Who are we?

We are a community of early career women in social sciences. And that’s why we share a professional and personal interest in expanding existing stories about who can be a researcher.

(Re)Searching Diversity Team

dr. Jana Vietze
Assistant professor at the Department for Psychology, Education, and Child Studies (DPECS), Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Past: I was born in East Berlin and grew up in Germany, Japan, and Austria. As a “third culture kid”, I have always been fascinated by the complex ways in which young people understand and combine different cultural and social influences. After studying Sociology and Psychology (University of Vienna), I obtained my Ph.D. in Psychology (University of Potsdam, 2019) by investigating parents, peers, and school as resources for youths’ cultural belonging, well-being, and school adjustment.

Present: My current research concerns how young people can belong to more than one (cultural) group and how this affects their well-being and school/study success. I further study how parents, friends, and school can help youth in feeling like they belong and in becoming healthy and happy individuals despite structural, societal challenges. I combine perspectives from developmental psychology, inclusive education, and cross-cultural psychology.

Future: Besides increasing representation, I wish that this podcast can be a platform and source of support for diverse students and researchers. By combining our strengths and setting an example of a safe collaborative environment, I hope that our conversations can be the starting point for more equity in science and educational practice.


Past: My parents are Moroccan and I was born in the Netherlands. When I was 15 years old, we moved to France and lived there for six years. When I came back to the Netherlands in 2010, I studied Pedagogical Sciences and Orthopedagogy. As a young girl with a migration background I know what struggles most students encounter at school and that is why I decided to do a Ph.D on culturally responsive teaching (CRT). I wanted teachers to see potential in all students regardless of their family background.

Present: Currently I am finishing my Ph.D in Educational Sciences about cultural diversity in secondary schools. I investigated  how teachers culturally responsive competences could be improved, students’ perceptions on CRT, what role the school environment has on the professional development of teachers when it comes to professionalizing in CRT and how efficacious teachers feel in CRT. During my Ph.D I trained teachers in professional learning communities on CRT and topics such as fixed and growth mindset, sensitive themes and motivation in culturally diverse classrooms.

Future: Besides increasing knowledge about diversity, I hope that this podcast can provide a supportive environment for students, researchers and educators with and without a migration background. Moreover, I wish that we can inspire more students with a migration background to become researchers as well!

Sabrina Alhanachi, MSc
PhD student and academic teacher at the Department for Psychology, Education, and Child Studies (DPECS), Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands

dr. Miriam Schwarzenthal
Junior Professor for School Socialization Research at the Institute for Educational Research/School of Education, University of Wuppertal, Germany

Past: I was born and raised in the Cologne area and studied psychology at the universities of Cologne and Jena. During my high school and university years, I lived and studied in the United States, Nepal, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. Through these experiences, I became interested in how experiencing cultural diversity can promote empathy and perspective-taking. I obtained my Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Potsdam in 2019, studying intercultural competence among adolescents attending culturally diverse schools in Germany.

Present: With my current research, I want to find out how youth in culturally diverse societies learn to analyze and address social inequities between different cultural/ethnic groups, drawing on concepts of critical consciousness and civic engagement.  

Future: I hope that this podcast will not only increase visibility of outstanding research on ethnic, cultural, and migration-related diversity, but will also encourage reflection on how research structures and practices themselves can be more inclusive and equitable. 


Past: I grew up in a working class district in Berlin and am the first one in my family who went to university. Growing up with an afro-german family history and a slovenian surname, in an culturally diverse neighbourhood and network as long as I can think, while at the same time being othered in school or in every day experiences, my identity has captured the way towards my research interests – and my role as researcher and educator.

Present: Cultural diversity is the norm, not the exeption. This perspective is fundamental to my understanding of educational research. With my research, I aim to contribute to how the cultural identities of students can be incorporated in a sensitive, reflective way and understand how they can be a resource in the school context. For that purpose, I examine the adaption and implementation of an US-based intervention on cultural identity exploration and discussions on social inequities with youth in Germany. Furthermore I am engaging in how we can make pre- and in-service teachers more competent in a way that they feel better prepared to respond adaquatly to the needs of their culturally diverse classrooms.

