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


Dr. Sarah Gaither is an Assistant 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

Post-Doctoral Scholars

Dr. Analia Albuja, NSF Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Analia Albuja is a postdoctoral scholar in the Duke ID lab. She earned her Ph.D. and M.S. in Social Psychology from Rutgers University and her B.S. in Psychology from Truman State University. Through two lines of research, her work examines the discrimination experiences of people who hold multiple identities, and how people who hold multiple (or otherwise stigmatized) identities are perceived by others. Her postdoctoral work will integrate social psychological research on identity denial and questioning with developmental research on parent socialization and discrimination attributions to explore the antecedents and consequences of multiracial and multicultural children’s discrimination attributions for identity denial and questioning. CV

Alexandria West, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow

Alexandria West is a postdoctoral associate working in the Duke ID lab. Prior to joining the lab, Alexandria completed a PhD and MA in Social Psychology at York University, Toronto. She is a cultural psychologist and multiculturalism researcher with a focus on biculturalism and intercultural relations. She studies how biculturals negotiate their multiple cultures and what unique psychological and social outcomes result from the specific ways they do so. Her other lines of research examine self-expansion and cultural negotiation in intercultural romantic relationships as well as on the barriers to intercultural understanding in North America. You can check out her website hereCV

Graduate Students

Adam Stanaland, Fourth-Year Student


Adam is pursuing Duke’s first joint PhD in psychology and public policy. His research aims to understand why powerful social role norms exist, how they shape us, and if/how we can change them. To study this, he analyzes the causes and consequences of masculinity norms on boys’ and men’s development and behavior (e.g., aggression/violence, political engagement, mental health, intergroup attitudes). His research is co-led with passionate undergraduates from historically underrepresented groups because he believes that high-quality training and mentorship are key to diversifying psychology, academia, and science more broadly.

He also enjoys applying psychology for the public good, having most recently served as president of Duke’s graduate student nonprofit consulting organization (DISI); media manager for the Behavioral Science and Policy Association (BSPA); and as a contributor to health, lifestyle, and science news outlets. Before his PhD, Adam attended Davidson College and then worked for the NYC Department of Education designing data-driven strategy to support NYC’s lowest-performing public schools.  CV

Brenda Straka, Fourth-Year Student


Brenda Straka is a doctoral student in social psychology in the Duke ID Lab. Brenda earned her B.A. with high distinction in Psychology and Cognitive Science with a minor in English from the University of Virginia. Her research interests broadly focus on the social identities that people claim and how these identities inform belonging to certain social groups. More specifically, her research explores racial identity and group membership and how these inform our experiences of exclusion. Furthermore, she is particularly interested in Multiraical and Hispanic/Latino identity as these groups challenge many pre-existing notions about racial identity and group membership.

Some of her current research explores perceptions of racial identity representations in media, how racial identity informs future expectations of exclusion, how children begin to understand group membership, as well as health outcomes related to minority and marginalized social identities.  CV

Jane Leer, Third-Year Student


Jane Leer is a joint-degree doctoral student in public policy and developmental psychology. She has a B.A. with highest honors in Development Studies (Political Economy) from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in International Education Policy from Stanford University. She comes to Duke after having worked for seven years as an applied researcher with international NGOs and aid agencies. Broadly, she is interested in how social context shapes cognitive and social emotional development during critical developmental periods—namely, early childhood and adolescence. Current projects include an analysis of literacy skills trajectories among public school students in North Carolina, a randomized controlled trial evaluation of Nicaragua’s first nation-wide home visit parenting program, and an analysis of the social determinants of adolescents’ gender attitudes in Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone. Ultimately, her research aims to understand how structural inequality interacts with social identity to influence behaviors relevant for academic success, such as parental role modeling, parent/child interactions and social belonging. CV


Jaelyn Nixon, First-Year Student

Jaelyn Nixon is an incoming 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

Mercedes Muñoz, First-Year 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 plans to use both a social and developmental approach to understand social category and social bias development in children and adults. Specifically, she is interested in how the language we use to talk about race, gender, and ethnicity has the potential to impact people’s understanding and perceptions of these social categories. Most importantly, Mercedes aims for the means and the end of her research to benefit and uplift Black, Latinx, and other marginalized communities. CV

Lab Staff

Talita AhmedLab Manager


Talita Ahmed is the ID lab manager for the department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. She graduated from the University of North Carolina Greensboro in 2019 with a B.S. in psychology. Her research interests include psychosocial predictors of major depressive disorder, provoking agents (such as chronic life difficulties) and stress regulation. She is particularly interested in working with global and female populations. She hopes to pursue a PhD and career one day in clinical psychology. She currently resides in Cary and enjoys hiking, boxing, listening to Stevie Wonder and spending time with close ones. CV

Honors Students

Temi Adekunle


My name is Temi Adekunle, and I am from Atlanta, Georgia. I am a senior at Duke University majoring in Psychology and minoring in Chemistry on the pre-medicine track. My honors thesis will focus on the racial differences in patient-physician interactions and how those differences affect the interaction. In addition to working with the Duke Identity and Diversity Lab on campus, I volunteer with FEMMES, I’m the president of the Minority Association of Pre-medical students, and volunteer at the Duke Hospital. In my free time, I enjoy rewatching Marvel movies, hanging out with friends, journaling, painting, and discovering new music. CV


Some of our students from our previous years!