To All of the Incredible Female Legal Psychologists - Thank You!

Research has demonstrated that female researchers are less likely to self-cite than male researchers. So in the spirt of promoting incredible women and in honor of International Women’s Day, I am inspired to highlight a few of my female mentors over the past 15 years I have spent in academia.

Jennifer Groscup – Thank you for introducing me to the field of Legal Psychology and walking me through the graduate school process. To this day, you are an inspiration to me and an incredible resource when I am facing any number of challenges. I am constantly trying to provide my students with the same support and guidance I was so lucky to receive from you.

Eve Brank – Although we never collaborated on a project, you showed me what I want to be as a mentor. You push students to do their best, not just by being an amazing (arguably unrealistic, superhuman) example, but by teaching them how to challenge their own limits in academia while valuing a work-life balance. You have shown me that good constructive feedback simultaneously highlights areas of improvement and motivates students to succeed. I encourage my students to read all of my feedback “like Snow White, not the Evil Queen.” And I strive to develop friendships with my students like you have made with yours.

Vicky Weisz – You taught me how to communicate research to the legal community. I appreciate all that you taught me about program evaluation and collaborating with community partners. I strive to use research to benefit the world in the way that you have, including asking research questions that matter and communicating the results honestly but in a way that promotes improvement rather than alienation. I learned from you how to step out of academia and use research in a way that can make a difference.

Valerie Hans and Valerie Reyna – The two of you are evidence of how collaboration can result in a product that is more than the sum of its parts. I am honored to work with and learn from two superstars in their fields and amazed at how much you both accomplish individually. And it is inspirational to see how much you have accomplished together. You have shown me the importance of collaborating with people that have different expertise, conducting applied research that is based in theory, and adapting in the face of challenges. And you have taught me how important it is to work with good people who you like and respect.

Peer-Mentors – I have been extremely fortunate to have such a strong support system. In my opinion, peer support is integral to surviving in academia (and life). Although it might sometimes seem like you are competing (for scholarships, grants, awards, jobs, and other opportunities), life is much better and you turn into a much better researcher when you cooperate. Having a strong peer network pushes you to do your best during the good times and supports you during the tough times. The list of peer-mentors I have had is extensive, but to highlight a few:


Thank you Lindsey Wylie, Amy Smith, Tess Neal, and Leah Georges for guiding me through graduate school and offering me such great advice.


Thank you to Katherine Knight Kimble, Katlyn Farnum, Hazel Delgado, and Melanie Fessinger for pushing me through graduate school with our “parallel work” days and endless support.


Thank you to Kayla Burd, Amelia Hritz, Caisa Royer, Alisha Meschkow, and Rebecca Helm for pulling me out of graduate school and helping me navigate the post-doc and job market worlds.


Thank you to April Thomas, Katie Serafine, Jennifer Eno Louden, and Wendy Francis for helping me navigate the even crazier tenure-track world!

This list is definitely not exhaustive. I have been lucky to learn from so many sources – in and out of academia; mentors, peers, and mentees; family, friends, collaborators, and adversaries; women and men– it is impossible to thank them all and I am grateful to every one of them. So to all of you who are not mentioned – thank you.


The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #ChooseToChallenge – we are encouraged to celebrate women’s achievement; raise awareness against bias; and take action for equality. I recently had the pleasure of meeting several upcoming Legal Psychology scholars. I was so impressed with the quality of researchers and I look forward to seeing all of their amazing accomplishments in the future. I hope we are on the path toward equality, but realize it will take work to get there. I hope I can learn from my amazing mentors to inspire and guide the next generation of female researchers. Grace Hanzelin, Rubi Gonzales, and all of you budding female psychologists – you’re next and I can’t wait to see what you will do!

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