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The Rick G. Rosner Interview [Casual]

Dear Readers,

New ebook publications based upon The Rick G. Rosner Interview entitled The Rick G. Rosner Interview (Part I)The Rick G. Rosner Interview (Part II), and The Rick G. Rosner Interview (Part III) on April 1, 2015. Each with footnotes and addenda removed for informal reading.  The Rick G. Rosner Interview purposed for formal study.  All viewable in the “Ebooks” section of the website (click the picture).

Yours,

Scott

Dr. Kirsten Johnson, M.D., MPH: Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University; Director, Humanitarian Studies Initiative, McGill University; President, Humanitarian U (Part Two)

Dr. Kirsten Johnson

ABSTRACT

Part two of two, interview with Dr. Kirsten Johnson, MD, MPH.  In it, she discusses: professional advice for young medical doctors such as the need for clear and precise reasons for entering into the medical profession, the difficulty of medicine in Canada, and humanitarian work and initiatives; example from ex-President of The University of British Columbia (UBC) Stephen Toope, broad-based admissions policies at UBC, and the importance of life experience for the medical profession; example of Dr. Sho Yano earning a PhD at 16 and MD at 21 from the University of Chicago to consider some of the previous points on life experience as important; brief commentary on some general characteristics of the Millennial generation in direct efforts; personal responsibility for societal matters, Segal Centre’s Segal Centre’s 2010 Januscz Korczak award for your work on protecting the rights of children in conflict; Richard Feynman on the Nobel Prize and responsibilities implied by awards and honors; Hippocratic Oath; more power and influence implying further responsibility; and biggest influences.

Keywords: Dr. Kirsten Johnson, Humanitarian, responsibility.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Johnson, K. & Jacobsen, S.D. (2015, February 1). Dr. Kirsten Johnson, M.D., MPH (Part Two): Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University; Director, Humanitarian Studies Initiative, McGill University; Affiliated Faculty, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Harvard University; President, Humanitarian U. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, 7.ARetrieved from http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/02/01/dr-kirsten-johnson-m-d-mph-assistant-professor-department-of-family-medicine-mcgill-university-director-humanitarian-studies-initiative-mcgill-university-president-humanitarian-u-part-tw/.

Chicago/Turabian (16th Edition): Johnson, Kirsten & Jacobsen, Scott D. “Dr. Kirsten Johnson, M.D., MPH (Part Two): Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University; Director, Humanitarian Studies Initiative, McGill University; Affiliated Faculty, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Harvard University; President, Humanitarian U.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 7.A (2015). http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/02/01/dr-kirsten-johnson-m-d-mph-assistant-professor-department-of-family-medicine-mcgill-university-director-humanitarian-studies-initiative-mcgill-university-president-humanitarian-u-part-tw/.

Harvard: Johnson, K. & Jacobsen, S 2015, ‘Dr. Kirsten Johnson, M.D., MPH (Part Two): Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University; Director, Humanitarian Studies Initiative, McGill University; Affiliated Faculty, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Harvard University; President, Humanitarian U’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 7.A. Available from: <http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/02/01/dr-kirsten-johnson-m-d-mph-assistant-professor-department-of-family-medicine-mcgill-university-director-humanitarian-studies-initiative-mcgill-university-president-humanitarian-u-part-tw/>.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Johnson, Kirsten, and Scott D. Jacobsen. “Dr. Kirsten Johnson, M.D., MPH (Part Two): Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University; Director, Humanitarian Studies Initiative, McGill University; Affiliated Faculty, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Harvard University; President, Humanitarian U.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 7.A (2015): Jan. 2015. Web. <http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/02/01/dr-kirsten-johnson-m-d-mph-assistant-professor-department-of-family-medicine-mcgill-university-director-humanitarian-studies-initiative-mcgill-university-president-humanitarian-u-part-tw/>.

12. From a professional opinion, what advice do you have for young MDs?

In medicine, I think there are so many possibilities.  I think that anybody can have any kind of career they want within medicine.  I think that, by virtue of being an MD, that there is a tradition of leadership.  I think they should look at ways to make an impact in their practice, in the world, even if it is to direct patient care, in policy making at a bigger level.  I think MDs have a bigger responsibility to step in those kinds of roles now.  I think they should take those kinds of thing seriously.  So many field are combining with practice with family and other things too.  There are doctors still out there doing the traditional role.  I think also people are making medicine in so many more things from research to administration to positions of leadership.  I think the young doctors shouldn’t be restricted to that.  I think they should think about all of the impact they can have.

I think you have to be so clear on the reasons for entering medicine because medicine has become so many different things.  You can practice medicine and do law or business, or other things, at the same time.

People need to be clear, precise on the reasons for entering medicine.  It is such a cynical field too because it so difficult in Canada.  Our system is such an overstretched one through simple 2 and 3 year waitlists for a knee or hip surgery.

Even to see a neurologist takes a year, from the point of a professional for a young MD entering the field, your heart needs to be in the right place and you need to know what you are doing.  It is not as easy a job to do anymore.  It might not sound hopeful, but it can be hopeful.  In that, you can ‘have your cake and eat it too.’

Medicine is a great field because it allows you to do so many things, and you do not need to be confined by the traditional way of doing medicine.  You are not some doctor doing some ward rounds for 12 hours a day anymore.

For example, I travel around the world and treat patients in high-intensive care patients in planes.  I go and lecture for National Geographic as the humanitarian specialist in Africa.  I do humanitarian work.  I research and teach.  There are many ways to take the career in medicine and make it, morph it, which can make it very, very exciting.

You could be clear about going into medicine, and using that for a stepping stone, or be clear about doing surgery.  However, people should not go into medicine because of uncertainty, “I do not know.  Mom told me to do it.”  That is what worries me about accepting these young kids.

For instance, University of Calgary, when I got accepted – and I got accepted to other schools, but only 10% were accepted from in-province and the average age was 26.  We had an athlete, a philosopher, an NHL hockey star, and many other exciting things.  It brought a different bend into the way they dealt with patient care in a positive way.  It was very exciting to me.

13. I can draw some analogies there. As from fall 2012 at The University of British Columbia with President Stephen Toope, they began broad-based admissions for undergraduates, called ‘holistic’ under a different guise in various universities, looking at other aspects of the individuals applying for admission to the particular university, but this extends beyond UBC’s and does have an impact.  For example, UBC began to accept a decent amount of students otherwise previously rejected based on these standards for admissions.  In other words, they do not merely pay lip service to the idea of ‘broad-based admissions’, but provide evidence of their desire to have a more experientially diverse student body in practice.

I think this accepting people based on having a grade point average of 4.0, having 100% of everything, and being super-student, and yet they have never gone out and done anything experiential.  It is scary to me.  They can be very good scientist-doctors, but I do not know if it brings too much to our field.

14. Based on that, I think of a case out of the University of Chicago. Sho Yano, he earned a PhD at the age of 16 and MD at 21. To me, that goes to your point by providing the contrast.

Yes. Maybe, but maybe not at the same time, I do not know about his case in particular.  However, even going out and attempting to figure out your desires out in the field.  For example, being in a specialty, I do emergency medicine.  You can do it two ways.  First, one in family medicine; second, one in emergency, a specialty.

Or you can do a five-year program, even in the five-year program, students who go into here have a year to enter into something of great interest to them, though, those students have never cultivated those interests because they have never had to do it.

They have been academics their whole lives.  It totally confounds me.  How can you not be interested in something in medicine?  But you are in medicine.  It is hard to get out of it.  It is important to have other interests. (Laughs)

15. Maybe, as a safe, and mild, generalization, the millennial generation may have a tendency to look for others to do the side-work for them, even the development of individual genuine interests aside from core work such as school and work. However, it seems something more inculcated for such a long time, which, probably, provides the basis for limiting the scope of potential and considered interests.  Even one relevant example, people active in the Occupy Movement, with the caveats of understanding it, the desire and want exists, but they look to others to make the change by sitting out rather than making concrete changes.  

Exactly. Exactly!

