APA 2016 Convention: Wed/Thurs Update

It’s been an exhausting and wonderful first two days of convention and I wanted to write a quick update before turning in for the night.

On Wednesday, I spent some time exploring downtown Denver with my fellow Convention Committee member Julio and we found some great veggie eats (below)! In the evening we held the APAGS Ambassador Orientation, which was a great way to kick off convention.

Unfortunately I had to miss the APAGS Food For Thought breakfast with Dr. Anneliese Singh, but I heard it went wonderfully! Stephanie (another kickass Convention Committee member) chaired a session on Conducting Research within a Social Justice Framework. The speakers discussed the research process as a series of decisions (and trade-offs) and highlighted examples of ethical and respectful research each step of the way. Some examples that really stood out for me was the importance of the language we use. It sets the tone for the project and things as simple as the way we construct our questionnaires (e.g., making participants choose between Man/Woman/Other v. letting people self-identify with an open-ended question) send signals to our participants. The presenters also touched on the importance of involving participants as collaborators (from recruitment to dissemination) and respecting the perspective and expertise they bring to the topic.

The second session highlighted non-traditional (non-academic, non-clinical) careeroptions for PhDs. We had three super amazing speakers – Dr. Christine Berry, who spoke about user experience research and her job at Facebook, Dr. LeOndra Clark Harvey, who spoke about her work with the California State Legislature, and Dr. John Fraser, a conservation psychologist working as a research consultant at the New Knowledge Organization. Their talks were very different but if I had to come up with some key points, I would say:

  1. Take chances – the speakers all kept an eye out for opportunities and put themselves out there, even if it seemed like a long shot. Taking chances also applies to gaining varied experiences when you have the time or when they cross your path. This could be anything from completing free online courses or courses outside of psych at your institution, to volunteering with local organizations.
  2. Talk to people – talk to people about their jobs, let them know you’re looking for work and what you’re interested in. Networking is key!
  3. Keep and open mind and believe in yourself – don’t put yourself into a box e! Think about all of the transferable skills that you’ve gained as a student and don’t hesitate to capitalize on these or envision how they might apply to different types of work.

There was some really neat work showcased in the APAGS poster session, which I was hoping to tweet about before the convention wifi picked a fight with me and I gave up to preserve my peace of mind. There was one poster I particularly enjoyed by Joe Currin, Dr. Hubach & Dr. Hammer out of Oklahoma State U on sexting and risky sexual behaviour. Guess what everyone!? Consensual sexting was linked to adventurous sexual practices, but not to condom use – meaning that it isn’t related to unsafe sexual practices! I liked this project a lot because it studied consensual behaviours and didn’t confuse sharing sexual images without consent as “sexting”. I think that as more studies begin to separate consensual from non-consensual acts, the state of the sexting literature will produce more consistent results. (Side note: this is covered in more detail in my recent article – Unpacking “Sexting”: A Systematic Review of Nonconsensual Sexting in Legal, Educational, and Psychological Literatures – in Trauma, Violence & Abuse).

We ended the evening with the APAGS Flying Solo social hour and the official APAGS social at the Denver Athletic Clus, which had a MASSIVE turnout and was super fun. There’s a short video up on the APAGS instagram page in case anyone wants to check that out. I met some great people and made some new friends and colleagues. We also found this fun monster lurking in an alley:


Overall, it was a great first day!

Lastly, I wanted to share Luciano Lima’s post on the GradPsych blog – How Much Do Black Lives Matter to the APA? and Jon Sutton’s reflection (What on Earth is Going On?) on the APA keynote and the challenges facing the field today.

Wow, so much happened on Thursday! Originally I was going to write about Friday as well, but it’s getting late and I’m sure no one wants to read a 2000 word essay, so I’ll say goodnight for now!



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