Psychology Professor Making Waves in Academia

Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis

Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, assistant professor of psychology and director of the Culture and Trauma Research Lab at GSEP, has been busy in the publishing sphere. In collaboration with doctor of psychology student Shaquita Tillman, Bryant-Davis authored an article on human trafficking in The Encyclopedia of Psychological Trauma (Wiley & Sons, 2008). Bryant-Davis and Tillman also wrote an article titled "Intimate Partner Violence Against African American Women: An Examination of the Socio-Cultural Context," which appeared in the January-February 2009 issue of the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior.

Bryant-Davis, Tillman, and fellow doctor of psychology students Alison Marks and Kimberly Smith penned the piece "Millennium Abolitionists: Addressing the Sexual Trafficking of African Women," which will be published in the journal Beliefs and Values this summer. Finally, Bryant-Davis, Tillman, and doctor of psychology student Heewoon Chung collectively authored a chapter titled "The Cultural Context of Trauma Recovery: A Look at the Experiences of Ethnic Minority Women," which appeared in Diversity in Mind and Action (Praeger Publishers, 2009). "I am primarily committed to uncovering and attending to the role of culture in the trauma recovery process," Bryant-Davis offered. "Secondly, I seek to both teach and build on the empirical knowledge base that equips people to move from victims to survivors and from surviving to thriving."

Bryant-Davis was also featured in the 2008 film Exploring the Impact of New Connections Programs on Junior Investigators, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Last year Bryant-Davis was awarded a $48,000 grant from RWJF's New Connections Initiative to study intimate partner abuse, and this year, as a member of the trauma research study group for emerging scholars, she was awarded an $8,000 grant.

The group comprises minority psychologists and sociologists studying trauma among ethnically diverse populations. This particular grant is meant to support the creation of a special, peer-reviewed issue of the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, published by the American Psychological Association. Bryant-Davis currently sits on the editorial board for this journal. The special issue, titled "Cultural Considerations of Trauma: Physical, Mental, and Social Correlates of Intimate Violence Exposure," will be available to researchers and practitioners in the field of psychological trauma. Bryant-Davis was selected to serve as editor of this special issue.

In addition, Bryant-Davis has been active on the lecture circuit, having given the keynote speech at the Association of Black Women in Higher Education's (ABWHE) 30th Anniversary Conference hosted by Princeton University in October 2008, and at the Los Angeles Chapter of ABWHE Empowering Breakfast Conference on April 18.

Bryant-Davis teaches on the topics of individual and family development, as well as intimate partner violence. Her work is based in an interdisciplinary understanding of spirituality, culture, and psychology. Bryant-Davis says she is "invested in helping future generations of psychologists take an interdisciplinary approach as they expand the scope of the possibilities that exist for them as practitioners, researchers, policy shapers, social justice advocates, and global citizens."

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