DEI Research in the Department

Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience

PI: Dr. Simon Fischer-Baum
Title: Uncovering the cognitive architecture of braille reading and writing for visually impaired students and their teachers
Abstract: For many visually impaired individuals, learning to read braille by touch is the primary access to point to the world of literacy. In contrast, the teachers charged with teaching these students braille are often sighted and learn to read braille by sight after a lifetime experience with print. This research explores differences between students with visual impairments and their teachers in terms of the cognitive processes involved in braille reading and how the differences between these groups may have an impact on braille pedagogy.

PIs: Dr. Simon Fischer-Baum and Sarah Irons
Title: Neurosexism and the seductive allure of neuroscience
Abstract: Previous research has shown that including irrelevant neuroscience information reduces our ability to detect bad scientific arguments in psychology - a phenomenon known as the seductive allure problem. At the same time, neuroscience research has been used, at least in the popular press, to argue for essentialist gender differences in cognition - what has been called neurosexism. In this project, we are investigating how the seductive allure problem is impacted when irrelevant neuroscientific terms are included in discussions of gender differences. We find that the seductive allure problem is more prominent in these examples, with participants being more swayed by irrelevant neuroscience with examples that involved gender differences than examples that do not. We also find that participants assume that examples that include irrelevant neuroscience support the idea that gender differences are essential and assume that examples that only include references to behavior support the idea that gender differences are socially constructed.

PIs: Dr. Simon Fischer-Baum, Dr. Randi Martin, Dr. Chris Fagundes
Title: Documentation status, chronic stress and its effect on working memory and language
Abstract: Precious research shows that early life stress can lead to life long changes in working memory and other research has argued that working memory is critical for some aspects of language processing. In this project, we are working with a population that has experienced extensive chronic stress - immigrants without documentation, and investigating the kinds of impacts on cognition - both working memory and language processing - that can be caused by stress surrounding immigration status.

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

PI: Dr. Eden King
Title: Assessing Subtle Racism against Black and Hispanic Patients to Reduce Health Disparities
Abstract: Health disparities between racial groups are pervasive, persistent, and pernicious. Yet, the healthcare community knows very little about the manifestations of such bias in provider-patient interactions or how to detect them. Moreover, physicians have no way of knowing whether, how, and when they enact racism. In this work, we leverage emerging technologies and advanced analytics to identify and assess subtle biases in provider-patient interactions. To build understanding of and ultimately to address health disparities, this work will describe the linguistic markers that exemplify subtle bias in encounter notes in electronic health records (EHRs). The ways that providers describe their patients in these notes offers a window into their beliefs and behavior. Indeed, psychological and linguistic theories point to linguistic markers as meaningful measures of unconscious attitudes. We integrate existing semantic and sentiment programs with results from subject matter expert interviews and experiments to identify the linguistic markers of bias that are unique to the context of patient-provider interactions.

PIs: Dr. Eden King & Dr. Mikki Hebl
Title: How allies can help reduce the consequences of subtle discrimination toward minorities in STEM
Abstract: Broadening the participation of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is a critical goal in the staffing, management, and effectiveness of the U.S. workforce. Indeed, African American and Hispanic people comprise less than 10% of the STEM workforce. The overarching goal of this research is to increase the recruitment, retention, and preparation of Hispanic and African American students for STEM careers. We focus on the subtle yet significant messages that minority students encounter in STEM contexts that undermine their success. We uniquely consider the ways that allies-- majority group members who strive to end oppression toward, and advocate on behalf of, minority group members-- can effectively address subtle discrimination, and thus ultimately support the STEM interest, efficacy, achievement, and workplace success of minority students. In summary, the findings from this work will serve as an impetus for scholarship on minority stress interventions and ally engagement. Additionally, it will offer immediately applicable strategies for retaining African American and Hispanic students in STEM, a necessary step for increasing the representation of racial minorities in the U.S. STEM workforce.

PIs: Dr. Danielle D. King & Elisa Fattoracci
Title: Black Employee Experiences with Racial Microaggressions
Abstract: This project qualitatively and quantitatively examines how Black employees respond to and are affected by workplace interactions demonstrating subtle, ambiguous racial bias. This study empirically demonstrates the depleting nature of microaggressions in fostering race-related vigilance and co-rumination as coping mechanisms.

PIs: Dr. Danielle King & Mikki Hebl
Title: Antiracism in Academic Advising
Abstract: This project examines the presence and degree of antiracism enacted in the advising of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and other people of color) graduate students to offer evidence concerning effects on student motivation, efficacy, effectiveness, and retention. This project includes a mixed-methods design; a quantitative survey and qualitative interviews with BIPOC graduate students and their academic advisors.

