Melissa Mcdonald
Assistant Professor

My primary research area lies in the field of intergroup relations. I am interested in understanding the evolved function of intergroup bias, particularly how that function varies between the sexes as a result of an evolutionary history in which men and women faced distinct adaptive challenges in their interactions with outgroups. Much of my research examines the extent to which men and women's proximal psychology reflects these ultimate motivations. I am also involved in the development of practical interventions to reduce bias between groups in real conflict, as well as the implementation of two large-scale projects aimed at promoting minority students' persistence and success in STEM fields. 

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Adam Tratner
PhD student

My research examines religious and supernatural belief using principles of evolutionary psychology. Namely, I investigate how features of our underlying evolved psychology provide the foundation for supernatural beliefs, religious beliefs, religious affiliation, and large-scale organized religious belief systems. One goal of this research is to shed light on the psychological processes underlying religious orthodoxy and religiously motivated intergroup conflict. Another goal is to understand the ubiquity of supernatural belief across human societies, and the cognitive underpinnings of supernatural belief typologies. 

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Brenna Coleman
MS Student

I am interested in personality differences and similarities among groups such as individuals of different sexual orientations, gender, social class, and age. I aim to explore why these differences and similarities exist. I am involved in advocating for minority groups and plan to use my research to do so. I also enjoy applying an evolutionary perspective to explore the function of human behavior.



Jonah Houtz
MS student

My research is focused on the psychological basis of religion and how the beliefs associated with religion play a role in intergroup bias and conflict. Using the perspective of evolutionary and social psychology I hope to gather data that can aid in developing more effective ways for multi-religious and multi-ethnic cooperation to exist. 


Sayma Chowdhury
MS Student


Past lab members

Samantha brindley

Samantha graduated from Oakland University in 2017 with a MS degree in psychology. She is now in the Social Psychology PhD program at Wayne State University.

Her research interests include a broad understanding of intergroup relations and interpersonal relationships. In particular, she applies both evolutionary and social perspectives to examine how bias and individual differences play a role in who people select as romantic partners and how these choices impact romantic relationship dynamics and outcomes.