16. Although, maybe, that lies in another general characteristic of the millennial generation in their distrust of government-run systems in terms of authority. On a similar line of thought about personal responsibility to societal matters, you were awarded the Segal Centre’s 2010 Januscz Korczak award for your work on protecting the rights of children in conflict and the Award of Excellence for your work in global health by the College of Family Physicians of Canada in 2010.  What do these awards mean to you? 

There is a practical and personal meaning.  From a practical standpoint, it is important to get those kind of recognitions, and I also support other women and people in my field.  For instance, I nominate people. If I am asked to write something, I will.  For example, I have a colleague nominated for the Order of Canada.

I will spend the time to write something.  I do that because it is important to have those kinds of recognitions to move one’s career forward.  I am not talking about on the way, “I want more.  I need to get to the next level.”  I am talking about the type of recognition for important work that gets you the further funding for the same or other important research.

I really feel that the program we are doing – by training professionals in the humanitarian field impacts the services by providing – the best standard of care, and sets a standard all Canadians should be aiming for.

Actually, I was awarded the Top 40 Under 40 in Canada.  It is not even an academic one.  It is unlike the Segal one.  It is kind of the trendy award, but I was the only person in that list for the year doing non-profit, humanitarian related stuff – out of all 40.

It brings important issues to the field that people do not even think about.  So the people I met at the award ceremony discussed how much money they made!  Everybody, we had to talk for a three minute on ourselves.

In my three-minute spot, I did not talk about me, actually.  I talked about the people in my field.  The women impacted by gender-based violence.  It was about the way we trying to make an impact globally.

Other people would come up and talk about buying six Humvees, and so on.  I thought, “Oh my god, really?  You were giving me recognition for this.  Who are these people besides this?”  When they had pictures of their family, they were out in Disney and it was all consumerism.

So on one level, these awards transform the message, the important stuff we are trying to do by helping to get funding.  They help raise awareness, but people do not even know about it.

On the personal level, some people in your career, it is nice to be recognized, but it does not means too much to me.  To others, it may, but I do my work because it means a lot to me.

Therefore, I want to do it right.  It is not necessarily about becoming recognized for it.  However, it does feel nice.  It is a bit weird.  If it came with a million bucks, it would be more! (Laughs) Because then I could do more projects and programs for research that I want to do.

17. Richard Feynman had a great documentary. He talks about earning the Nobel Prize.  He sternly says, “I do not know anything about the Nobel Prize… I will not have anything to do with the Nobel Prize.  It is a pain in the. (laughs) I do not like honors… I have already got the prize.  The prize is the pleasure of finding the thing out, the kick in the discovery, the observation other people use it, those are the real things.  The honors are unreal to me.”  Following from this, what further social responsibilities do these entail?

For me, they sometimes put you in a bit of the spotlight.  I think number one is to set an example.  I think that it helps to inspire my students and other people who are thinking about going into medicine and doing some humanitarian-related work because I hope that the things I do, and invariably some of these awards providing some media attention.

People hear about them and realize what you are doing, and there is some level of social responsibility in setting an example and maintaining a standard of work – and quality of work.

As I said, the research I do is because I love advocacy.  I know you are not supposed to be doing research for advocacy purposes.  I am not doing research for that bias, but I think it is great when we have numbers that can speak for the problem, and then we can have funding and policy change for these things.  I think that the recognition enforces that there needs to be a certain standard of excellence around my work.

Also, that it allows me to do the advocacy piece to take the work that I do and spin it in that way.   This can allow me to speak for these populations that we are trying to assist.  It elevates the issue to a public forum.  I think that it is an ongoing thing.  In all of my work, and in anything you do, there is social responsibility.

I think that is one good thing about having an MD after your name.  People pay attention to what you have to say.  I do not understand the reason why, but it is kind of stupid.

18. Maybe, people, in some tacit way, take the Hippocratic Oath serious without knowing the oath formally. They see it as a good and moral thing.  Plus, those helping them with their major health problems in their lives have been medical doctors.

True, but you meet a lot of doctors today that are not morally motivated people. (Laughs)  Much money-grubbing.  I do not know if you have read this news.

For instance, the CEO of our hospital, Dr. Arthur Porter, Panama will extradite him back to Canada, except that he is saying he is some diplomat from Sierra Leone.  However, he is a fraud.  He has stolen money.  He has been a part of all these other nefarious things.

Not necessarily every doctor is motivated by the Hippocratic Oath.  It is terrible.

All of the Board of Directors in the hospital here were in on this ‘mafia’ dealing.  It is a pretty thwarted affair that has been going on here.  They have a social responsibility, but they are not at all outstanding citizens – let alone doctors.

19. They have more power and influence. By default, they have more responsibility.

Yes.

20. Whom do you consider your biggest influences? Could you recommend and seminal or important books/articles by them?

Early on, I think the Dalai Lama.  I did a lot of work in that area.  One of my personal heroes is Roméo Dallaire for sure.

He was a Canadian General, retired now.  He is the one that led the UN forces in Rwanda during the genocide.  What happened was that – I do not know if you know much about that war – the war essentially turned their back on the Hutu, the Tutsi population who was being killed by the hundreds of thousands.

Roméo Dallaire was able, when the UN pulled out, and when he was under strict instructions to pull his troops out and leave the country, in certain terms more people would die.

He had this moral conviction to stay and do the right thing.  His whole career.  All of it.  All of this respect as a top Canadian General. He was clear that he would have to be court marshalled.  He was clear that he would have to give all of this away.

To the Secretary General of the UN (Boutros Boutros-Ghali), he said, “No, I am staying.”  All of the troops left.  He was left with some Ghanaians and Pakistanis.  He managed to secure the stadium in Kigali.  He saved 1,000s of peoples’ lives who would otherwise have died.

Against all of the odds, he stayed there for the whole genocide.  He witnessed terrible things, atrocities.  He still speaks of them today.  He is really the voice, the only guy, who stayed there – besides James Orbinski, a doctor from Canada.  This man did a great good.

He came back and had terrible issues with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental health issues.  He still does a lot of great work.  Now, I work with him on the initiative.  He is a real hero and spokesperson for this kind of thing.

His most recent book is called Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children.  It was a documentary in theatres too.  My other big influences were my mentors at Harvard such as Jennifer Leaning.

One of my research mentors, Peter Walker.  He basically wrote the handbook of the standards and guidelines for the field.

I feel lucky.  A lot of the people I looked up to I get to work with now.  It is pretty neat.  The humanitarian world is small enough that if you are running in it and doing stuff.  You will meet people doing lots of stuff in it.

These are the people that are really making the difference in the world, but not having the recognition for it.  Yet, they are the ones finding themselves in the middle of a war.   They are killed, or raped, and so on.  I consider them the real heroes and really influential on me.

****************Footnotes and bibliography in Archives “7.A” PDF*****************

License

In-Sight by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Dr. Kirsten Johnson, M.D., MPH: Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University; Director, Humanitarian Studies Initiative, McGill University; President, Humanitarian U (Part One)

Dr. Kirsten Johnson

ABSTRACT

Part one of two, interview with Dr. Kirsten Johnson, M.D., MPH.  In it, she discusses: current positions at McGill University, McGill Affiliated University Hospital (MUHC), Humanitarian Studies Initiative, and President of Humanitarian U; growing up in Alberta and British Columbia in addition to Victoria; original dream of being Indiana Jones; major areas of research, Harvard University, Darfur, Chad, and gender-based violence; most recent quantitative research and $27 million dollar Congo research; money to bolster research, descriptive research, admirable trait in practical and applied research, and research project for unlimited funding and unrestricted freedom; the overarching phrase of “Empowerment of Women”; organizing principle for desire to do good in the world; controversial topics and examination of the controversial topics in areas of expertise; the argument against some humanitarian initiatives in opposition to her; and prior interview with Dr. Hawa Abdi.

