Nesa E. Wasarhaley, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology

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About Me

As an undergraduate Psychology major and Theater minor at Hamilton College, I attained a liberal arts education that cultivated my passion for scientific inquiry as well as social and legal justice. Although I entered college intent on becoming a lawyer, I was captivated by many of my Psychology courses and particularly fascinated by topics in Social Psychology, Emotion, Human Memory, and Psychology and Law. At the same time, in my theatre and literature classes I learned about activism and developed an interest in social justice. I became driven to understand the basic psychological phenomena at play in the courtroom and how psychology could be used to both examine and potentially improve the legal system. I resolved to obtain my Ph.D. in order to pursue my passion for psychology and its application to legal contexts.

In my senior year, I completed two original independent research projects that explored questions within the areas of my primary scholarly interests. For my departmental honors thesis, I experimentally examined the effect of emotional evidence on mock jurors' memory for trial information. Additionally, as a Research Associate with the Kirkland Project, a campus organization committed to social justice, I examined the origin and prevalence of certain stereotypes about Hamilton students using mixed methods (i.e., survey, interview, and archival research). These projects were formative learning experiences that shaped my identity as a young scholar and motivated my pursuit of an academic career, although there were a few bends along the path to my present profession.

After receiving my Bachelor's degree summa cum laude in 2004, I tried out a couple different careers, including a research assistant position on a criminal justice-mental health collaborative project at a national nonprofit organization. During those years, I continued to pursue higher learning in psychology and completed an M.A. in Cognitive Studies in Education at Teachers College Columbia University in 2008.

Eager to concentrate on scholarly work full time, I then enrolled in the Experimental Psychology doctoral program (Social area) at the University of Kentucky (UK), with a research focus on psychology and law. My research primarily examined victim stereotypes and their impact on jury decision-making, synthesizing the topics that inspired me as an undergraduate researcher. I earned an M.S. from UK in 2010. I also completed a graduate certificate in College Teaching and Learning, and honed my teaching skills at UK as well as Centre College and Transylvania University, esteemed liberal arts colleges in Kentucky.

In 2014, I completed my Ph.D. and joined the Bridgewater State University faculty in the Department of Psychology. In addition to teaching, I maintain an active research program and foster student research experiences by mentoring Honors students and undergraduate research assistants in my lab. I also presently serve on the university's Undergraduate Research Advisory Board and the department's Honors Committee. Check out the rest of my website to learn more about my specific teaching and research interests!

In my time outside of the classroom and research lab, I enjoy cooking, running, biking, playing trivia, traveling, singing, and watching all the Netflix.

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Bridgewater State University