Nilanjana (Buju) Dasgupta is a Professor of Psychology and the Director of Faculty Equity and Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her research is on unconscious or implicit bias with emphasis on the plasticity of implicit bias—she studies the ways in which changes in social contexts correspondingly change implicit attitudes, beliefs, and behavior. Whereas past work had assumed that implicit bias is learned early in life and difficult to change, Dasgupta’s research has uncovered immense plasticity in people’s self-concept, attitudes, and behavior in response to small changes in local environments without individuals’ awareness. The research she does is translational—moving back-and-forth between controlled laboratory experiments and naturalistic field studies, both cross-sectional and longitudinal, so that knowledge from all sources enriches theory development.
Dasgupta’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Among these was an NSF CAREER award. She received the Application of Personality and Social Psychology Award from the Society for Personality & Social Psychology (2016), the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity (2016), and the Distinguished Academic Outreach Award in Research from UMass Amherst (2014). Level Playing Field Institute, a private foundation based in Silicon Valley, awarded her and her students the Hidden Bias Research Prize for an “outstanding research article on gender equity in the classroom” in 2012. She was invited to give a distinguished faculty lecture at the National Science Foundation in 2016. In 2012 President Obama’s Chief Technology Officer invited Dasgupta to give a research presentation describing the ways in which implicit stereotypes present barriers to the inclusion of underrepresented youth in science and technology and evidence-driven remedies targeting this problem at a White House roundtable event organized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Office of Public Engagement. In 2015 Dasgupta was again invited to participate at a White House Next Gen High School Summit convened by The White House Domestic Policy Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy.
A good bit of Dasgupta’s time is spent translating scientific research to inform social problems such as employment discrimination, educational disparities in science, engineering, and mathematics, and the under-representation of women and ethnic minorities in professional leadership roles. She disseminates her research findings to interdisciplinary audiences including K-12 teachers, school administrators, university faculty, higher education leaders and administrators, tech entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, other business people, policy-makers, lawyers, judges, and legal scholars. She serves as a Research Advisor to Equal Justice Society (2012-present) an organization that uses social science research to influence discrimination law and as a Research Advisor for Perception Institute (2009-present) an organization that translates mind science research on discrimination to design trainings and cultural products that advocate for systemic and societal remedies to discrimination. Dasgupta’s research findings have been featured in the New York Times science section, Boston Globe, The Atlantic, International Herald Tribune, London Times, National Public Radio, PBS News Hour, ABC News, Scientific American Mind, Slate.com, and many other popular news outlets.
Dasgupta has held leadership positions in several international societies including the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), and Society for Experimental Social Psychology (SESP), including the President of the SESP in 2017. Dasgupta serves on the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (NSF SBE, 2015-2020), which provides recommendations and oversight to all research, education, and human resource initiatives of the SBE Directorate. She is on the Board of Directors of FABBS—the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences—whose mission is to communicate the contributions of basic and applied research from behavioral and brain sciences to policymakers and the broader public.