Courtney Bryant is a doctoral candidate pursuing a degree in organizational psychology, in the College of Social Science. Bryant said her passion for research concerning underrepresented and stigmatized groups in the workplace stems from early memories of her parents discussing issues from their workplaces, related to their minority statuses.
“My curiosity as to why these events occurred in the workplace prompted me to educate others and facilitate positive change concerning diversity and inclusion as early as the sixth grade,” Bryant said. “I successfully facilitated a Diversity Month at my middle school to fill the void of the lack of any cultural awareness programs. Years later, I am motivated by my own personal experiences, and my educational training has helped turn this passion into tangible science.”
Bryant’s current research is focused upon diversity and co-worker relationships in the workplace. She empirically investigates how a person with a stigmatized identity may face discrimination, the experience of minority employees in the workplace, how taboo topics such as politics and religion may affect co-worker relationships, and the impact of social media on workplace relationships.
“As a child, I heard stories of my parents’ jobs in corporate America and learned about how their experience differed because of their race,” Bryant said. “In my own jobs, I observed the dynamics of workplace relationships and was always intrigued by my own experiences. I always loved people and wanted to do psychology but discovered I had a bleeding heart. I was pointed in the direction of industrial-organizational psychology and was able to use psychology to help people be happy and treated fairly in the workplace. I started my research with my experiences and the experiences of my parents and my research interests have grown from there.”
She said she hopes her research allows her to contribute to a more pleasing and fair experience for all employees at work by specifically making a difference in changing the negative, identity-based experiences of minorities at work.
“My career goal is to become some perfect combination of a scientist and a practitioner,” Bryant said. “I enjoy the research, teaching, and mentoring part of academia, as well as the teaching broader audiences and implementing change part of the applied world. Whatever career offers me a chance to embody both of these important principles, is the career I will gravitate toward at the end of my graduate career.”
The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship award consists of a three-year annual stipend of $34,000, along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees. Bryant said she plans to use this award to fund the three remaining years she has in graduate school, fund research projects, and travel to share her research around the world.
“Receiving the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship means I have proven my potential to make important scientific contributions to the world,” Bryant said. “Now it is time to turn that potential into action. Ultimately, I now have even more support to do what I love! I am extremely honored to have received this fellowship.”