Future: With our podcast, I want other students, researchers and educators (especially of color!) to see: researching diversity is important, valuable and fun. I hope that with every episode, our listeners get to know new perspectives, unknown theoretical input and enjoy the conversations we share with our impressive guests.

Sharleen Pevec, MEd
Doctoral candidate working as researcher and lecturer at the Inclusive Education Department at the University of Potsdam in Germany

Tuğçe Aral, MSc
Ph.D. candidate and lecturer at the Inclusive Education Department at the University of Potsdam, Germany

Past: I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. With the consistent politicization of my identities (i.e., woman and queer) in-between continents, cultures, and ideologies where I call home, I developed a great sensitivity to inequalities all marginalized groups experience. I studied Psychology at the Bahçeşehir and Koç University, Turkey. During my studies, I lived and studied in Hungary and the United States. In 2017, I immigrated to Germany and started my Ph.D.

Present: Through my research, I aim to understand the role of schools and families in youths’ ethnic-racial identity development and youths’ everyday intercultural relations. Besides, as a junior researcher who is shaping her values and goals in science, my research increasingly integrates different forms of open science practices.

Future: With this podcast, I hope to provide representation for (e.g., woman, queer, immigrant) students who have never considered research as a career, especially in areas such as psychology and education. I hope that every episode provides senior and junior scholars a new perspective to question well-established research practices and urges them to feel responsible in (re)construct the academia with a new and all-inclusive design.


Past: My grandfather came to Germany from Turkey as a guest worker in the 1970s. I was born and raised in Germany and I am a so-called German with a migration biography. I studied psychology at Bielefeld University, the University of Southampton, and the University of Bremen. As the granddaughter of a nomad family with a tradition of carpet weaving, I have always had an eye for how migration processes form, shape, and develop our societies, what experiences people have in the process.

Present: Currently I am a Ph.D. candidate focusing on migration, discrimination, and acculturation. I investigate discrimination and acculturation of migrants by taking an interdisciplinary perspective, encompassing social and developmental psychology, using quantitative and qualitative research methods. Additionally, I teach in the area of research on discrimination and migration. Also, I am a member of the project “ZuGleich – Belonging and Equivalency” funded by Stiftung Mercator, at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence (IKG) at Bielefeld University. 

Future: With this podcast I hope for a sensitivity for more diversity in educational processes. I hope that especially nowadays, our podcast will ‘travel’ through the world on a verbal level and reach many students and researchers, and give them strength, courage and vision. 

Zeynep Demir, MSc
Researcher and lecturer at the research group Socialization at the Faculty of Educational Science and the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence (IKG) at Bielefeld University, Germany


And we couldn’t do without…

Maritza Warnik (social media)
Master student in Clinical Psychology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Past: I was born and raised in The Netherlands, I studied the Bachelor in Psychology at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. I enjoy living in Rotterdam because it is such a multicultural city.  My Bachelor’s sparked my interest in research and I am personally interested in making research more accessible to everyone. As a researcher, I think it is important to interact with different cultures and learn from each other’s points of view.

Present: I am currently a Clinical Psychology master’s student at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. Within my master’s I focus on how the mental well-being of young people got affected by Covid-19. Besides my studies, I work as a research assistant for Movez Lab and I do voluntary work as a coach on the McGuire Programme. I have a stammer myself and now help other people with a stammer. The McGuire Programme is an international programme where I got to know people from all around the world.

Future: Next year I will move to Edinburgh to study Psychological Research at the University of Edinburgh. I am excited to study in a different country and meet students from different backgrounds. My hope is that this podcast will give representation to underrepresented groups and that will make other students (from diverse backgrounds) excited to work in the research field. Lastly, I hope this podcast will give listeners a better understanding on why representation and diverse research is important.


Past: Zey moved to Germany from Istanbul in 2017 and have been living there since. With an education background in sociology, they get their inspiration for their artwork from the social conflict between the self and the identity, and they can’t separate politics and art from each other.

Present: Zey is a 34-year-old self-taught visual artist, and one of the co-founders of the Cologne based queer-feminist art collective cumming. Nowadays they’re taking part in organising new events and focusing on their personal art projects.

Zeynep Alpay (art work)
Artist, Cologne, Germany