Faculty Spotlight: Jeffrey Hunger

a photo of Jeffery Hunger

  • Assistant professor of psychology
  • PhD in psychology (UC Santa Barbara)
  • Teaches courses on social psychology, stigma, and health/wellbeing
  • Conducts research on the mental and physical consequences of stigma
  • Interviewed for The Huffington Post about weight-shaming and fatphobia [March 2021] and Prevention Magazine about weight and health [April 2021]

Background

"I am originally from Minnesota and grew up just outside of Minneapolis. Like a good Minnesotan, I went to the University of Minnesota, but then I spent the next decade in southern California for graduate school and postdoctoral training.

"As an undergraduate, I was originally a biology major on the pre-med track -- until I got exposed to psychology during the winter term of my first year. I became fascinated with how our social interactions shape how we think and how we behave. It turns out this is what social psychology is: the field of study dedicated to how our social worlds shape our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I had no clue this field even existed until I reached college. "

Teaching

"In my senior capstone class, PSY410F: Stigma and Its Consequences, we cover all of the ways in which being a member of a stigmatized group can have consequences for people's health, well-being, educational success, and a whole host of other things. I also teach an introductory course on Social Psychology (PSY221).

"This past spring I developed and taught a new course on the Social Psychology of Health and Wellbeing (PSY 324), which I loved! Students learned all about how our social worlds shape our health, and they even had the chance to design their own research project on the topic.

"What I love about teaching at Miami in particular is that the classes (like my capstone) are small, so I get to know each and every one of my students very well. I like that because it allows me to see them succeed once they leave my class. I have had multiple former students reach out to check in and let me know where they are, whether it be law school, studying abroad, or applying to PhD programs. So many have kept in touch! That's what's so awesome about the Miami environment: it fosters a close connection between professors and students.

"I want to be able to challenge my students. I've created a classroom environment that allows them to potentially fall flat in that moment, but to learn from this. We all learn from failure. Creating an environment in the classroom where students have to work through obstacles to reach the best answer cements learning."

Research

"I study the mental and physical health consequences of being a member of a stigmatized group (e.g., racial and sexual minorities, higher body weight individuals). A lot of the research in my lab actually focuses on weight stigma and how people are negatively treated because of their weight.

"Undergraduate students serve as research assistants (RAs) in my lab, helping with day-to-day research activities such as data collection and coding participant responses. I see my RAs as mini-graduate students, so when they're not helping with research they're discussing peer-reviewed publications as a lab or completing additional training.

"These experiences are going to make them more successful in the future, especially if they want to pursue graduate school. "

Outside the Classroom

"I cook a lot: Indian food, Thai curries, Japanese food, Mexican food, basically everything. I love to try new cuisines and random recipes. It's such a fun escape from work, especially working from home.

"I’ve also started bowling again. I bowled competitively in high school, so I picked it back up when I moved to Cincinnati and have fallen in love with it again. Before the pandemic, my husband and I would go bowling almost every Saturday -- I love it! "

[May 2021]