Keywords: Dr. Kirsten Johnson, Humanitarian Studies Initiative, Humanitarian U, McGill University, United Nations.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Johnson, K. & Jacobsen, S.D. (January 22). Dr. Kirsten Johnson, M.D., MPH (Part One): Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University; Director, Humanitarian Studies Initiative, McGill University; President, Humanitarian U. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, 7.ARetrieved from http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/22/dr-kirsten-johnson-m-d-mph-part-one/.

Chicago/Turabian (16th Edition): Johnson, Kirsten & Jacobsen, Scott D. “Dr. Kirsten Johnson, M.D., MPH (Part One): Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University; Director, Humanitarian Studies Initiative, McGill University; Affiliated Faculty, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Harvard University; President, Humanitarian U.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 7.A (2015). http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/22/dr-kirsten-johnson-m-d-mph-part-one/.

Harvard: Johnson, K. & Jacobsen, S 2015, ‘Dr. Kirsten Johnson, M.D., MPH (Part One): Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University; Director, Humanitarian Studies Initiative, McGill University; Affiliated Faculty, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Harvard University; President, Humanitarian U’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 7.A. Available from: <http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/22/dr-kirsten-johnson-m-d-mph-part-one/>.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Johnson, Kirsten, and Scott D. Jacobsen. “Dr. Kirsten Johnson, M.D., MPH (Part One): Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University; Director, Humanitarian Studies Initiative, McGill University; Affiliated Faculty, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Harvard University; President, Humanitarian U.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 7.A (2015): Jan. 2015. Web. <http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/22/dr-kirsten-johnson-m-d-mph-part-one/>.

1. What positions do you hold at present?

I am an assistant professor in the faculty of medicine at McGill University.  Also, I am an attending staff in the emergency department in the McGill Affiliated University Hospital (MUHC), a teaching hospital.

I am program director at McGill University called the Humanitarian Studies Initiative (HSI).  Last, I have a company that does a lot of the same kind of things.  It is called the Humanitarian U.  I am President of that company.

2. Where did you grow up? How did you find this influencing your career direction?

I grew up half in Alberta and half in British Columbia (BC), in Victoria, and I do not think growing up in BC necessarily influenced my career, but the travel I did at a young age more than anything, especially at such a young age.  I left high school early and travelled for about 3 years.

To me, the most influential decision was working with a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) called Helping Hands based out of Colorado (at the time) and Kathmandu, Nepal.  I was working to bring medical teams in from North America to set up mobile clinics throughout the country of Nepal that we would staff on a regular basis.  As a combination of giving back and having the skill that became portable, which allowed me to do international work, I would say that gave me the desire to go into medicine.

3. What was your original dream?

My original dream? (Laughs) Truly, it was to be Indiana Jones.

4. What have been your major areas of research?

I fell into research.  I did not see myself doing it.  My research has a lot of applied and practical applications.  I like field work. Since I am not in a position – I have a son – to do long missions in this field, I needed to find a way to do field work to make a difference in another capacity.

My research focused on human rights issues around violations happening in the genocides of Darfur. I worked for positions in a human rights group.  In fact, one of the first groups to do an investigation along the border of Chad.  They found 30,000 people starving in the desert.  That was just the very beginning of the genocide, when they were forced out of their villages.

It was the consequence of a ‘scorch-and-burn’ policy of the government, which it was implementing.  The study was done in three parts, but I ended up presenting the data at the International Criminal Court.  I spoke at various organizations and the UN, which had a great impact on me.

My research came from a human rights angle.  For instance, looking at the populations effected by war, and then it took a slant to child soldiers.  Now, most of my research, my area, goes into gender-based violence.  Gender-based violence can be changed to conflict and emergencies.  My newest research study is based in the far north in Canada.

5. What is your most recent research?

It is interesting because I did a lot of quantitative research based on populations – population-based studies.  I used a lot of methods, which were quite unique to sampling population where you have a lot of demographic or population data.

It is a kind of unique way to look at the population as a whole and acquire data that is representative of the population as a whole.  However, the problem with quantitative research like that is the way it describes the population, it does nothing for the affected people.

In other words, it takes information from people, but does not do anything in practical terms for them.  You can help inform or direct policy, for sure.  My study in the Congo acquired $27 million dollars in funding through International Medical Corps, who was the partner for the study.

My new study is qualitative, not quantitative, which is new for me, but I feel this is the way it has to go – especially when talking about violence, sexual violence, against women.  People who are victimized.  It is difficult for them.  It is difficult in terms of perpetrators too.

I know many studies where the rates of sexual GBV in Canada’s North are as high as 80%.

We have a great team.  We have a guy from Johns Hopkins, who is really well-known, for his work in Africa – Paul Bolton.  He published in the New England Journal of Medicine on a randomized controlled trial in Uganda using this same method, which we will propose to use in the North too.

It involves a counselling method, a peer-counselling method, but we do it in remote locations.

6. When someone does have a lot of money to bolster their work, it can go into the research project, which – as you said – it can present the data and describe the situation, but it cannot necessarily implement solutions based on the information. It is admirable for you to conduct and head this practical and applied work.  Also, if you had unlimited funding and unrestricted freedom, what research would you conduct?

There is a lot of work needing doing, especially in terms of gender-based violence and violence in general.

7. Even looking at the health of nations through the standards set by United Nations organs to do with literacy, infant mortality rates, maternal mortality rates, access to education, quality of education, and so on, they present the item of most importance under our noses the whole time, namely: Empowerment of Women. If individuals, groups, and most of societies saw this information, had good intentions and wanted to improve their lot, they could do that following the models of various nations throughout the world. 

Exactly.

8. What is your organizing principle for doing good work in the world?

I am really organizing around this idea of professionalism in the humanitarian sector, and a standard of excellence.  I guess it is equality and humanism.

Everybody deserves the right to a good standard of care, service delivery, and health.  I am talking about humanitarian response.  We should all be striving to provide no less.

What I am doing as well is launching the first global humanitarian health association so that any practitioner in the world that’s involved in humanitarian response specific to health will have to have a certification from an accredited provider, and this association will be that body that credits and regulates practice – globally.

We should not be seeing what we have been seeing in Haiti, Rwanda, and Congo, and some of these other disasters that had significant humanitarian problems in terms of response and service delivery, which were people doing ethically and morally challenging practices..

I do not know about an organizing principle.  I think part of what I hope to leave as a legacy is this professionalism and a standard and excellence, and real community.

We also need to recognize that we need to be collaborative and work together and that this is much bigger than one person.

I know many things drive me.  It is excitement, commitment, and the love of working with other people.  It’s not just one principle.

All of these things I do speak for themselves.  I never thought of allying myself to a certain principle.  I think it is inspiring for a person like me living with people and seeing the luck in being born in North America, especially with all of the travel throughout the world.

I bought a motorcycle at 19 in New Delhi.  Living with these people, seeing their lives, and realizing they cry and laugh like us, and that there is a basic humanity and dignity that we all share.

However, not all people have access to that realization through circumstance.  I think what motivated me to get into medicine was the desire to give back.  You cannot enjoy the benefits of travelling and exploring the world without sharing and being a part of things, helping people and so on.

It is funny.  You work in medicine, but I never imagined how much work becoming a doctor could be.  After 14 years of post-secondary education, it can be difficult to not become a cynic sometimes and to lose it.  You can become sidetracked in academia and everyone arguing over authorship on a paper.  When, why are we doing this?  What matters here?  Is it humanitarianism or being first author?  It is important to go out in the field and get that feeling of humanity back, and to check in with the reasons for doing your work.

It is the reason for me doing this study up north, one of the reasons.  I consider it more important than quantitative research.

9. What do you consider the controversial topics in your field? How do you examine the controversial topics?

In the humanitarian field, the controversial topics are around professionalization, certainly, because people find that it’ll restrict making their practice.  And what constitutes a professional in a humanitarian context?  How do you measure that?  Who provides what certification?  I mean the whole discourse around certification and professionalization in humanitarian aid.  The way that we have to address that is consensus building.  You cannot push that across to people.  There has to be a lot of discussion and debate, continuing collaboration, and work in this way.

