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Dr. Volpert-Esmond is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso. She is the PI of the Race, Ethnicity, Neuroscience, and Health lab.
Her dissertation research, funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, used a multimethod approach to investigate the health consequences of membership in a minority group, particularly focusing how repeated experiences of discrimination act as physiological and psychological stressors for Black undergraduate and graduate students. She is investigating the temporal dynamics of the relationship between racial discrimination and mood, affect, and mental health using ecological momentary assessment (participants repeatedly report their mood, affect, and experiences with discrimination using their phone over the course of 4 weeks) and combines this approach with neuroimaging (EEG and event-related potentials) to investigate how individual differences in responses to threat and vigilance play a role in the relationship between experiencing discrimination and health outcomes.
Additionally, Dr. Volpert-Esmond has conducted research on early perceptual processes related to social categorization. Research suggests that faces are judged as male, female, gay, straight, Black, Asian, etc. within hundreds of milliseconds. Regardless of their accuracy, these category judgments have profound implications for downstream evaluations, expectations, and behavior. In addition to bottom-up information perceived in faces, such as skin color, eye shape, or hair texture, top-down influences related to the perceiver and the context have been shown to influence category decisions, especially for people whose group memberships are ambiguous. Dr. Volpert-Esmond is interested in how elements of the perceiver (e.g., learning history, expectations, associations with contextual clues) influence how the perceiver categorizes the person they’re seeing, which then affects how they evaluate and interact with them.
Lastly, Dr. Volpert-Esmond is interested in investigating the psychometric qualities of event-related potentials and how the use of multilevel models in combination with trial-level data allows researchers to investigate within-person variation in psychophysiological indexes of cognition. She has used a trial-level approach to investigate change in psychophysiological processes over the course of an experimental task, as well as how trial-level ERPs predict response behavior, which contribute to our understanding of the construct validity of various ERP components.
Dr. Volpert-Esmond is accepting graduate students for the 2022-2023 school year.