The HIVE award is a way to recognize UTD students and staff exhibiting positive Habits, Ideals, Values, and Ethics in human subjects research. No one deserves the honor more than the Fall 2021 winner, Siri Wilder.
Members of the Human Subjects Research Office met with Ms. Wilder to learn more about her and her research here at UTD.
How many years have you been at UTD?
I am in my third year of the Psychology PhD program at UTD.
What brought you to UTD?
I found Dr. Karen Prager’s Couples’ Daily Lives website when I was applying to graduate schools and was immediately drawn to her research. My previous research focused on individuals’ emotional reactions to the end of casual sex relationships, and I was very interested in exploring committed romantic relationships. When I came to campus and interviewed with Dr. Prager, we discussed her research in more depth and I knew then that I needed to be in her lab.
Are you a student? If so, tell us about your studies and what excites you most academically.
I’m very lucky to be working with Dr. Prager in the Couples’ Daily Lives lab, where my research focuses on post-conflict reconciliation among committed romantic couples. Our lab uses dyadic data, which involves recruiting both members of a romantic couple to participate in studies. Because of this, when I joined the lab I started using statistical analyses that allow us to examine the influence of one couple partner on the other – which I had never encountered before. Learning new statistical methods was so exciting, and I have really enjoyed my research methods classes especially.
What is your connection with human subjects research?
I’ve always known that I wanted to do psychological research, and have had the privilege to do human subjects research since I was an undergraduate. It is such a unique field of study because there is so much responsibility to ensure that we are using ethical methods that are sensitive to the wonderful people who participate in our research. Doing research that focuses on peoples’ emotions, behavior, and cognition is a really amazing opportunity in so many ways, and I feel very lucky to be doing research at UTD with the aim of informing therapeutic practice that supports couples to sustain loving, long-term relationships.
Describe the type of research you conduct and the type of lab in which you currently work.
Our lab is focused on studying post-conflict recovery and reconciliation among committed romantic couples. Every long-term relationship involves some amount of conflict, and we are interested in factors that impact couple partners’ ability to successfully recover from conflict and reconcile with one another. To do this, we recruit couples and ask both romantic partners to participate in studies so that we can explore the impact of one’s own emotions, cognition, and behavior on one’s own outcomes, and the influence of one couple member’s emotions, cognition, and behavior on their partner’s outcomes.
Is the work you do today what you imagined you’d be doing when you were a child?
Yes! I realized very early that I wanted to do psychological research, and was really interested in studying social relationships.
What is one of the most important things you’ve learned about human subjects research?
In my experience with the research I’ve done, I really think that sensitive, respectful, clear communication is so important in human subjects research. As a researcher, I think that the research I’m doing is important and will provide information that will benefit people. I want to communicate that to the individuals who donate their time and effort to participating in studies, so that they can make an informed decision about whether they also see value in the research and are comfortable being a part of it.
Is there a quote or phrase that speaks to you or that you live by?
Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.
Who / what has influenced you the most?
My graduate advisor, Dr. Karen Prager, has taught me so much – about research and statistical analysis, advising and mentoring others, staying cool under pressure, and much more. I’ve also TA-ed for Dr. Joanna Gentsch for many semesters now here at UTD. During that time, she has given me so much help in cultivating my teaching skills on every level. My undergraduate advisor, Dr. Christina Scott, really provided me my first introduction to conducting psychological research and was instrumental in my decision to attend graduate school and pursue a career in the field. I am so inspired by each of them, and their support and guidance mean so much to me. Beyond having the opportunity to learn the hard skills involved in research and teaching, their mentorship has really taught me the importance of always being patient, caring, and kind.
What is something you don’t currently know, but would like to learn for fun?
When I was in high school I was really good at knitting socks. You have to use up to 5 knitting needles at once and I’ve totally forgotten how to do it. But I want to relearn that skill!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
I am so looking forward to continuing my research and teaching career, and learning and growing in those roles. Social relationships are such fundamentally important components of everyone’s life, and I hope that 5 and 10 years from now I will be working as part of a research team and conducting research that generates information that can be used to support healthy, loving relationships. My mentors have been amazing sources of support, guidance, and knowledge, and I also want to follow in their footsteps and provide the same for others.
Welcome to the IRB HIVE, Siri!