Research Matters Podcast podcast

Research Matters Podcast

Jason Luoma, Ph.D.

In the Research Matters Podcast, I interview leading scientific researchers in psychology and other social sciences in an effort to understand what they do that makes them productive. This podcast is intended to help graduate students, professors, and scientists learn actionable strategies that can help them in their own research endeavors. I strive to help draw out the tips, tricks, habits, and routines of extraordinarily productive researchers. In these interviews, we cover topics like: How to develop a programmatic line of research How to build a team of amazing collaborators Getting things done Writing productively Grant writing strategies Creating an effective research lab Applying design thinking to research How to develop great research ideas When to turn your research into a book Managing grad students Maintain a balance with other aspects of life, such as health, fun, and family How to choose which projects to invest in How to be efficient And much more…

21 Episódios

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    Tony Biglan, Ph.D., on balancing funding with following your true passions


    Tony Biglan, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist at Oregon Research Institute and Co-Director of the Promise Neighborhood Research Consortium. For the past thirty years, he has conducted research in the development and prevention of child and adolescent problem behavior. He is a former president of the Society for Prevention Research and was a member of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Prevention. As a member of Oregon’s Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission, he has helped to develop a strategic plan for implementing comprehensive evidence-based interventions throughout Oregon. Dr. Biglan is the founder of Values to Action, an organization dedicated to evolving more nurturing societies. He has helped to identify effective family, school, and community interventions to prevent the most common and costly problems of childhood and adolescence around the world. Working to advance the reforms called for in his most recent book, Rebooting Capitalism: How We Can Forge a Society That Works for Everyone, Dr. Biglan advocates for the creation of  “Action Circles,” small groups of like-minded people who devote as little as 15 minutes a day to come together to study a problem in an effort to devise a solution. In this episode, you’ll learn… A powerful lesson about not taking the criticism and advice of others too seriously. About the tensions between administration and scientists and the balance of doing what it takes to gain funding while remaining true to callings and passions. About the groundbreaking work done from the 1970s to the present at Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, OR and the creation of the first behavior change clinic in Oregon. That being politically and socially active and fighting for justice are possible and needed, even while remaining dedicated to science and research work and keeping a good balance, including family and leisure. The importance of science support people and participatory democracy. That serendipity and luck can play a part in success and that there are many paths, not just one “right” one. The importance of idleness. About some frustrations with NIH and the problem of addressing individual issues instead of the whole social context. About prevention and the concept of “Action Circles.” Tips from the episode  On the weight of the opinions of others, even older mentors and those in leadership positions… Learn from Dr. Biglan’s personal account of having suicidal thoughts because his dissertation methodology was judged so harshly. Be encouraged by his later discovery that the very same dissertation became one of his greatest life accomplishments and his name is now attached to the concept of “the Biglan Model” because of it. Remember his advice: If you’re working on your dissertation and they tell you it’s no good or not worthwhile and so on, just remember they could be mistaken. This, of course, applies to most things in life, not just dissertation work. On participatory democracy… Support people are vital to everything. Honoring them and giving them a voice will only improve success. Listen to colleagues who hold different priorities than yours and release some power and control. On gaining funding while holding on to personal passions and what’s important … A lot depends on luck or serendipity as to who you meet or how fate happens to put you in the right place at the right time. Having a good system and good support people for writing grants is important. Scientists also have a responsibility to fight for things to get done. As Dr. Biglan says,  It’s imperative that scientists speak up and not simply wait outside the halls of the federal government and hope that somebody will do the right RFA. On making use of idleness… Dedicate time and thought to your passions during your “idle” time. Let your mind focus on what is important to you. Follow Dr. Biglan’s example of getting up early in the morning to write what he wants, not what work requires. Spend time during vacations or days off so that there is no tension or guilt about neglecting work. On implementing reform and Values to Action… If you are concerned about the state of the world and you’re not sure what to do about it, join or create an Action Circle at Values to Action. To learn about implementing reforms, read Rebooting Capitalism: How We Can Forge a Society That Works for Everyone. We all need to look up from our work and be addressing those problems.     Links from the episode: Website Nurture Effect: Website Values to Action: Dr. Biglan’s books on Amazon Twitter: LinkedIn: French and Raven Bases of Social Power Bertrand Russell Essay Psychological Bulletin Article on Stress Research Matters Podcast is hosted by Jason Luoma, who can be found on Twitter @jasonluoma or Facebook at: You download the podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify. Reach out with suggestions, questions, or comments to
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    Dean McKay, Ph.D., A.B.B.P. on mental health in academia, getting into grad school, authorship, and personal planning