The controversial topics in my field of humanitarian action, which I am kind of at the lead of, is the push to professionalize and standardize the work because there has been so much bad humanitarianism as of recent.  I mean, Haiti was a disaster of epic proportions in terms of humanitarian support.

We saw the case happen in Goma after the Rwanda genocide, and so on.  Humanitarianism, the field is growing – about 250,000 people calling themselves humanitarians – many calling themselves professionals, but, what does that mean?  The training going into it, do we have the same attitudes and competency?

It is almost becoming a sexy, trendy thing.  When the earthquake in Haiti happened, you have nearly every faculty of medicine in North America sending planeloads of doctors, like resident doctors who were not trained, now all of a sudden they are doing field amputations – which they were not trained for – in environments that are not safe for the patient using no morphine or sedatives.

No coordination of the ground, people blocking the runway, and so on.  For example, the Canadian Government’s DART team could not land to get the supplies, and they needed to get in to provide the supplies for the hospital! And I think there is a push now for people in the humanitarian community is looking for a cut off.

People need to be licensed, credentialed, and certified.  The culture of humanitarianism and humanitarian work is about neutrality and ‘cowboy’, “We want to do what we want to do.”  That there is nothing we have to agree to within their organizational culture.  They strive along the culture of independence.  They do not want to be like another organization that would have them not adhere to other rules.  My partner in the military might be belligerent, for instance.

So the question becomes, “How do we do this?  How do we elevate the standard of care for these people?”  Of course, it is all well-meaning.  I do not mean to say that people going into this field mean to cause harm.  However, a lot of things that were no thought of happen, and they do not need to happen because we have a lot of evidenced-based research in all of this.  We have a special set of competencies before people are allowed to work in this area.  In this, it is a kind of humanitarian reform, which is the main area they are talking about here that will go forward in the next 5-10 years.

10. What do some in opposition to you argue? Although, from my angle, I consider the strong possibility of only a minority in opposition to humanitarian policies and practices. 

I argue for a professionalization, and this is coming from an academic background and a profession.  So I am coming from something that is properly defined, and I understand that construct, and I think that needs to be implemented in the humanitarian world.  Someone arguing against me might be a manager or country representative of Medicin Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).  And even though there are, and those examples are, medical organizations, they may not necessarily want to be held to our given structure.

They may not want to conform to the rigid structure.  They may ask, “Who will oversee it?  Who will work for it?”  In other words, they may not agree with the people organizing and running the program.  Therefore, there are two ways of looking at it.  And I am definitely on one side of it.  There are many debates in my community of humanitarian action because it is so multi-disciplinary.

Now, this is very research focused.  We do interviews and scoping reports, and that kind of thing.  And I think acquire funding from Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for funding based on this work and to conduct more of this work.  However, I do not know if this sits in your paradigm.

11. It does, especially in terms of the framework here. For instance, some of the interviews conducted. I conduct an interview with Dr. Hawa Abdi, MD.

Yes, I know her.  She runs a medical clinic out of Somalia.

****************Footnotes and bibliography in Archives “7.A” PDF*****************

License

In-Sight by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Dr. Cristina Atance: Associate Professor, Psychology; Director, Graduate Training in Experimental Psychology, University of Ottawa (Part Two)

Dr. Christina Atance

ABSTRACT

Part two of two, interview with Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa and director of graduate training in experimental psychology, Dr. Cristina Atance.  In it, she discusses: Episodic Future Thinking (2001), ‘semantic memory’ and ‘episodic memory’, Tulving (2001), and five subsidisciplines; The emergence of episodic future thinking in humans (2005), future episodic thinking, and emergence of episodic future thinking in children between the ages of 3 to 4; numerous five-figure grants since 2011 provided under the titles of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Early Career Research Award, and responsibilities; three issues – Women in Academia and thoughts on being a female academic; emotional struggles and advice for young female academics; and take-home message of the research.

Keywords: Dr. Cristina Atance, episodic future thinking, psychology, semantic memory, University of Ottawa.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Atance, C. & Jacobsen, S.D. (2015, January 15). Dr. Christina Atance: Associate Professor, Psychology; Director, Graduate Training in Experimental Psychology, University of Ottawa (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, 7.ARetrieved from http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/15/dr-cristina-atance-associate-professor-psychology-director-graduate-training-in-experimental-psychology-university-of-ottawa-part-two/.

Chicago/Turabian (16th Edition): Atance, Christina & Jacobsen, Scott “Dr. Christina Atance: Associate Professor, Psychology; Director, Graduate Training in Experimental Psychology, University of Ottawa (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 7.A (2015). http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/15/dr-cristina-atance-associate-professor-psychology-director-graduate-training-in-experimental-psychology-university-of-ottawa-part-two/.

Harvard: Atance, C. & Jacobsen, S 2015, ‘Dr. Christina Atance: Associate Professor, Psychology; Director, Graduate Training in Experimental Psychology, University of Ottawa (Part Two)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 7.A. Available from: <http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/15/dr-cristina-atance-associate-professor-psychology-director-graduate-training-in-experimental-psychology-university-of-ottawa-part-two/>.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Atance, Christina, and Scott D. Jacobsen. “Dr. Christina Atance: Associate Professor, Psychology; Director, Graduate Training in Experimental Psychology, University of Ottawa (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 7.A (2015): Jan. 2015. Web. <http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/15/dr-cristina-atance-associate-professor-psychology-director-graduate-training-in-experimental-psychology-university-of-ottawa-part-two/>.

10. In Episodic Future Thinking (2001), you build on the idea of episodic memory with the introduction of a new construct called “episodic future thinking.” The paper distinguishes between ‘semantic memory’ and ‘episodic memory’.  As you examine in further depth than here, Tulving (2001) described episodic memory as the ability to “travel backwards in time” to experience one or a set of memories once more; he described semantic memory as the “knowledge of the world.” Of note for the operational definition of episodic future thinking, imagination and projection into the future do have constraints.  In the paper, you outline five subdisciplines of psychology of import for the construct in addition to the emergence of this capability in children.  What five subdisciplines?  How does the construct connect to each?  What developments have been made in the last 13+ years?

The 5 sub-disciplines we covered (though very cursorily) were “cognition,” “social and personality psychology,” “clinical psychology,” “neuropsychology,” and “development.” Our aim was mostly to point out how the ability to mentally pre-experience our own personal futures might have implications for such abilities as prospective memory (e.g., remembering to mail a letter), for example. We also highlighted some research in neuropsychology that we found quite intriguing – namely, people who, due to brain injury, seemed to lose the ability to think about their own personal futures (i.e., episodic future thinking), while retaining fairly intact semantic future thinking – so thinking about the future in a more knowledge-based and non self-related way (e.g., predicting what medical breakthroughs might happen in the next 10 years). There have been quite a few new developments in the area of episodic future thinking in the past decade – one of the most significant being that – perhaps not surprisingly – the capacity to think about our future relies on  many of the same neural and cognitive processes as remembering our past/memory. Most notably, people have argued that our memories provide us with a database from which we draw to construct our futures. What needs to be worked out is the extent to which different forms of memory (e.g., episodic, semantic, etc.) play a role in this process.

11. In The emergence of episodic future thinking in humans (2005), four years after Episodic Future Thinking, your paper coauthored with Professor Daniela O’Neill providing additions to the research on future episodic thinking. At the time, most research for the construct at the time dealt within the context of memory; not much to do with future thinking.  You broke ground there.  Discussion in the article states the fact of children at two years old will talk of past events. You provide estimations for the emergence of episodic future thinking in children between the ages of 3 to 4.  Some argued up to the time of publication about the high end of the estimated range of 4 years for the eventual emergence. How did you test for incorporation of notions regarding self and future in children?  What did you find in the research?

