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assistant professor of psychology

Ph.D., psychology, Oklahoma State University

What I’m studying:

“I’m a social psychologist with a specialty in researching stereotypes. I also study perceptions of stigmatized people and the social identity of those who are stigmatized. There is research that shows that we can’t get rid of stereotypes and social biases; they are deeply rooted and a mental shortcut people take. So my research is based on the question of ‘How can you use a stereotype as a tool to help you navigate your environment?’”

What connects me to my work:

“I’ve always had an interest in psychology. I found in undergrad that I was constantly applying psychological concepts to my other classes. I suppose I adopted psychology as my world view. I’m also half black, which people don’t automatically recognize. I’m racially ambiguous. My brother has darker skin, and so we have different experiences because of our perceived whiteness and our blackness.”

What I’m hopeful for:

“This fall, I’ll be teaching research design and analysis. Quantitative analysis really drives the work you do in the field. It’s the backbone of being a psychology major. But it’s something that students are sometimes intimidated by at first, especially if they don’t view psychology as a field that uses math. I hope students learn that statistics are something they can work with, and it’s a language they can master. I hope it’s empowering for them.”

What I’m holding:

“I cited an episode of ‘Parks and Recreation’ in one of my published articles. Leslie Knope, the show’s main character, has been the basis for some of my research ideas. In the season two episode ‘The Hunting Trip,’ the women from the office go on a hunting trip that’s usually only for the guys. One of the men gets shot in the head by another man. When the police come to investigate, Leslie takes the fall. When she is questioned as to why it happened, she goes through a list of reasons: She can’t handle a gun, she’s wearing the wrong bra, she’s menstruating, she’s not good at math. Using these stereotypes provided humor and became functional, but it also highlighted how absurd they are when they are put upon women.”

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