    Dean McKay, Ph.D., A.B.B.P. is Professor of Psychology at Fordham University where he is a member of the clinical psychology doctoral program. His lab, Compulsive, Obsessive, and Anxiety Program (COAP) provides instruction to undergraduate, masters, and doctorate levels. Dr. McKay’s expertise is in anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behavior, with his current focus being on Covid-19 related stress and anxiety. He has further interest in anxiety pertaining to political conditions, and he has a passion for clinicians to receive ongoing continuing education. Dr. McKay conducts some private practice and does some consultation as well. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and he is the editor or co-editor of 19 books. He is board-certified in Clinical and Cognitive-Behavioral Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. Today Dr. McKay shares his thoughts about the obligation of people in academia having to do work that “may potentially raise some uncomfortable questions and allow us to advance topics that maybe people in other settings don’t have the luxury of doing.” Dr. McKay addresses the types of things mentors look for in students who are applying to their programs and offers tips on identifying and screening good candidates. It could be surprising to hear that a major thing he asks about in an interview is how they manage to relax. In a day when being accepted to programs is increasingly difficult, Dr. McKay sees this ability as an indicator of how the student will manage in the future. He addresses the intense struggles with stress that come from the benchmarks of performance students must achieve. His compassion for students and sound advice to regularly disconnect from work stem from personal experiences where he actually found himself bedridden from stress and at one point needing surgery for gastrointestinal issues at a very young age. While he is quite serious about his counsel to take vacations and guard weekend time for rest and non-work activities, he admits that during the past COVID-year the lines between work and home have become increasingly difficult to maintain. As he jokes with his colleagues, “every day is Blursday.” Time has little meaning, and schedules and organized events are difficult to maintain. Dr. McKay wishes to be a good example to his students and believes that, as a psychologist, it is important to do the things he would advise his clients to do. Protecting his down time in an environment where work is constantly in his space is vital. In addition to his recommendations to take time out for self-care, Dr. McKay discusses the tricky territory of defining what a “co-author” actually is. In a world where everyone needs to be published, he sees a need for mentors to be careful with balancing the desire to be generous with credits and making sure there is legitimate call to cite names. Allowing a student recognition is important, but the students must be able to defend work they contributed. Dr. McKay shares a personal anecdote in which he worked on a project with a litany of co-authors and two of the credited authors contributed only two sentences to the work. He sees situations like this as doing a disservice to students who, when faced with the real-world demands, won’t have the knowledge to back up their claims on their resumes.  Finally, Dr. McKay shares some of his personal methodology for balancing writing time to make it more productive and his thoughts on taking stock of the “50,000 foot overview” of his future plans. He concludes with his ideas about his personal clinical work and suggests that, “researchers do themselves a little bit of a disservice by not actually seeing clients periodically.” In this episode, you’ll learn…   The obligation academia has to advance causes that could raise some uncomfortable questions. Things to look for when screening students for a graduate program as well as things students should think about when picking a mentor. The importance of guarding personal time and taking vacations. The difficulties of disconnecting from work in Covid times.   The importance of giving valid credit for co-authors on published works.   How to manage writing time and maintain productivity.   Mental tools for organization.   About balancing a clinical practice while maintaining research work and how the two dovetail. Tips from the episode  On finding good candidates for a research program… Students need to have a baseline ability to relax and destress. The rigors of the graduate program world are intense and will take a mental and physical toll if a student does not understand how to balance time and seek time disengaged from the work. Students should be able to back up their research work and defend their publications. Too often mentors are generous with credit, which does a student a disservice when they enter the real world and don’t have the actual background or knowledge to function well. While conducting a stress interview for the sole purpose of making students uncomfortable is not a good choice, asking the hard questions and requiring a student to defend their ideas is not unreasonable. How they respond is a good indicator of how they will handle other things in the future. On finding a mentor … Remember to look for someone who is genuinely nice and compliments your values. Remember that it is a six-year commitment and that is a long time to live with a person who wears you down instead of builds you up. On the balance of work and relaxation … It is vital to disengage from work to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Vacations should be enjoyed. Going off grid is advisable. Weekends should be protected as non-work times. The Covid year has made it increasingly difficult to separate work and home, but now more than ever a firm determination to be away from work for scheduled periods is advisable. On co-author credit… There is a delicate balance of mentor generosity in sharing credit and making sure the claimed acknowledgement is legitimate. Offering co-authorship to someone who has not contributed much paves the way for students to enter research programs and real life unprepared. On maintaining productivity in writing while balancing work and home… Take stock of your week in the beginning and plan for times to focus on writing. Have “protected time.” Stay away from emails and social media. Facilitate blocking out the world by maintaining your environment. Some people work well with music, some do not, for example. If you need to step away from the computer, go exercise or do something alone where you can think and work through ideas mentally. On maintaining a clinical practice while doing research … Seeing clients periodically is important to keep a perspective and learn. It is important to see procedures implemented rather than just talk about them. You need to know about clinical care if you’re going to teach people about clinical care. Links from the episode: Dr. McKay’s Fordham profile: Research Lab: Psychology Today profile and list of books: Twitter: LinkedIn: P.E. Meehl Article: Research Matters Podcast is hosted by Jason Luoma, who can be found on Twitter @jasonluoma or Facebook at: You download the podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify. Reach out with suggestions, questions, or comments to
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    Steven C. Hayes, PhD, on controversy, his lab culture, and how political organizing can help you in science