In this article, we really focused more on this capacity from a developmental perspective and tried to highlight that episodic future thinking can be thought of as different than related concepts such as “planning” or “imagination.” For example, we often just envision ourselves in the future (e.g., thinking about lying on the beach during our next vacation) without necessarily planning for that event/scenario that we’re envisioning. Though, of course, fundamental to most of the planning that we do is the ability to actually envision ourselves in the future or, episodic future thinking. As for imagination, it seems quite intuitive that we need some imaginative capacity to mentally project into the future but the concept of “imagination” itself is a much broader one that episodic future thinking. That is, we can imagine just about anything (e.g., traveling to the moon) but this is different from episodic future thinking which O’Neill and I argued is “constrained” by our current self/situation (in my case, I will likely never make it to the moon but I can certainly imagine it!). We tried to incorporate “self” and “future” by asking children to think about going on a trip and choosing items to bring with them. We purposely gave them items (like Band-Aids) that would be useful if they got hurt, say. Even the 3-year-olds in our study were starting to explain their choices my making reference to the future, and this ability continues to improve during the preschool years.

12. In My future self: Young children’s ability to anticipate and explain future states (2005), you coauthored with Professor Andrew Meltzoff. In two experiments with 108 three, four, and five years olds, for the first experiment, you attempted to have these children think about the future through stories and pictorial scenes.  Asking the children to think of themselves in these scenarios, you observed developmental differences for correct item choices and spoken explanations.  For the second experiment, 3 and 4 year old children had worse performance based on the introduction of items with semantic association to the scenarios without addressing the future state – not so for the 5 year olds.  How does this relate to the current research of future thinking in children?  What about the other areas of research for you, namely: cognitive development and theory of mind?

What we tried to argue in this paper – that also reflects some of my current thinking – is that even 3-year-olds were pretty good at selecting an item that they may need in the future (e.g., sunglasses if they’re walking on a sandy beach). However, when one of the options we presented alongside the correct item was “semantically” or “thematically” related to the future scenario – so a seashell presented alongside the sunglasses – younger children (but not 5-year-olds) were prone to select this item even if wouldn’t really be useful in the future. This may be because young children’s primary tendency is to select “what goes with what” rather than think ahead about what might actually be needed in the future.

13. You have earned numerous five-figure grants since 2011 provided under the titles of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Early Career Research Award. If any, what responsibilities do academics have towards society?  In light of the grant, award, and other funding, what further responsibilities and duties weigh into your conscience?

I, for one, would like to do a better job disseminating my findings to the segments of society who can most make use of them – in my case, parents and early childhood educators. Yet, this is challenging because I think most academics are pretty strapped for time due to the many demands of our jobs (i.e., teaching, research, administration, etc.). Nonetheless, one of my main goals for the next little while is to try and put in place some kind of knowledge translation/dissemination plan. I recently found out that a colleague of mine requires that, for each article from her lab that is published in an academic journal, an effort needs to be made to disseminate its findings to a local media source (e.g., parenting magazine, local organization, etc.).

14. I had the privilege to conduct for one year – in three issues – Women in Academia. One series based on female academics, their research and philosophies, and experiences. In a later retrospective conversation with one of the interviewees last summer, she would have liked to expound through one or two questions on the perspective of a female academic from the side of emotional struggles.  This seems relevant to me.  If I may ask, and if within your recollection of academic experience in both training and work, did you feel a different progression and experience compared to men in your cohort training in psychology from undergraduate through post-doctoral work?  Do you notice any differences in fresh generations of female academics-in-training?

I think about these kinds of issues a lot and yet I don’t think that my progression or experience has been greatly affected by being a woman. This may be partly because I went to graduate school, did my post-doc, secured a tenure-track position, and was awarded tenure before having my two children. In my case, at least – because I don’t want to over-generalize or mis-represent others’ experiences – I gained a lot of momentum during my post-doc and first 5 years of my professorship. I was able to put in time at night and on the weekends that I cannot do as much anymore because I have two young children at home and I will not trade my time with them for work time. Yet, I’m probably more productive now than I was 5 years ago because I’ve laid down the necessary foundation to allow the research to get done (e.g., my lab is functional and efficient, I have a good team of undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students, etc.). I have also learned to delegate more and to only embark on projects that I’m really passionate about. As for whether I notice any difference in female-academics in training, this is a difficult question…I certainly think that some of the female graduate students with whom I interact are concerned about whether they can be academics and still have families and lives outside of work. But, to be honest, I think this is something that male academics and those in training are also thinking seriously about because many of them do want to be involved, hands-on fathers. Both within and outside of academia, I think many of us are really struggling with figuring out how to fit everything in and how to achieve some sort of “balance” (if this even exists!). And, to complicate matters, there are so many mixed messages that I think females, especially, are receiving. You’ve got Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO) who’s telling women to “lean in” and then others who are telling women to “recline”! Both points of view have merit in my opinion and it’s up to any one individual to figure out for herself or himself when it’s time to lean in and when it’s time to recline. There’s no right or wrong answer, yet getting to a point where you feel satisfied with your approach is difficult and in constant need of evaluation.

15. If so, how did you manage the emotional struggles? Any advice for younger female academics from fresh generations – taking into account differences of general trends in culture and generational traits?

I would say that if you love being a graduate student and you’re passionate and interested in your research and can see yourself heading up a lab/research group, teaching, doing administrative work, etc. then don’t shy away from this career. I won’t lie and say it’s easy but I think most of us love our jobs and are energized by what we do. I certainly don’t want to say (like others have in the past) that “you can have it all!” (i.e., work, family, etc.) because, in my view, yes, you can have it all, but having it all is pretty darn exhausting at times! To the extent that it’s possible, I would really advise thinking long and hard about what you want from life and then try to tailor your academic position accordingly.

16. What do you consider the ‘take-home’ message of your complete research program to date? Where do you intend to take this into the future?

Wow, tough to be brief here! At this point, I think the biggest take-home message is simply that our capacity to think about our personal futures (i.e., episodic future thinking) figures into many domains of our lives and may, ultimately, either be connected to, or lie at the root of, numerous adaptive behaviours such as those involving saving, pro-sociality, morality, etc. Because of this, developing means to measure future thinking in development and beyond is a worthy venture, as is eventually determining whether/how future thinking is connected to many of the behaviours (some that I have listed) that epitomize what it means to be human. As such, one of my next steps is to try to look more closely at some of these potential links. In addition, most of the work on future thinking has really involved children’s/adult’s ability to contemplate their own personal futures. However, we also think about other people’s futures (especially those individuals with whom we are close) and I’m curious about how the processes involved in doing so are similar/different from thinking about our own futures, and how these develop in young children.

****************Footnotes and bibliography in Archives “7.A” PDF*****************

License

In-Sight by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Dr. Cristina Atance: Associate Professor, Psychology; Director, Graduate Training in Experimental Psychology, University of Ottawa (Part One)

Dr. Christina Atance

ABSTRACT

Part one of two, interview with Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa and director of graduate training in experimental psychology, Dr. Cristina Atance.  In it, she discusses: positions, Psynapse, and the lunch-time seminar series; increasing collaborating among universities through overcoming some barriers in competitiveness; management of the Childhood Cognition and Learning Laboratory; duties and responsibilities implicated with funding, mentor, influence on personal mentoring, and insights into and styles of research based on mentoring; core research interests of 1) “cognitive development,” 2) “theory of mind,” and 3) ‘”future thinking and planning in children”; definition of “theory of mind”; definition of “future thinking and planning in children”; Maybe my Daddy give me a big piano:” The development of children’s use of modals to express uncertainty; and three most cited papers since 2,000: 1) Episodic future thinking, 2) The emergence of episodic future thinking in humans, and 3) My future self: Young children’s ability to anticipate and explain future states.

Keywords: cognitive development, Dr. Cristina Atance, episodic future thinking, episodic memory, experimental psychology, factive, mentor, modal, nonfactive, psychology, semantic memory, theory of mind, University of Ottawa.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Atance, C. & Jacobsen, S.D. (2015, January 8). Dr. Cristina Atance: Associate Professor, Psychology; Director, Graduate Training in Experimental Psychology, University of Ottawa (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, 7.ARetrieved from http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/08/dr-christina-atance-associate-professor-psychology-director-graduate-training-in-experimental-psychology-university-of-ottawa-part-one/.

