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COVID-19 Q&A with Chair Jeff Simpson

March 25, 2020

Many people are asking important questions as our University and Department deal with the impact of the COVID-19 situation. Here are 3 frequently asked questions that I’ve been hearing along with some answers/responses to each one:

Q: How are we, as a Department, supporting our students and their work through this difficult time?
A: We are actively reaching out to our students to check on their well-being and troubleshoot how they can continue to engage in learning and how our graduate students can conduct their research given the many changes that must be implemented in response to COVID-19. This is a time for all of us to think creatively and solve problems as a learning community to ensure that we can continue our work during this difficult and unprecedented event. I have been extremely impressed with how our community has come together to develop and implement various solutions thus far. 

Q: What technology infrastructure do we have in place to facilitate classes, research, etc.?
A: We have a variety of technological tools that our students, faculty, and staff are currently using to continue their courses, research, and work, such as Canvas, Kaltura, Zoom, the Google Suite, Qualtrics, etc. Additionally, students in our Clinical and Counseling programs will be using telehealth to continue connecting with patients as part of their internships and rotations. With regard to research, faculty and graduate students are working together to brainstorm ways to shift in-person data collection to remote data collection for the time being. In addition, the IRB is doing rapid reviews, and many labs are finding creative ways to keep research moving forward. We are also shifting from in-person collaborations to remote collaborations without much difficulty.

Q: How are we, as psychologists, uniquely positioned to help during this pandemic?
A: Our knowledge and training in psychology allow us to help in specific ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. As stated, we are uniquely positioned to help people cope with anxiety, stress, and isolation; we can help people and organizations think through effective engagement in remote work settings; we can help facilitate a feeling of connection with others, and we can facilitate involvement in prosocial action and citizen participation events. 

Jeffry A. Simpson, PhD, professor of social psychology is the chair of the Department of Psychology.