    Dr. Hayes is a Nevada Foundation Professor of Psychology in the Behavior Analysis Program at the University of Nevada, Reno. An author of 46 books and nearly 650 scientific articles, he is especially known for his work on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which is one of the most widely used and researched new methods of psychological intervention in the last 20 years. Dr. Hayes has received many national awards, such as the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy. His popular book Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life was, at one point, the best-selling self-help book in the United States, and his new book A Liberated Mind has been recently released to wide acclaim. His TEDx talks have been viewed by over 600,000 people, and he is ranked among the most cited psychologists in the world. In this wide ranging conversation, we discuss how Dr. Hayes started his work life as a political organizer and how this has influenced him to work behind the scenes to organize coalitions to get things done. We talk about how he has built his lab culture throughout the years. We discuss his tendency to get involved in important controversies in psychology, such as the prescription privileges debate, and how he has learned to navigate those subjects and attendant criticisms. We discuss the importance of acknowledging those who have helped you along in your life and career, including those critics who have helped you grow. Finally, we talk about he works with his students, including how he encourages an atmosphere of questioning each other with good humor and supporting students to seek after what brings them vitality and meaning. In this episode, you’ll learn… How Dr. Hayes is trying to redefine what evidence-based therapy means and why he wants to have it under the umbrella of evolution science How working in the political realm transformed his future in science and psychology About the controversial past of his work and how that has affected his teaching methods and philosophy About the vital role collaboration plays To appreciate those who helped to get you where you are Tips from the episode On politics and where change happens… Groups make a difference. People make a difference. You can lead from behind. You have to work as hard as anyone. Be willing to do anything. Take down the hierarchy. On micro steps... Be driven by a gut sense of connection. Watch what lifts you up, entertains, and interests you. Have confidence in your heart and what brings you bliss. What seems a chaotic mess to the outside is all connected. Have faith that the big picture is playing out. On the role of mentors and what they offer… Every person has brought something to the direction things went. Even our greatest critics can offer positive gifts. Always remember to have gratitude for those who encouraged and influenced you. On lab philosophy… Create cultural traditions that invite growth. Open the society to diversity of ideas. Never hide ideas from others. Be willing to talk about emotions. Invite critics to come in. Controversy is a good thing. Embrace criticism. It is not tearing down another person to make a bold statement. Celebrate each other’s accomplishments regularly. Keep your eye on the larger values-based purpose of having a research community in the first place. Have fun. Links from the episode: Dr. Steven Hayes’ website and blog Scholarly works of Dr. Hayes Dr. Hayes’ TEDx Talk Research Matters Podcast is hosted by Jason Luoma, who can be found on Twitter @jasonluoma or Facebook at: You download the podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify. Reach out with suggestions, questions, or comments to
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    Jessica Borelli, Ph.D., on Work/Family Conflict, Gender Roles, and Intervention Research with Diverse Communities


