Meyerhoff Graduate Fellows Program

Student Profiles

Tahira Mahdi

Area of Doctoral Research: Clinical/Community and Applied Social Psychology

Undergraduate Institute: University of Maryland, Baltimore, County

Research Advisor: Kenneth Maton, Ph.D.

Description of Research

I am a research assistant in Dr. Ken Maton’s lab, where we evaluate programs designed to enhance participation of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.  In addition, we also have the opportunity to evaluate community programs designed to achieve positive academic outcomes for various underserved populations.

My research explores social labels that arise in academic settings, specifically the physical and personality characteristics that accompany such stereotypes.  I am currently studying the personality factor need for cognition, referring to enjoyment of and tendency to engage in effortful cognitive activities.  I am interested in this variable’s relationship to specific physical characteristics and to variables of social behavior.  One goal of my research is to provide evidence that personality traits—in this case, the way we cognitively process information—may be uniquely related to physical characteristics.  Further, I explore how certain variables are grouped together to form academic social labels, and how those variables interact to predict individuals’ career choices. 


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