Diversity

diversity and psychology club group photo

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts is strongly committed to the support and promotion of cultural diversity within the university and surrounding community. Cultural diversity encompasses differences and similarities in race, ethnicity, social class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and age. Within the department, attention and sensitivity to diversity issues are fostered in course offerings, undergraduate programs, faculty and graduate student research, and clinical practice. A core aspect of awareness and appreciation for diversity is that it promotes respect for others. Diversity is especially valued and encouraged in the student body, faculty, and staff because it enriches both educational experiences and the translation of psychological knowledge into practice.

Diversity News

Christina Rowley receives NRSA Fellowship for her proposal 'Understanding Stress and Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities in Multiethnoracial Families'

Christina Rowley
Christina Rowley

Christina Rowley has received a two-year Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for her proposal “Understanding Stress and Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities in Multiethnoracial Families.” Rowley’s award is classified as a Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research, which will enable her to receive mentored research training from outstanding faculty sponsors, enhance her understanding of health-related sciences, and develop into an independent research scientist.   

Ibrahim Dahlstrom-Hakki ‘08PhD

Alumni Spotlight
Ibrahim Dahlstrom-Hakki
Ibrahim Dahlstrom-Hakki

Making STEM education more accessible and effective for diverse learners

A Senior Research Scientist at TERC, Ibrahim Dahlstrom-Hakki develops alternative approaches to mainstream education that benefit neurodiverse learners. He designs innovative curricula and assessments utilizing neurocognitive tools, game-based learning, and even virtual reality. He also shares his educational knowledge through professional development workshops for teachers, improving the accessibility of STEM education for students with disabilities.

Advisor-Student Pair Win Gilliam Fellowship

Mélise Edwards
Mélise Edwards

Neuroscience and behavior Ph.D. student Mélise Edwards and her advisor, Professor Agnès Lacreuse, are among the 50 winners of this year’s Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study for dissertation adviser–graduate student pairs. The award is part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) program to promote diversity and inclusion in science.

“I am really thankful for the few really incredible mentors, including peer mentors, who reminded me that my GPA was not indicative of my intelligence and that I would excel in graduate school,” says Edwards, a biracial Black woman from North Carolina. “I’m so glad I listened to them instead of the countless naysayers who tried to convince me not to pursue science or graduate school.”

Agnès Lacreuse
Agnès Lacreuse

Lacreuse says she’s “thrilled and honored” to have received the award with Mélise. “The Fellowship recognizes Mélise’s excellence in neuroscience, anti-racism activism, and mentorship leadership,” she says. “In the two years I’ve had the pleasure to mentor her, I have been thoroughly impressed by her insatiable drive to answer big scientific questions, her enthusiasm for neuroscience, and her creative mind.”

Brooke Burrows awarded NSF funding for cutting edge internship at Elite Learners

Brooke BurrowsBrooke Burrows, a Ph.D. student in in the psychology of peace and violence program in the department of psychological and brain sciences, was recently awarded funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support a six-month internship. Part of NSF’s INTERN program, the award is designed to provide non-academic research experience and training to graduate students.

Trisha Dehrone receives NSF support for six-month American Immigration Council internship

Trisha DehroneTrisha Dehrone, PhD student in the psychology of peace and violence program, was recently awarded funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support a six-month internship. Part of NSF’s INTERN program, the award is designed to provide non-academic research experience and training.   

Dehrone will hold an internship with the American Immigration Council, a non-profit, non-partisan organization based out of Washington, D.C. She will design, implement, and evaluate interventions to build positive relationships between racially and ethnically diverse neighbors. 

Actively addressing inequalities promotes social change

people stand at opposing sides of a chasm

What does it take for people to commit to take action to promote social equality? And how might this differ for people from advantaged and disadvantaged groups?

An international team, including Linda Tropp at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and researchers in 23 countries, finds more mutual support for social change among advantaged and disadvantaged groups when inequality is actively addressed and the psychological needs of each group are met. The new research, led by the University of Zurich (UZH), was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Mélise Edwards, Brooke Burrows, and Jasmine Dixon receive Wendy Helmer Graduate Student Award

We are pleased to announce that Mélise Edwards, Brooke Burrows, and Jasmine Dixon (pictured left to right) were chosen as recipients of the Wendy Helmer Graduate Student Award! The awardees' fellow graduate students recognized their important contributions in PBS and in the broader community. They have been strong advocates for racial justice, and have worked tirelessly to address inequities in our community.

Stylianos Syropoulos awarded sixth annual Keith Rayner Memorial Graduate Student Research Award

Stelios posing in office with shelves of booksStylianos Syropoulos, a third-year student in the Psychology of Peace and Violence concentration in the Social Psychology program working with Dr. Bernhard Leidner, was awarded the sixth annual Keith Rayner Memorial Graduate Student Research Award. His project, titled “De-polarizing" American Society: Emphasizing Intergroup Similarities versus Differences as a Mechanism for Decreasing Political Polarization and Hostility, will study whether an emphasis on the dissemination of psychological findings with a focus on intergroup similarities, and not differences, as is the norm of the field, can promote harmony and cooperation between Republican and Democrats. The ultimate goal of the project is to highlight ways through which the dissemination of psychological research can depolarize the American electorate.

Children’s Thoughts on Race and Social Status

Tara Mandalaywala
Dr. Tara Mandalaywala

On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, the psychology departments at Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women, together with the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program at Yeshiva College, hosted Dr. Tara Mandalaywala, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Amherst, Massachusetts. In her lecture, “A Kid’s Eye View of Race and Social Status,” Dr. Mandalaywala shared her research on young children’s thoughts and observations on the important issues of race and social status, work that comes out of Dr. Mandalaywala’s Cognition Across Development Laboratory at UMass Amherst, which explores the development of social cognition across human and nonhuman primates. Her research examines how young individuals make sense of and cope with the complex social world around them.

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