I am looking for graduate students to join my lab starting in the fall of 2021.
I have settled into a more minimal presence on social media. Thus, you are unlikely to learn about my personality from following the psychology crowd on social media. Nevertheless, here is some information if you are interested in working in my lab.
Information about “fit” for prospective graduate students
Mentor-mentee relationships are long-term. At best, these relationships are satisfying, productive, and maybe even life-changing. I want all my relationships to be the best they can be. The best will not always happen, of course, but that’s what I want.
As such, it is critical that you understand my work style and what I believe an ideal relationship looks like. I know you want to get into graduate school. And you might think the best way to get into graduate school is to say you are willing to do whatever it takes. But that line of thinking is short-sighted for both of us. You are who you are, I am who I am, and a little thought about fit can go a long way.
Before you apply to work with me, take a good hard look at your qualities, and be brutally honest with yourself. Are your qualities going to be simpatico with my mentoring style? Are you and I likely to be a good fit?
To help you get a sense of whether you and I would work well together, here is a description of what my ideal mentee would look like.
You enjoy “Deep Work.” Research involves hard mental work. It requires focus and discipline. It requires sustained effort over years. And much of this work is solitary. Our work involves many hours of you, and only you, writing and rewriting a paragraph until the wrinkles are ironed out, carefully writing clean R code, hunting for the precise word when the approximate just will not do, etc. As mentees are doing this alone in their office, I will likely be doing the same in mine. This is just what we do.
My ideal mentee will engage in deep work for several hours each day. They carve out time to think and fully engage with their work. This does not mean “be busy” for a few hours each day, although they will be busy. It means shutting down email and social media, not listening to music with lyrics in the background, and putting their full mental effort into the task at hand.
This mindset also should not be something mentees can muster for a few years until they get a Ph.D., it should be a part of them. Days when they cannot engage in deep work should gnaw at them.
If this depth of mental work sounds tortuous to you, then we will probably not be a good fit for one another.
You enjoy writing. Being an academic is being a professional writer. You will write thousands of pages of text during graduate school. Thousands! If there is one thing I will impress upon my mentees, it is that writing is a craft. My ideal mentee will care deeply about honing their craft.
If you hate writing well, then we will probably not be a good fit for one another.
Autonomy. Although mentees will work closely with their mentor, my goal is to help students become independent researchers, thinkers, writers, and scholars. Although I expect the work of my lab to be thematic, I expect students to show independence. Such independence might be studying unique research questions, developing a distinctive writing voice, or honing unique research skills. My goal is not to clone myself; my goal is to support mentees in becoming early-career professionals.
There are lots of good students. They can navigate curricula, read between the lines of syllabuses, and know how to achieve a high GPA. But graduate school is about creating scholars, not students. My ideal mentee will make the transition from being a consumer of research to a producer of research.
If you are uninterested in becoming an independent researcher, then we will probably not be a good fit for one another.
You take feedback. Mentor-mentee relationships involve feedback and evaluation. Some of this feedback is formal, much of it is informal. You must be able to accept feedback and use that feedback to improve.
To be clear, this is not inherently negative feedback. I am a mentor, not a critic that is pegging mentees’ performance on a scale from awful to awesome. I provide feedback with tact and purpose. And good feedback involves reinforcing things that are going well. But receiving feedback is unavoidable.
If you do not take feedback well, then we will probably not be a good fit for one another.
You love research. Our program is a research-intensive program. We think about research during the day and dream about it at night. Research should not be something you tolerate on the way to getting a fancy-sounding degree. You should be intrinsically motivated to do research.
If you believe that doing research is merely an activity that must be tolerated, then we will probably not be a good fit for one another.