Interview with Dr. David Klemanski

David Klemanski is Director of the Yale Center for Anxiety and Mood Disorders and lecturer of Psychology and Psychiatry. His research interests include mood and anxiety disorders (e.g., social phobia, generalised anxiety disorder, PTSD) in adolescents. His recent research focuses on individual differences in emotion regulation strategies. droppedImage_1

What I enjoy most about my job as a researcher … On a professional level, I most enjoy the opportunity to contribute to a wider area of knowledge in psychological science. My research is based in affective science and focused on adolescents with anxiety and mood disorders.  In my work, I strive to conduct research that has real world relevance and allows me to better understand how to effect change in terms of how adolescents and young adults understand and regulate their emotions in more adaptive ways. On a personal level, I enjoy the ability to spend time better grounding myself in the latest and greatest research by reading and learning from my colleagues.  I have been incredibly fortunate to work with some of the brightest minds in our field and appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with them to inform and educate the public about mental health.

The biggest challenge in my career so far was … There are many day to day challenges researchers face (e.g., funding, time for thinking, reading, and writing, and conducting studies, confidence, etc.), but my biggest challenge is related to my concern about how our work in clinical psychology is translated and disseminated to the public. There are several credible and effective forms of evidence based treatments for an array of mental health disorders, but some are not well known and some are not readily available for those most in need.

One research project I will never forget is… Many of the research projects on which I have worked have been memorable and enjoyable, especially when working with my colleagues and students at Yale.  The most memorable project, however, was my dissertation on compulsive hoarding.  It was the first project that truly turned me on to science because of the wonderful and helpful guidance of my mentor, David Tolin, Ph.D., and because of the opportunity to define my own research interests and goals for this particular study.

What I look for in a student who wants to work under my supervision … Students should be enthusiastic about their work, conscientious, and knowledgeable about their field of interest.  Also, students should be able to convey how they will integrate their interests into the research already being conducted in the Lab to which they are applying.  This includes working on studies already in progress, collaborating with other students, and developing their own line of research.

Student research could be improved by … I have been fortunate to work for an institution that uses a junior colleague mentorship model.  As students develop skills, they should be mentored and supported so that they can develop their own program of research. I also think it is important for students to be exposed to a more diverse range of research content and methodologies.  Students should be encouraged to work with multiple faculty, to develop grant proposals for novel and innovative studies, and to be informed by various areas within psychology and in other fields.

I also think initiatives, much like your Journal, are incredibly important for helping students develop confidence about their research by learning from their peers.  Mentorship among peers is as important as mentorship from faculty and senior researchers.

Academically, I most admire … The researcher whom I most admire is Professor Susan Nolen-Hoeksema. Susan, who recently and unexpectedly passed away, shaped the mental health field’s perspective on gender differences in depression.  More specifically, she studied the role of rumination, which is the tendency to respond to distress by focusing on the causes and consequences of problems without actively solving the problems.  Her work in this area was incredibly important and has led to thousands of studies and papers to better understand the role of rumination as a vulnerability to developing depression, anxiety, substance use, eating disorders and more. Part of my own work is to study a form of rumination known as post-event processing, in social anxiety disorder in adolescents.  In addition to her scholarly work, she was a genuinely remarkable mentor, a captivating teacher, and a model academic leader.  Susan has profoundly influenced my career, both in terms of my research program and how to mentor students.

I wish someone had told me at the beginning of my career … The best advice I received during my early career was to never be the smartest person in the room and not to personalize the decisions that are made about you (i.e., your research, manuscript decisions, promotions, funding decisions, etc.).  Both of these ideals have been useful in developing my career and in navigating my role in academia.

The largest changes in psychological science in the next 10 years will be … I believe psychological science will gain even greater relevance, especially in terms of its application to other core areas of science.  As an early career researcher, I think it’s important to think about the relevance and application of my work to not only clinical psychological science, but also to other areas within psychology and in public health and public policy.

About the author

Jonas Haslbeck Jonas is a Senior Editor at the Journal of European Psychology Students. He is currently a PhD student in psychological methods at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. For further info see http://jmbh.github.io/.

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