    Jessica Borelli, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychological Science at the University of California, Irvine.  She is a clinical psychologist specializing in the field of developmental psychopathology, and her research focuses on the links between close relationships, emotions, health, and development. Today Dr. Borelli shares her own experience with balancing her family life and her ambition and drive as an academic.  Imagine the silence that would (and did) follow her announcement of “I want to be a mom,” when prompted to share her aspirations at a celebratory dinner among a group of academics. Yeah, that happened. Our discussion touches on the conflict with her herself and also the conflict that exists within academia regarding balancing work and family life. Dr. Borelli shares about the complex dance between work and home and how her husband has supported her, helping her to discover who she truly wanted to be. She also talks about the importance of women scientists and the disadvantages they must embrace and overcome. We also cover how she addresses gender and work-family conflict with her students, particularly at the intersection of various identities. Finally, we discuss the steps she took to develop a strong partnership with a community agency serving an underserved population.  In this episode, you’ll learn… The unique challenges of being a woman in academia The influences of family on Dr. Borelli’s career and the clash between family and academia About conducting research in a diverse community as a white woman About the importance of investing in community and paying attention to community needs Tips from the episode On balancing work and family… Know who you are and what you want from your career and family Have confidence in your own ability to rise to challenges and achieve your goals  Have courage to pursue opportunities despite messages that work and family are impossible to balance On engaging with a diverse community… Find out what the community needs and how best to implement intervention Be open to input from the people you work with; do not try to impose your own agenda Be invested in their needs and earn their respect and trust Links from the episode: Dr Jessica Borelli’s profile at UCI UCI THRIVE Lab Collaborators/Community Partners Latino Health Access Her excellent advice for students thinking about graduate school in a mental health field Research Matters Podcast is hosted by Jason Luoma, who can be found on Twitter @jasonluoma or Facebook at: You download the podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify. Reach out with suggestions, questions, or comments to
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    James Kirby, PhD, and Jeffrey Kim, on incorporating physiological data in psychological research


    James Kirby, Ph.D., is a researcher and senior lecturer at the University of Queensland in Australia, who studies the effects of kindness and compassion. Jeff Kim, a graduate student under Dr. Kirby, joins my discussion with Dr. Kirby on measuring and incorporating physiological data into their research. Today’s conversation is focused on measuring heart rate variability. Like many of us, Dr. Kirby didn’t take any psychology courses that incorporated physiology when he was in school. But when he became acquainted with the work of Stephen Porges, Julian Thayer and others, he was compelled to learn more. Eventually, collecting and analyzing physiological data became part of Dr. Kirby’s research on compassion. He’s quick to say he couldn’t have gotten where he is on his own. For others wanting to do something similar, he highly recommends connecting and collaborating with others who are already in the space. Being able to work alongside someone else and to be shown the ropes – preferably in person – makes for a smoother integration and a much quicker learning curve. Jeff Kim shares details regarding equipment and software they use, some of his findings, and best practice recommendations. In this episode, you’ll learn… About the influences on Dr. Kirby’s interests and developments How Dr. Kirby gained access to needed equipment About the equipment and software they use Why there is no substitute for meeting with other researchers in person About the most challenging parts of incorporating physiological data in research Tips from the episode On how to integrate physiological measurements in your work… Partner with others who are already in the space and who (hopefully) have the means to collect, analyze, and interpret data Attend workshops Meet, learn from, and collaborate with others in the space On staying abreast of the latest research in the space… Twitter has become Dr. Kirby’s “academic library” Follow those who study areas you’re interested in but don’t know much about Watch academic talks on YouTube and take notes Links from the episode: Dr. James Kirby’s profile at the University of Queensland Stephen Porges’ work on polyvagal theory Paul Gilbert – compassion-focused therapy Professor Julian Thayer and the vagus nerve Center for Compassion and Altruism Research Dr. James Doty and Dr. Emma Seppala, Handbook of Compassion Science Dr. Stacey Parker June Gruber Tor Wager Research Matters Podcast is hosted by Jason Luoma, who can be found on Twitter @jasonluoma or Facebook at: You download the podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify. Reach out with suggestions, questions, or comments to
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    Bethany Teachman, PhD, and Jeremy Eberle, on embracing an open-science mindset


