Meet the Lab (Current)

Nao Hagiwara, PhD

nao Office:
808 W Franklin St, rm 301
Curriculum Vitae

Nao Hagiwara is an Assistant professor in the VCU Department of Psychology. She is a member of Health Psychology program and also affiliated with Social Psychology program. Nao received her Ph.D. in Social/Personality Psychology in 2010 from Michigan State University, under the training of Debby Kashy and Joe Cesario, and received postdoctoral research training in applied health research at Karmanos Cancer Institute/Wayne State University School of Medicine, where she collaborated with Lou Penner and a team of multidisciplinary researchers. Nao’s research primarily focuses on intergroup relations and health disparities. Nao likes to explore Richmond and the surrounding areas with her family on weekends.


Graduate Students

CJ Alderson
Curriculum Vitae

C.J. is a second-year in the Health Psychology program. Originally from Riverside, CA, CJ received his B.A. in psychology form Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. His broader research interests include worldview level belief systems, factors that influence person perception and impression formation, as well as how such phenomena might interact to impact health behaviors and health disparities. More specifically, CJ is currently investigating how people perceive of other peoples’ “free will” and whether these perceptions are affected by racial bias. How would you treat someone if you felt their future was open to multiple and legitimate possibilities? Would you treat them differently if you thought that they were fated to a certain outcome? Moreover, might your inference of their having/not having “free will” be dependent upon their race/skin color? In his free time, CJ likes to have good conversations with people who have views different than his own. He also loves to visit breweries with his wife, Dana.


Randl Dent
Curriculum Vitae                                                                                                             Randl Dent

Randl is a first-year health psychology doctoral program from Dunkirk, MD. She received her B.A. in psychology and sociology from Washington and Lee University. She gained the majority of her research experience from working with Dr. Megan Fulcher in her Gender Development psychology Lab.  In addition to her work in the Discrimination and Health Lab, she works in VCU’s Psychology Undergraduate Advising Office. Her research interest include racial identity, discrimination, help-seeking behaviors, patient-provider communication, and both physical and mental health of African-Americans.


Ebony Lambert
Curriculum Vitae

Ebony is a first-year graduate student in the Health Psychology doctoral program. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Africana Studies at The College of William & Mary, where she explored issues of race and culture in schools with Dr. Anne Charity Hudley and Dr. Cheryl Dickter. Broadly, Ebony’s research investigates the effects of bias (e.g. dehumanization and notions of Black inferiority) on Black student health and school success.



Undergraduate Research Assistants

Our research lab consists of several undergraduate students who are either gaining research experience for course credit or as volunteers. Please scroll down to find out more about our undergraduate RA’s.

Yusra Ahmed

My name is Yusra Ahmed and I am an undergraduate senior at VCU. I am double-majoring in Psychology and English and plan on graduating in December 2017. I am originally from New York but was raised in Chester, Virginia. Although I do not currently have very specific research interests, I know the subject matter of discrimination/the role of culture is important to my academia. I love to go to the gym in my spare time, as well as read and write.

Nyeisha Daniels

Major: Sociology and Psychology

Expected Graduation: May 2018

Class Standing: Junior

My research interests are primarily in the mental health and health disparities  In my spare time, I like to read books, and watch documentaries.

Naiya Carter

Expected Graduation Date: May 2018

Class Standing: Junior

I am interested in looking at how familial structure and interaction can affect the social and mental development of African-Americans of low socioeconomic status. In my free time I like to listen to music, and read.

Analynne Escobar





Indya Hairston




Gurpreet Kaur

Major: Psychology with a minor in Sociology

Expected Graduation: December 2017

Class Standing: Senior

My research interests include studying how traumatic events can impact an individual later on in life as well as mental health disparities among different racial groups. I hope to further my education in either clinical psychology or industrial psychology. In my free time I love to cook and watch Greys Anatomy!

Christopher Lee

School Year: Junior

Expected Graduation: Fall 2018

Major: Psychology Minor: Biology

I am currently interested in the primary and secondary reactions within prejudice towards groups of people.

In my spare time I play video games competitively, play the piano, and enjoy watching the sky go by.

Matthew Miera

Major: Psychology and Philosophy

Expected Graduation: May 2017

Class Standing: Senior

My research interests are in judgment and decision-making. Broadly, I’d like to investigate factors which influence people’s decision making in ways that cause them to overlook more salient considerations.  Further, I’m interested in how these effects can be predicted and attenuated in favor of more optimal decision making. In my free time, I like to play video games and go out with friends on the weekend.

Ronald Romero-Barrientos

Year in school: Junior

Expected Graduation Date: May 2018

Major: Psychology

My research interests vary but I am especially interested in discrimination and prejudice, specifically why people choose to discriminate against others and the lasting effects discrimination has on the individuals and communities who experience it. I also have an interest in mental health, particularly depression and how it affects personal relationships. In my spare time I enjoy listening to new music and exploring Richmond.

Olivia Shelton





Jasmine Temple




Kasa Weber

Major: Psychology

Class Standing: Senior

Expected Graduation: Fall 2017

My research interests are diverse, and include studying links between the mind and body. Particularly, I am interested in the effects of stress and substance abuse on the mind and body, as well as different treatment strategies. In my free time, I enjoy socializing with people and spending time with animals.