Dr. John Tawa (Principal Investigator)

I study processes that both hinder and improve race relations, and I am particularly interested in relations between minority groups (e.g., relations between Blacks and Asians).  For example, some of my research supports the idea that perceived competition for resources (e.g., educational, economic) creates greater distance between Blacks and Asians relative to both their distances towards the White majority group. However, my research also suggests that educational approaches that encourage critical thinking about concepts such as race can increase people's comfort level interacting across racial groups.  While the content of my research focuses on intergroup relations, methodologically I am particularly interested in directly assessing people's "real time" behavior, in lieu of a primary reliance on self-reported behavior.  I find that virtual technology is a particularly powerful medium for assessing intergroup behavior.  For example, in the study described above, I had participants create self-resembling avatars and interact in social events in the virtual world Second Life.  When I introduced a resource competition task in the social event, Black and Asian participants were found to increase their collective physical distance towards each other.

Research Assistants


Yuanguo Lang

I love playing basketball. I am a computer science major of class 2021.


Remy Wang

Remy is a statistics major with a minor in psychology. When not doing problem sets or lab-related tasks, she enjoys meeting people, going places, and doing things.


Sarah Angela Almaden

Hello! My name is Sarah Angela Almaden, a senior at Mount Holyoke College. I major in Psychology and minor in Sociology. I am interested in Social and Personality Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and Behavioral Studies. I am working on the Second Life Interaction Study and administering interviews. Moreover, I also like to travel, eat, listen to music, watch tv shows and movies, and sleep. Right now, I watch a lot of The Office and my spirit animal is Stanley Hudson, “If I don’t have some cake soon, I might die.” .


Emmy Biddle

My name is Em Biddle and I am a junior at MHC. I'm a Psychology major and Anthropology minor with a special interest in mental health awareness and gender studies. After college, I plan on attending graduate school to hopefully become a clinical psychologist. Outside of class, I fence épée, attend as many spoken word poetry events as I can get to, and love hiking.


Nikkole Spencer

Hi! My name is Nikkole Spencer, and I'm currently a senior at MHC. I'm interested in neuropsychology, abnormal psych, and mathematics. My interest extends to lesion studies, experimental psych, analyzing EEGs combinatorially, and anything related to these areas! My hobbies include making music, from classically influenced sounds to hip-hop/neo-soul, and knitting! Currently, in Dr. Tawa's lab, I transcribe interviews and work as a research assistant for the Police Use of Force Study!


Annie Huynh

Annie Huynh is a Junior at Mount Holyoke studying Psychology and Education. Annie is currently working on the Black-Asian Implicit Association Study and is transcribing qualitative interviews. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, running, and spending time with her friends.



Maryam Jernigan

Shinji Katsumoto

Grace Kim

Ruqian "Daisy" Ma

Amanda Montoya

Juergen Pfeffer

Rosalyn Negron

Uma Shanmugham

Karen Suyemoto




Katrina Luo

Lauren Nguyen

Kaitlin Braz

Crystal Seo

Miral Khalil