I'm entering my fifth year of the PhD program in Sociology at the University of Maryland. I'm a PhD Candidate and specializing in social psychology and stratification. Professor Jeffrey Lucas is my advisor and dissertation chair.

My research interests are primarily in group processes research, especially experimental work. My second-year paper research was on use of humor and status in groups. My dissertation research examines how threats to social groups affect ways of thinking and behaving that benefits those groups (ingroup prosociality).

I've worked as a research assistant for Professor Lucas, and also as a teaching assistant.

I'm also simultaneously pursuing a Intermediate Survey Methodology Certificate through the Joint Program in Survey Methodology.

Areas of Interest

  • group processes, social psychology, stratification, health


  • BA
    Sociology, Penn State University, 2012
  • MA
    University of Maryland, 2014
  • PhD
    University of Maryland, 2017


  • Threats to social groups and ingroup prosociality (dissertation)
  • Humor and status in groups (second-year paper)
  • Status and the legitimacy of power (with Jeffrey Lucas and Michael Lovaglia)
  • Social psychological control systems and interracial interaction (with Rashawn Ray)
  • Complementary and alternative medicine practices and social stratification
BSOS Dean's Graduate Student Advisory Council, 2014-present, Chairperson 2016-2017 academic year
ASA Social Psychology Section Graduate Student Advisory Council, 2015-present
kkerns [at] umd.edu