Tess Neal PhD LP

5: Tess M.S. Neal, Ph.D., L.P. – Endeavoring to Improve the Justice System by Combining Law and Psychology

In this podcast interview, Dr. Tess Neal provides an overview of her academic journey since completing her B.A. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through her Ph.D. program at the University of Alabama to her current position as Assistant Professor of Psychology in Arizona State University’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Neal is a licensed psychologist, and she reveals the choices she made when selecting a master’s and doctorate school and program while providing copious advice for those interested in seeking graduate degrees in psychology.

Dr. Neal graduated with her Ph.D. in clinical psychology and has always had an interest in law and forensic psychology. Much of her early work focused on expert bias in the legal system, credibility, and juror perceptions. As a result of her persistence and dedication, she has become an award-winning teacher, scholar, and mentor. Dr. Neal was named a “Rising Star” by the Association for Psychological Science (APS) for her early career research on judgment, decision-making, and expert bias. The APS “Rising Star” designation is given to those whose innovative research has “already advanced the field and signals great potential for their continued contributions.” Recently, Dr. Neal was recognized for her long-standing commitment as a mentor as she received the ASU Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award (Outstanding Master’s Mentor).

As the Director of ASU’s Clinical and Legal Judgment Lab, Dr. Neal works with students and other scholars to examine how human judgment intersects with psychology, law, and other sciences to better understand how people make decisions. From studying how to keep “junk science” out of the courtroom to studying the biases of forensic experts, Dr. Neal hopes her interdisciplinary research blending psychology, law, and ethics continues to improve the criminal justice system. She plans to continue studying the judgments, perceptions, and misperceptions of psychologists and other experts in the legal system as these have meaningful impacts on the real world.

Connect with Tess M.S. Neal, Ph.D.: LinkedIn | Twitter
Connect with the Show: Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter

Interests and Specializations

Dr. Neal’s interests are reflected in her scholarly research.  She is interested in reasoning, inference, and decision making among forensic experts, jurors, and judges. She is also interested in the effectiveness and validity of expert testimony and is currently examining psychologists’ judgments in legal contexts. In fact, if you are a licensed psychologist you can participate in her most current research and receive Continuing Education (CE) credits.

Education

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Double Major: Psychology and English, Double Minor: Sociology and Criminal Justice (2005); Graduated with Highest Distinction, Honors Program, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Master of Arts (M.A.), Clinical Psychology (2007); Psychology and Law Concentration, University of Alabama.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Clinical Psychology (2012); Psychology-Law Concentration, Quantitative Minor, University of Alabama.

Professional Credentials

Licensed Psychologist (L.P.), State of AZ (Lic #PSY-004630) and NE (Lic #844), voluntary inactive status.

Other Links of Interest

ASU Law and Behavioral Science Initiative
ASU On Campus M.S. Program in Psychology
ASU Online Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
ASU Online Master of Science in Psychology
The PLuS Alliance
The Night That Lasted A Lifetime: How Psychology Was Misused In Teen’s Murder Case