    Does the thought of practicing open science give you sweaty palms? That’s a normal reaction for those of us who weren’t formally trained in the open-science methodology. The sweaty-palm reaction is really not that surprising since most of us have gotten where we are today because we’ve been meticulous in our work and tried to put out the best work we possibly could. In a nutshell, we tend to be perfectionists. But science, like life, is far from perfect. It’s messy. And it often takes unexpected twists and turns. Once we embrace this reality and view research as a conversation starter, we’ll be able to move past the sweaty-palms stage. Part of getting comfortable with open-science practices is your mindset. It’s about valuing doing rigorous science, even when it gets messy. Open science is also about creating an environment where feedback is sought and embraced. It’s about learning along the way so that you can do even better science going forward. In this episode, you’ll learn… Why Dr. Teachman felt primed to embrace open science from her grad school experience, even though she wasn’t taught open-science protocol in school How to begin embracing open-science practices The barriers to embracing open science Why open science is about more than protocols and checklists -- it’s about a culture that supports transparency and is non-defensive to feedback About the documentation process within her lab About the benefits of using GitHub in addition to OSF Why doing science according to your values can ease the sting of rejected work by publications Dr. Teachman’s suggestion of putting a pre-registration section on your CV How Dr. Teachman approaches collaborations with other researchers who are unfamiliar with open-science practices Tips from the episode On how to shift a lab towards open-science practices… Incorporate visual reminders about your lab’s open-science goals. Set concrete deadlines and expect participation from everyone in the lab. Get over the idea that “it has to be as near perfect as possible before I make it public.” On incrementalism and where to start… Just start. It won’t be perfect, and you’ll get better at it. Embrace that science is about taking risks and figuring it out as you go along. As a first step, do a pre-registration of your hypothesis or share a data set. On the documentation process for open-science projects… Use plain language for your comments within your code Include a section on deviations from the pre-registration Include a guide to open-data and materials Use an internal wiki Links from the episode: RO1 trial – Mindtrails Alan Kazdin Center for Open Science PACT lab Pre-registration templates on OSF Twitter feed on CVs incorporating open science and related materials on OSF Tutorial on integrating Github and R ReproducibiliTea open science methodology reading groups Jeremy Eberle can be found on Twitter: @JeremyWEberle, and or Research Matters Podcast is hosted by Jason Luoma, who can be found on Twitter @jasonluoma or Facebook at: You download the podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify. Reach out with suggestions, questions, or comments to
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    Jessica Schleider, PhD, on Open Science and Replicability Practices and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Academia


