Ferris Family Associate Professor of Life Course Studies and Director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research
I am the Ferris Family Associate Professor of Life Course Studies in the Department of Psychology, director of the Bronfenfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, and Associate Dean for Outreach and Extension in the College of Human Ecology. I also serve as Provost's Fellow for Public Engagement, and direct the Purpose and Identity Processes Laboratory.
I am also director of PRYDE (the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement). The aim of PRYDE is to link science and service in innovative ways by involving 4-H communities in basic and applied research to promote positive youth development.
My research interests follow two paths. The first investigates why having a sense of self-direction – or purpose in life – serves as a resource for those who cultivate it. Specifically, I conduct studies testing the extent to which purpose (a) contributes to positive adjustment and (b) serves as a source of protection in the face of stress and challenge. A second path examines how notions of race are incorporated into one’s sense of self (i.e., racial identification) and potentially shape perceptions of everyday encounters. My work in this area has focused on the psychological adjustment of ethnic minorities and examines (a) how race-related experiences are related to adjustment and (b) whether racial identity might either amplify or lessen the impact of these experiences. I believe the importance of this work lies in the potential to identify sources of resilience capable of improving the well-being of vulnerable and often marginalized populations.