Podcast Transcription

Bradley
(00:00:13)
Welcome to the Master’s in Psychology podcast where psychology students can learn from psychologists, educators, and practitioners to better understand what they do, how they got there, and hear the advice they have for those interested in getting a master’s degree in psychology. I’m your host, Brad Schumacher, and today I am excited to introduce Dr. Tess Neal. Dr. Neal is an assistant professor of psychology in ASU’s School of Behavioral Sciences, which is one of three schools in the new College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. She is the founding faculty member of the Law and Behavioral Science Program and she is the director of the Clinical and Legal Judgment Lab. Dr. Neal is also a licensed psychologist in the state of Arizona. Dr. Neal…Welcome to our podcast.
Tess
(00:00:58)
Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Bradley
(00:01:01)
Well, I appreciate you getting on. I’m going to go ahead and kind of go right into it here. I know that you and I have talked a little bit about this, and I was excited when I started to research about ASU and kind of let you know what I’ve been doing. Obviously, our website is focused on all of the master’s and doctoral programs in the United States and we were updating ASU and I came across your lab and that actually piqued my interest. And so, I’m going to go ahead and just kind of ask you from the get-go, tell us a little bit more about this Clinical and Judgment Lab that you, I believe, you started a few years ago.
Tess
(00:01:37)
Yeah, absolutely. I have been at ASU and started this lab back in 2015 and so which means and I’m on a tenure track position. Which means that right now I’m going up for tenure, so we’ll find out in May if I am tenured or not.
Bradley
(00:01:51)
Well, good luck, yeah, good luck.
Tess
(00:01:55)
So, my training is at the intersection of law and psychology. I’m trained as a clinical psychologist and I’m licensed like you mentioned, and so my training is largely to go into the court system and help you know when judges or attorneys are concerned that there might be a person with mental illness involved in some aspect of the court system to help them understand whether the person is mentally ill or not and, umm, how to move forward in the in the legal process, you know if there’s if there’s structure that needs to be put into place or something to help somebody thrive in the Community if they have, you know, the intersection of mental illness and criminal justice involvement, so that’s my professional background, but then my academic background I’ve always been very interested in in research and scholarship and just reading a lot and I got really interested in Graduate School in how people, especially professionals, integrate all this information when they’re doing an assessment, you know to decide whether they think somebody is mentally ill, or whether somebody should, you know, receive the death penalty if they’re doing a competence for execution evaluation, or something. I was really interested how they integrate all that information, and they all think they’re objective, you know, that they’re not biased at all by their own beliefs and attitudes, you know that their own attitude toward capital punishment would never influence the way they decide whether somebody is eligible for capital punishment. And that question really fascinated me if that’s possible to kind of divorce your own thoughts and beliefs from your professional job and so that sort of launched me on to the research that I’m doing now, which is largely examining whether experts and professionals can be objective in in what they’re doing.
Bradley
(00:03:44)
And thank you for that explanation that was better said than even what I have written down here for you, so it’s always nice to hear right directly from you. So, one thing that you mentioned was that you’re looking at that intersection, and I know that one of your recent podcast contributions was to NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast, and we’re going to talk about that a little bit later, but you mentioned that you have the academic scholarship and your own interests, and when I looked at a lot of your…I have three screens in front of me, so if I’m turning my head just know that I’m looking at a lot of different things here…so I looked at a lot of your academic scholarship as well, and I’ve seen it kind of evolve since your bachelor’s and then your master’s and then going into your doctorate as well. And it’s…I always find it interesting to follow a professor’s kind of interest because they’re kind of reflected in their scholarship as well, so one of the things I should mention to everybody, all the audience members, is you’re extremely active as a professor, researcher, and scholar. You’re, as I said, you’re the Director of the Clinical and Legal Judgment Lab which we just talked about, you’re one of the founding members of the ASU’s Law and Behavioral Science Initiative, which actually just won the 2020 President’s Award for Innovation, and then you received many different internal and external honors and awards. I’m just going to mention a few of them here. 2020, one of the more recent ones, ASU Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, 2019 Recipient of the Outstanding Research Award at ASU, 2018 Recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award at ASU. Also, in 2018, you received the American Psychological Association (APA) Early Career Achievement Award. Now I should say that that’s very impressive. It shows that you are love your job and you love the scholarly research, but you’re also focused on the students, and that’s kind of part of the reason why I think you started the lab, wouldn’t you say?
Tess
(00:05:43)
Yeah, and that’s what the Law and Behavioral Science initiative that we have. It’s, it’s as with ASU, it’s both, so we’re very focused on scholarship and moving, you know, science forward, but we’re also very focused on education and opening opportunities for any student at any stage of their life who’s interested in, you know, moving forward their education in psychology or in forensic psychology or in psychology and law so we have a bunch of different academic programs that we can talk about.
Bradley
(00:06:15)
OK, now I mentioned a lot of internal awards there are I did mention one of the external ones by the APA – American Psychological Association. You also received in 2018 an award from the American Psych-Law Society, which is the Division 41 of APA, for Early Career Teaching and Mentoring Award and you also received in 2018 from the Society of the Psychological Study of Social issues, which I believe is Division number 9, Teaching Resource Prize, I could go on and on, but it’s safe to say that you obviously enjoy what you’re doing and your students and your mentors are actually enjoying that as well. So, I congratulate you on, on a nice early career and I have a feeling you’re going to bring us even more exciting research in the future as well. I wanted to step back, kind of chronologically, and talk a little bit about your early education and we’ll start with your Bachelor of Arts. You received that from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and you had a double major in Psychology and English and a double minor in Sociology and Criminal Justice. What made you interested in studying all of these areas?
Tess
(00:07:27)
