Meet Kristina McMahan, Researcher

Name: Kristina Brooke McMahan

Degree: B.S. in Psychology with a Minor in Biology

Hometown: Trinity, AL

Favorite Quote: “When you think you can’t, remember that you always have. You are more than this.” ~ Tyler Knott Gregson

 

If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

  • Determined
  • Honest
  • Mindful

 

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

If it can be somewhere I’ve been before, I’d choose Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland because it is a place that looks and feels like it is literally out of a story book. The little cabin-type town is filled with locals who are so friendly. The food is amazing and all organic, and there are huge mountains and glaciers that surround the town. Overall, it’s just a great place to visit.

 

What are your dreams and aspirations?

I have many dreams and aspirations. Some pertain to my career; whereas, others are just personal goals and such. As far as my career goes, I want to earn my PhD in Clinical Psychology to go on and be a professor at a university. As far as other goals go, I want to: learn 4 languages (German, French, Spanish, and Chinese), travel to as many places as I can, and overall just be happy. If at the end of the day, I’ve accomplished everything that I wanted to, but I am not happy, then I’ve failed somewhere along the way.

 

What inspired you to choose your career path?

Coming out of high school, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a part of the world of psychology in one way or another. Originally, I thought I might want to go to Med-School, but the more that I learned about medicine in relation to the world of psychology the more I realized that wasn’t for me. So, the next step was to get a PhD. My professors at the University of North Alabama inspired me to want to instill a passion in other psychology students, all the while conducting research (which is what I love to do).

 

In this field, what is your is your area of interest and why?

My current area of interest is in substance use, but more specifically in psychedelics. Personally, I think that psychedelics may have been given a “hard-rep”, and that they could truly be useful in the world of treating mental illness and coping with substance abuse. It’s unfortunate that these drugs are so hard to study, but I do think that strides are being made in the area to make it easier to study in the future. I’m also interested in the field of religion. In undergrad I studied religion and I think it would be interesting to study substance use in relation to religion.

 

What is a typical day like for a Researcher?

I think this depends on the lab that you’re in, but for me I come in each morning and do a few housekeeping things (check the status of participants, answer voicemails, etc). Each day there are appointments that I run for a smoking cessation study so those take up some of the day. Outside of those appointments, it’s really a toss-up between me working on papers, doing literature reviews, and generally discussing issues and problem solving with other researchers in the lab. Being a researcher means that you are part of a team, and it’s always really nice to know that if you’re stuck on an issue there are people to help.

 

What factors aided in your decision to get involved in clinical research?

Well, without clinical research we wouldn't know a lot of the things that we know today. I think, for me, that I like the idea of adding to the knowledge that we otherwise wouldn’t have. In doing research we can discover new things, add proof to things already discovered, and pave a path for researchers in the future. What’s not to like about that?

 

What is one thing that you’re most passionate about?

This question is kind of hard because I’m passionate about a lot of things, and I don’t think one of them could beat the other. Generally, I’m passionate about helping people whether that’s in the field of being a researcher or showing a small act of kindness to a random stranger.

 

What do you hope the future holds for you?

I’m not one to “hope” for much. I know that if I want something bad enough and I’m willing to work for it, it’s likely that I’ll have it. With that being said, in my future I will have my degree, never worry over money (because being a broke college student will be a thing of the past, lol), and help as many people as possible along the way.

 

What is one piece of advice you could give to students coming behind you, with the aspirations of pursuing this career?

If you haven’t started doing research yet, start now. Be a well-rounded person (i.e. make good grades, build good connections with professors, be involved, and keep your goals in your sights at all times). 

 

What do the next 12 months hold for you?

Well, I’ll be applying to graduate schools within the next few months. I’ll also be working as a researcher in Dr. Cropsey’s lab until mid-late summer of 2019 when I go to graduate school. This time off between my bachelor’s and Doctorate degree is good because I’m going to be taking the year to do some of the things that I wouldn't otherwise have time for like learning German.

 

Her Campus wishes you all of the success with your future endeavors, Kristina!