Graduate Students

M.S. (2014) Arkansas Tech University, B.Sc. (2008) University of Nigeria Nsukka, D.Swk. (2003) University of Nigeria Nsukka

Research Lab: The Baker Lab and The Adams Lab
Advisors: Dr. Tamara Baker and Dr. Glenn Adams
Research Interests: Understanding sociocultural determinants of health disparities, utilizing of community health related programs, and evaluating effectiveness of health programs.

Research Labs: Branscombe Lab & Molina Lab
Advisor: Dr. Nyla Branscombe
Research Interests: My research interests center around intergroup relations and stigmatized group identities.  Some specific questions of interest include: How do members of stigmatized groups cope with perceived disadvantage due to their devalued status?  How do asymmetric power relations complicate intergroup relation exchanges, and how can we promote more positive interactions across group boundaries?  I also explore opportunities for community-engaged scholarship by collaborating with the Center for Public Partnerships & Research at KU.  
Mea Benson

Research Lab: Branscombe Lab
Advisor: Dr. Nyla Branscombe
Research Interests: My interests center broadly around issues concerning the marginalization of disadvantaged groups (from the advantaged-group perspective), the history of institutionalized and systematic oppression, and the built-in, legitimized structures that hold the system constant (e.g., tokenism effect).

Natasha Bharj

Research Interests: Broadly, my research makes use of postcolonial feminism and intersectional feminist theory to understand racism and sexism, particularly within scientific discourse. One line of my research explores the ways in which psychological science can implicitly reinforce racist and gendered discourse. I am currently engaged in a project that frames evolutionary psychology's use of analogy within its sociocultural and historical context, and explores whether this could implicitly reinforce colonial stereotypes. Another area of research I am interested in is the interaction between gendered racism and perceptions of sexual violence. I am also interested in how psychology as a discipline “does” politics, either through implicitly reinforcing social oppression or through conducting research as a form of activism (as in feminist psychology). 

Thomas Dirth
M.A. Social Psychology (2011) University of Northern Iowa, B.A. Psychology (2009) Wartburg College

Research Lab: Branscombe Lab
Advisor: Dr. Nyla Branscombe
Research Interests: My research interests broadly encompass the social psychology of disability. Following from a Disability Studies perspective, I approach disability (and ability) as social, political, and cultural phenomena rather than an individualizing stigma. Working with Dr. Nyla Branscombe I examine the effects of social representations of disability (e.g. medical vs. social model) on able-bodied person's perceptions of disability, specifically their views on pro-disability policy support. Similarly I investigate how "diversity" representations at institutions of higher education include/exclude disability in their representations and the consequences such representations have on able-bodied students perceptions of disability on campus. I also investigate the factors that affect people with disabilities' positive identification with the Disabled minority group, including possible cues in the environment that communicate identity threat to people with disabilities. Closely related, I examine the connection between popular notions of diversity and their inclusion/exclusion of disability. Finally, following a critical psychological perspective, I work to problematize taken-for-granted notions of ability and to uncover the underlying assumptions psychology makes in able-bodiedness(mindedness) that result in privileging some bodies and minds and pathologizing others.   

Sara Estrada-Villalta
M.A. Social Psychology (2011), University of Northern Iowa, B.A. Psychology (2007) Universidad del Valle de Guatemala

Research Lab: The Adams Lab
Advisor: Dr. Glenn Adams
Research Interests: I am interested in the socio-cultural construction of the self and relationships, and in how those constructions are related to conceptions of interdependence across contexts. I am also interested in the processes of reproduction of social representations of national history and their relationship with attitudes towards public policy, with a particular focus on transitional justice.

M.A. (2014) University of North Carolina at Wilmington, B.A. (2012) University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Research Lab: Gillath Lab
Advisor: Dr. Omri Gillath
Research Interests: I am primarily interested in studying close relationships. Broadly speaking, I am interested in researching topics such as attraction, mating strategies, partner preferences, and overall relationship functioning. I am also interested in understanding the cultural differences in romantic relationships, particularly regarding attitudes on sex and extra-marital affairs. Finally, I am interested in using attachment theory to understand behaviors and goals in close relationships.

Nader Hakim
M.A. (2014) University of Kansas, B.S. (2012) University of Michigan

Research Interests: I'm interested in sociocultural approaches to racism and other forms of oppression. I'm currently working around several questions: How does the way we remember important events shape our attitudes towards different groups? How does thinking about our own and others' social identities influence our behavior? 