Chicago/Turabian (16th Edition): Atance, Cristina & Jacobsen, Scott “Dr. Cristina Atance: Associate Professor, Psychology; Director, Graduate Training in Experimental Psychology, University of Ottawa (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 7.A (2015). http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/08/dr-christina-atance-associate-professor-psychology-director-graduate-training-in-experimental-psychology-university-of-ottawa-part-one/.

Harvard: Atance, C. & Jacobsen, S 2015, ‘Dr. Cristina Atance: Associate Professor, Psychology; Director, Graduate Training in Experimental Psychology, University of Ottawa (Part One)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 7.A. Available from: <http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/08/dr-christina-atance-associate-professor-psychology-director-graduate-training-in-experimental-psychology-university-of-ottawa-part-one/>.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Atance, Cristina, and Scott D. Jacobsen. “Dr. Cristina Atance: Associate Professor, Psychology; Director, Graduate Training in Experimental Psychology, University of Ottawa (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 7.A (2015): Jan. 2015. Web. <http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/08/dr-christina-atance-associate-professor-psychology-director-graduate-training-in-experimental-psychology-university-of-ottawa-part-one/>.

1. You hold a number of positions. These include Associate Professor of psychology and director of graduate training in experimental psychology at the University of Ottawa. Within the graduate program of experimental psychology, you have two novel items of interest under your auspices, especially for building an intellectual community within an academic setting: 1) the newsletter Psynapse and 2) the lunch-time seminar series.  (Although, the online listing of presenters ended in 2011 for the lunch-time seminars.)  What does/did each cover?  How have you developed these separate items for the benefit of the graduate students?  What comes across as the majority feedback from graduate students?

Although the newsletter is no longer in circulation (it was an initiative undertaken by our former director, Dr. Cate Bielajew), the lunchtime seminar series is going strong! This, too, was an initiative taken by Dr. Bielajew that I have decided to continue because the student feedback has been so positive. Essentially, we provide students with the opportunity to listen to Experimental psychology PhDs (as opposed to Clinical PhDs) who have decided to work outside of academia. I think that this is really important given that, more and more, our graduates will need to/want to use their research skills and expertise in a variety of settings. Although these include academia, we have had speakers who work for the government, the RCMP, federal funding agencies (e.g., NSERC), private companies, hospitals, and school boards. They all have unique and inspiring stories about how they have used their PhDs in Experimental psychology in these various settings. Our current graduate students find their stories very helpful and come away with concrete ideas/tips about how to tailor their graduate training as a function of where they’d like to end up in their careers.

2. How might other psychology programs incorporate and improve upon these ideas to build such an intellectual community? From a provincial and national initiative perspective, rather than from within one university, how might multiple intra-/inter-provincial institutions partially dissolve barriers of competition – over quality students and funding, understandably – and facilitate more collaboration for the beneficial experience of graduate (and undergraduate) students across universities within Canada?

This may not directly answer your question but I think that many Universities both within and outside of Canada are “re-thinking” the PhD, so to speak. That is, we know that many of our students will not end up in strictly academic positions and, as such, I think that part of our job is to at least make them aware of their other options and, to the extent that we can (because we, ourselves, were trained as academics), provide them with some of the skills that will help them do so.

3. With Principal Investigator (PI) status of the Childhood Cognition and Learning Laboratory, you have time to manage overarching goals and research of the experimental psychology laboratory. How do you find the time spent in managing an experimental psychology laboratory?

By this, I’m assuming you mean how do I allot time to directing my research lab? It’s definitely a challenge to manage the various aspects of my academic position which include teaching, research, and administration. I love my research and the time that I get to spend with post-doctoral, doctoral, and undergraduate students. At present, I have a wonderful lab that I’m quite connected to (it’s down the hall from my office) and so I’m around it (and more importantly the students!) quite a bit. It’s however essential that I have a good team of people (including a part-time lab co-ordinator) with whom I can share the workload. Recruiting participants (in my case young children and their parents) is an especially challenging and time-consuming aspect of the job and this is something I need help with, along with the testing of participants, so that I can free up most of my time to think about new research directions, experimental designs, and writing grants, articles, and chapters.

4. In addition to this, and with an intimate linkage to duties and responsibilities implied by the laboratory and research grants, you mentor young researchers into the discipline of experimental psychology. First, who most mentored you?  Second, how did this influence your own mentoring?  Third, what insights into and styles of research does the task of mentoring provide for you?

I would consider both my PhD and post-doctoral advisors as my most significant mentors. These were Dr. Daniela O’Neill (PhD Advisor) at the University of Waterloo, and Dr. Andy Meltzoff (post-doc Advisor) at the University of Washington. Both were very meticulous and careful researchers who encouraged me to think about a lot of different angles of my research and experimental design. They are both also incredibly original and creative thinkers which I’m hoping has rubbed off on me! Because I was Dr. O’Neill’s first PhD student we spent a lot of time bouncing ideas off each other and deeply discussing the research (then, as now, it was focused on the development of future thinking ability in young children). I was fortunate to have this much time with her because in bigger labs one doesn’t always get the chance to have a lot of one-on-one time with their supervisor. Yet, I think this is critical. I don’t think I’d ever want a lab with so many students that I rarely get one-on-one time with each of them. In terms of my style of mentoring, I would say that in addition to trying to work quite closely with students, I also try (though probably need to improve in this respect!) to allow them to really develop their own ideas without interfering – at least initially – too much. Obviously, once it’s time to discuss these ideas and think critically about whether they can form the basis of sound experimental designs, then certain issues will need to be considered. At the same time, I think it’s also important for advisors/mentors to help our students understand that we don’t always have all the answers. That is, sometimes I get the impression that students think that we do and that we’re somehow holding out on them! But, science doesn’t work like that – that is, I don’t always know whether a design is going to work or what exactly we’re going to find but this keeps the process interesting! Sometimes the unexpected findings are the most interesting ones.

5. Moving into the area of core research interests, you have three: 1) “cognitive development,” 2) “theory of mind,” and 3) ‘”future thinking and planning in children.” For those without the background of graduate level research in experimental psychology, how would you define “cognitive development”?

When asked by acquaintances/friends what I study, I often say “children’s thinking and reasoning” (i.e., their cognitive development) and how it changes and develops during the preschool years.

6. With present research, how would you define “theory of mind”?

It really depends on how precise you want to be but, again, I sometimes define it as “perspective-taking.” That is, how we (and, in my area of study, children) think about/understand other people’s perspectives, as well as understand that their own past and future perspectives can differ from their current ones. I use the term “perspective” quite broadly to encompass physiological, emotional, and mental states. For example, when/how do children come to understand that although they may love a certain toy, another child may not; or, that they may know something (e.g., where a toy is hidden) that someone else does not. Appreciating these differences in perspectives is critical for interpreting and making sense of other people’s behaviour. In many cases, this will also help us to act empathically (e.g., if we know that our friend is afraid of dogs – even though we are not – we wouldn’t invite her to go to the dog park with us).

7. How would you define “future thinking and planning in children”?

By “future thinking,” I mean children’s capacity to think about future events – for example, if I ask you what you’re going to do tomorrow, next week, or even next year, you can respond to these questions by “mentally projecting” yourself, so to speak, into these scenarios (e.g., tomorrow I’m going to go to work and maybe stop by the coffee shop on my way in, etc.) and providing fairly detailed accounts of what you imagine you may be doing at these various time points. This process itself need not rely on planning but likely lies at the basis of people’s ability to plan. One of the fundamental questions I study is whether, like adults, children have this same capacity for “mental time travel.”

8. Your first publication in 2000 entitled Maybe my Daddy give me a big piano:” The development of children’s use of modals to express uncertainty studied “modal adjuncts to mark uncertainty.”  Modal terms consisting of “maybe, possibly, probably and might.” Other indications are factive contrasted with nonfactive words such as ‘understand’ (factive) contrasted with ‘consider’ (nonfactive).  You use the examples of “think” (factive) contrasted with “know” (nonfactive). You note adjuncts as among the earliest emergent properties from children’s language.  More to the point, you describe the lack of knowledge about modal use in children related to expressions of uncertainty.  Since the research almost a decade and half ago, what other things have research into children’s modal language development discovered about them?

