ATLANTA—Sierra Carter, an assistant professor of psychology, has been named as one of three recipients of the 2022 Dean’s Early Career Award.

Portrait of Sierra Carter

Sierra Carter

The award recognizes early-career faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences who are emerging leaders in their field of research, scholarship, or creative activity.

Carter’s innovative research centers on disparities in mental and physical health for under-represented populations. Her work examines how psychosocial and contextual stressors affect health outcomes and behavior in underrepresented populations, with an emphasis on African Americans.

Her work is interdisciplinary. In one recent study, Carter and her collaborators used data based on questionnaires as well as blood samples to examine aging at the cellular level. They found that early life stress from racial discrimination puts African Americans at greater risk for accelerated aging, a marker for premature development of serious health problems and perhaps a shorter life expectancy.

Her research at the intersection of trauma, discrimination, and health aims at understanding disparities relevant not only to clinical practice, but also to policy and social justice.

Carter, who earned her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in 2016, joined the faculty at Georgia State in 2018 following postdoctoral training at Emory University School of Medicine.

Recipients of the Dean’s Early Career Award are selected based on outstanding achievements in research and teaching, as well as service contributions to Georgia State.

Carter said she is honored to be recognized with this award.

“This award definitely highlights, at this early stage of my career, how grateful I am for the transformative mentorship and supportive networks that have continuously invested and poured into my scholarship,” she said. “This award also further validates the work that I do to promote health equity and I continue to feel invigorated to pursue this work alongside amazing colleagues and community partners.

Lindsey Cohen, chair of the Department of Psychology, said Carter was a wise choice for the award.

“She is asking and answering innovative and important questions around health disparities and racial trauma,” Cohen said. “Her scholarship is being recognized by a nearly constant flow of speaking invitations, a high level of funding support, and prolific publications in top outlets. In addition, Dr. Carter is an exceptional and award-winning teacher and mentor.”

The award is funded by private contributions from members of the college’s Board of Visitors and other donors to support “rising stars” among the faculty. As part of their recognition, recipients are provided $3,000 in professional development funds.

The other 2022 recipients are Sarah Ledford, an assistant professor of geosciences, and Jordan Hamm, an assistant professor of neuroscience.

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