    Jessica Schleider, PhD, is an assistant professor of clinical psychology at Stony Book University and a graduate of the Clinical Psychology Program at Harvard University. When in graduate school, she learned about open science – not from her courses but from the Twitter-spere and later from The Black Goat Podcast. What she learned was compelling and unsettling and kept her up at night as she thought about the state of scientific research in general and her research in particular. Wanting to sleep better, she “made an inner commitment to myself that if I got the chance to build a lab, open science would be part of it from the start… Especially if someone was pursuing a relatively new area of research, I didn’t feel like there was any other way to go about it…The curtain had been pulled up, so I couldn’t trust my own work anymore unless these things were more clearly and rigorously incorporated.” In today’s episode, Dr. Schleider and I discus open science principles, how open science differs from run-of-the-mill research, and why it can feel daunting and intimidating to embrace open-science principles. Dr. Schleider is also a strong advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusivity in academia. We discuss the ways academia has traditionally favored those from privileged backgrounds. We also discuss specific steps she has used to ensure that her lab is a safe place for people from underrepresented groups, that opportunities in her lab are clear and transparent, and that a protocol has been set in place should there be any discriminatory behavior or remarks that originate in the lab over which she presides. In this episode, you’ll learn… How Dr. Schleider stumbled upon open science and the replicability revolution Why she decided to implement open science practices That Dr. Schleider thought she had been doing pre-registration because she had been registering clinical trials How open science pre-registration differs from traditional registrations Where Dr. Schleider registers her studies Why open science can be frustrating to implement Why open science requires a mindset change The stages of registered reports Tips from the episode On where to learn about open science… Improve Your Statistical Inferences Coursea course (see link below) The Black Goat Podcast (see link below) On the differences between regular registration and open science preregistration… Open science preregistration aims to make sure researchers don’t fall into biases, outcome switch, or p-hack. In open science, when you deviate from the plan, you’re transparent about it. Traditional preregistrations don’t require an analytic plan or explain how the data will be analyzed. On open science procedures she uses… Always file a preregistration Detail how effect size is computed Streamline process for double-checking data set preparation and analysis Document code Make all of your work accessible to the public On leveling the playing field in research and academia… Reconsider the GRE Make admissions more transparent Make education less expensive Formalize opportunities to get involved in research (so that those opportunities are not reserved for those who know to seek and ask for those opportunities) Links from the episode: Daniel Lakens’ Improve Your Statistical Inferences course The Black Goat Podcast Dr. Schelider’s lab Dr. Schelider’s lab manual As-predicted template Template for pre-registration for beginners (from her lab) Jamovi – easy to use R package Documents to guide those who are considering applying to her lab or grad school in general: How to apply to her lab Guide to applying to grad school in clinical psychology Find Dr. Schelider on Twitter Research Matters Podcast is hosted by Jason Luoma, who can be found on Twitter @jasonluoma or Facebook at: You download the podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify. 
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    Maria Karekla, PhD, on wearables in research and getting a psychophysiology lab up and running


    Dr. Maria Karekla is an assistant professor at the University of Cyprus where she studies anxiety and cravings and specializes in utilizing psychophysiological measurements in her research. I decided to interview her because she has one of the few labs in the world that has done research comparing consumer grade wearable physiological measurement devices to research grade stationary devices. I was alerted to this work when I stumbled across a paper that she recently published comparing these two methods for taking psychophysiology measurements. In today’s episode, she shares details about setting up her physio lab and research protocol and about the many setbacks she has faced -- switching faculty positions, economic crises which resulted in limited funds, using borrowed space and equipment. We walk through lots of details about how to set up a psychphys lab and the practicalities of doing so. We also talk about the pros and cons of using expensive and well-tested stationary equipment for measuring physiology vs cheap and less tested wearable devices that are growing in popularity and accessibility. Tips from the episode On what to expect a lab setup like Maria’s to cost… A $200,000 grant was sufficient to get one lab setup, including equipment and consumables. (If only equipment is needed, $50,000 may be enough.) Maintenance is ~2000 euros per year...if nothing breaks On getting up to speed with equipment and establishing a protocol… Be open and flexible. Know that a lot is learned through trial and error Review equipment manuals carefully Make sure you have technical support Software issues tend to be greater challenges than hardware issues Partner with an established physio researcher and visit their lab On setting up labs procedures and training process… Match younger students with older students to be trained Each study has its own protocol, developed by the team Assign reading assignments to the lab assistants Develop lab manuals On researching with consumer-grade wearables... Check if the wearable has been tested against laboratory equipment Consider if you will get the data in a form that you can use Will you be able to access the data once it’s collected? Consider how detailed you need the data to be Familiarize yourself with the company’s terminology and language and use their lingo in your discussions with them Links from the episode Dr. Karekla’s university website Dr. Karekla’s laboratory website (in Greek) Algea Project website Article: Comparing apples and oranges or different types of citrus fruits? Using wearable versus stationary devices to analyze psychophysiological data. Research Matters Podcast is hosted by Jason Luoma, who can be found on Twitter @jasonluoma or Facebook at: You download the podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify. 
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    Todd Kashdan, on going against the grain, idea capture, and autonomy