This is actually not an area that I’ve followed or continued to do research in. Although the paper was framed in terms of children’s understanding of modals, I was particularly interested in whether they used these terms of uncertainty when talking about the future. My/our logic at the time is that if children were saying such things as I might get hungry or probably it’s going to rain then ,arguably, their thinking about the future must entail more than simply recounting routine past events. Otherwise, why would these future events be prefaced by markers of uncertainty or modals?

9. With regards to the three most cited pieces of your research program since 2000, Google Scholar rank orders from most cited to least cited for the top three: 1) Episodic future thinking, 2) The emergence of episodic future thinking in humans, and 3) My future self: Young children’s ability to anticipate and explain future states. Obviously, one common conceptualization of episodic future thinking. Your major contribution to the field of psychology.  You gave the generalized definition earlier in question ‘6.’.  I would like to cover each of these articles together and then alone.  What theme of evidence and theory best characterizes this particular strain of your own research?

One of the most important themes of these 3 articles is the focus on the specific ability to imagine/envision ourselves in the future (as opposed to thinking about the future more broadly), and its development in young children. This type of thought is such a fundamental and pervasive mental activity for humans. That is, we’re constantly thinking about the future – what we’ll have for dinner, where we’ll go on vacation, what we’ll do on the weekend, etc. – yet until recently we knew very little about this capacity both in adults and in children.

****************Footnotes and bibliography in Archives “7.A” PDF*****************

License

In-Sight by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis, MD, MA, MSc, PhD: Giga Society, Member; Consultant Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist, and CEO & Founder, Psycall.com; World Intelligence Network, Founder & CEO; QIQ, GRIQ, CIVIQ, HELLIQ, OLYMPIQ, IQID, GREEK IQ Societies, and Anadeixi, Founder; Scientific Associate, School of Medicine, Medical Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis

ABSTRACT

Interview with Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis, MD, MA, MSc, PhD.  In the following, he discusses: childhood through adolescence into young adulthood with extraordinary giftedness, some activities and memories from youth, and some distinctions in physics and medicine; highest national and international intelligence scores, first place in the Physics National Final Exams (Greece, 1993), Cerebrals NVCP-R International Contest (2003), and the Cerebrals international contest (2009), and examples of philanthropy through creation of high-IQ societies of varied rarity for entrance (first through fifth standard deviations); proposal for alteration to the educational system; identity crisis as the main global problem with discussion; building and running a society in the design of Plato; moral, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual development; the merger of machines and biology; the ultimate relationship between mind and reality; Genius of the Year Award – Europe in 2013 with reflection on desire for improving the life quality of others; and clarification on the term “miracle” and thoughts about the maximization of every moment in life.

Keywords: biology, Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis, Europe, giftedness, high IQ, genius, machines, medicine, national, philanthropy, Physics, Plato, standard deviation.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Katsioulis, E. & Jacobsen, S.D. (2015, January 1). Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis, MD, MA, MSc, PhD: Giga Society, Member; Consultant Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist, and CEO &amp; Founder, Psycall.com; World Intelligence Network, Founder &amp; CEO; QIQ, GRIQ, CIVIQ, HELLIQ, OLYMPIQ, IQID, GREEK IQ Societies, and Anadeixi, Founder; Scientific Associate, School of Medicine, Medical Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, 7.ARetrieved from http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/01/dr-evangelos-katsioulis-md-ma-msc-phd-giga-society-member-consultant-psychiatrist-psychotherapist-and-ceo-founder-psycall-com-world-intelligence-network-founder-ceo-qiq-griq/?preview=true&preview_id=1506&preview_nonce=44b983b6f4.

Chicago/Turabian (16th Edition): Katsioulis, Evangelos & Jacobsen, Scott D. “Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis, MD, MA, MSc, PhD: Giga Society, Member; Consultant Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist, and CEO &amp; Founder, Psycall.com; World Intelligence Network, Founder &amp; CEO; QIQ, GRIQ, CIVIQ, HELLIQ, OLYMPIQ, IQID, GREEK IQ Societies, and Anadeixi, Founder; Scientific Associate, School of Medicine, Medical Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 7.A (2015). http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/01/dr-evangelos-katsioulis-md-ma-msc-phd-giga-society-member-consultant-psychiatrist-psychotherapist-and-ceo-founder-psycall-com-world-intelligence-network-founder-ceo-qiq-griq/?preview=true&preview_id=1506&preview_nonce=44b983b6f4.

Harvard: Katsioulis, E. & Jacobsen, S 2015, ‘Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis, MD, MA, MSc, PhD: Giga Society, Member; Consultant Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist, and CEO &amp; Founder, Psycall.com; World Intelligence Network, Founder &amp; CEO; QIQ, GRIQ, CIVIQ, HELLIQ, OLYMPIQ, IQID, GREEK IQ Societies, and Anadeixi, Founder; Scientific Associate, School of Medicine, Medical Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 7.A. Available from: <http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/01/dr-evangelos-katsioulis-md-ma-msc-phd-giga-society-member-consultant-psychiatrist-psychotherapist-and-ceo-founder-psycall-com-world-intelligence-network-founder-ceo-qiq-griq/?preview=true&preview_id=1506&preview_nonce=44b983b6f4>.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Katsioulis, Evangelos, and Scott D. Jacobsen. “Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis, MD, MA, MSc, PhD: Giga Society, Member; Consultant Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist, and CEO & Founder, Psycall.com; World Intelligence Network, Founder & CEO; QIQ, GRIQ, CIVIQ, HELLIQ, OLYMPIQ, IQID, GREEK IQ Societies, and Anadeixi, Founder; Scientific Associate, School of Medicine, Medical Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 7.A (2015): Jan. 2015. Web. <http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/01/01/dr-evangelos-katsioulis-md-ma-msc-phd-giga-society-member-consultant-psychiatrist-psychotherapist-and-ceo-founder-psycall-com-world-intelligence-network-founder-ceo-qiq-griq/?preview=true&preview_id=1506&preview_nonce=44b983b6f4>.

1. How did you find developing from childhood through adolescence into young adulthood with extraordinary giftedness?  Did you know from an early age? What events provided others, and you, awareness of your high-level of ability?

Thank you for your question. Well, I didn’t have any forehead mark indicating that I have any special abilities, so my childhood was mainly full of activities that I enjoyed, such as reading literature, solving math, logical problems and puzzles, getting involved in discussions with adults and having rather many questions. I can recall an instance that I was a little boy and I made a reasonable for me at that point assumption that given that the white sheep produce white milk, the black ones should produce cocoa milk. I should emphasize that I enjoyed more spending my time on my own instead of socializing, which lasted till my adolescence. Teachers’ feedback was positive and promising at all stages of my education. At this point, I should mention that I am very grateful to my parents, both teachers of the Greek language, who provided me a variety of mental stimuli and a proper hosting setting for my interests. During my adolescence, I had a distinction in the national Math exams in 1990 and in the national Physics Final exams in 1993 among some thousands of participants. I was successful to enter the School of Medicine on my first participation in the entrance exams in 1993 and I was one of only six successful candidates who sat for the exams for the first time.

2. You scored some of the highest intelligence test scores on record, nationally and internationally.  In many cases, you scored the highest.  For some of your scores on these tests, I recommend readers to your website: katsioulis.com.

You competed in the Physics National Final Exams(Greece, 1993), Cerebrals NVCP-R international contest (2003), and the Cerebrals international contest (2009).  You earned the best performance in all three. In light of this, when did you find your first sense of community among fellow ultra-high ability individuals?

