2. What to expect as a graduate student in my lab

BEGINNING NOTE! Below I’ve done my best to give you a preview of what it will be like to work with me. But my current and former mentees are truly the best source for this info. All the people listed in the Research Team section have consented for potential applicants to contact them with questions. I genuinely encourage you to reach out to them! As part of the interview day, you’ll meet with at least one of these people (hopefully more, schedules permitting!).

1. Scaffolding and personalization. I’m not a micromanager. But I also am not an absentee mentor. My approach to mentorship is that I’ll work with you to figure out what you want and how I can help get you those skills and experiences. I want to help you identify your challenging but doable goals for that month, semester, year, career stage, etc. Once we know the goal, I might give you a bit of guidance (more earlier on, less over time), let you take a pass at it, then we’ll check in about how it went and where we need to revisit. I want to give you the room you need to try, fail, and succeed. I’m not going to tell you how to do everything, but I’m also not going to regularly tell you to go figure it out yourself. (Sometimes I might do that but only when it’s developmentally appropriate!)

As an example, my research coordinator was drafting her very first, first-authored manuscript. She ran analyses for a few months, checked in with me along the way to refine and expand, she finalized tables, and then she was ready to write up her findings. We talked through in general what should go in a Results section, I sent her some example papers, and she started drafting. The draft she sent me needed tweaked a bit, so we then had a meeting where I walked her through how to translate what was in the tables into a compelling and effective in-text description. We talked through the in-text description for a few tables, then with the remaining tables I asked her to take another pass, based on how we reworked the write-up for the first few tables. For newer grad students, I expect taking a similar approach early on. As time goes on and as we work on more and more papers, my level of guidance will decrease. Just like in therapy, my goal is to work myself out of a job and get you to the point where you can do stuff independently.

2. Writing and publishing. I have 5-10 papers that I’m actively writing at any given time, and I have a list of hundreds of other potential paper ideas. I want to share these partially-written papers and paper ideas with grad students and have you take them and run with them! At the same time, I also encourage and expect students to explore your own ideas and questions.

  • To make this concrete, as a baseline I’d aim for you to lead 1 paper your first year of grad school, lead 2ish papers the following years, and have a number of co-authored papers along the way. Of course, I’ll take a personalized approach with each mentee and we’ll find challenging but doable goals for you as you progress through your training.

  • I usually (though not always) like to include 2–3 co-authors on a paper, and break up manuscripts where first author writes 2 major sections (usually Intro & Results, but not always), second author writes 1 major section, third author writes Method. This is helpful for lots of reasons: More learning about a given topic, more publications (build up your CV), learn collaboration skills, find your collaborators, etc.!

3. Submitting your research to academic conferences. Scientists need to communicate effectively in written and oral formats. Presenting at conferences is a great way to practice both written and oral communication. I usually attend ABCT, EDRS, ICED, and the Suicide Research Symposium.

4. Applying for grants. If you want a research career, one of the best gifts you can give your future self is getting grant-writing experience early on. I will encourage you to apply to the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and/or submit an NIH F31. You can also help out on the grants I’m writing at any given time.

5. Weekly meetings. I will meet with you one-on-one for 1 hour/week, with more or fewer meetings as needed. These are times to talk through your research projects, ongoing projects we’re working on together, professional development, how you’re adjusting to grad school/clinical work/the many other demands placed on grad students, your pets, your hobbies and self-care, etc. I anticipate we’ll be chatting via email or Slack throughout the week too.

6. Prompt feedback. I’m going to give you lots of feedback on research projects/works. I usually get mentees feedback within one week. In the event that I can’t get something back to you within a week or less, I’ll let you know upfront.

7. Lab meetings. We’ll have weekly lab meetings to talk through how things are going in the lab, do team building, talk through new projects, etc. PhD students are expected to be actively involved in mentoring undergraduate research assistants, so that grads can begin building their own mentorship experiences and developing their own mentorship philosophy.

8. Advocacy. At an eating disorders conference several years ago, I attended a series of talks about defining recovery in eating disorders. During the Q&A, a person asked a question like “is advocacy (against diet culture, weight stigma, stereotypes about eating disorders, unrealistic body ideals, etc.) a necessary part of eating disorder recovery?” That was such a memorable question. Although I don’t have an empirical answer for this question, my philosophy is that advocacy—even in small, behavioral ways—is a necessary part of being a clinical psychologist.

  • For example, if someone uses derogatory or discriminatory language (even if they didn’t know that their language is derogatory or discriminatory), my hope is to create a lab culture where this language would be pointed out nonjudgmentally and corrected in the moment. I want people to feel comfortable and safe being themselves in my lab, and for all of us to be committed to growing and learning.

  • There are vast health inequities in our society, and many of these inequities are perpetuated in clinical psychology research based on the samples we do vs. do not include in studies, the types of questions we do vs. don’t ask, the types of methodological decisions we do vs. don’t make, etc. I endeavor to contribute to resolving these inequities and to be explicit about the limitations of any methodological decisions that we make as researchers, especially with respect to when those methodological decisions exclude groups with known elevations in our given outcome (e.g., LGBTQIA+ people’s representation in cutting-edge suicide research).

9. Eating disorder- and/or suicide-specific clinical experiences are in the works! Although I haven’t yet begun working at UO (I’ll begin Fall 2024), I already have ideas percolating and plans churning for collaborations to build that will allow grad students to get eating disorder- and/or suicide-specific clinical experiences in Eugene/as part of their doctoral training. Stay tuned for more info!

Lauren Forrest, PhD
Lauren Forrest, PhD
Assistant Professor