Seanna Leath

Assistant Professor of Psychology
Research Areas:

Dr. Leath uses interdisciplinary approaches in education and psychology to understand and address issues related to the holistic development of Black girls and women in the context of families, schools, and communities. Specifically, her research program focuses on addressing how race and gender identity beliefs support psychological resilience among Black girls, and exploring the influence of discrimination and stigma on a variety of outcomes among Black girls and women. 

She is currently working with data from three studies: 

  1. The Black College Woman Socialization Study - Qualitative exploration of how adolescent socialization experiences around race and gender inform Black women’s identity beliefs
  2. The Black College Student Climate & Mental Health Study - Mixed Methods investigation (survey and interview data) of the connections between institutional climate, mental health service use, and wellness outcomes among Black students at a PWI and MSI
  3. The Black Mothers Conscious Parenting Study - Mixed Methods investigation (survey and interview data) of Black mothers’ race-related beliefs, racial socialization practices, and their socioemotional strategies with their children

In the near future, she plans to extend her research on academic motivation and psychological resilience to Black college women at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). She runs the F.H.I.RE (Fostering Healthy Identities and REsilience) Lab at the University of Virginia. Dr. Leath is accepting students who are interested in the Community Psychology Program. She is always looking to recruit highly motivated undergraduate students for the FHIRE Lab, as well. She encourages interested students to contact her directly at [email protected].

Selected Publications:

  • Hurley, E., Leath, S., & Hurley, S. (2019, in press). Culture vs. Race/Ethnicity: Which predicts the best fit between students and learning contexts? Or is it both?. Urban Education. 
  • Leath, S., Mathews, C., Harrison, A., & Chavous, T. (2018, in press). Racial identity, racial discrimination, and classroom engagement outcomes among Black girls and boys. American Educational Research Journal, 1-33. doi: 10.3102/000283121881616955  
  • Leath, S., & Chavous, T. (2018). Black women’s experiences of campus racial climate and stigma at predominantly White institutions: Insights from a comparative and within-group approach for STEM and Non-STEM majors. The Journal of Negro Education, 87(2), 125-139. doi: 10.7709/jnegroeducation.87.2.0125
  • Chavous, T., Richardson, B., Webb, F., Fonseca-Bolorin, G., & Leath, S. (2018). Shifting contexts and shifting identities: Campus race-related experiences, racial identity, and academic motivation among Black students during the transition to college. Race and Social Problems, 1-18. doi: 10.1007/s45885-017-9218-9
  • Butler-Barnes, S., Lea, C., & Leath, S. (2018). Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Program: Examining Black girls’ experiences at a predominantly White school. The Urban Review, 1-28. doi: 10.1007/s11256-018-0464-y
  • Carter, R., Mustafaa, M., Leath, S., & Butler-Barnes, S. (2018). Teachers’ academic and behavioral expectations and girls’ pubertal timing: Does the classroom learning environment matter? Social Psychology of Education: An International Journal, 1-28. doi: 10.1007/s11218-018-9450-1
  • Butler-Barnes, Cook, S., Leath, S., & Caldwell, C. (2018). Teacher-based discrimination: The role of racial pride and religiosity among African American and Caribbean Black adolescents. Race and Social Problems, 1-12. doi:
  • Leath, S., & Chavous, T. (2017). “We really protested…I felt like I was in a movement”: The influence of sociopolitical beliefs, political self-efficacy, and campus racial climate on civic engagement among Black college students attending PWIs. The Journal of Negro Education, 86(3), 220-237. doi: 10.7709/jnegroeducation/86.3.0220
  • Carter, R., Leath, S., Butler-Barnes, S., Byrd, C., Chavous, T., Caldwell, C., & Jackson, J. (2017). Comparing associations between perceived puberty, same-race friends, and same-race peers, and psychosocial outcomes among African American and Caribbean Black girls. Journal of Black Psychology, 43(8), 836-862. doi: 10.1177/0095798417711024
  • Carter, R., Mustaafa, F., & Leath, S. (2017). Teachers’ expectations of girls’ classroom performance and behavior: Effects of girls’ race and pubertal timing. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 1-23. doi: 10.1177/0272431617699947
  • Butler-Barnes, S., Leath, S., Carter, R., Williams, A., & Chavous, T. (2017). Promoting resilience among African American girls: Racial identity as a protective factor. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdeb.12995
  • Chavous, T., Drotar, S., Fonseca-Bolorin, G., Leath, S., F., Lyons, D., & Mustafaa, F. (2016). Identity, motivation, and resilience: The example of Black college students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In J. DeCuir-Gunby and P. Schutz (Eds.) Researching Race and Ethnicity in the Study of Learning and Motivation in Social and Cultural Contexts, (pp. 3-15). New York: Routledge.
  • Chavous, T., Leath, S., & Richardson, B. (2015). African American racial identity as promoting academic achievement and excellence: Resisting stereotypes and the myth of ‘Acting White.’ In V. Berry, A. Fleming-Rife, and A. Dayo (Eds.) Black Culture and Experience: Contemporary Issues, (pp. 21-36). New York: Peter Lang Publishing.