Jaime Lane Derringer

Associate Professor of Psychology

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I am an interdisciplinary scientist, working at the intersection of personality psychology and molecular genetics. My dual expertise in genetic methods and psychological assessment has led to the development of a research program organized around understanding how people, for all the fundamental similarities across members of our species, display such remarkable diversity and flexibility of behavior. I co-run the Etiology of Personality and Individual Characteristics (EPIC) lab with Dr. D. A. Briley (view lab website).

I am recruiting new doctoral students to begin in Fall 2023. I am looking for students interested in either (a) gender and sexuality, or (b) neo-eugenics and genetic determinism beliefs, or (c) both! Successful applicants do not need to have any specific training history in these areas, but must have enthusiasm for learning and public engagement. Click here for more information on applying to the Social-Personality Psychology Ph.D. program at UIUC.

Behavior Genetics

Once we succeed in discovering and replicating specific genetic variants that are correlated with human behavior, we are still left with many fundamental questions unanswered - what comes next? For all the genes correlated with human behavior that have been identified in the last decade, our understanding of how these genes come to be correlated with behavior remains incredibly limited.

Much of the public perception of behavior genetics presumes the field as a whole landed on the genetic determinism side of the “Nature versus Nurture” debate, and is now working toward a goal of designer babies. One reason for this misunderstanding may be the tendency of the field to focus on high-stakes outcomes (like cognitive ability and mental health) and methods that prioritize genetic information over rich measures of environments and experiences.

Reckoning with the role behavior genetics has played in racism, white supremacy, and eugenics is a substantial challenge. I am committed to actively promoting anti-racist principles throughout the field of behavior genetics. I currently primarily address these issues through my teaching and service work. I am interested in recruiting students who would like to conduct research in this area, especially in terms of designing communication aimed at diverse (expert and public) audiences.

Gender and Sexuality

Our lab’s research on gender and sexuality attempts to substantially broaden the inclusion of sexual and gender minority perspectives in the psychological sciences. We are developing and validating quantitative methods for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting diverse samples that will provide a framework for other scientists to diversify their own samples and questions.

We have received funding for an online, longitudinal study of gender- and sexuality-diverse relationship experiences to model individual and dyadic personality processes over time (view study website).