I’ve been working joint with the Child Attachment, Relationships and Emotion (CARE) Lab at Pomona College and the Applied Mind and Health (AMH) Lab at Claremont McKenna College for around two months now, and so far so good! Currently the lab is coming towards the end of data collection for the Stress, Temperament, Attachment, and Reactivity (STAR) study. This is a longitudinal investigation of family dynamics and their influences on children’s social-emotional development.
My role as Study Coordinator encompasses a number of responsibilities. One project of mine is organising the biosamples we collect for shipping to a separate lab in Germany which will analyse them for stress hormones. It's been highly rewarding to be trusted with this important aspect of data handling. I would really encourage future students to volunteer themselves for roles of responsibilities within their placement organisation if the opportunity arises - even if you feel new or under-qualified. In my opinion, it's one of the most effective ways to learn the new skills required of you and increase your understanding of the organisation and how things roll there.
One of my favourite aspects of the job is helping to run the lab visits when our participants come in. This includes being a technical research assistant, where I sit behind a one-way mirror (often pretending I’m a CIA detective) controlling the cameras to record the participants and keep timings for saliva collection on schedule. I can’t speak for everyone, but as a psychology student it really is fascinating seeing the behavioural differences between different child and mother pairs.
Unfortunately, on my first time running this technical role independently I had the wrong audio input on the video cameras, meaning some of the participants’ dialogue was lost. I was disappointed in my mistake, especially so early on in my placement, but after I was shown how to correct it for next time, I felt reassured - I won’t make that mistake again! Some words of wisdom from Oprah, “being human means you will make mistakes,” are good to keep in mind during the daunting start at placement.
The rest of the team who make up the lab - including professors, postgrad and undergrad students - have been so warm and welcoming, making my transition to working at the lab easy. We have monthly socials, which are great to get to know everyone outside of work. Pictured above was our Potluck dinner in September where we ordered so much Chinese I lived off the leftovers for a week. The senior members of the lab took me out for dinner in my first week, which was interrupted by a 4.4 earthquake! Despite this bad omen, I have loved working closely with them and I’m excited for all the opportunities this lab will give me over the coming year.