Advisor: Dr. Chris Crandall
Research Interests: My research interest broadly encompasses aspects of political and religious psychology.   More specifically I am interested in why people intuitively prefer the status quo and incumbents in political elections.  I am also interested how the use of people conceptually understand metaphors, and how certain metaphors impact peoples understanding of difficult concepts.   
Ariel Jasmine Mosley
B.A. Psychology, Philosophy Minor (2014) California State University Sacramento

Research Lab: Lab of Existential Motivation, Metaphors and Authenticity (LEMMA)
Advisor: Dr. Mark Landau
Research interests: Broadly, I am interested in processes of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination as it relates to stigma internalization and threats to existential motivations. Particularly, I am interested in how experiences of subtle, indirect forms of discrimination influence the self-concept. One line of my research examines why some women internalize and endorse sexist messages and engage in their own groups’ subordination. A second line of my research looks at how motivations for epistemic structure, self-presentation, and self-consistency lead to the dehumanization of out-groups. Ultimately, I am interested in examining how systems of inequality are perceived, maintained, and ultimately reduced. 

Pegah Naemi

Research Interests: My research interests broadly focus on intergroup relations, national identity, and attitudes toward immigration policy. I am particularly interested in how different conceptions of national identity move people to support immigration policies, and how different collective memories and representations of history impact national identity. Generally, I want to explore how systems of privilege aid in intergroup conflict and impact those at the margins of society.

Advisors: Dr. Monica Biernat, Dr. Ludwin Molina, and Dr. Nyla Branscombe
Research Interests: Focusing on stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination across several domains.   He is interested in: (1) how we use non-verbal cues to make judgments about sexual orientation, (2) the relationship between brief exposure to a foreign language and negative attitudes towards immigrants & (3) the impact of perceiving either a similar or unique history of discrimination on intention to engage in collective action on behalf of another group.   
Nur Soylu

Research Interests: My research interests center around social identity, stereotyping and intergroup relations. One line of research I have been pursuing focuses on how contextual cues differentially influence the experiences of members of disadvantaged and advantaged groups, specifically with regards to gender and socioeconomic status, from a cultural psychology perspective. I am also interested in the construction and intersections of national and ethnic identities, and how these relate to interpersonal and intergroup relations. 

Trevor Swanson
B.S. (2014) Texas Christian University

Research Lab: The Lemma Lab
Advisor: Dr. Mark Landau
Research Interests: My research is currently focused on understanding human motivation through the lens of existential psychology, with a particular interest in how concerns about mortality influence self-regulation. Alongside this work, I am studying the role of conceptual metaphors within language, with an emphasis on how metaphors provide content and structure to our understanding of abstract concepts and thus influence how we perceive the world. Additionally, I am interested in how different strategies of evaluative organization within the self-concept can serve as temporary adaptive solutions to situations of high stress and limited mental resources.

Adrian Villicana

Research Lab: Biernat Lab
Advisor: Dr. Monica Biernat
Research Interests: I am interested in stereotyping and prejudice. Specifically, I am interested in how stereotypes affect our evaluation of and behavior toward stereotyped group members, especially group members who have intersecting identities (e.g., gay Latino men). I use intersectionality and shifting standards frameworks to address this interest. I am also interested in the importance of ingroup/outgroup distinctions and the ways in which the social identities we embrace interact with situational factors (e.g., threats to self-esteem, affirmations of group identities) to influence (perceptions of) prejudice.

Mark White
B.A. Psychology (2014) University of Missouri, B.A. Sociology (2014) University of Missouri

Research Lab: Crandall Lab
Advisor: Dr. Christian Crandall
Research Interests: I study how people justify their prejudicial attitudes to themselves and others. Prejudice is everywhere, yet expressing prejudice is taboo—the primary question I investigate is, "How do people deal with this contradiction?" My research has found that people can use ideologies (e.g., non-egalitarianism) and social norms (e.g., freedom of speech) to justify feeling negatively about groups and expressing these negative feelings. I have also done research concerning sports, dehumanization, historical nostalgia, and collective guilt.

Xian Zhao
M.Ed. (2013) Beijing Normal University

Research Lab: Biernat Lab
Advisor: Dr. Monica Biernat
Research Interests: My primary research interest is how stereotypes influence judgment towards individuals from stereotyped groups. This includes topics such as intergroup threat and shifting standards, judgments of competence towards physically attractive females, and the relationship between subjective well-being and prejudice expression. My broader interests cluster around intergroup relations (e.g., race, social class, obesity, and gender) and culture.


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