Faculty Diversity-Related Research Interests

The department of psychology acknowledges the importance of diversity in research, such that individuals participating in our research studies should reflect the diversity of our communities. Our department also recognizes the potential for research to serve and uplift marginalized and historically underrepresented populations. Below, we highlight several faculty within the department whose research is exemplary of inclusivity in research by working with or serving marginalized populations.


Dr. Julia Buckner

Julia Buckner’s research program includes explicit goals to identify psycho-sociocultural factors related to substance-related problems and other health-related problems (e.g., anxiety, suicidal thoughts and behaviors), especially among individuals at particular risk for such problems, including understudied/historically underrepresented groups. Her research has included examination of psychological and substance use vulnerability factors among individuals who identify as African American/Black or Hispanic/Latin, as well as individuals from sexual minority groups. She has also examined the role of gender in these processes. Current studies include examination of the role of race-based microaggressions and other forms of discrimination on negative affect and substance use.


Dr. Vanessa Burke

Dr. Burke's LEAD lab is dedicated to exploring diversity-related dynamics within organizational settings. Her research delves into the intricate power structures present in workplaces and examines how individuals within these organizations emotionally, cognitively, and behaviorally negotiate these structures. With a particular focus on power dynamics arising from leadership positions and demographic diversity among employees, the lab seeks to shed light on the complexities of navigating diversity in professional environments.


Dr. Matt Calamia

Current research projects include a qualitative study of African Americans in Baton Rouge regarding their interest in participating in dementia research studies and a review of the racial and ethnic diversity of research published in neuropsychology journals. Both projects are led by a current Huel-Perkins Fellowship recipient, Erika Pugh, under his supervision.


Dr. Alex Cohen

Alex Cohen's research involves developing ways to measure mental health using objective analysis of language, vocal/facial expressions and other behaviors. This research focuses on how these measures systematically vary as a function of race, gender, socioeconomic status, culture and other individual difference factors. We conduct collaborative research with a number of international organizations, and we strive to develop culturally-sensitive and accurate algorithms/methods as part of these projects.


Dr. Mary Lou Kelley 

Mary Lou Kelley has conducted numerous studies on factors related to African American children and family's adjustment following Hurricane Katrina, especially those from more impoverished backgrounds.  Dr. Kelley has also conducted a number of studies extending evidenced-based treatments for children’s academic success to low income minority students and their parents and teachers.


Dr. Paul Frick

Paul Frick's research explores the effects of prejudice and discrimination on the psychological adjustment of children and adolescents and the impact of an adolescent’s racial and ethnic background on their treatment by the juvenile justice system.  Dr. Frick was part of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change in Juvenile Justice initiative, which intervened to reduce disproportionate minority within all stages of the juvenile justice system in Louisiana.   Dr. Frick was also part of the multiple PI team with Dr. Beth Cauffman and Dr. Laurence Steinberg for the Crossroads in Juvenile Justice project, which studied the effects of contact with the juvenile justice system on the development of adolescents of color.


Dr. Shawn Gilroy

Dr. Shawn Gilroy’s laboratory is investigating practices related to functional communication training for pre- and minimally-vocal autistic children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. This work emphasizes a bilingual approach using high-tech communication systems designed to support children who are non-vocal but interact with peers and caregivers speaking multiple languages.


Dr. Anna Long

The primary aim of Dr. Long’s research program is to improve the process of translating research evidence into everyday practice for children. Subsumed within this overarching goal is research aimed specifically at informing the field about culturally responsive, evidenced-based practice. Dr. Long examines the transportability of interventions to diverse settings and client populations, as well as the influence of cultural variables on individuals’ academic and behavioral-emotional well-being. She is currently mentoring a graduate student (Aijah Baruti-Goodwin) who is funded by the Huel Perkins Diversity Graduate Fellowship award.


Dr. Jas Sullivan

Dr. Sullivan studies the impact of race on political and psychological outcomes. His current projects focus on the following topics: African American racial identity and reactions to and coping with discrimination.


Dr. Ray Tucker

Current projects include a mixed-methods investigation of the relationship between transition-related medical interventions and suicidal thoughts and behaviors in Transgender and Gender Diverse Veterans.