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A few weeks ago, as we mulled over lab issues and discussed ongoing research projects, our advisor, Randy Engle, broke into a familiar diatribe about a well-known psychologist that he has known for years, and how this relationship has helped him in his career. These daily digressions, it occurs to us, are closely akin to the wise grandfather who often tells the same story, always with a moral embedded within it. As it turns out, this particular vignette stressed the importance of establishing contacts at conferences early on, because you never know when that person will be the one who sits on the committee reviewing your job application or grant proposal. Of course, this is a rather generic example, but it got us thinking about how important our advisors can be in conveying the secrets of success in psychology.
We think it’s safe to say that now is the time for us to become prepared for life after graduate school. Now is the time to glean all the information we can about how to succeed, flourish, and move up the tenure ladder, and most importantly how to prepare for the future of the science of psychology. One of our faculty members recently remarked that this stage in our career as graduate students is the least stressful of all. As daunting as this realization is, there is real truth to it. Post-docs have to deal with conducting research, publishing, making contacts, and applying to jobs, untenured faculty struggle to manage time between teaching, advising, and continuing to do research. We thought – wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could poll some of the biggest names in the field as well as rising stars and ask them questions about these issues?
That is exactly what we intend to do. But, for this endeavor to be successful, we need your help. We encourage you to send us comments and questions you would like answered. Do not think of this column as being “owned” by anyone. Instead, consider it the public property of all psychology graduate students. We want to hear your comments, your questions, and your grievances. It is our hope that we can address many of them in upcoming issues. We also need APA members to make this column available to their graduate students, who may not receive this publication. We hope that this column is as informative and enlightening as it is entertaining, and look forward to opening up a truly valuable channel of communication.
Richard P. Heitz, M.S. Originally from Chicago, I attended the University of Illinois-Chicago, completing my undergraduate degree in 2000. It was about my junior year that I became interested in cognitive psychology, and not long after I was heavily involved in research under the supervision of Dr. Andy Conway and his truly remarkable graduate student, Mike Bunting (who is now a post-doc). While working for the Conway team, I became interested in working memory and attention, particularly visual attention. With a bit of research experience under my belt, I picked up and moved to Atlanta, where I started graduate school at the Georgia Institute of Technology under Randall Engle. I recently defended my Master’s Thesis, which dealt with working memory and attention in the visual domain. In addition to following up on my thesis, I am also working on another project with Dr. Paul Corballis employing ERP (event-related brain potential) in the study of working memory and visual attention. In my non-academic life, I am a musician and avid music enthusiast.
Nash Unsworth, M.S. I am originally from Pocatello, Idaho where I attended Idaho State University as an undergraduate. Thanks in large part to my undergraduate advisor, Kandi Turely-Ames, I am currently a third year graduate student at Georgia Institute of Technology working with Randy Engle. My broad research focus is in Working Memory and Cognition. More specifically, I am interested in what cognitive mechanisms drive the shared variability between Working Memory Span tasks and measures of higher-order cognition (such as fluid intelligence). To this end, my work has focused on both correlational and quasi-experimental designs using high and low working memory capacity individuals in a variety of tasks. For instance, I recently completed my master’s thesis examining individual differences in working memory capacity and the endogenous control of attention in the antisaccade task. Both the correlational and quasi-experimental methods attempt to determine when individual differences in working memory capacity are important and how these differences are related to higher-order cognition. In my spare time, I am an avid white-water kayaker, mountaineer, and backcountry skier.
If you have any suggestions for questions you would like answered, send an email to either Rich Heitz or Nash Unsworth at the addresses listed at the top of this column+. And as a shameless plug, you can learn more about our lab and research projects by visiting: http://psychology.gatech.edu/renglelab.