PIs: Leo Alexander III & Dr. Fred Oswald
Title: FAIR: An Interactive Tool for Detecting Employment Discrimination
Abstract: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employment discrimination on the basis of protected class status (e.g., race, religion, gender); and a 2020 Supreme Court case adds sexual orientation and transgender status to this list. As a tool to examine employment discrimination, we created an online statistical tool, the Free Adverse Impact Resource (FAIR,, where the user (a) uploads a dataset that includes the group membership of those who were hired vs. who were not, (b) receives instant dashboard-like feedback on 6 different statistical indicators of employment discrimination, and (c) can quickly and interactively model different hiring scenarios, based on these data, that would reduce or trigger these indicators. The work that gave rise to the FAIR tool (Oswald, Dunleavy, & Shaw, 2017) has been cited by OFCCP and is noted in the Federal Register (

PI: Dr. Margaret E. Beier
Title: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Rice Emerging Scholars Program
Abstract: The Rice Emerging Scholars Program (RESP) is a comprehensive summer bridge program designed to increase undergraduate retention in STEM fields. RESP aims to increase STEM retention in high-ability students who attended under-resourced high schools, many of whom are members of groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields including women, students of color, students who are first in their families to attend college, and low-income students. The ASK Lab partners with RESP to longitudinally assess the impact of both the summer bridge and term-time components of the RESP program, which includes proactive advising, ongoing academic support, and community building.

PI: Dr. Margaret E. Beier
Title: Examining the Self-Regulatory Mechanisms Underlying Age Differences in the Effectiveness of Error Management Training
Abstract: There is evidence that older workers do less well in training and take longer than younger workers. This ongoing project examines the efficacy of different training interventions for learners across the working lifespan. Our aim is to inform the development of training interventions for older learners.

PIs: Lily Cao (Honors Thesis Student), Dr. Mikki Hebl, Dr. Naomi Fa-kaji, Elisabeth Silver, Linnea Ng
Title: Gender Differences in Experiences of Idea Dismissal and Stealing
Abstract: This study focuses on gender differences in experiences of idea dismissal and idea stealing in team settings, specifically if and how women and men reintegrate themselves back into group conversations after their ideas are dismissed and attributed to another person. We conducted this project through Zoom trials with a moderator, real participant, and ostensible participant (a confederate) in each trial to gauge individuals' reactions to idea dismissal and idea stealing. It is important to evaluate gender differences in reactions to and recovery from idea dismissal and stealing in order to explore how workplaces could prevent such negative experiences and enhance the positive outcomes of collaborative brainstorming and work for everyone involved.

PIs: Elisabeth Silver, Dr. Mikki Hebl
Title: Seeing is Believing: Environmental Cues of Non-Belongingness on Women in STEM Higher Education
Abstract: This project combines social-psychological and computational research methods to improve women’s representation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This work aims to describe environmental cues of non-belongingness for women in STEM university settings and to examine how these cues impact women undergraduates studying STEM.

PIs: Julia Rose Iacono (thesis student), Dr. Michelle "Mikki" Hebl, Linnea Ng, Dr. Naomi Fa-Kaji, and Elisabeth Silver
Title: Words That Matter: Gender Differences in Word Choice in Verbal References and Referrals
Abstract: This project examines how verbal referrals for female job candidates differ from those made for male job candidates, specifically in the gender stereotypicality of the words chosen and the overall strength of the referral. Undergraduate students were asked to give verbal referrals for a peer to better understand how referrals, both formal and informal, are colored by a job candidate's gender and can impact the hireability of the candidate.

PIs: Nicole Lennon (Thesis Student), Dr. Mikki Hebl, Dr. Naomi Fa-Kaji, Linnea Ng, Elisabeth Silver
Title: The Look of Punishment: Examining Disciplinary Disparities in Elementary Schools
Abstract: I am currently working on an Senior Honors Thesis study that examines the disciplinary disparities between children in schools based on differences in race, gender, and stereotypicality. Elementary school teachers take a survey in which they are shown a picture of a third grade student as well as their infraction, and they are asked to make a decision on the severity of the child's infraction, as well as how they deserved to be punished. We will analyze the final data to see if disparities exist in severity in punishment based on race, gender, and stereotypicality.

Health Psychology & Behavioral Medicine

Human Factors/Human-Computer Interaction