Robert Sellers to receive the 2023 James S. Jackson Distinguished Career Award for Diversity Scholarship

Robert Sellers, the Charles D. Moody Collegiate Professor of Psychology and an affiliate of the Research Center for Group Dynamics, has been named the recipient of the 2023 James S. Jackson Distinguished Career Award for Diversity Scholarship.

The award, jointly administered by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the National Center for Institutional Diversity, is given biennially to a senior faculty member who has made significant contributions to understanding diversity, equity and inclusion while addressing disparities in contemporary society.

Dr. Sellers won the APS James S. Jackson Lifetime Achievement Award for Transformative Scholarship earlier this year for his lifetime work on ethnicity, racial and ethnic identity, personality and health, athletic participation, and personality. 

Robert Sellers
Robert Sellers

“Dr. Sellers’ body of work on the life experiences of African Americans has offered new theoretical lenses and cutting-edge empirical research methods on race and identity processes across multiple fields and disciplines,” Laurie McCauley, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, told the University Record. “He also exemplifies the spirit of the award through his mentoring and creation of research training structures for generations of students and early career scholars who have gone on to be faculty and academic and intellectual leaders across the country.”

Dr. Sellers 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 is also known for investigating the processes by which African American parents transmit messages about race to their children, and 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, and is one of the founders of the Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context. He was also a founder of the Black Graduate Conference in Psychology.

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. Dr. Sellers received the APS Mentor award in 2023, and was inducted this year into the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). 

James S. Jackson, for whom the award is named, was the pioneering social psychologist known for his research on race, ethnicity, racism, health, and aging among African Americans. Jackson was an affiliate of the Research Center for Group Dynamics, founder of the Program for Research on Black Americans (PRBA) and director of the Institute for Social Research; he was also a mentor and friend to Dr. Sellers.

“Having been a former student and knowing the enormity of James Jackson’s tremendous legacy as a scholar, teacher, administrator, innovator and person, I am beyond humbled to receive this award in his name,” Dr. Sellers said.

ISR is hosting a celebration of the life and career of James S. Jackson on Friday, December 1, 2023.

A symposium honoring Sellers, which will include Dr. Sellers’s mentees, is planned for March 25, 2024. Sellers will present his lecture after the symposium, and he will be presented with the winning design from the James Jackson art and design competition.

About the Research Center for Group Dynamics

Since its establishment in 1948, the Research Center for Group Dynamics’ mission has been to advance the understanding of human behavior in social contexts. Learn more about RCGD and its Group Dynamics seminars from With Catherine Thomas, Shinobu Kitayama is co-organizer of this fall’s seminar series, open to the public, on “Psychological Diversity across the Globe.”