Deciding on whether to apply to work with a specific mentor is a daunting task. Because prospective mentors have limited time to meet with prospective students, this page is intended to answer the most common questions I receive about myself and my lab. Ultimately, I hope this page helps you make an informed decision about whether I am the right mentor to help you meet your goals.
What is your mentorship style?
My primary goal in mentorship is to guide my trainees in pursuing their own research interests and develop these interests into a rewarding and impactful program of research. To do this, I strive to be supportive and provide plenty of scaffolding in the earlier stages of your training while you may still be "figuring out who you are." More concretely, trainees can expect weekly one on one meetings to discuss goals and individual projects as well as weekly lab meetings that focus on building professional skills. Overall, I value collaboration and view my trainees as colleagues.
What does it take to thrive in this lab?
In order to thrive in the HSAED Lab, a trainee should exhibit creative qualities to ask research questions and develop projects individually and collaboratively. Openness and proactiveness in fostering your own research interests are expected. Projects and interests that are related to physical and/or mental health outcomes and that center health equity for vulnerable populations would be the strongest fits.
Pragmatically, because of the nature of the data we use, an interest in methods and statistics would make your time in the lab more tolerable. Additionally, I believe that good communication (verbal and written) is the bedrock of good science, so trainees who are motivated to continuously improve their writing and presentation skills would thrive.
This is very important: I do not expect you to come in as a statistics maven or a writing expert. Do not rule yourself out based on your current skills. If you feel that you struggle with statistics or writing (like I did when I started my doctoral training), there are plenty of resources within the doctoral program and the lab to help you along. People enter doctoral programs, in part, to learn and improve these very skills. You will learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. What I do expect is an openness, even an eagerness, to make consistent progress on these scientific skills.
What do you look for when selecting students for an interview?
My primary goal as a mentor is to support my trainees as they pursue their own unique research interests. That being said, I would be a stronger mentorship fit for a trainee who is interested in behavioral medicine and health services research as it applies to improving the lives of marginalized populations.
A prospective trainee does not need to have an interest specifically in type 2 diabetes or any cardiometabolic condition. Current HSAED Lab members focus on a diverse set of health-related outcomes, including mental health care outcomes.
A prospective trainee does need to be able to articulate a rough but specific idea of what kind of research they would like to pursue over the next five to six years, and be able to articulate why that line of research motivates them.
What is the expected timeline for applications into the PhD program?
What should I know as an international applicant into the PhD program?
The HSAED Lab (and UIC) is open to international students, and there are important, UIC-specific information to know as an international applicant. Some things to keep in mind:
1. As pat of visa requirements, international students cannot work more than a 50% assistantship during the academic year (whereas non-international students can work up to 67%).
2. International students are not able to do externship or internship at Veteran's Affairs (VA) Hospitals. Luckily, Chicagoland is home to a number of rigorous externships that will accept international trainees.
3. UIC is in the process of changing our program code to a STEM designated one so international students will have a 2 year period after graduating to find work, but this has not yet been completed.
Otherwise, the Office for International Students coordinates the enrollment process administratively.
Where can I learn more about graduate school?
Dr. Prinstein (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) recently updated his famous "Mitch’s Uncensored Advice for Applying to Graduate School in Clinical Psychology" document, a favorite among prospective students for at least the past decade.
Dr. Rodriguez-Seijas (University of Michigan) has curated excellent examples of personal statements, CVs, and other written materials for prospective students.
Viviana, a first year in the lab has created a google drive with application resources here.
Learn more about the UIC Clinical Psychology PhD program here.
I also encourage you to take a look at the Student Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data page, which gives you helpful information on the average number of years it takes for students to graduate; internship match rates; and important information on stipends.
Should I email you to express interest? Can we meet to discuss my interests?
Every year, my UIC Faculty Page will be updated to explicitly state whether I plan to review applications for the following year's admission.
Your decision to email me or not will have no impact on your odds of receiving an interview invitation or an admission offer (I promise). Because I cannot equitably accommodate the number of meeting requests with all of the stellar potential applicants, it is my policy to not meet with applicants outside our program’s formal interview process.
You may wonder if your research interests are a good enough "fit" for the lab. Please see the What do you look for when selecting students for an interview? section just a few boxes up for your answer.