Robert Sellers was named a 2023 inductee into the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the highest distinctions for a scientist or engineer in the United States. Sellers and one other U-M professor were 2023 inductees into the NAS in “recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.”
An affiliate of the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the Institute for Social Research, Sellers is the Charles D. Moody Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Education.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Dr. Sellers attended Howard University where he earned All-America honors in football. He graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s of science degree in psychology in 1985, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in personality psychology from the University of Michigan in 1990. After starting his research and teaching career at the University of Virginia, Dr. Sellers returned to the University of Michigan in 1997. He served four years as the Associate Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan before serving as Department Chair from 2011-2014, and he later served as the university’s Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion.
Dr. Sellers’ primary research activities have focused on the role of race in the psychological lives of African Americans. He and his students have developed a conceptual and empirical model of African American racial identity. The model has been used by a number of researchers in the field to understand the heterogeneity in the significance and meaning that African Americans place on race in defining themselves. Dr. Sellers and his students have also investigated the processes by which African American parents transmit messages about race to their children. Finally, his research has examined the ways in which African Americans suffer from and often cope with experiences of racial discrimination.
Dr. Sellers has also studied the life experiences of student-athletes. He is also one of the founders of the Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context. The center conducts state-of-the-art, action-oriented research on the healthy development of African American youth as well as provides an important training ground for future researchers.
Dr. Sellers is a past President of the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (Division 45 of the American Psychological Association). He is a fellow of Division 8 (Society for Personality and Social Psychology) and Division 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity, and Race) of the American Psychological Association as well as a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. He also won numerous honors and awards including the Theodore Millon Mid-Career Award in Personality Psychology from the American Psychological Foundation, the American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program Research Achievement Award, and the APAGS Kenneth & Mamie Clark Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Professional Development of Ethnic Minority Graduate Students.
Dr. Robert Sellers received the 2023 Association for Psychological Science (APS) Mentor Award. APS notes that this award “honors the importance of mentoring in our field as well as the dedication and impact of individuals with a distinguished record of teaching, advising, and encouraging students and colleagues.” APS goes on to mention that “in a large-scale mentoring effort, [Robert] is one of the founders of the Black Graduate Conference in Psychology, providing graduate students with access to high-quality feedback on their work, intense professional development, and access to a network of successful academics. In his direct mentoring, Sellers prepares his students to develop programs that make a difference in the world, supports them through personal struggles, and helps them understand and navigate academic spaces as well as the job market. In so doing, he demonstrates rare selflessness and generosity.”