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
Esha Naidu, Post-Doctoral Scholar
Esha Naidu is a Postdoctoral Associate in the department of Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke University. Esha earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Social-Personality Psychology at the University at Buffalo SUNY and her B.S. in Psychology from Arizona State University. Esha’s research interests broadly concern 1) how features the self (e.g. culture, identity, personality, religious beliefs etc.) influence feelings of belongingness in different social contexts and 2) how the social self can use a variety of strategies (e.g. technologically mediated relationships, parasocial relationships, anthropomorphism, social surrogates, collective effervescence and close relationships) to fulfill the need to belong. In her free time, Esha likes trying out new recipes, working out while complaining about working out, and desperately trying to keep her house plants alive.
Jaelyn Nixon, Graduate Student
Jaelyn Nixon is a 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
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
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
Kirby Lam, Graduate Student
Joy Knowles, Lab Manager
Sydney Revell, CHILD studies recruitment coordinator
Sydney is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) where she received her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies. Her research interests are shaped by social and cultural contexts. Her interests include examining social processes that support positive developmental outcomes for Black youth. More specifically, she is interested in how youth understand and respond to social injustices that lead them to create social change. Sydney wants to expand her skills working with communities and finding opportunities to participate in community-engaged work, which she hopes to do as the recruitment coordinator. She enjoys staying active by practicing yoga and hiking.
Some current and past student memories!