Field: Social Psychology
SR-EIP: Brown University (1993); Harvard University (1994)
Undergrad: Stanford University (1995)
Graduate School: Harvard University (MA, 2002); Princeton University (PhD, 2002)
Current Position: Associate Professor of Psychology and of Organizational Studies, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Could you talk about any memorable experiences from your Leadership Alliance summer research at Brown or Harvard?
My mentor at Harvard, Rob Rosenthal, was the chair of the department. He was very inspirational and influential in terms of my wanting to become a social psychologist. He also helped me get into graduate school by writing a letter of recommendation. I’ve kept in contact with him over the years, as well as with many of those who were his students at that time, who have since become faculty colleagues.
The project I worked on that summer was later published.
“I participated in the Leadership Alliance summer programs at Brown and Harvard. At the time, I was considering PhD programs, but still had questions about graduate student life, the PhD process, and academia as a career. However, I was able to engage in the research experience, interact with graduate students and faculty, and gain a much clearer perspective on the PhD experience. For example, I listened to panel discussions in which fellow participants asked candid questions to and received candid responses from the panelists. I spoke with my faculty mentors about their challenges in academia. I sketched research ideas with graduate students over coffee. As a result, my reservations about getting a PhD were dispelled, and my interest in academia grew even stronger.”
“Years later, I am still amazed by the Leadership Alliance experience – one of the most exciting (and fun) summer experiences of my life – from collecting data on day trips to the dining experience with mentors and fellow participants at the faculty club. However, more important, my Leadership Alliance experience provided me a robust and solid foundation that enabled me to withstand and revel in the future challenges of my graduate studies.” *
Can you talk about how your Leadership Alliance summer experience prepared you for graduate school?
I knew what I was getting into. It was a mini-experience of what grad school would be, especially learning about the autonomy of work in graduate school. It helped me learn that, to be successful, I had to become self-disciplined in regard to my highly flexible, largely self-determined work schedule. This has been true as a faculty member as well.
Thanks to the SR-EIP, “I was able to reaffirm to myself that academia was a profession I wanted to pursue.” **
Can you talk about your work as a mentor for the next generation?
At the University of Michigan, I’ve been a participant in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program on campus. I work with first-year students and generally stay with them throughout their college experience. I appreciate the opportunity to be a mentor. I show them how to conduct research, data collection, and paradigm development. I also value the opportunity to mentor students of color and diverse backgrounds, and several have become co-authors on research publications.
Can you talk about the importance of the Leadership Alliance alumni network?
Most of my network has been with people in my field, rather than with Leadership Alliance alumni per se in part because my field of social psychology is not well-represented in the Leadership Alliance. Even so, I think the network of the larger Leadership Alliance has undoubtedly helped me and other participants succeed in their field by exposing them to relevant faculty and graduate students across many top research universities.
“Even now, after earning a PhD in psychology at Princeton and a master’s degree in administration, planning, and social policy at Harvard, my Leadership Alliance experience continues to pay unanticipated dividends – a professional network. Many of the graduate students and faculty I met during my experience are now collaborators and colleagues who continue to offer me valuable advice on my professional development, especially preparing me for my tenure review.” *
“These connections have become a source of both research collaboration and informal professional advice” **
What advice would you give to this year’s Leadership Alliance participants?
To succeed, it often requires failure at many different points. In the day-to-day research, I’ve had research studies where I’ve needed to refine the paradigm and hypothesis. Even career-wise, there are several tests and hurdles along the way, but you can’t let these failures become obstacles. They build strength, resilience, and even gratitude.
Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
It’s a great program and I’m honored to be an alumni.
Program attendees will “learn about research from the nitty-gritty details to the larger goals of a research program” **
* from NSF letter of support, 2/28/27
** from 2002-2003 director’s report