Research is formalized curiosity.
It is poking and prying with a purpose.
~ Zora Neale Hurston
As a developmental psychologist with a background in gender studies, I am interested in the intersections between culture, sexuality and health. I use an ecological perspective to investigate cultural identities' influence on development during adolescence and emerging adulthood. A key objective of my work is the identification of multi- level cultural factors increasing health inequities. I am particularly interested in identifying ways these health trends are informed by sexual scripting processes
I began this scripting work over a decade ago when examining mainstream Hip Hop culture’s influence on African American women’s sexual risk outcomes. This cutting edge research was among the first in the field of psychology to examine African American adolescent’s scripting processes relationship to Hip Hop culture and behavioral outcomes. My current research foci builds upon this by examining the ways in which cultural beliefs and expectations influence health inequities, identity development, and decision making processes. I frame this research using a non- deficit lens, and I utilize approaches that prioritize cultural humility throughout all phases of the research process.
Prioritizing research dissemination in academia and beyond.
I believe that excellent research is not measured only by its appearance in journals or discussions in academic spaces; rather, part of that excellence requires ensuring research contribute to improvements in health outcomes within communities I study. For these reasons, I fully embrace the development of university- community- industry relationships as a way of making research outcomes readily available to those that are affected by and are in most need of this knowledge.
I prioritize creating and disseminating research outside the institutional walls through partnership with community organizations and institutions locally, nationally, and internationally (e.g. Affirming Youth, the Cyber Civil Right Initiative, Florida Memorial University Psychology Research Lab, Girl Power Rocks, Lotus House, and the Public Health Research Institute of India). Through these research efforts to generate knowledge, my work becomes both meaningful and useful to the communities that I partner with and serve.