James W. Pennebaker
James W. Pennebaker is the Regents Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts and Executive Director of Project 2021. He and his students are exploring natural language use, group dynamics, and personality in educational and other real world settings. His earlier work on expressive writing found that physical health and work performance can improve by simple writing and/or talking exercises. His cross-disciplinary research is related to linguistics, clinical and cognitive psychology, communications, medicine, and computer science. His current position with Project 2021 involves rethinking undergraduate education at the University of Texas. Author or editor of 9 books and over 250 articles, Pennebaker has received numerous awards and honors.
Kate G. Blackburn
Kate is an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research explores the perceptual and behavioral processes of language use reflected in people’s stories and social interactions online. Her recent research has examined language use in breakup stories, food themes communicated within online communities, relational behaviors on social networking sites, and deceptive health messages related to absenteeism. This research appears in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, and Health Communication.
Ryan L. Boyd
Ryan L. Boyd is a postdoctoral researcher in the Pennebaker Language Lab. Originally from Indiana, Ryan pursued psychology as his “backup” interest after repeated rejection from wizardry schools. His research revolves around using computational techniques to explore and understand cognitive-behavioral links, primarily the link between a person’s language what they do out in the real world. Ryan’s work on the psychology of language includes high-dimensional personality assessment, values, psychological forensics, motivations, and health, among other topics. Ryan has taught multiple workshops on machine learning, data mining, and language analytics and is considered a leading expert on the psychology of language. He is the creator of several language analysis programs, including the Meaning Extraction Helper. His work has been featured in places like CNN and the BBC.
Kayla N. Jordan
Kayla Jordan is a 3rd year Ph.D. student. She completed a Masters of Science in Experimental Psychology at Missouri State University before moving to UT-Austin. Her interests include political language, online search behavior, big data, moral psychology, and research methodology. She contributes to the Wordwatchers blog with has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
Mohini is currently a Ph.D. student in Social and Personality Psychology. She is interested in the ways individual behaviors interact to form differing group dynamics and enjoys exploring this concept in video gaming communities through the lens of language and big data analysis. Mohini received her B.A. in Computer Science and Cognitive Science and was previously a software engineer in Seattle, WA.
In her spare time, you can find her exploring the intricacies and beauty of individual differences through photography and portraiture, working or socializing at coffee shops, playing video games, or hanging out with her lovely cat, Mara.
Ashwini Ashokkumar is currently a PhD student of Social Psychology at the University of Texas, Austin. She completed a master’s in liberal studies with a specialization in experimental psychology at Ashoka University, India. She is interested in exploring the psychological processes that drive behaviors of people who are strongly connected to (i.e., those whose identities are “fused” with) a group. She is specifically interested in the negative consequences of identity fusion, including polarization, conflict, and violence. Her research also explores gender violence that stems from notions of honor. In pursuing these questions, she tries to complement traditional methods with relatively novel methods such as analyzing language that people use in natural settings.
Sarah Seraj is currently a Ph.D. student in the Pennebaker Language Lab and hails from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her primary background is in engineering, with a Master’s in Environmental Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Her interests include in-group bias, deception and close relationships.