Our Team

Dr. Theresa Vescio, Principal Investigator

Terri Vescio’s research seeks to understand the factors that facilitate and temper the expression of sexism, racism, and heterosexism. Within that context, Terri is interested in the interplay between the stereotypic behaviors of powerful people and the consequences that those behaviors have for the emotions, motivation, and performance of low power women, gay men, and people of color. She also studies the role of hegemonic masculinity (as a personal identity and cultural ideology) in the maintenance of the status quo via political preferences, use and acceptance of sexual violence, preferences to dominate women, acceptance of violence against people of color. She is particularly interested in how subtle and hegemonic processes reinforce and maintain the status quo.

Dr. Terri Vescio will be recruiting graduate students to begin in Fall 2023.

Nathaniel Schermerhorn, Graduate Student

Nathaniel Schermerhorn is a dual-degree PhD student in Social Psychology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. His current research examines hegemonic masculinity as a legitimating ideology, hegemonic masculinity's role in political attitudes, and inter-group relationships between gay men and straight men. Nathaniel's work incorporates psychological, feminist, and social theory.

Nathaniel has presented his work with Dr. Vescio at the annual meeting for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and their work on masculinity and COVID-19 was recently featured in the New York Times.

Nathaniel's departmental and university service largely focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion. He is also a current member of the Graduate Council and is a member of the Joint Programming and Curriculum Committee.

Originally from Massachusetts, Nathaniel earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California and worked with Dr. Jennifer Overbeck. He was a middle school English Language Arts teacher in Florence, South Carolina for four years. Nathaniel holds a Master's in Public Administration and a Master's in Social Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University.

Currently Teaching: PSYCH422 (Human Sexualities)

Nathaniel's ResearchGate | Nathaniel's Twitter

Katsumi Yamaguchi-Pedroza, Graduate Student

Katsumi Yamaguchi-Pedroza is a dual-title PhD student in Social Psychology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Katsumi aims to conduct research that addresses social inequalities and can be used to inform and improve lives of people who belong to historically underrepresented groups. By incorporating feminist theories and methodologies with psychological ones, she studies how intersecting social identities, such as race and gender, affect processes of power and experiences of prejudice. More specifically, Katsumi’s current research explores the unique threat that well-performing women of color present to white men and how sexual violence reinforces and maintains gender and racial disparities.


Katsumi received her B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Gender Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to graduate school, she worked as a lab manager at the University of California, Irvine. In her free time, Katsumi enjoys reading, yoga, and trying new recipes!

Katsumi’s Research Gate | Katsumi’s Twitter | Katsumi's Google Scholar

Current Undergraduate Research Assistants

Abbie Loviscky, Lab Manager

Abigail Loviscky is a Psychology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major. Her fascinations meet at the intersection of psychology, gender studies, and criminology as she is interested in studying masculine narcissism in relation to intimate partner violence perpetrators. She has worked with Dr. Vescio on a variety of masculinity threat studies, including studying the pathway from masculinity threat to increased racist attitudes, Islamophobia, and xenophobia. Abigail has also created a tolerance of intimate partner violence scale which will be the foundation of her future research. She hopes to continue her research passions by entering a social psychology graduate program.

Teara Veney

Teara Veney is a third year Schreyer Honors Scholar majoring in both Psychology with a focus on neuropsychology and African American Studies. She is also minoring in Korean. During her time at Penn State, Teara has developed interests in looking at effects of intersectionality in Black women and plans to continue studies on the topic. Under the advice of Dr. Vescio, She will complete her honors thesis. Following undergrad, Teara plans to attend grad school, pursuing her PhD in Neuropsychology. She hopes to assist the mental health world in developing into a preventative system- one that provides preventative resources to those with mental disorders and concerns of mental health rather than assisting only after a certain threshold of severity and behavior is reached (ie., becoming proactive as opposed to reactive).

Marco Planchart

Marco Planchart is a senior majoring in Psychology with a focus in business and minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. They are interested in the different power structures visible within workplace environments as well as the intersections between race and gender when viewed in various cultural lenses. They currently volunteer within the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity as a Peer Educator while having previously worked in other student advocacy positions that focused in providing resources for those within the LGBTQA+ community at Penn State. Post graduation, they plan on continuing advocating while working in a corporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion position before attending graduate school for urban planning and public policy.

