2020 Anthropogeny Specialization Track, Reflection from Experimental Psychology

Haleh Yazdi

Written by Haleh YazdiAnthropogeny Specialization Track Graduate Student (UC San Diego Department of Psychology).

The Anthropogeny Specialization track has played a pivotal role in my academic and personal journey. It has greatly enhanced my experience as a graduate student by helping me develop a broader perspective toward my research and giving me a supportive, intellectual community to belong to. Through CARTA, I have had the rare opportunity to approach my PhD research from a multidisciplinary standpoint, which allowed me to draw connections between theories, literature and methods that I would have otherwise overlooked. The courses and research rounds allowed me to stay up to date with the latest advances in other disciplines and inspired some of the research questions I pursued for my dissertation. Often in a traditional PhD program, students do not get the opportunity to learn about the research taking place outside of their own department. Through casual conversations and the annual Anthropogeny student symposia, I learned so much about what other students research and the value in different approaches and skill-sets. Presenting my research to other specialization students helped me practice communicating with a broad audience—a skill that has helped me become a more effective presenter and grant writer. Meeting students from other disciplines and sharing in the field course experience gave me a much-needed sense of community that extended beyond my department. The CARTA symposia gave me the opportunity to meet prominent scientists within and outside of my field and engage in enlightening conversations that would otherwise not be possible in a traditional academic environment.

The Anthropogeny field course was a defining experience during my graduate studies and one of my favorite memories. The unique opportunity to finally see the sites, artifacts, animals and cultures which we had spent years studying is one that I look back on with great awe and appreciation. This trip also changed the way I conduct my research: As an experimental psychologist who studies cross-cultural behavior, I now take a more expansive approach towards asking scientific questions. I have learned the value in immersing myself in a culture and allowing members of that society to help direct the research questions that I pursue, along with the methods that I use.

Being awarded a CARTA fellowship opened up multiple research possibilities for me. The financial support of the fellowship alleviated some of my teaching responsibilities and allowed me to dedicate months of my time to conducting critical field research abroad. I was able to pursue the cross-cultural questions that intrigued me, and these research projects led to publications in esteemed research journals in my field. I am very grateful to have had the financial support needed to elevate my academic work. The Anthropogeny Specialization track has provided me with many valuable opportunities that have contributed to my intellectual development and PhD experience. Being part of this track helped keep me motivated, passionate and intellectually curious beyond the scope of my dissertation research. I am deeply grateful that this program exists and the community that it has provided for many students like myself.