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Dr. Neda Kerimi: Post-Doctoral Fellow, Psychology, Harvard University

September 18, 2013

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 3.A, Idea: Women in Academia (Part Two)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Undergraduate Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 18, 2013

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2014

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,245

ISSN 2369-6885

Dr. Neda Kerimi

1. What positions have you held? What position do you currently hold?

I actually studied and worked in IT, as programmer and also IT-manager, for a number of years However, I loved psychology too much so I decided to do a PhD in psychology. Since my PhD graduation in 2011, I have been project manager in Uppsala for a project relating to numeracy and now a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard investigating the impact technology has on our decisions and cognition.

2. In brief, how was your youth? How did you come to this point? 

I was always interested in knowledge and had a curious nature. I was undecided between IT and Psychology so I eventually studied both. Even though my training in Psychology is more extensive, I am still a computer-geek at heart, which works for me since I am interested in how technology is changing our cognition.

3. When did Psychology interest you?

I think I have always been interested in psychology. People interest and puzzle me and I love talking and hearing people’s stories so it just came naturally I guess.

4. Where did you acquire your education?

I actually got my MA in Informatics first and worked a few years in IT. Meanwhile I studied psychology at Stockholm University, Sweden, where I eventually got my PhD.

5. What kinds of research have you conducted up to the present?

I have been involved in many projects with the denominator Judgment and Decision Making. For instance how Medical Doctor’s make decisions, how voting systems impact preferences, how students choose study strategy, how information is processed and distorted in consumer situations, why we procrastinate and so on.  With the years, I have more and more become interested in social psychology and HCI.

6. If you currently conduct research, what form does it take?

Being an experimental psychologist, experiments are very important to me. I often look for ideas in the real world but follow it up or investigate it in experimental settings. I think triangulating and replication is important in research so I usually try to mix different methods to study a phenomena.

7. Since you began studying psychology, what do you consider the controversial topics? How do you examine the controversial topics?

My field, Judgment and Decision making, have a few controversial topics. The one that has always interested me is whether we should rely on our gut feelings or sleep on it before making decisions. Research has consistently shown that sleeping on it is better, with a few exceptions. However, I have myself not studied this topic, mostly because I am satisfied with the answers that current research has given us regarding that topic.

8. What form of multi-/inter-disciplinary research does Psychology most need in the near future?  What form of research does Psychology need in the far future?

I can only talk about cognitive and social psychology, as these are the areas I have knowledge in. Both areas are actually doing a very good interdisciplinary job.  For instance, many psychologists collaborate with economists and computer scientists to study financial behaviour or how technology is affecting us.

9. If you had infinite funding, full academic freedom, and zero ethical bounds, what would you research? 

I would probably still do what I do, which is studying humans. But I suppose I would have more research assistants so that I could focus more on research instead. Also, not have to spend a lot of time on writing grant proposals would probably make it easier to actually do research.

10. What advice do you have for undergraduate and graduate students? For Psychology students, what do you recommend?

Well, I can only give advice about academia. 1) If you are planning to have a career in academia, make sure that you choose a topic that you love. Academia is a tough world (but fun) where positive feedback comes seldom so what drives you have to be your passion for the topic. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is that you choose topic, or any career for that matter, based on passion and not prestige, money, and power (the last three mentioned comes naturally if you do what you are passionate about). 2) Another advice would be to network, but with those whose work you love and want to learn from. Learning from others has been the most valuable knowledge I have gathered. And start early, solid networks takes time to build. 3. Focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. We all have weaknesses and focusing on only them will hinder you. Besides, everyone have strengths that others don’t so use that to your advantage.

11. Who most influenced you? Can you recommend any books/articles?

This is so hard because so many people have. But those who have influenced me has been people whom, despite their accomplishments and fame, are so humble and genuine. I once emailed this extremely famous professor that I wanted to meet him. I really didn’t except this person to answer. But I even got a meeting. That inspired me immensely.

12. You co-run a blog called ‘:InDecision:’. Why did you create the blog? How do you run it? Where do you see it going?        

I have always been involved in curriculum activities such as being involved in research societies because I find it so rewarding and important. At the same time, I have always felt that there is a lack of forum for early career researchers, especially in my field, to network. In addition, not everyone have the same opportunities to meet other researchers and exchange ideas. So Elina, the other girl I am running the blog with, decided to create such forum. We knew that there would be interest in such blog (we thought that surely, we are not the only ones in need of such a network).  However, we did not expect it to be as well received as it was. Because of the positive feedback we received, we got more inspired and motivated to take the blog further. We actually spend a great deal of our free time on the blog but we get so much satisfaction by knowing that we are making a change in the research field. It should be added that the blog had not been possible without the help of our contributors.  We have many exciting projects planned and we are getting more and more visibility for every day so I am excited about the future of the blog.

13. Where do you see Psychology going?

I am probably biased but I think psychology is one of the most important fields and should be taught in every programs (that and statistics). Today, everything that in one way or another involves humans draws conclusions from psychology. I would not be surprised if every company or state will have psychologists in their team.

License

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

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-sight, 2012-2013. 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.

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