Diversity Science

Graduate Research

Rick Cruz
4th year Child Clinical Student
Advisor: Kevin King, Ph.D.

I am interested in studying the development of substance use behavior in ethnic minority youth (with a focus on Latinos) within a complex social and cultural context. In particular, I am interested in examining variables that explain the relationship between acculturation (orientation towards American culture) and increased substance use. I am currently focusing on the changing family and peer contexts that result from greater acculturation.

Benjamin Drury

4th year Social Student
Advisors: Sapna Cheryan, Ph.D.
Cheryl R. Kaiser, Ph.D.

My research program falls broadly into two main categories. The first line of research examines claiming/confronting prejudice and how such actions affect stigmatized targets. Specifically, I am interested in the social costs incurred by stigmatized targets when non-stigmatized advocates confront prejudice on their behalf. The second line of research attempts to better understand the framing conditions that encourage organizations to break from tradition and hire females and minorities into visible leadership positions. I am also interested in exploring the impact of social class diversity on college campuses

Kelly Koo

6th year Adult Clinical Student
Advisor:  Bill George, Ph.D.

Overall, I am interested in researching alcohol use and sexuality among different cultural/ethnic communities. Using both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, I am currently examining cultural barriers to reporting alcohol-involved rape for Asian American college women.  Long-term, my career goals involve empowering underrepresented groups (particularly women of color) to voice grievances against them, and overall, I aim for social justice, with a focus on ethnic minority mental health and social issues.

Keren Lehavot
6th year in adult clinical psychology
Advisor: Jane Simoni
Email: klehavot@u.washington.ed

Masters thesis: Trauma and Physical/Mental Health among Lesbian, Bisexual, and Two-Spirit American Indian and Alaska Native Women. The purpose of this research is to provide information about LGBT (or the roughly equivalent Native term "two-spirit") Native women’s experiences of physical/sexual abuse and its relation to health outcomes.

Dissertation: Minority stress and Coping among Sexual Minority Women. The purpose of this research is to use a mixed-methods approach to examine minority stressors (e.g., bias-related victimization, internalized homophobia), protective factors, and health-related outcomes among lesbian and bisexual women. 

Research interests related to diversity: minority mental health, LGBT psychology, especially relating to lesbian and bisexual women's development, identity, and health, HIV/AIDS, sex/gender issues, and feminist psychology

Lori Wu Malahy

5th year Social and Personality Student
Advisor: Cheryl Kaiser, PhD
website: http://depts.washington.edu/silab/lori.shtml

My research program broadly explores the relations between social identity, prejudice, stigma, and stereotyping. I investigate these constructs from the perspectives of members of devalued groups as well as from the perspectives of those who hold group stereotypes. On one project with Dr. Cheryl Kaiser, I examine how enacting counter-stereotypic group behavior influences how people identify with their group. In another project with Dr. Yuichi Shoda and fellow graduate student Mara Sedlins, I explore the nature of implicit racial categorization of mixed-race faces.

Hong Nguyen
3th year Clinical Student
Advisor: William George, PhD

My research interest lies in cultural issues relating to sexual behaviors and substance abuse. I am specifically interested in looking at the influence of culture on sexuality, sexual risk taking, and coping with sexual assault victimization. My research also focuses on health disparities and resource utilization among ethnic minorities. How does cultural and socio-cultural factors affect sexual risk taking and sexual assault victimization?

Kerry Spalding

3rd year in Social/Personality Psychology
Advisor: Cheryl Kaiser

Broadly, I am interested in how identity influences advancement and behavior for members of low-status groups in domains in which they are underrepresented and, conversely, how advancement and behavior influence identity. In one series of projects, I am investigating how group identification influences treatment of other ingroup members for women and ethnic minorities in domains in which they are underrepresented. Additionally, I am interested in the relationship between different implicit and explicit identities (e.g. female and scientist) and the implications for advancement of members of low-status groups. 

Dellanira Valencia-Garcia, M.A. 
4th year Clinical Student
Advisor: Jane Simoni, Ph.D.

NRSA Title: Social Capital and Mental Health in Latina Women
NRSA Abstract: Latinos comprise one of the fastest growing racial/ethnic populations in the United States, currently constituting 14% of the total US population. The increasing rate of Latinos will undoubtedly increase the number of people at risk for mental health disorders. Latina women will be at heightened risk since previous studies have found greater lifetime prevalence of mental health disorders, especially depression, in comparison to men. Social capital is a promising construct with which investigators may examine a community’s capacity to respond to challenges and promote individual-level health. However, the relation between social capital and mental health in ethnic minority populations remains unclear. Obtaining or expanding social capital, especially for marginalized communities, may therefore improve mental health outcomes. The proposed study will investigate the construct of social capital among Latina women of Mexican descent. Specifically, the qualitative phase will provide a description of the construct of social capital and how it operates among this population, while the quantitative phase will investigate the mental health and access to care outcomes of social capital and test a hypothesized model.

Professional and Research Interests: 
My interests include understanding mental illness in the context of cultural, social, economic, racial, and political realities with a specific focus on: socio-cultural issues in psychopathology, clinical evaluations and assessments, treatment efficacy in racial and ethnic minority populations, and improving traditional therapeutic interventions to enhance their cultural relevance. Further, I am interested in how both culture and acculturation influence our definitions, incidence and prevalence, and treatment of mental disorders.

Jennifer Wang

5th year Social and Personality Student
Advisor: Janxin Leu, PhD

My research interests include appraisals of racial discrimination, identity, stress and mental health, and immigrant psychology. I aim to bring an interdisciplinary approach to examine the experiences of Asian Americans and other groups.

Do behaviors that involve differential but not necessarily unfair treatment hurt emotionally for racial minorities? In my research, I focus on the cognitive appraisal process among Asian Americans in response to potential racial microaggressions. I also examine why and when racial microaggressions are emotionally harmful. 

My other research interests include comparisons of ethnic and racial identities, culture and emotion, immigrant stress and mental health, and modeling within-person variability. 


Clara L Wilkins

5th year Social Student
Adviser: Cheryl R. Kaiser, Ph.D.

Website: http://depts.washington.edu/silab/c_wilkins.html

My research lies in two primary areas: identifying antecedents and consequences of within-group variability in the psychological experience of stigma, and on understanding threats to the self. My research on the experience of stigma focuses on variation in racial minorities’ physical appearance: specifically, the degree to which individuals look like prototypical members of their racial group, phenotypic prototypicality (PP). My work on PP spans a broad spectrum of areas including the connection between PP and racial identification among Black and Latino Americans and stereotyping and attractiveness among Asians. My work in this area helps us better understand the unique experiences of different racial minority group members, rather than treating all members as if they shared one experience. 

My research on self-threat examines how social construals affect the experience of intergroup events. For example, while most Whites would explicitly endorse the American ideal of racial equality, my work provides evidence that Whites are threatened by racial progress. My work in this area seeks to establish why these patterns arise and to identify practical methods to reduce negative outcomes.