Dr. Sarah Gaither, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience


Dr. Sarah Gaither is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience and a faculty affiliate at the Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University. Prior to Duke, she was a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Psychology Department and Fellow at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago after earning her Ph.D. and M.S. in Social Psychology from Tufts University and her B.A. in Social Welfare from U.C Berkeley.

Her research focuses broadly on how a person’s social identities and experiences across the lifespan motivate their social perceptions and behaviors in diverse settings. More specifically, she studies how contact with diverse others shapes social interactions, how having multiple racial or multiple social identities affects different types of social behavior and categorizations of others, and what contexts shape the development of racial perceptions and biases from childhood through adulthood. Growing up as a biracial Black/White woman is what has fueled her research path. CV


Graduate Students

Jaelyn Nixon, Graduate Student

Jaelyn Nixon is an doctoral student in the joint Public Policy and Psychology PhD program. She received her B.S. in Psychology from Tuskegee University and her M.S. in Experimental Psychology from Georgia Southern University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of race and social class. She is primarily concerned with the factors that contribute to prison, education, and health disparities. CV


Pedro De Abreu, Graduate Student


Mercedes Muñoz, Graduate Student

Mercedes Muñoz is a doctoral student in Social Psychology in the Duke Department of Psychology & Neuroscience. Mercedes earned her B.A. in Psychology with Honors from Boston University and she is interested in using both a social and developmental approach to investigate how children and adults develop an understanding of racial categories. Specifically, racial self-identification in groups that have a more ambiguous and complex racial categorization process—such as Latinx individuals. Additionally, her research focuses on investigating whether different racial/ethnic groups within the U.S. differ in their use of norm-enforcing language, such as generics. Most importantly, Mercedes aims for the means and the end of her research to benefit and uplift Black, Latinx, and other marginalized communities. CV

Jenny Zhou, Graduate Student


Mohammad Wiswall, Graduate Student

Mohammad Wiswall is a doctoral student in social psychology at Duke University’s Psychology & Neuroscience department. Mohammad graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers University-New Brunswick with a B.A. in Cognitive Science with Honors. Furthermore, he graduated as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, Paul Robeson Scholar, and Henry Rutgers Scholar. His research is interested in the interplay between contexts (e.g., culture) and person perceptions (e.g., stereotypes). Specifically, he is interested in how cues such skin tone variation skews stereotypes applied to Asian subgroups. Moreover, the role of racial ambiguity in perception and stereotyping. In parallel with research, Mohammad focuses on the mentorship of first generation, low-SES, and minority scholars. Thus, including these historically underrepresented scholars within the research process and academia. Outside of the lab, he enjoys finding new hiking trails in North Carolina, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, reading, and trying to take care of plants. CV

Lab Staff


Joy Knowles, Lab Manager

Joy Knowles (she/her) will be serving as the lab manager for the ID Lab. She graduated from Emory University in 2022 and double majored in Psychology and African American Studies. She is passionate about mental health in communities of color and is interested in working with individuals with intersectional identities. Joy cares deeply about cultural development and plans on earning her PhD in psychology and working on initiatives to increase educational equity. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to podcasts, reading, and dog training.


Justin Kim, CHILD studies recruitment coordinator

Justin Kim is a recent Duke graduate interested in how children learn and reinforce social behaviors/norms and the mechanisms in the brain supporting their cognitive development. Previously, he has worked on research projects surrounding early mental health interventions for at-risk children and infant language acquisition. He is passionate about working with children, especially in underserved communities and hopes to continue engaging with them as the department’s recruitment coordinator.

Some current and past student memories!