Esohe Osai
Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor of Practice
Health and Human Development

Dr. Esohe R. Osai is an assistant professor of practice in Applied Developmental Psychology in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Osai earned her Ph.D. in Education and Psychology at the University of Michigan. In her doctoral thesis, she explored school engagement among urban youth, using the concept of purpose to understand outcomes for African American high school students. Prior to pursuing a Ph.D., Esohe was a high school teacher in Detroit. She also holds a B.A. in Secondary Education from the University of Michigan and a Master’s Degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Osai operates as a community-engaged scholar with an interest in how communities and schools can support positive development and wellbeing for children and youth. She has developed a school-university partnership called The Justice Scholars Institute, through which high school students receive a college preparatory experience and the opportunities to explore issues related to social justice. Through Justice Scholars, over 300 University of Pittsburgh credits have been earned by students at Westinghouse Academy, which is in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Dr. Osai's research interests center on the development of psychosocial capacities in children and adolescents. She privileges a positive strengths approach in her community engaged praxis and looks to identify equity-driven, evidence-based, practical solutions to challenges in schools and communities. View the Justice Scholars Institute program report (PDF).

Instructional Interests

  • Child Development
  • Adolescent Development
  • Children, Youth, and Communities

Scholarly Interests

  • Purpose in Adolescence
  • College and Career Pathways
  • School-University Partnerships
  • Educational Equity
  • Community Engagement

Selected Grants

  • Osai, E. (2020-2022) Justice Scholars Operations. Grantor: The Pittsburgh Foundation $175,000 (Funded)

  • Osai, E. (PI), Caldwell, K., Donaldson, K., Giazzoni, M., Haynik, R. Huguley, Skukan, L., Wallace, J. (2019-2021). Justice Scholars Expansion. Grantor: University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Office, $50,000 (Funded)

Featured Publications

  • Osai, E., Oxley, G., Haynik, R. & McMahon, M. (2020) The Justice Scholars Institute: An Equity-driven College Preparation Strategy [Additional info forthcoming]

  • Osai, E., Huguley, J.P., Giazzoni, M., & Wallace, J.M. (in press). Developing Justice Scholars: A social justice intervention to support educational equity for urban-residing students. Children & Schools.

  • Akiva, T., Hecht, M., & Osai, E. (2019). Creative Learning in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh. Available at

  • Tharp-Gilliam, S., Osai, E., & Koury, A. (2017). Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials Coalition Pittsburgh Peace and Justice Initiative, Phase 1 Report. Pittsburgh, PA: Homewood Children’s Village. Available at

Awards and Honors

  • Barbara Oleshansky, University of Michigan Psychology Department Award, 2015

  • King/Chavez/Parks Future Faculty Fellowship, Rackham Graduate School, 2013

  • Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate Award, 2011

Engagement, Partnerships, and Professional Service

Dr. Esohe Osai is a community-engaged scholar, who lives, works, and serves in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh. She is co-founder of a non-for-profit called The Good Neighbor Collective, which operates as a kinship network to support children and families in communities. She also serves on numerous boards and steering committees of grassroots and community-based organizations that pursue the health and well-being of people living in urban neighborhoods.

Since 2016, Dr. Osai has partnered with Westinghouse Academy through a collaboration in support of educational equity for Black youth in Pittsburgh.

Esohe Osai


University of Pittsburgh
5930 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

View CV