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Diversity Issues in Research

The department of psychology and neuroscience acknowledges the importance of diversity in research, such that individuals participating in our research studies should reflect the diversity of our communities. Our department also recognizes the potential for research to serve and uplift marginalized populations. Below, we highlight several faculty within the department whose research is an exemplary of inclusivity in research by working with or serving marginalized populations.

Dr. Anna Bardone-Cone studies eating disorders and body image through the lens of race/ethnicity and gender. In particular, she examines how African-American, Latina, and non-Latina Caucasian women compare in terms of body image, disordered eating, and their risk factors. Her lab is beginning to investigate the experience of remission and recovery from eating disorders in males.

Dr. Don Baucom leads the UNC Couple’s Lab, which integrates psychotherapy from a cognitive-behavioral perspective with research on intimate, committed relationships among adults. Dr. Baucom’s research embraces diversity in its topics, practices, and team. Specifically, Dr. Baucom’s work studies how relationships differ across groups and develops couples-based interventions that are sensitive to the needs of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including racial and ethnic background, gender identity, socioeconomic status, religion, and sexual orientation. Students in Dr. Baucom’s lab study topics such as cognitive processes influencing relationship well-being among low-income couples, relationship functioning in LGBTQ+ couples, and emotional dynamics in couples experiencing environmental stressors such as discrimination.  

Dr. Shauna M. Cooper examines how cultural and contextual factors impact the development of ethnic minority youth, with a specific focus on African American children and families. Specifically, her work examines how family, school, and community contexts influence positive development among African American children and adolescents. Current research projects include a longitudinal study exploring African American fathers’ general and culturally-specific parenting practices and contributions to adolescent adjustment. Additionally, she is committed to the translation of her research, including the development of culturally specific intervention and prevention programming.

Dr. Anna Kawennison Fetter (Carolina Post Doc) is an enrolled member of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe.  A Counseling Psychologist by training, her interdisciplinary scholarship focuses on promoting mental health equity in partnership with communities through an ecological, strength-based, and culturally congruent lens. Dr. Fetter’s research examines the role of culturally relevant stressors (such as historical loss, discrimination) and protective factors (including ethnic identity and cultural connectedness) on the mental health and well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. She is a provisionally licensed psychologist and provides culturally responsive therapy through the UNC Community Clinic to the AI/AN community. Visit Dr. Fetter’s Google Scholar page. 

Dr. Deborah Jones conducts research that aims to understand and enhance the lives of children and families, with particular attention to those traditionally underrepresented in clinical science and underserved in practice.She conducts both basic and applied research with the common goal of identifying mechanisms underlying child, parent, and family functioning, including how those factors shape treatment process and outcomes. Recent work for example includes testing digital innovations in assessment and intervention to facilitate more contextualized, personalized, responsive research and services. Dr. Jones’ trainees are integrally involved in her work and have been honored with a range of fellowships from agencies such as the American Psychological Association, National Institute of Mental Health, National Science Foundation, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Visit the Jones Lab website.

Dr. Keely Muscatell’s studies how social experiences such as inequality and discrimination influence physical health and emotional well-being. She leads the Social Neuroscience and Health (SNH) lab, which broadly considers how social status affects individuals’ neural, affective, and physiological responses to stress and social interactions. Several of the studies in Dr. Muscatell’s lab conduct research aimed at understanding the neural and physiological mechanisms through which racial discrimination is linked to negative mental and physical health outcomes for Black Americans. Dr. Muscatell’s trainees have been funded by prestigious organizations including the Ford Foundation, National Science Foundation, and National Institute of Health.

Dr. Keith Payne studies how inequality shapes the human mind. His lab uses experimental psychology to understand the cognitive and emotional mechanisms behind social inequality and prejudice. Students in Dr. Payne’s lab study topics related to intergroup discrimination and conflict, implicit prejudice, and how social status shapes attitudes and behaviors. Visit. Dr. Payne’s website here.

Dr. Julian Rucker examines the psychological factors shaping perceptions of, and motivations for, reducing racial inequality across various societal domains. Through his research, Dr. Rucker explores how lay conceptions of the interpersonal and structural dimensions of racism influence beliefs about societal racial inequality. Dr. Rucker also examines the psychological factors underlying misperceptions of progress toward racial equality in the United States. Follow Dr. Rucker’s work on his website. 

Dr. Dalal Safa studies antecedents and consequents of multicultural identities and competencies. She leads the Biculturalism, Resilience, & Identity Development in Global Environments & Systems (BRIDGES) lab, which seeks to elucidate cultural bridges that can support positive youth development in our increasingly multicultural world. Dr. Safa’s work draws on socio-cultural ecological approaches and diverse methods to examine normative developmental tasks and competencies among immigrant and ethnic-racial minoritized youth.  .

Dr. Margaret Sheridan leads the Child Imaging Research on Cognition and Life Experiences (CIRCLE) lab. Dr. Sheridan’s research seeks to understand the embodiment of social inequality through exposure to early adversity, such as poverty. A key goal of Dr. Sheridan’s research is to better understand the neural underpinnings of the development of cognitive control across childhood and to understand how and why disruption in this process results in psychopathology. Students in Dr. Sheridan’s lab study various topics including the neural mechanisms through which racism-related stress confers risk for psychopathology among racial and ethnic minorities, culturally-adaptive assessments in accessing complex trauma, and investigating the impact of early adversity on neural development.