Broadly speaking, my research explores the social, cognitive, and motivational determinants of intergroup perception. I’m interested in how we move from observable physical cues to recruit information from memory to guide our social interactions.  Over time, my research and service interests have slowly evolved to align with the reasons I initially pursued graduate study – to apply social psychological principles to influence real world outcomes, particularly in the context of intergroup relations.  Relatedly, I have had bene involved in a variety of opportunities to help organizations navigate the many challenges associated with ameliorating the impacts of past and continuing discrimination on members of underrepresented groups.

At my university, I am a former chair of the EEOC committee, where I offered guidance on a number of diversity and climate-related efforts on campus.  We worked to make the administration and faculty more aware of the need to be involved in leading and encouraging diversity related efforts in order to create a more hospitable climate for students, faculty, and staff from underrepresented groups.  Later, while my institution searched for a Chief Diversity Officer, I served a year as the Special Adviser to the Provost.  In this role I worked to establish coalitions our across three campuses and broaden support for diversity, climate, and inclusion initiatives.  In addition, I periodically present workshops describing social psychological perspectives on stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination to various constituencies on and off campus (often with a colleague).  These workshops seek to empower audiences to think differently about the nature of bias – more as a function of context and cognitive processing and less a function of personality and individual malice. Our goal is to broaden the consideration of approaches that focus on structural contributions to bias.

From 2006-2008 I served as chair of the SPSP Diversity and Climate Committee.  My colleagues and I successfully advocated for funding to increase the number of diversity undergraduate and graduate student awards, and to expand the Diversity and Climate Committee Reception.  At the time, the reception had always been a way to welcome and celebrate underrepresented students who had won awards, but in recent years seemed to languish.  Like many diversity efforts, it had an undeserved reputation of being just “for” those from underrepresented backgrounds.  To address this concern, we developed and introduced a novel goal-directed networking opportunity that brought students and faculty together at the reception – the Admired Scholars Program.  Specifically, we sought to make that event less marginal by asking graduate award winners to indicate some scholars in the field whose work influenced them, many of whom were not from underrepresented backgrounds.  We then invited those individuals to the reception with the goal of meeting the student who “admired” them.  Since then the reception has thrived through the efforts of those who came after us, and with the support of the SPSP leadership.  It’s a truly welcoming space, an incredible networking opportunity for emerging scholars, and it has become the highlight of my personal convention experience.

One concrete focus of my time as member at large would be to work to bring the same spirit as that found at the diversity and climate reception to the broader conference experience as a whole – not just for a few hours on Friday evening. A great deal has changed in the intervening years.   SPSP has become larger, younger, and more diverse.  We’ve also become more self-reflective and attuned to a variety of social and professional challenges faced by our membership during the annual conferences and in the pursuit of their careers.  But with growth often comes some pain.  While the overall message is a positive one, we need to work through any sense of complacency and strive to do better to serve our members.  I would like to help SPSP to continue to assess and address the challenges associated with growth and diversity so that we can continue to grow in ways that maximize the benefit of our efforts across our broad constituency, and in service of psychological science and the public good.