Evan Jones

Evan Jones is a second-year Schreyer Honors Scholar majoring in Psychology and History. He is fascinated by social responses to diverse gender identities and sexual orientations, and is interested in studying interactions between masculinity and sexuality across the allosexual/asexual spectrum. Evan is a hotline volunteer at a local non-profit agency called Centre Helps. He hopes to go to graduate school for psychology and one day become a practicing clinical psychologist.

Morgan Zipfel

Morgan Zipfel is a fourth-year Schreyer Honors Scholar at Penn State. She is majoring in Psychology with a business option. Throughout her educational experiences, she has developed an interest in gender-related issues in the workplace. In collaboration with Dr. Vescio, Morgan is doing research examining the power of gossip and innuendo as a means of undermining women leaders. Morgan is an active member of the service organization, Epsilon Sigma Alpha. She is also a member of Psi Chi, the International Honors Society in Psychology.

Ray French

Raymond French is a third-year Schreyer Honors Scholar at Penn State. He is majoring in Psychology and Sociology and has been a member of the lab since the summer of 2021. Raymond plans to complete his honors thesis with Dr. Vescio as his advisor and the thesis will examine the white supremacy within sects of feminism. His research interests mostly involve the intersection of race and gender, but he is also interested in how capitalism interacts with other social inequalities. Post his undergraduate studies, he plans to attend graduate school and study social psychology to become an academic researcher.

Lab Alumni

Graduate Student Alumni

Sarah J. Gervais (Ph.D., 2007, Psychology and Women’s Studies), Susan Rosowski Professor of Psychology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Matthew Paolucci Callahan (Ph.D., 2008, Psychology), Professor of Psychology, Sonoma State University.

Margaret A. Thomas (Ph.D., 2009, Psychology). Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Earlham Program for Integrated Curriculum (EPIC), Earlham College.

Jessica A. Cundiff (Ph.D., 2013, Psychology and Women’s Studies). Assistant Professor of Psychology, Missouri University of Science & Technology.

Nathaniel Ratcliff (Ph.D., 2016, Psychology). Research Assistant Professor, Social and Decision Analytics, Biocomplexity Institute and Initiative. The University of Virginia.

Kevin Weaver (Ph.D., 2017, Psychology and Women’s Studies). Analyst, FactWorks, San Mateo, CA.

Jonathan Gallegos (Ph.D., 2019, Psychology). Post-Doctoral Research Associate. The University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Kathrine Lewis (Ph.D., 2022, Psychology and Women's Studies). Post-Doctoral Research Assosicate. The University of Washington, St. Louis, Missouri.

Affiliated Graduate Student Alumni

Brooke A. Di Leone (Ph.D., 2012, Psychology). Director of Research, Evaluation, and Data. AccessMatters. Org: Transforming Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Julia Dahl (Ph.D., 2018). Senior Research Psychologist, Health and Resilience Research at the Office of People Analytics, U.S. Department of Defense.

Troy Steiner (Ph.D., 2020, Psychology). Instructional Faculty. University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Previous Undergraduate Research Assistants

Taya Cohen, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory, Carnegie Mellon University.

Valerie Earnshaw, Associate Professor of Education and Human Development. University of Delaware.

David Butz.

Kristin Davies, Associate Professor of Behavioral Sciences, York College CUNY.

Ann Hoover, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of South Carolina Upstate.

Jason Moser, Associate Professor of Psychology, Michigan State University.

Larissa Heiphetz, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Columbia University.

Kathryn Dlugos, Assistant Professor, Human Resource Management, the Pennsylvania State University.

Maria Sanchez, Graduate Student.

Megan Nadzen, PhD candidate, Department of Psychology, University of Delaware

Jacqueline Rofe.

Sophia Mills.

Marliana Laubach.

Eden Loberant.

Kayla Bert.

Jada Scarboro, Nursing Master's Program, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Karleigh Veglia, Research Technician, Girirajan Lab, the Pennsylvania State University.

Mitch Dobbs, Research Assistant, Psychology of Misinformation Lab, Northeastern University.

Sarabeth Bowmaster.