A new discipline in psychology at the University of Oregon is broadening the department’s inclusivity with three new dedicated faculty hires.
Part of the UO’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Psychology has welcomed assistant professors Mariah Kornbluh, Chanel Meyers and Alayna Park for fall term. Their research emphasis area in diversity science highlights a theme across work the department is already doing, said department head Sara Hodges.
“Diversity science is a no-brainer in psychology,” Hodges said. “But with these hires, we wanted to elevate it by finding exceptional scholars who directly study how group differences, real or perceived, affect individuals’ development and well-being.”
Developmental and community psychologist Kornbluh brings experience in studying how children and adolescents who are marginalized or socially excluded by systems of power find ways to challenge inequities. She researches how these youth become empowered to push back on barriers to wellness and academic achievement.
At the UO, Kornbluh will partner with local schools and agencies to engage in youth-led participatory action research. Researchers collaborate with community members to explore, in her words, “how children and youth can be their own agents of change in reimaging and transforming institutions that have systematically disadvantaged our most vulnerable communities.”
Park is a clinical psychologist who studies how to improve the quality and effectiveness of mental health care for youth of color. Youth of color typically attend fewer sessions and drop out of treatment at higher rates than their white peers due to systemic and structural barriers to engaging in mental health care.
Park’s research investigates how to adapt effective mental health programs often designed for and tested with middle-class, white clients to be more compatible with the norms, beliefs and values of racial and ethnic minoritized groups. Park directs the ADDRESS Mental Health Lab and also is affiliated with The Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health.
Trained as a social-cognitive psychologist, Meyers examines the role racial diversity plays in intergroup processes. Growing up as a multiracial kid in Hawaii, she found that much of psychology did not reflect her reality.
“My research highlights the experiences of underrepresented racial groups in psychology,” Meyers said.
She examines how race-related contexts and social norms influence cognition, perception, behaviors and social interactions. Meyers is teaching an undergraduate course on stereotyping and prejudice this term and directs the Diversity and Social Cognition Lab.
Hodges said the department is thrilled to have found new colleagues “who ask challenging questions about how diversity affects how we do psychology research and the value of the conclusions we draw from that research.”
The three new assistant professors are each recruiting undergraduate, master’s or doctoral student research assistants this year.
—By Anna Glavash Miller, College of Arts and Sciences