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May SPSPotlight: Member SPSPotlight

Member SPSPotlight

First-year grad student Harrison Oakes and undergraduate junior Zilin Yan answer some questions about themselves, their research, and their interests. 

Harrison Oakes

  1. Please introduce yourself (e.g., name, year in school, university, area of psychology, etc.)
    My name is Harrison Oakes. I’m studying Social Psychology at the University of Waterloo and am in the first year of my PhD. I work primarily with Drs. Igor Grossmann and Hilary Bergsieker.

  2. Tell us a little bit about your research interests.  
    In general, I’m interested in social justice. Currently, I’m focusing on intergroup relations between sexual minorities and other groups (e.g., different religions), but I am also interested in sexism, bullying, system justification, and moral psychology more broadly.

  3. What sparked your interest in these areas of research?
    I had the opportunity of chatting with Dr. Susan Fiske at a CPA convention after the first year of my psychology undergrad. I asked her how to decide what to research. She told me to listen to my gut and pay attention to the issues it responded to. She said those would likely be the issues I’d be most passionate about and should therefore study, because that passion would sustain me through the long hours of grad school. So I listened.
    That same summer several LGBT teens and young adults committed suicide because of the homophobic bullying they experienced. My gut reacted strongly. That fall, in the second year of my undergrad, I approached a new faculty member, Dr. Danielle Gaucher, and presented my ideas for researching impressions of and responses to bullying. It all snowballed from there. My bullying research spurred my interest in research on sexual minorities more generally and led to opportunities to study sexism and eventually moral psychology. As a grad student, my interests continue to develop as I learn about new areas of research.

  4. Who’s your psychology research idol?
    I don’t really have idols, just a lot of people I greatly admire—as grad students, emerging/new scholars, and established scholars. It’s hard to pick a favorite.

  5. What is your favorite thing about being part of SPSP, or of the annual convention if you have attended?
    Meeting the people behind the research that I read about. It’s still a kind of shock to realize that the researchers I admire most are people just like me. It reminds me that no matter how ordinary I feel, I can work hard and perhaps one day be an admired researcher like them.

  6. What’s your favorite social/personality psychology factoid?
    I don’t have a factoid per se, but I do enjoy learning about the contextual implications of certain ideologies. For example, I find it fascinating that multiculturalism generally promotes perspective-taking and outgroup positivity, but that it backfires and creates exaggerated negative responses to outgroup members in threatening interactions.

  7. What’s your greatest psychology-related achievement? (research you’re doing, initiatives you’re involved with, etc.)
    My knowledge mobilization work with PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network) and Family Channel. PREVNet is Canada’s leading authority on bullying and it is their mission to create a bully-free Canada. I worked on their partnership with Family Channel to create resources for Family Channel’s annual Bullying Awareness Week. When I joined the project, I was given the opportunity to write a teacher’s guide on bullying awareness. I took the opportunity to expand the pre-existing guide into a sort of mini-course on evidence-based bullying awareness and prevention. The guide was distributed to schools across Canada and opened the door for me to start speaking at schools, parent groups, community events, conferences, government training workshops, and legislative hearings. Most importantly, I was able to become a stronger advocate for LGBT students experiencing homophobic bullying.

  8. If you had to give one tip about surviving grad school (or undergrad), what would it be?
    Be open about your struggles with grad school. Chances are high that those around you are experiencing, or have experienced, something similar. Talking about your difficulties not only increases the likelihood that you’ll find a support network among your peers, it weakens the power those struggles have over you. Silence strengthens it.

     

Zilin Yan

  1. Please introduce yourself (e.g., name, year in school, university, area of psychology, etc.)
    I’m Zilin Yan from Beijing Normal University. I’m a junior undergraduate now and I love social psychology exclusively.

  2. Tell us a little bit about your research interests.  
    I have been preparing for my dissertation since this March. I’m going to develop an implicit measure of regulatory foci.

  3. What sparked your interest in these areas of research?
    Self-esteem, as the core part of one’s personality, can be measured by both explicit and implicit methods. So regulatory foci, as a motivational system of personality, could also exist in the implicit level.

  4. Who’s your psychology research idol?
    It’s Harry Harlow. I love a sentence in Lauren Slater’s report very much, which read “to understand the human heart you must be willing to break it.”

  5. What is your favorite thing about being part of SPSP, or of the annual conference if you have attended?
    SPSP is a great platform to help me get to know other researchers. I had dinner with Dr. Yingyi Hong at Long Beach, and I might never have had this opportunity without SPSP.

  6. What’s your favorite social/personality psychology factoid?
    Personality is stable, while it does change over one’s life.

  7. What’s your greatest psychology-related achievement? (research you’re doing, initiatives you’re involved with, etc.)
    Attending SPSP, I guess. Few students at my age have this amazing experience. At Long Beach, I was forbidden to order alcohol!

  8. If you had to give one tip about surviving grad school (or undergrad), what would it be?
    Never let your work fill all your time. Go outdoors and get fun regularly, or you will slip into depletion after a whole year struggling. Life is decades, not years.

  9. Is there anything else you would like to share that we haven’t already asked about?
    Is there anybody interested in popularizing their research achievements? I can translate your article and submit it to a popular science media in China (zilin_yan@qq.com).


The GSC wants to get know more about you! We will continue putting the “SPSPotlight” on our graduate and undergraduate members in future issues. Have a few minutes to answer a few questions for us? Email us at spsp_gsc@spsp.org.

 

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