Health Psychology Connections: Sharing Experiences

Qian Lu, PhD
Qian Lu, PhD

Qian Lu, PhD
University of Houston

Life is a journey and people have different journeys. We are all connected in some way. It is beautiful to share experiences with others.

I was excited to discover our division had a professional networking program called Health Psychology Connections. After I signed up, Dr. Zeeshan Butt contacted me. He runs everything smoothly – from scheduling an introductory meeting, finding a good match, connecting people – to following up after a connection is made.

At that time, I had just received a R01 grant as a new investigator from the National Cancer Institute. I had many questions about utilizing local resources and effective management techniques for a growing lab. Zeeshan introduced me to Dr. Bert Uchino. Dr. Uchino has been the principal investigator of numerous R01 awards and has lots of grant and management experience. He is a social/health psychologist and full professor at the University of Utah’s Department of Psychology.

Bert and I started with a one-hour phone conversation, but this was better than reading ten management books. He immediately understood my questions and the challenges I might face. He addressed my questions, gave feedback on whether my ideas were feasible, and suggested alternative solutions that might work. Furthermore, he shared with his experiences on how to effectively work with graduate students on funded projects. He also gave me sage advice on how to be proactive about the successful completion of a R01 project. Bert was amazing and helpful. I hope to eventually meet him in person at a conference.

I cannot fully express my gratitude to Bert, Zeeshan, the Health Psychology Connections program, and those who are behind the idea and implementation of the program. This connection experience was so positive that it reinforced my belief that we all need mentors at every stage of our career. This positive experience inspired me and motivated me to volunteer on the mentoring roundtable of the Society of Behavioral Medicine and American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS) conferences. In this way I can continue to pass on the mentoring experience.

Mentoring is the sharing of experiences. By connecting with others, we make our journeys more enriching and meaningful. Thank you to the Health Psychology Connections program for connecting us.

Bert Uchino, PhD
Bert Uchino, PhD

Bert N. Uchino, PhD
University of Utah

I am grateful that I had wonderful, smart, and unselfish mentors during the early stages of my career including John Cacioppo, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, and Timothy Smith. Each of these individuals are not only exceptional scholars but strongly dedicated to mentoring the next generation of scientists. Given these outstanding role models it should be no surprise that mentoring is an important priority for me as well. Thus, when Dr. Zeeshan Butt contacted me as part of the Health Psychology Connections mentoring program I was excited to help out.

I was asked to speak with Dr. Qian Lu who wanted to discuss a number of issues related to her receipt of a major research grant. During our conversation, she raised a number of important questions that we discussed including managing the pragmatics of a large grant project, hiring the right personnel, and setting oneself up for the next grant in the program of research. It was clear that Dr. Lu had already thought carefully about these issues and I mostly found myself agreeing with her excellent ideas. As a more senior colleague, however, I was able to be helpful by highlighting which ideas made most sense in the context of this work and her stage of career. We ending up having a discussion not only about her grant project but also more general issues related to health psychology. I want to emphasize discussion because during the course of our conversation I also learned new things. For instance, it was exciting to hear about the novel ideas that Dr. Lu was about to test in her new grant. Our conversation was thus very positive and as a bonus I now have a new, knowledgeable colleague to interact with!

I would thus encourage all interested members to contact Dr. Zeeshan Butt and participate in the Health Psychology Connections program. This program did not exist when I was a junior faculty member, so I often roamed the halls of our Psychology Department (at all hours of the day and night) bending the ears of my more senior colleagues. I certainly don’t regret those experiences, but it would have been terrific to have another option for the range of questions that we confront in our interdisciplinary field of study. This program provides an opportunity to not only help your colleagues in a very tangible way, but also connect with smart and interesting scientists who are doing cutting-edge work.