Psychology Equity, Inclusion, and Community (PEIC) Committee Newsletter

PEIC Outreach Committee Lunch Series presents:

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Diversity

Dr. David Givens & Brian Adams (Ph.D. Candidate)

The Dividends of Diversity: How recruiting diverse and marginalized populations improves research

Monday January 13 12 – 1 PM | Martin Room

Dr. David Givens and doctoral candidate Brian Adams will discuss examples from their work conducting public health practice and research as case studies highlighting the ways that truly representative sampling and outreach to marginalized communities can improve research outcomes and benefit everyone involved. These examples include the founding of the HIV Prevention and Care Project, studying LGBTQ+ stigma and religious belief, the creation of Project SILK for young black men who have sex with men and trans women, and culturally competent survey design for the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health. Learn more here. -Pizza will be served

Presented in collaboration with the PEIC LGBTQ Affinity Group:

Dr. Brian Thoma

Suicidality and Adversity among Transgender Adolescents

Wednesday March 4 12 – 1 PM | Martin Room

Dr. Thoma will present results from his recent investigation of suicidality disparities between transgender and cisgender adolescents from a large, nationwide online survey of adolescents in the United States. This work documents elevated risk for suicidality among transgender youth across the full spectrum of suicidality and examines which subgroups of transgender adolescents have distinct risk for suicidal ideation and behavior. Dr. Thoma will also present emerging evidence of disproportionate experiences of adversity among transgender youth which could underlie elevated risk for suicidality within this population. Learn more about Dr. Thoma here. - Pizza will be served.

PEIC Community Fair

The PEIC Outreach Committee is planning a community fair for fall 2020. Working together with a local community outreach group, we plan to bring research demonstrations and information to local Pittsburghers to make research more accessible and disseminate our findings. For more info contact: or

Graduate Student Bulletin Board

Last semester the Undergraduate Subcommittee created a graduate student bulletin board, displayed on the third floor of Sennott Square outside the advising office, to highlight the various backgrounds of our graduate students. Information displayed was chosen by each graduate student participant and provides a glimpse into their professional and personal lives. The intention of the board is to not only share who our graduate students are, but to help undergraduates with similar backgrounds feel welcomed and encouraged to become graduate students themselves. The subcommittee is hoping to spotlight additional graduate students this term and asks that you complete this brief survey with your information if you are interested in participating:

Clinical Training

The PEIC Clinical Training Subcommittee is planning a Multicultural Competency Training in CBT event for later this semester. The training will be run by Anu Asanaani. Keep an eye out for a save the date email! Contact for more information..

Undergraduate Open Lab Event

The Undergraduate Committee hosted an Open Lab Event in October to give students an Committee is planning a community fair for fall 2020. Working together with a local opportunity to learn about the directed research program and some of the labs in the community outreach group, we plan to bring research demonstrations and information to department. The spring Open Lab Event will be held on March 26. Any graduate local Pittsburghers to make research more accessible and disseminate our findings. If you students interested in helping can contact Melinda Ciccocioppo (


Upcoming PEIC Committee Meeting

The next full PEIC Committee meeting will be Thursday January 23rd at 1pm on the 9th floor of LRDC. All are welcome..

PEIC Outreach Committee presents:

Doing Research with Underrepresented Groups: A Panel Discussion

Feb 20, 3-4PM | Martin Room

  • Elizabeth Votruba-Dzral, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Psychology. Her research focuses on identifying key contexts which support learning and socioemotional development during the elementary school years with an emphasis on ethnically diverse and socioeconomically disadvantaged children, who tend to be underrepresented in development research but overrepresented among those targeted by programs and policies. Learn more here.
  • Diana Leyva, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychology whose research focuses on family processes, parenting, preschool, minority families, intervention programs, early language, early literacy, early math, school readiness, and Latinx communities. Learn more here.
  • Michael W. Dickey, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders. His research focuses on adult language in the Department of processing, neurogenic language impairments (especially aphasia), and the treatment and rehabilitation of adult language disorders. He holds a joint appointment with the VA Pittsburgh Health Care Center. Learn more here
  • Sophie Choukas-Bradley, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and a licensed clinical psychologist. Her research focuses on interpersonal and sociocultural influences on adolescent mental health and development, with an emphasis on gender, sexuality, social media use, body image, and LGBTQ+ youth. Learn more here..