Thank you for the impressive introduction to your readers. My ranking on the Physics National Final Exams is mainly the result of hard work and personal interest in Physics. Having scored quite well in some IQ tests and contests, I joined many High IQ Societies since 2001. I noticed that there were some difficulties in their proper functioning minimizing interactivity and subsidizing creativity. Therefore, I took the initiative in 2001 to form a pioneer organization focused on promoting communication and enhancing productivity for the individuals with high cognitive abilities. This organization is the World Intelligence Network, (http://IQsociety.org), standing as an international collective entity dedicated to foster and support High IQ Societies. Currently, 48 High IQ Societies are affiliated with WIN. Furthermore, I formed 5 core High IQ Societies covering cognitive performances from the 1st to the 5th standard deviations above the mean (IQ 115 to IQ 175, sd 15), (QIQ, http://Q.IQsociety.org), (GRIQ, http://GR.IQsociety.org), (CIVIQ, http://CIV.IQsociety.org), (HELLIQ, http://HELL.IQsociety.org), (OLYMPIQ, http://OLYMP.IQsociety.org), one High IQ Society only for children and adolescents (IQID, http://Child.IQsociety.org) and one only for the Greek people (http://IQsociety.gr). Last but not least, I started a Greek NGO about abilities, giftedness and high intelligence named Anadeixi (http://aaaa.gr).

3. If you could, how would you change the educational systems of the world? In particular, how would you develop an educational system to provide for the needs of the gifted population?

The development of a more personal, more accurate and proper educational system is one of the target goals of Anadeixi. I strongly believe that not even 2 different persons can have the exact same profiles, characteristics, needs, personalities, interests, abilities, backgrounds and goals. Imagine the diversity and variety of the students’ profiles if you expand this hypothesis including all the students of any educational system. Any person is different from any other and should be treated as such. It is rather an unfair, conforming generalization all of the students to participate in the exact same educational program. There should be an introductory level of the basic sciences offered to anyone and on top of this an additional specialized education program based on the personal needs and potencies of any of the participants. Anyone should know how to read and write, to make simple math calculations and to have some basic awareness of history, geography and the rest main fields of knowledge. However, some of the students have specific preferences and interests and the educational system should take these into consideration and respond accordingly. Regarding the structure of such an educational system, there could be a 2-dimensional. The horizontal axis may include all the special fields of science, knowledge and interests and the vertical axis may demonstrate the various levels of performance and awareness. Thus, any participant can be allocated to the proper horizontal and vertical places based only on his interests, preferences, goals and current expertise and awareness. In such an educational system structure, there is no place for any age or other restrictions or limitations.

4. What global problems do you consider most important at the moment? How would you solve them?

Identity crisis is the main global problem. People lost their identity, their orientation, their life quality standards. They don’t care about who they are, they develop personalities based on the mainstream trends, they play roles and they waste their lives in their attempts to adjust to what some few others expect from them and their lives. People have neither time nor any intention to realize what life is about. They are born and live to become consistent and excellent workers, minor pieces of a giant puzzle for some few strong people’s entertainment purposes and benefits. Therefore, they don’t care about the quality of their lives, about other lives, about relationships and the society in general, about our children’s future. It is indeed a pity, however it is a fact. Education could be helpful towards self-realization, awareness, knowledge, mental maturity, overcoming any external restrictions and limitations. As I usually say to my psychotherapy clients, the solution to any problem is to make a stop and one step back.

5. Generally, many interacting systems operate in societies: political, economic, religious, corporate, educational, and so on. If you could build and run a society, how would you do it?

I would say no more than what a great ancestor said 25 centuries ago. Plato suggested an ideal society based on the special abilities of the citizens. The most capable ones should be leading the society functions, the strongest ones should help with their physical powers, a meritocracy should be in place. We should all contribute to the society well-functioning, if we intend to live in the society and benefit out of it. The definition of one’s prosperity should be defined only in the context of the society prosperity. If we act against our nest, how should this nest be beneficial, protective and supportive for us. We often see people who have no other than marketing skills or powerful backgrounds to guide societies, decide about millions of people, control people’s future, when many capable and talented others live in the shadow. The most important element in any society is the citizen and people should realize their power. There is no society without citizens, there are no rules without people to follow them. People can claim their right to live their ideal society.

6. If you do consider a general moral, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional progression or development, how do you view development from the basic to most advanced levels at the individual and collective level?

[This is covered above]

7. Do you think biology and machines will merge? If so, how might this happen?  Furthermore, how far would integration occur?

We do control machines (for now), however we cannot control or overcome biological rules. Machines could substitute some missing, mistaken or dysfunctional biological structures, however we are in no position to support artificial life at least for now. Having in mind the science progress and knowledge advancement within the last century, we may soon manage to understand much more about life and even copy biology principles creating a kind of life. There are no limits in this integration. From your question, I could assume that we both like science fiction movies.

8. What is the ultimate relationship between mind and reality?

Mind is an advanced personal processor, responsible for the perception, reaction and adjustment in reality. We need mind to live our reality. I suppose we all know what is the condition of a body with a non-functioning mind. Reality is an objective and independent set of conditions, events, happenings, incidents, people, principles, facts. Our mind personalizes this objective information to a subjective representation in us. Mind function is influenced by factors, such as perceptual ability, reasoning, previous knowledge and experiences, psychological status and mental state. For instance, we have all been present in an event and our understanding of what happened may significantly defer from what anyone else present states. So, we need mind to live our reality and we need reality to use our mind.

9. You earned the Genius of the Year Award – Europe in 2013 from PSIQ.  In your one-page statement on winning the award, you say, “I believe in the power of human mind and my works contribute to the facilitation of mind expressions, promotion of creativity and enhancement of productivity for a better life quality for everyone. Maximizing outcomes based on the appreciation and utilization of people’s potentials for the benefits of any individual and humanity in general.” What motivates this passion for improving the lot of others? 

Life is a continuous claim of happiness and satisfaction. There are plenty of distractions and attractions in life which can mislead and redirect people causing disorientation, targeting fake goals and resulting to low life quality. I am passionate with people and communication and that is the main reason I chose to be a Psychotherapist, Psychiatrist and a Founder of some communities and networks. I believe in self-awareness, self-appreciation, self-confidence and self-determination. Offering people an opportunity to look into themselves and grab the chance to evaluate their lives, attitudes and interests, is a challenge for me. I have undertaken this procedure myself and I offer the exact same to anyone interested. I support people and I believe in their abilities, talents and specialties. Psychologically speaking, I may provide what I would appreciate to have been provided.

10. As a final note to your award statement, you state, “Humans are biological beings, life is a mystery, creation is still unknown. We live a miracle and we can only maximize this miracle’s impact in every single moment of our existence.” What do you mean by “miracle”?  Can you elaborate on the maximization of every moment of our existence?

Allow me to clearly mention that I do not wish to support any specific religion with my statement. I have the feeling that the advanced and complicated structure and function of life, considering even only a single cell, is itself a miracle. I am using the word ‘miracle’ since mathematicians have proved that it is rather impossible all cell components to accidentally find themselves in the proper position and start functioning as a cell within the total duration of universe existence. So the time elapsed since the creation of universe supports the non-accidental, thus miraculous nature of life. The specific rational for this miracle, a specific power, God, destiny, even the nature itself, has been a fascinating topic for many other specialists throughout all human history.

The maximization of our life moments is a quality term, used to define appreciation of our time, life satisfaction and happiness. Since we know nothing about the reasons of our existence, we may solely take advantage of the fact that we are alive and experience the most out of it. In this context, we need to define what makes us excited and content and we should target and claim satisfaction and happiness.

****************Footnotes and bibliography in Archives “7.A” PDF*****************

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In-Sight by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

7.A, Idea: Outliers and Outsiders (Part Three)

Dear Reader,

You can find issue 6.A, Idea: Outliers and Outsiders (Part Two) in the archives.  In addition to this, you can find The Rick G. Rosner Interview and The Dr. Jonathan Wai Interview in the same portion of the website in a separate PDF for more ease of access.  7.A, Idea: Outliers and Outsiders (Part Three) begins January 1, 2015 – today.

Yours,

Scott D. Jacobsen

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