A number of our core and affiliated faculty are actively engaged in research on diversity and related topics, in a wide variety of populations and settings. Strong collaboration among faculty and ties to surrounding communities foster an exciting research climate in UIC Psychology!

Bette L. Bottoms

Bette L. Bottoms, Professor
Lab website: http://bbottoms.wixsite.com/psychlaw

The law makes many assumptions about the humans it seeks to control. Are those assumptions accurate? Are laws reasonable in light of what we know from psychological science? How can psychologists help inform the law and create a more just legal system? These are the questions my students and I address. Most of our current research focuses on factors that influence juror and jury decision making, often in cases of child sexual abuse or cases with juvenile offenders. For many years, we’ve been particularly interested in ways in which decisions are influenced by issues related to race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability. For example, all other things equal, jurors are biased against both victims and defendants who are from stereotyped groups (e.g., minority race, gay sexual orientation). We use psychological theory to understand the determinants of such decision making and how to address unfair bias in the legal system.

Pauline Maki

Pauline Maki, Professor

For over 20 years, Dr. Pauline M. Maki has led a program of NIH-funded research focused on the role of sex steroid hormones on cognition, mood, brain function (neuroimaging) and stress responsivity in women. Women’s cognitive abilities, mood, and response to stress can be affected by changes in sex hormones, like estrogen, including changes that occur during the menopausal transition, during pregnancy, and across the menstrual cycle. In particular, the goal of her work is to improve the lives of women by identifying factors that alter their risk of cognitive decline and affective disorders. Dr. Maki received her PhD in experimental psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1994. She received post-graduate training at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the dementias of aging and at the National Institute on Aging in neuroimaging. In 1999, she joined the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging. In 2002, she joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Kristine Molina

Kristine Molina, Assistant Professor

Our lab is concerned with investigating how different dimensions of inequality, often resulting from racism, become embodied at multiple levels to affect health across the life course. We focus on three inter-related areas: 1) inequality, health, and health disparities; 2) contexts of coping with inequality; and 3) intergenerational transmission of inequality. One major area of focus involves investigating how existential inequality (operationalized as self-reported interpersonal discrimination targeted at the individual and the in-group) is associated with the mental, physical, and behavioral health of racialized groups, and how exposure to discrimination may prompt different ways of coping and the factors that may facilitate or hinder positive health effects. Lastly, we focus on the intergenerational transmission of risks associated with discrimination on the health of Latinx youth.

Amanda Roy

Amanda Roy, Assistant Professor

My research focuses on two lines of inquiry. The first of these examines neighborhood and environmental factors and their relationship to individual functioning. For example, I have explored how exposure to neighborhood characteristics such as poverty, racial/ethnic composition, crime, and organizational resources (e.g., health care services) influence the health and well-being of adults and children. I am currently using mobile technology to better understand where and when youth come in contact with environmental risk factors and how these exposures shape mood and risk-taking behavior. Finally, my work also explores ways that income and economic inequality influence youth development.

Linda Skitka

Linda Skitka, Professor

The Skitka Lab’s interests in moral conviction came to a considerable degree out of research interests in how people reason about distributive and procedural justice. Distributive justice refers to the principles people use to guide the allocation of the benefits and burdens of social cooperation.

Kate Zinsser

Kate Zinsser, Assistant Professor
The Social-Emotional Teaching & Learning Lab
Contact: Dr. Kate Zinsser kzinsser@uic.edu

In Dr. Zinsser’s SETL lab, our research focuses on the quality of early childhood environments, especially the ways by which adults promote of young children’s social and emotional competence and well-being. Our work examines early childhood teacher-child interactions, classroom processes, instruction quality and emotion socialization practices that promote children’s social success, positive development, and achievement. We are especially interested in studying systems and policies that impact the equity of young children’s learning opportunities, including: gender and racial disparities in disciplinary practices, building collaborative teacher-parent relationships across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines, ensuring cultural representation and well-being in the teacher workforce, and developing measurement and evaluation tools that are valid across contexts and cultures. Learn more about the lab and how to apply to be a Research Assistant at setllab.com

Lisa Sanchez-Johnsen

Lisa Sanchez-Johnsen, Associate Professor (Affiliate)
Website: https://www.psych.uic.edu/profile/lisa-a-sanchez-johnsen

Dr. Sanchez-Johnsen has over 20 years of experience conducting research and clinical work with Latinos and other minorities in the area of culturally competent health behavior change. She has research interests in developing culturally competent obesity (diet, physical activity, and body image) interventions and assessments for Latinos and Blacks using community-engaged approaches, disparities in weight loss after bariatric surgery across ethnic groups, and cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular risk reduction in Latinos.

Matt Motyl

Matt Motyl, Assistant Professor
Social Ecology, Ideology, and Conflict (SIC) Lab
Website: http://www.mattmotyl.com

In our lab, we study how context affects how people navigate their relationships with similar and dissimilar others. Specifically, we examine what it is about some social contexts that makes them more likely to foster positive (vs. negative) intergroup interactions. Current projects are focusing on how values related to diversity (e.g., fairness, group loyalty) are geographically distributed, and on what makes people tolerant of some types of diversity, but not others. The goal is to understand processes to foster more positive intergroup attitudes and interactions, and how such processes may be scaled at the institutional level.

Erin Berenz

Erin Berenz, Assistant Professor
Chicago Alcohol and Trauma Laboratory
Lab website: https://chatlab.wixsite.com/uichicago

The goal of Dr. Berenz’s program of research is to identify malleable risk and maintenance factors for PTSD and AUD, particularly among survivors of interpersonal trauma (e.g., physical and sexual assault). Our lab is actively partnering with non-profit addiction treatment providers to enhance access to care among adults living in high-risk communities in the greater Chicago area. Dr. Berenz also serves as the UIC Clinical Psychology representative to the BRIDGE Program, a network of Clinical Psychology training programs dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in the field.

Megin Wardle

Megin Wardle, Assistant Professor

Although drug addiction is a problem that cuts across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic lines, recent research shows that the toll of cocaine and crack cocaine use has been disproportionately concentrated in African-American communities. Although national attention has focused on opioid overdose, which contributes strongly to death rates in predominantly white communities, deaths from cocaine overdose in African-American communities are equivalently high per capita, and represent an often-overlooked public health problem. Consistent with the epidemiological findings, my research program on novel treatments for cocaine use disorder involves predominantly African-American, low-income, inner-city participants. This provides ample opportunities for students interested in working with historically under-served groups. In the context of the enormous diversity of Chicago, it also provides potential for interested students to conduct investigations of the role of race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status in addiction treatment outcomes.