2024 Dean's Research Associates

Meet the 2024-2025 Dean's Research Associates!


Aldo BarritaAldo Barrita
Department of Psychology

Aldo Barrita (he/his/él) is a Queer Latinx Social Psychologist. He recently defended his dissertation and will graduate in Spring 2024 from the Psychological and Brain Sciences Ph.D. Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), receiving a doctoral degree with an emphasis in Social, Community, and Quantitative Psychology. He was born in Mexico and immigrated to the US when he was 16. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2017 and his Master’s in Psychology from UNLV in 2019. His research focus includes how different forms of discrimination, primarily microaggressions, psychologically impact individuals from marginalized communities. Specifically, he has a special interest in Latinx and/or LGBTQ+ experiences with microaggressions as well as psychometrics. Aldo Barrita serves as the past student representative for the National Latinx Psychology Association (NLPA) and Student Chair for APAGS. He has been awarded prestigious honors and recognitions, such as the NLPA 2020 Presidential Citation, the 2021 NLPA Distinguished Student Service Award, and 2021 SPSP Janessa Shapiro Student Research Award, and the 2022 Barbara Smith & Jewel E. Horvat Graduate Student Award for Research on Queer Individuals of Color Award from the Society for Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race (APA Division 45). In 2022, Aldo became a Mellon Fellow, receiving the 2022-23 Crossing Latinidades Mellon Humanities Fellowship and the 2023-24 UNLV Barrick Graduate Fellowship.

Reason for Applying

I applied to the College of Social Science Dean’s Research Associate Program at Michigan State University because of its intentionality in transforming higher education. This program has already set an impressive record of recruiting and supporting exceptional scholars who transitioned to faculty positions at MSU. Undoubtedly, I knew when I applied that this opportunity would be unique, and I am grateful to be one of their chosen Research Associates for this cohort. I believe this program will provide me with additional training and resources that would enhance my career at MSU.



Gabriel JohnsonGabriel Johnson
School of Social Work

I am a Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar, and doctoral candidate in health behavior health education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. My work focuses on how masculinity is an intersectional and dynamic social construct that captures how structural factors impact and shape the health of Black men and masculine of center individuals (e.g., studs, trans masculine people, etc.). Through application of Critical Race Theory and intersectionality, my dissertation explores how Black masculinity as a distinct social construct impacts the mental health and wellbeing of cisgender Black gay and bisexual men living in southeast Michigan. I seek to understand 1.) What structural factors intersect to shape the lives of Black men and masculine of center individuals (e.g., studs, transmasculine people, etc.) 2.) What factors contribute to adverse and beneficial mental health outcomes of Black men and masculine of center individuals, and 3.) How masculinity can be implemented in different practical contexts to improve the mental and overall health of Black men, masculine of center individuals, and the people who love them. My intention is to conduct this work through engaging in practices and methods that center community voices, placing them in control of the research, narrative, and development of interventions. I hope that my research will be implemented to school based settings, and community organizations to improve mental health outcomes for Black men, masculine of center individuals, and the communities who support them. Prior to this work, I have worked as a teacher, harm reduction specialist, and supported intervention development for HIV prevention in Chicago and mental health among LGBT+ people in Kisumu, Kenya.

Reason for Applying

I applied to the Dean’s Research Associate Program (DRAP) at Michigan State University because it provided a unique opportunity to engage in a cohort post PhD and receive the support I desire to be a successful academic and rigorous, ethical, and engaging teacher in the classroom. Also, my mentors told me, as someone who values teaching and research, MSU is a university that would align well with my values. As a first-generation college graduate, DRAP puts the resources forward to ensure that scholars can succeed on their own terms. With the diverse study body of MSU, DRAP is putting forward the action, not only words, to build a faculty that reflects that diversity. I am excited to develop as a scholar and future faculty here at MSU, while creating engaging syllabi for new and current courses.



Ahleah MilesAhleah Miles
School of Human Resources and Labor Relations

As a social scientist trained in industrial-organizational psychology, I use quantitative methods to examine the role of technology in the future of work, career decision-making and development, and nontraditional and precarious work. My dissertation examines the influence of career assessment feedback specificity on college students' academic and career outcomes. As a Senior Survey Research Analyst at The George Washington University, I led the development, distribution, analysis, and reporting of an internal university-wide climate survey used for DEI strategic planning. I am committed to creating inclusive learning environments where students from all backgrounds can thrive. I am also a member of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society and am engaged in my professional organization's efforts to support its diverse membership. In May 2024, I will earn my doctoral degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from The George Washington University.

Reason for Applying:

When I learned about the Dean's Research Associate Program at MSU, I was intrigued by both the institutional support mechanisms and the opportunity to independently pursue a research program dedicated to understanding the future of work through the lens of access and fairness. As I learned more about the history of the program, it was clear to me that it and MSU as a whole are unlike anything I've been a part of. I am especially excited for the Development Institute and the opportunity to engage with other scholars in the cohort who are invested in increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the academy. I am thrilled to join the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations and to contribute to an institution that shares my values in achieving inclusive excellence through research, teaching, and service to the community.



Angie Torres-BeltranAngie Torres-Beltran

Department of Political Science

I am currently a PhD Candidate in the Department of Government at Cornell University. For the 2023-2024 academic year, I am also a Predoctoral Fellow with the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego; Research Fellow in the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School; and a United States Institute of Peace Scholar. I am also a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a Research Affiliate with the Gender and Security Sector Lab and the Eliminating Violence Against Women Lab. My research examines the political causes and consequences of gender-based violence, with an emphasis on political behavior and institutions in conflict-affected countries. In other work, I study the role of domestic and international actors on violence and the intersection of gender, public opinion, and civic engagement. My work has been published or is forthcoming in International Studies Quarterly, PS: Political Science & Politics, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and has been featured in major media outlets including The Washington Post. My research has received support from the National Science Foundation, the American Political Science Association, and the Empirical Study of Gender Research Network.

Reason for Applying

I applied to the Dean’s Research Associate Program at Michigan State University because I wanted to join world-class researchers, teachers, and mentors who have demonstrated a steady commitment to promoting diversity in academia. This program is one-of-a-kind and offers early-career scholars the necessary time and resources to succeed as a future faculty member at MSU. I also look forward to learning from those committed to training and supporting scholars from diverse backgrounds. Overall, I am excited to become a part of this scholarly community and look forward to contributing to the advancement of diversity in the academy.