    Todd Kashdan, PhD, is a professor of psychology at George Mason University, where he’s senior scientist at the Center for the Advancement of Wellbeing. He’s been a leading researcher in  positive psychology from when that area first started to blow up, but often plays the role of someone who challenges established wisdom in that area of research. When looking for the right job, Dr. Kashdan sought the one that would give him the most autonomy in his work. He’s delighted that at George Mason he’s been able to follow his interests. As he gleefully states, he “gets paid to read books, write articles, and study whatever he wants,” which includes but is not limited to gratitude, positive emotions, spirituality, purpose, curiosity, creativity, resilience, and anxiety – just to name a few. Dr. Kashdan doesn’t shy away from controversial, and that’s, at least partly, by design. His mantra is, whatever is the zeitgeist of the moment – be it mindfulness, positivity, etc. – there must be a psychological benefit to the opposite. That’s why you’ll frequently hear him arguing for the very opposite of whatever is the popular message of the day.   In today’s episode, Dr. Kashdan and I dive deep into his controversial side. He shares the story of the impromptu speech for which he was “banished” as a speaker from a well-known positive psychology organization. He shares lessons he’s learned on softening his approach and explains why he’s not about to give up on speaking out. He also shares his card-based method for capturing and organizing his thoughts, ideas, and insights. If you want to read some more about the ways he’s organizes his work and his productivity tools, this blog post goes into a lot more details: In this episode, you’ll learn… Why Dr. Kashdan chose a position at George Mason Why Dr. Kashdan often takes an opposing position from whatever is most popular How reading a Charles Spielberger chapter on curiosity in grad school inspired Dr. Kashdan’s life work How Dr. Kashdan captures and organizes his thoughts and ideas for his work Why Dr. Kashdan seeks no more than an 80% approval rating from audiences About Dr. Kashdan’s morning and evening routines Tips from the episode On choosing a job… Look for who will give you the most autonomy to study whatever you want. Don’t follow the trends or the money. Follow what is interesting. On stealing like an artist… Tinker with the ideas and theories others are developing Create a template or framework based on the work of others you admire On organizing and processing your work… Use index cards and keep a separate container for each book or project with a section for each topic. Have index cards in all the places where you read, think, and work. Jot down ideas as you think of them. Most ideas have to be thrown out. Kill your darlings, a la Stephen King. Remember that you don’t have the processing capacity to hold everything in your head. On dealing with controversy Be willing to be the counterpoint…and also be willing to have your mind changed. If you have the right temperament, it’s important to stand up to bullies in the field. Try to separate the person from their work. Try to bring people’s defenses down so you can have an open, civil, interactive conversation. Give context to the situation. Links from the episode Dr. Kashdan’s blog, Curious, where he blogs regularly The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera Curiosity and Exploratory Behavior by Charles Spielberger Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon Getting Things Done by David Allen Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant Robert Green’s 48 Laws of Power The Exceptional Presenter: A Proven Formula to Open Up and Own the Room by Timothy Koegel Research Matters Podcast is hosted by Jason Luoma, who can be found on Twitter @jasonluoma or Facebook at: You download the podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify. 
  • Research Matters Podcast podcast

    Ken Weingardt, on personal mission statements and tech startups in the mental health space


    How many people do you know who have a personal mission statement…and have it memorized…and actually live by it? Well, now you know of one more. Dr. Ken Weingardt’s personal mission statement is to “use technology to improve access to behavioral health services.” An addictionologist by training, Dr. Weingardt held various positions in academia and research -- from faculty appointments at major medical schools to leadership positions of federally funded organizations -- before deciding the grant-writing/publishing treadmill was not for him. He was burnt out. He also felt like the rewards were too small, the personal price was too great, and the impact he was having was too small to continue on that path. Surely, he thought, he could have a bigger impact elsewhere without having to sacrifice a meaningful work-life balance He instead turned to tech startups in the mental health space. He previously worked at Pear Therapeutics, which provides “prescription digital therapeutics for the treatment of serious disease.” Dr. Weingardt then went to a young startup, Emilio Health (he was employee number 6), as Vice President of the Clinical Department. Emilio Health seeks to develop technology-enabled behavior health clinics for children to facilitate care coordination between counselors, parents, children, and educators. My conversation with Dr. Weingardt is full of straight talk about personal values, work-life balance, making tough life decisions, inspiring books, and authority structures in academia versus in industry. Research Matters Podcast is hosted by Jason Luoma, who can be found on Twitter @jasonluoma or Facebook at: You download the podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify. 

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