Texas Tech University


Top: Molly Ireland, Alex Hawkins, Mandrila Das, Zohal Heidari, Babetta Mathai
Bottom: Tyler Davis, Chris Robitschek, Brandy Piña-Watson, Serena Mangano

Faculty Members

Chris Robitschek (chair)

I came to Texas Tech in 1993. Now I'm an Associate Professor in the Counseling Psychology doctoral program. My lab studies personal growth initiative (PGI), which is a set of skills for improving ourselves. Among the many things we study related to PGI, we examine cross-cultural measurement of PGI and the ways in which culture influences how people use their PGI skills. I joined the Diversity Committee to support the Department of Psychological Sciences as we become an increasingly multicultural community and to promote cultural competence among students, faculty, and staff as we represent the field of psychology now and into the future. I am currently serving as Chair of the Diversity Committee.

Tyler H Davis

I'm an assistant professor in the cognitive and cognitive neuroscience area of the experimental program. I direct the CAPROCK Lab, which focuses on how we learn and use new concepts. Work on concepts has great relevance for diversity as we know that different experiences through different environments and beliefs shapes people's concepts of how the world works. Diversity is an important area to me because of experiences I've had where family members have faced obstacles to inclusion, and because I believe that concepts about how psychology and academia should work have been dominated for too long by western belief systems. Promoting diversity will hopefully not only make academia more inclusive but also lead to systems that better serve people with different beliefs about how the world works.

Molly Ireland

I'm an assistant Professor in the Social area of the Experimental Program. Before coming to work at Texas Tech, I earned my PhD in Social-Personality Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin (2006-2011) and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2011-2012) and the University of Pennsylvania (2012-2013). I direct the Language Use and Social Interaction (LUSI) Lab here, where we study how natural language use (such as spoken dialogue or social media messages) reflects and influences social-personality constructs such as person perception, gender, behavior change, physical and mental health, attitudes, and social engagement. I joined the Diversity Committee for a couple of reasons. First, I've always been passionate about social justice and equality. Second, I believe that increasing diversity in academia is one of the most straightforward ways to ensure that universities are serving their communities while at the same time improving the quality of the research they produce.

Brandy Piña-Watson

My name is Brandy Piña-Watson and I am a faculty member in the Counseling Psychology program here at Texas Tech University. My research focuses on developing an understanding of how individual factors, family dynamics, culture and society impact Latina/o adolescent and emerging adult depression, suicidality and well-being with a particular focus on the Mexican American population. My research takes a holistic and resiliency approach acknowledging the complexity and intersection of various identities and contexts that may contribute to well-being and mental health disparities. My professional identity as a Counseling Psychologist includes a social justice orientation, value for diversity, and a keen interest in mentoring students from under represented groups to help them move through the academic pipeline in order to diversify the psychology workforce. This is part of my motivation for being on the diversity committee. My hope is that through my work on this committee, the environment in the Department of Psychological Sciences will be inclusive and conducive to helping all students, faculty, and staff achieve their academic and professional goals. I also hope that we can create an environment where all students, faculty, and staff will feel valued for what experiences, backgrounds, and opinions they bring into the classroom, research labs, therapy spaces, and any other contexts that they find themselves in while working and learning at Texas Tech University.

Student Members

Alex Hawkins

My name is Alex Hawkins and I'm a 5th year student in the counseling psychology PhD program. I am the secretary of the Lubbock PFLAG chapter and am involved with the TTU Gay-Straight Alliance. My dissertation is a constructivist grounded theory study of LGBTQ college students' departure from Christianity. I find it essential as a psychologist in training to promote diversity and awareness in the department and the wider community.

Zohal Heidari

My name is Zohal Heidari, and I am a first year clinical psychology graduate student. As an Iranian-American woman, I recognize the importance of having a committee dedicated to promoting diversity and raising awareness of diversity issues. Beyond my personal involvement with the Iranian community, I have conducted research specifically regarding eating behaviors in the Iranian-American community. I have also conducted research with the Latino community, primarily with Latina women. Because of these experiences, I developed an interest in providing culturally competent interventions to people from various diverse backgrounds. Currently, my main research focus is childhood obesity, but I would like to incorporate issues of diversity into my research. I enjoy being a part of the Diversity Committee because it gives me the opportunity to interact with other students who are also committed to this mission.

Serena Mangano

Hello! Thank you for reading about me ☺ I am an Experimental Psychology - Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience PhD student. I also enjoy teaching General Psychology. At the moment my research is on Human-Animal Interaction and on Bilingualism. I have lived in the United States for over five years, but was born and raised in Italy, and have lived in several other European countries. As Italy is quite a traditional and religion-oriented country, I grew up thinking that equity and diversity were acceptable as long as they did not question religious beliefs. A great deal of thinking, introspection, and listening to people's stories helped to expand my views. I joined the Diversity Committee as I am positive that an environment promoting acceptance of different cultures and views allows us to feel safe to respectfully express our opinions, to be open-minded towards different standpoints, and tolerant of others.

Babetta Mathai

Hi, my name is Babetta Mathai. I completed my undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University and am currently a second-year in the TTU Clinical PhD program. My drive to promote diversity comes from my past and present experiences working with individuals from different backgrounds, including those of different socioeconomic statuses, ethnicities, ages, sexual orientations, and much more. Although my research interests focus more on child and family research, specifically parent and child symptoms of depression and anxiety, I strive to implement and promote diversity in other areas of my graduate career and personal life. I look forward to the year and will utilize my willingness, creativity, and ability to lead and participate in diversity-driven events to promote diversity within our department and campus.