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Jennifer yih

Postdoctoral researcher, Stanford University

 

And - Former competitive swimmer

[STEM] encourages curiosity & discovery - of new knowledge, of something incredible that has the potential to change our understanding of human behaviour.

What do you do?

I am a psychological scientist who studies cognition and emotion, including the motivations and behaviors related to emotion. Using a variety of methods, I try to understand why and how we experience emotions, and how we may try to change these emotions. I operate from the principle that the ways we perceive and think impact the emotional trajectory of our daily lives.

Why did you choose this field?

I was a competitive swimmer in elementary and middle school, and ran cross-country and track competitively throughout high school and college. In these contexts, I noticed how individuals exhibit remarkable differences in their responses to the same objective situation. For example — in response to the highly stressful environment of athletic competitions, why do some people thrive and grow in the face of a challenge, while others falter? In college, I began to formally study emotion and emotion regulation. My passion for research and for understanding human behavior led me to pursue a doctoral degree in psychology.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

"I now remind myself daily what I currently have was once among the things I could only hope for."

Landing my current role at Stanford is an achievement that I had dreamed of since the beginning of graduate school. I had long aspired to work with my current mentor after grad school, but never fully allowed myself to entertain that dream because it felt too out of reach. 

Why do you love working in STEM?

Because it encourages curiosity and discovery — discovery of new knowledge, of something incredible that has the potential to change our understanding of human behaviour.

Best advice for the next generation

A career in STEM allows you to explore so many wonders of the world, but like all career paths, you will encounter critics and naysayers along the way. Surround yourself with supportive people who bring out the best in you and who believe in you.

 

And don’t give up on a dream because it will take too much time. That time is going to pass anyway, so you might as well spend it doing something you love."Trust that your knowledge and skills are powerful."

Fave app

Find My Friends. Though I’m only connected to a handful of loved ones on the app, I always feel a little bit of awe when I see the geographical spread of my network.