Shauna M. Cooper

Associate Professor | Lab Director

Dr. Shauna M. Cooper is an Associate Professor and Director of Diversity Initiatives in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Michigan. After 9 years as an Assistant and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Cooper joined UNC's Developmental Psychology area in 2017. Her research program examines cultural and contextual factors that contribute to positive youth development, with a specific focus on African American adolescents and families. Dr. Cooper's research has been funded by several agencies and organizations, including the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development. Her work spans multiple areas (e.g., parental involvement; ethnic-racial socialization; gender-related processes; youth community involvement) and has been published in a variety of scientific journals (Journal of Research on Adolescence; Journal of Youth and Adolescence; Psychology of Men and Masculinities; Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology; Family Relations, and Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review). Dr. Cooper also is committed to the translation of her research, including the development of culturally specific family-focused prevention programming. Dr. Cooper's service leadership reflects a commitment to the promotion of positive development among racial/ethnic minority children and families and equity. Currently, she is Associate Editor for Child Development and on the editorial boards for multiple scientific journals (e.g., Child Clinical and Family Psychology Review; Social Development). Dr. Cooper is a member of the Society for Research in Child Development’s (SRCD) Equity & Justice Committee as well as the Society for Research in Adolescence’s Consensus Committee Past-Chair (2013-2017) of SRCD’s Black Caucus. She is on the advisory board for UNC's Institute of Institute for African American Research.

Graduate Students

Marketa Burnett

Graduate Student, Developmental Psychology

Marketa is a graduate student in the Developmental Psychology doctoral program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Also, she received her B.A. in both Psychology and African, African American, and Diaspora Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests focus on the joint development of racial and gender stereotypes in Black adolescent girls and impacts on their STEM attitudes and outcomes. Additionally, Marketa is interested in exploring how Black fathers’ socialization practices may influence STEM attitudes and outcomes among Black adolescent girls. In her spare time, Marketa enjoys volunteering in the local community, watching Jeopardy, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.

Margarett McBride

Graduate Student, Developmental Psychology

Margarett is a graduate student in the Developmental Psychology doctoral program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A native of Saginaw, Michigan, she received her B.A. in Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience and a minor in Community Action and Social Change from the University of Michigan. Her current research investigates the ways in which community violence, neighborhood supports, and physical structures influence family processes and mental health outcomes among ethnic and racial minority populations. In her free time, Margarett enjoys volunteering at community programs and experiencing/creating art.

Aaron Neal

Graduate Student, Clinical Psychology

Aaron is a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his B.S. in Biology from North Carolina A&T State University and a M.S. in Neuroscience and Education from Teachers College Columbia University. His research interests, which integrate community, developmental, and clinical psychology, include factors that contribute to risk and resiliency among Black youth. Aaron is particularly interested in understanding how structural racism is related to mental health and well-being. His clinical interests include early intervention for externalizing behaviors, multiculturalism, and supporting development of family systems. In his spare time, Aaron enjoys cooking, going to concerts, teaching, and learning new dance moves.

Janae Shaheed

Graduate Student, Developmental Psychology

Janae is a graduate student in the Developmental Psychology doctoral program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Wake Forest University. Janae uses an intersectional lens to examine the impact of social inequalities on the well-being and identity development of marginalized groups, particularly LGBTQ youth of color. Focusing on community contexts, she is also interested in researching how inclusive communities and social support can facilitate positive development. In her free time, Janae enjoys writing stories, moshing at concerts, and reading books in tea shops.

Undergraduate Students

Natalie Hussein

Research Assistant

Natalie is an undergraduate student from Los Angeles, CA studying Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A recipient of the Reznick Diversity Award, she will be exploring topics related to acculturation, family dynamics, and impacts on the mental health of minority college students. In her free time, Natalie enjoys cooking, learning salsa and bachata, and volunteering with children.

