Elderly.

Raul Medina (Entomology)
My research interests center on the role that ecological factors play in the population genetics of insects.

Leann Smith (Educational Psychology)
Race & Culture>Academic Motivation, Engagement & Achievement>Youth of Color>School Climate

Graduate Student Members

Jonathan Bailey at

Elizabeth Jenkins at

Jaren Crist at

Theresa Hernandez at

Whitney Howie at

Caitlyn Maye at

Jordan Schueler at


Faculty and/or graduate students in any area of psychology and other faculty or graduate students at the university who wish to affiliate with the cluster in the coming year are invited to contact Dr. Jyotsna Vaid, the convenor of the cluster. Please provide a brief bio and a 1-page statement indicating how your work aligns with the goals of the cluster and how you foresee your contribution to the cluster. Faculty affiliates are expected to contribute to the development and functioning of the Diversity Science Cluster on at least two out of three levels – research, teaching, or service.

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