Elise Rice, Ph.D. is a graduate of our Social Psychology program in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. She is now a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Behavioral Research Program at the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

As a Postdoctoral Fellow, Elise conducts research on cognitive and affective processes in the context of cancer-related behaviors and contributes to programmatic efforts to support the broader scientific community. She says, “The Behavioral Research Program at NCI has been a really interesting place to do a postdoc because one of the primary purposes of the program is to support the scientific community through grant funding and other resources, but the culture of the program is also highly supportive of staff and fellows maintaining their own lines of research. In many ways, my role can feel very similar to an academic position, with a large portion of time allotted for research and another portion devoted to programmatic projects instead of teaching or grant writing.”

Carolina has proved to be an invaluable experience for Elise, especially in preparation for her career at NCI. “Several aspects of my graduate training have proved to be particular assets in my current position,” explains Elise. “Thinking in terms of mechanisms for psychosocial and behavioral processes is immensely useful in the domain of cancer-related behavioral science – as is the ability to design or evaluate tightly controlled experiments. And of course, I’m constantly referencing my materials from my Quant courses.”

Elise chose to pursue a degree at UNC Chapel Hill to work with her doctoral advisor, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson. “The primary reason was the degree of fit I felt with Barb and her Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab,” she says. “Beyond that, I found the supportive culture of the Social Psychology Program and the opportunity for advanced quantitative training to be especially appealing.” Doctoral students at UNC can delve further into quantitative training through our Formal Concentration in Quantitative Psychology, which provides students with advanced quantitative skills that are increasingly important in conducting state-of-the-art research.

During her graduate training, Social Psychology faculty members assisted Elise with seeking career opportunities. “I learned about the possibility of a postdoctoral position at NCI through my mentor and Dr. Kristen Lindquist, who separately encouraged me to contact an affective scientist they knew there,” says Elise. “Their contact is a program director who actually started at NCI as a postdoc, so she was an excellent resource for learning about the position and how to apply.” Around that time, Elise was enjoying studying basic psychological processes in her graduate work, but was craving more application and direct impact. She says, “My work started to clearly align with the health behavior space, which I found to be really exciting. The postdoctoral position became an opportunity to collaborate with health behavior experts from different disciplines and perspectives, while also exploring avenues for contributions to the scientific community.”

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