Department of Psychology Colloquium Speaker:

Dr. Enrique Neblett

Professor of Health, Behavior, & Health Education | Associate Director, Detroit Academic-Community Urban Research Center University of Michigan

  • Bio-health Brown Bag
    12-1pm | Martin Room Friday January 17th
  • Professional Development Discussion for graduate students
    1:30-2:30 | Martin Room
  • Colloquium: African American Racial Identity Development During the Transition to Adulthood: Gift and “Curse”?
    3-4:30 | Martin Room
  • Learn more here..

Affinity Group Gatherings

Psychology Scholars of Color Affinity Group
Next meeting: TBD
Please contact Nabila Jamal

LGBTQ+ Affinity Group
Next meeting: TBD
Please contact Dr. Sophie Choukas-Bradley

Graduate Mentoring Community for Undergrads

The PEIC Undergraduate Committee is in the planning stages of forming a graduate student mentoring community for undergraduate students. The vision is for graduate students to form more personal relationships with undergraduate students outside of the mentoring that they do with directed research students in a lab setting. Contact Stephanie Crespo ( if you are interested. .

Congratulations to Dr. Kevin Binning!

Dr. Kevin Binning of the Social Psychology program recently received the 2019 Provost’s Award for Diversity in the Curriculum. He shares this award with Drs. Erica McGreevy and Chandralekha Singh for their work incorporating a new belonging intervention into introductory courses at Pitt. The intervention, which aimed to address gender and racial gaps, was effective in improving grades for all students. It is now part of the standard curriculum in the classes in which it was introduced. More info about the award here and about Dr. Binnings here..

PEIC Graduate Award

The PEIC Committee is pleased to request submissions for this year’s Graduate Award. The PEIC Graduate Award application is available to download here. This award is intended to fund conferences, trainings, or events that will provide opportunities for students to foster communities outside of our department and or enhance their professional development in the areas of equity and inclusion. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Email Lorraine Blatt ( or Luciano Dolcini-Catania ( with questions..

PEIC Book Discussion Groups

The PEIC Committee Book Discussion Groups recently read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. The next book will be Waking Up White by Debbie Irving. The faculty/staff book group is led by Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal ( and the student/staff book group is led by Brianna Ladd ( All are invited to attend..

We’re on the web!

The PEIC Committee Website has recently undergone some renovations thanks to Stephanie Crespo and Kole Norberg. Check it out for information on getting involved with the PEIC Committee, updates on initiatives, and other news about upcoming events and scholarships! Contact Kole Norberg ( to provide updates, info about available scholarships, photos, or other information to highlight on the website..

Research Spotlight: Laura Betancur, M.S.


Tell us a bit about your research.

My research aims to increase our understanding of how children's contexts shape their development, focusing on disadvantaged populations in the U.S. and in low- and middle-income countries. Specifically, I have explored preschool access and quality, parental time and money investments, income instability, child time-use, and community resources and stressors as some of the mechanisms linking poverty and SES to child development. My dissertation explores community factors and child time- use as possible mechanisms that drive cognitive, socio-emotional, and health disparities between poor urban and rural children in low- and middle- income countries.

Why are you passionate about your research topics?

I think the type of research I do can potentially inform important programs and public policies aimed at improving contextual support for disadvantaged children because it aims to understand the mechanisms that give rise to disparities in poor children’s development.

How do you study your populations of interest?

Often, I use public longitudinal datasets from the U.S. and low- and middle-income countries. For my dissertation, I'm using a dataset that contains data on 12,000 children from four countries (India, Ethiopia, Peru, and Vietnam) that were followed for 15 years. These datasets are very rich as they contain longitudinal data from children, schools, teachers, and families. I aim to provide a comprehensive contextualization of child development that includes all the different contexts of child development.

What do you enjoy most about your work? What is the most challenging?

The lab I belong to studies various issues on inequality (income, SES, race, urbanicity, etc.). Thus, it has been important to learn and be informed on all these fronts and be in constant dialogue not only with Developmental Psychology but with Economics, Sociology, Demography, etc. Furthermore, given that I study low- and middle-income countries, I have been forced to read and learn from studies in many countries. Reading and learning on all these issues is the most interesting thing about my work because I love learning, but it is also the most challenging.

Why do you think studying diverse populations is important?

I think human development is very diverse and the current knowledge we have in Developmental Psychology is not representative of that diversity. Traditionally, our field has focused on White middle-class populations from industrialized countries. I am glad to see that Psychology and many other sciences are starting to include very diverse groups that were never studied before (e.g. migrant families, refugees, former soldiers, or even the experiences of the very privileged). I think this research helps to advance a true understanding of families and child and adolescent development.

Laura is a student in the Developmental Psychology Program working with Dr. Elizabeth Votruba- Drzal. Laura studies contextual influences on child development, with a focus on underrepresented populations around the world.