We are looking forward to a presentation by Dr. Nathan Medeiros-Ward on Monday, April 7, as the Psychology Department of Calvin College hosts his talk entitled: “An Investigation of Multitasking and Driver Distraction.”
It doesnít seem that long ago that Dr. Medeiros-Ward served as CSRís first Research Associate, setting a powerful precedent with his problem-solving skills and energetic, collegial management of students and projects. He was a great team leader for the Kent County Congregations Study (KCCS) project, coordinating a team of 13 student field interviewers and 8 student research assistants in the summer of 2007. Upon his graduation from Calvin College with a B.A. in Psychology and Classics, Nathan moved on to the University of Utah, earning his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology in 2013. While in graduate school, he worked closely with David Lee Strayer, one of the original researchers exploring the impact of cell phone use while driving.
Dr. Medeiros-Ward is now a Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois, where he is studying attention and multitasking. Nathan’s research interests focus on the component processes of multitasking using a multifaceted approach that involves traditional behavioral methods, driving simulation, neuroimaging, and training/transfer regimens. He is interested in knowing how shifting and dividing attention are similar and different in various laboratory and real-world contexts, as well as whether or not these abilities can be trained.
One important position that CSR offers is that of Research Associate. The Research Associate assists in the management of ongoing campus and community projects. As part of this project management, the Research Associate supervises, trains, and supports the student research team. The person in this position is responsible for assigning project work, making and meeting deadlines, preparing data, conducting data analysis, and working alongside the other CSR staff to meet project goals. One of our recent CSR Research Associates, Christina Vanden Bosch der Nederlanden, offers the following comments about her experiences at the Center.
Christina Vanden Bosch der Nederlanden
Research Associate from May 2009 - July 2011
Current Location: University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Ph.D. program in Experimental Psychology with an Emphasis in Development
It has been a few years now since I worked as the Research Associate at Calvinís Center for Social Research (CSR), but nearly every day I am grateful for the investment that each member of the CSR made in me during my time there. I worked at the CSR for two years under Neil Carlsonís and Jim Penningís leadership and under the steadfast care of Kathy Bardolph. As a Research Associate, I had the opportunity to work with an evolving team of research assistants and technicians while learning about the Centerís many software tools and projects. While I learned countless things, ranging from current topics in Political Science to the language of the Bynars from Star Trekís Next Generation, I also learned key skills that have helped me as a graduate student today. Two key areas come to mind when I think about how the CSR has impacted my day-to-day thinking: the ability to work efficiently with data, and the desire to tell others about the findings and outcomes of my research.
The chief concern of the folks at the CSR is to make sure that the people doing the work were not simply cogs in the machine or mindless data crunchers. Instead, an emphasis is placed on fully understanding the thought process that goes into making decisions about how to store, process, analyze, and interpret data. By being part of the process of weighing the pros and cons of multiple solutions, I learned how to think about data and how to work with it most efficiently. Even now when I come to a problem that Iíve never seen before, such as coding in a program like MatLab, I am able to reverse-engineer (a CSR mantra) my way to a solution. Through my work with the CSR I also learned the importance of thinking outside the box, such as using software tools for collecting online survey data as a way to cleanly have research assistants perform data entry tasks free of typing errors. I do my best to teach other members of the lab at my university timesaving tricks and tips in Microsoft Excel or SPSS syntax with the same genuine enthusiasm for data processing that I learned from the CSR.
Of course, collecting mountains of data isnít the goal of the research process; the most important part of the research process is doing something with the results. Through community-based projects with the DeVos Foundation, I saw the real impact that collecting data and reporting outcomes can have on the community. At the CSR we created complex data visualizations for a summer school initiative that helped individual clients see which outcomes they were excelling at in their work, but also highlighted the areas that they could focus on for the next summer term. This past year I was able to present my masterís thesis data at a music and language development symposium in Montreal, Quebec. Much to my surprise, I won the prize for the best graduate student poster presentation. The knowledge and excitement that I was able to communicate for my own research was fostered and grown through countless opportunities to talk about results during meetings with Neil, our research assistants, and as mentioned above. One of the key avenues that helped me gain confidence in presenting my own ideas was having the chance to be part of the brainstorming process for new research ideas or to uncover best ways to answer research questions with tools like GIS or statistical modeling.
I am indebted to Calvinís CSR for the time and thought that went into mentoring and preparing me to be a successful graduate student. The diverse teachers and learners at the Center made for an enjoyable and intelligent group of people to share in the difficult work of collecting and reporting research findings. Each of the members of the CSR are a real asset for any Calvin student contemplating the graduate school route; these are some of the finest colleagues to work with while learning the constellation of considerations that go into collecting, processing, analyzing, and reporting data, and how to be enthusiastic about doing it!
The When The People Speak Deliberative Poll Event is proud to announce our new project advisors:
|Alan Vanderberg||County Administrator||Ottawa County|
|Curtis Holt||City Manager||Wyoming|
|Greg Sundstrom||City Manager||Grand Rapids|
|Jim Talen||Kent County Commissioner||16th†District|
|Jorge Gonzalez||Director of Economic Development||LINC|
|Keith Van Beek||Assistant County Administrator||Ottawa County|
|Kevin den Dulk||Executive Director of Henry Institute||Calvin College|
|Mark Lemoine||Director of System Government Affairs||Spectrum Health|
|Neil Carlson||Director of Center for Social Research||Calvin College|
|Rosalynn Bliss||City Commissioner of Grand Rapids||2nd Ward|
For more information about the Poll Event, visit our website: KentCountySpeaks.org
If you are interested in contributing to our project as an advisor, please†contact us!
CSR has a ton of work to do, so we are expanding our team. We are looking for great candidates with relevant Master’s or PhD degrees to fill our Assistant Director position. Having been the Assistant Director myself, I can tell you that the job is a challenging and rewarding platform on which to build a great career in research. Calvin College and CSR are increasingly connected to the community, technically sophisticated and involved in a broad array of interesting on- and off-campus projects. To get more information, visit employment.calvin.edu or contact us at 616 526-7799 or firstname.lastname@example.org.