Anabelle Maya

Research Assistant

Anabelle Maya is a senior majoring in Psychology (B.A.) and minoring in Hispanic Studies. With cultural heritage in the Latino and Black communities, she is interested in identity development in multi-racial/ethnic adolescents of color, and how pressure to belong informs ethnic-racial identity. At the conclusion of her undergraduate career, she plans to pursue a PhD in Developmental Psychology.

Alexandria Organ

Research Assistant

Alexandria is a senior, double majoring in Human Development & Family Studies and Exercise & Sport Science. Through her involvement with organizations, such as Healthy Girls Save the World and Project Heel, she is interested in the development of adolescents of color locally and internationally. After graduation, Alexandria will take time off before pursuing a Master's degree in Social Work to be an educator with Teach For America.

Peyton Watson

Research Assistant

Peyton is a sophomore, majoring in Psychology (B.S.) and minoring in Health and Society. Currently, he serves as the co-vice president for the on-campus mental health awareness organization, We Wear the Mask. Beginning in the Fall of 2020, he will begin his work with the McNair Scholars Program. Through research and hands-on experiences, Peyton wishes to explore his current interests surrounding risk factors, resiliency, and coping mechanisms within the Black community. After graduation, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and eventually open a mental health clinic.


Siani Antoine

Team Member

Siani Antoine is a senior, majoring in U.S. History with a minor in African American Diaspora Studies. At UNC, she is a charter member and programming chair of Chapel Hill's section of the National Council of Negro Women. Her research interests include the health and wellness of Black girls, women, and families. After graduation, she would like to pursue a Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health.

Jazmine Bunch

Team Member

Jazmine Bunch is a junior, majoring in Journalism with a minor in Creative Writing. With her Journalism degree, she aspires to highlight the the stories of underrepresented and overlooked communities. Currently, Jazmine is President of UNC’s premier spoken word organization, EROT, and serves as a mentor with MAGIK G.L.O.W. and the Durham VOICE team. She is interested in creative media and storytelling as a means of inspiration, mentorship for girls/women of color, and advocating for mental health in the African American community. After graduation, Jazmine wants to be a news reporter.

Ajia Caldwell

Team Member

Ajia is a senior, majoring in Public Policy and minoring in Health & Society. She is involved with organizations, such as Healthy Girls Save the World and the CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholars (CUPS) Program. Ajia is interested in ensuring health equity for African American women, especially as it pertains to sexual and reproductive health. After graduation, Ajia will take time off before pursuing a Master in Public Health degree to work at a local community health center.

Brianna Halliburton

Team Member

Brianna Halliburton is a junior majoring in Sociology, with minors in Health & Society and Public Policy. Currently, she is community outreach co-chair for the National Council of Negro Women. Her extensive research experience has contributed to her interest in maternal and child health, especially issues related to populations of color. After graduation, Brianna will pursue a Master of Public Health degree and would like to work as public health analyst or researcher.

Jada Raphael

Team Member

Jada Raphael is a junior majoring in Health Policy and Management (B.S.P.H.) and minoring in Public Policy. She is interested in the impact of racism on health outcomes and how it contributes to health disparities in Black women. She is also interested in the role of policy in reducing health disparities. After graduation, Jada plans to enter the workforce before pursuing a Master of Public Health degree.

Affiliated Scholars

Nina Smith

Assistant Professor, North Carolina Central University

Nina Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Sciences at North Carolina Central University. She oversees the department’s Child Development and Family Relations concentration area. Her research focuses on work-family balance, maternal and child health, and academic readiness of young children within the context of families of color. She also has interests in child care quality and early childhood teacher preparedness.

Stephen Gibson

Graduate Student, Virginia Commonwealth University

Stephen Gibson is a graduate student in Developmental Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he received his B.A. in Psychology from North Carolina Central and M.S. from North Carolina State University in Educational Psychology. His current research investigates African American children's racial identity development through racial messages from their parents. In his free time, Stephen enjoys volunteering at community programs, weightlifting, and teaching his dog (Sage) new tricks!