Tarja Raag, Associate Professor of Psychology120px-Gay_flag.svg

I received my B.A. in Psychology from Skidmore College in 1986, and my Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology (Major area of study in Developmental Psychology) from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana in 1992. I served as a Post Doctorate Student at the University of Miami, Florida for 2 years, following which I was a faculty member at Kenyon College from 1993 to 1995. I joined the faculty at Colby College in the fall of 1995 and have been here ever since. My regular teaching load includes the Developmental and Intelligence sections of our team-taught Introductory Psychology (PS111) course as well as Child Development (PS255), Adolescent and Adult Development (PS256), Psychology of Sex and Gender (PS352), and Developmental Seminar (PS335).

My research interests are in areas relevant to social development, with special interest in emerging adult identity (including racial/ethnic identity) and well-being in college populations (with specific focus on acceptance of life events, positive and negative). I also value applied work and civic engagement in my teaching and support students’ engagement in the important work done by our local Hospice and Family Violence Project nonprofit organizations. I would welcome chances to talk about research and community activism. You may contact me at: traag@colby.edu or (207) 859-5558.

Student Collaborators

Wu pixLaura Wu,  ’18

I have an independent major in Social Work, with concentrations in clinical psychology, global health, and WGSS. I am native to Northern California. If I’m not in Tarja’s lab, you will find me on the rugby pitch, teaching sexual violence prevention to first years and sophomores, volunteering at Hospice, planning Alternative Spring Break Trips, or spreading queer support and love. In my free time, I find unsuspecting dogs to pet, marathon Netflix, and spend time drinking tea and playing board games with my girlfriend and friends. I also enjoy cross stitching.

 Valerie Mejia, ’19

I am a Psychology major interested in Lifespan Development Psychology. I was born in Plantation, Florida, but have spent most of my life moving back and forth between Medellín, Colombia and different towns in Florida. I just returned from a JanPlan abroad at Clínica de la Presentación in Manizales, Colombia in which I counseled terminal patients with the help from Catholic nuns. Besides working in the Social Development lab, I am a member of Colby Hillel and SOBHU. I am also a Career Fellow in the Colby College Career Center. If I’m not in the lab, you can find me reading or watching movies in my room, drinking coffee in Pulver, journalling around campus, or eating sushi at Mirakuya!

Mahal Alvarez-Backus, ’19

I’m a Psychology major and a Human Development and Anthropology double minor, from Massachusetts. I would like to pursue a career in clinical developmental psychology. I am a member of the Colby Cross-Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Track teams. I am also a Community Advisor, a member of the food recovery committee, a tutor for Psychology, a research assistant in The Mood and Emotion Lab, and I volunteer in local classrooms. In my free time I like to read, watch animal documentaries, and hike.

Briana Collins-Lee, ’19

I am a Psychology major with a Human Development minor, and I am interested in Development and Education Psychology. I’m from Lynn, Massachusetts and love spending time in Boston and Salem. Outside of the lab, I work as a Marketing Fellow in the Career Center and spend a lot of time working with the CAPS program. In my free time you’ll find me making my way through the independent movies on Netflix, singing and dancing in my room, or taking polaroids of this beautiful campus.

Grace Wang, ’19

I am a Psychology and Biology double major from Massachusetts. In addition to working in the lab, I am the Co-President of the Pre-Health Society, a tutor for PS111 (introductory psychology), and a member of the Asian Students Association.


Tianhao Yao ’20

I am a Psychology major with a Music minor from Beijing, China. In addition to my work in the lab, I am also a tutor for PS111 (Introduction to Psychology). Outside the lab I enjoy playing the piano, and taking photos of wherever I travel to and whatever delicious food I have.

Gabrielle Fagan ’20

I’m a Psychology and Government double major from Fairfield, Connecticut. Outside of the lab, I am a tutor for PS111 (Introductory Psychology), a volunteer at the Waterville Humane Society, a Colby Cares About Kids mentor, a Colby Outdoor Orientation Trip leader, and a Colby Admissions Tour Guide! In my free time, you can find me boating, hiking, watching movies, and taking photos!