Um, I’m a first-generation college student and I come from a military background which I don’t know if that’s relevant or not, but it might connect with some people. So, my dad was in the Air Force and we moved a lot and we moved all over the world, and so I kind of had to keep resetting every time you know, every time we moved, which I think helps develops maybe some interest in broad number of things and resilience but when I got to college, I had no idea what I was doing…I still don’t know what I’m doing, just kind of bumbling along and following the things that interest me. And yeah, in college I, I looking back, I wish that I had had somebody who, you know, was guiding me along and saying here, here’s a good idea, here’s what you should do, here is, you know, with whatever, and I had a very supportive family who was very happy I was there but you know, just wasn’t sure how to, how to mentor me forward so, you know, as with all things in my life since I mean, maybe ever, I couldn’t narrow it down. I couldn’t kind of settle on one thing or the other. I loved my English classes and loved my psychology classes and loved my criminal justice classes and loved my sociology classes. You know, I’d crammed as much as I could in the, the framework in the structure of an undergraduate degree. Um and I, you know, all the way through I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to move forward in English or in Psychology and I thought I maybe wanted to be an English professor, but that seemed like such an unrealistic aspiration you know there we know that academic positions at tenure track, you know, positions at universities were so rare, and they’re getting rarer, and it just seemed like a not a smart calculation to move forward with that and my family, at that point, was saying you need to get a practice, you know, if you’re going on to Graduate School, you need to get a practical. You need to be a doctor or lawyer. Um, you know, a medical doctor, and so I ended up, you know, moving forward with clinical psychology, even though was very interested in research psychology and, and had my thesis advisor, was a cognitive psychologist who was, you know, had some social and cognitive interests and would, definitely was an experimentalist and told me you don’t want to go to clinical program, you want to go to an experimental program ’cause you know you can go on and do research and I just felt like, that again, like the English pathway that felt less practical to me so I knew that if I had a clinical degree or training that at the end of it all, I would get a job. It would be much more feasible to earn money at some point and, you know, I didn’t know if I was going to end up in a Master’s program or in a doctoral program and spread my eggs in various baskets and got into one doctoral program on the wait list like barely got in, but got in and I, I also think that’s, I think that’s an important part of the story, because you know when you see somebody and you think that they’re successful and maybe they are successful but they also have failed many, many, many times, and there’s this phenomenon I don’t know. There’s a like a little bit of a culture thing going on the Internet with, within academic Twitter for instance, where people are talking about their failure CV’s, which I think is really fascinating to learn about. You know when you look at somebody and you think that you know their, their accomplishments are so incredible or something when you learn about how many times they’ve fallen down or failed or not, you know, not gotten what they were trying to, to get, I just think it’s really inspiring to keep going and you know, not give up on, on things.
Bradley
(00:11:01)
Well, good answer and I, I like that you talked about the failures. I like that you thought Oh my gosh that’s, I can’t even imagine going and becoming an English Professor. Now when you look back, it probably seems more feasible, doesn’t it?
Tess
(00:11:17)
Yeah, I mean it. I mean I, I ended up being a professor, so in that way it seems more feasible, but who knows, you know, I mean, I can also look back and know at each point, like you know every, every decision I’ve made every you know went to Graduate School, then had to do an internship and there was this whole application process where you know I ended up at one place and then from there I had the whole application process into a postdoc and then a whole application process into another postdoc and then finally a whole another application process where I applied to something like 60 jobs and got one. You know, like it’s, it’s just like luck pathway all the way along and so like to look back and say, oh, I could have been an English professor. I probably couldn’t have been, you know, like I somehow ended up here and I’m grateful for it. And like you said, you know I’m very much loving what I do, but it feels like there was so much luck involved that…and I would have been very happy to be a practicing Clinician, you know, at the master’s level or at the at the doctoral level?
Bradley
(00:12:18)
Sure, sure, I think you would succeed in any of those avenues based on what I’ve seen of you and talked to you so far. So, one thing that I…this is going to be a challenging question but, out of all those areas that you studied, Psychology, English, Sociology, Criminal Justice, you mentioned that English was probably your most passionate, is that correct? Or is it hard to say now?
Tess
(00:12:41)
It’s hard to say. I think, I think that’s probably true. When I was an undergrad student and then I took a class, it was actually an English class in my senior year, it was a capstone class, and for that class we had to develop a portfolio of, I don’t even remember exactly, but I remember it was a portfolio and I had the freedom to go out and you know, piece together different areas of interests and, Oh I, one of the things we had to do was create a syllabus for some class we wanted to teach in the future in English. And I was also taking psychology courses and criminal justice courses, and I decided that I wanted to create a class in psychology. I wanted to combine psychology and criminal justice into one class, and so I, you know, and, and, and in the literature so I was looking for novels and, you know, really interesting pieces of literature that involved psychology elements and criminal justice elements and build a syllabus that was an English class that had these other elements. And I did that, and I loved the syllabus and you know I wanted to take that class someday and then that was kind of opening up my awareness that there actually was a field where there already was psychology and criminal justice or law kind of intertwined there were programs where you could go and get graduate training at that intersection, and then, you know, and then I also took a course in psychology law at UNL and that was kind of opening up my awareness that that was a potential pathway, so I had no idea that was a pathway when I started college, but by the end of it I knew that was a pathway and had gotten pretty passionate about it along the way.
Bradley
(00:14:16)
Well, I’m glad that you brought that up. We didn’t plan this ahead of time, but I have to go with the flow and how you mentioned that you created a syllabus back then and it was exciting to have the two areas intersect because probably at that time they were seen as separate areas, more so than not, and I know that doing the research and talking to you a little bit more you’re very proud of the Master of Science in Forensic Psychology Program, because you actually helped develop that program and then develop the curriculum, part of the curriculum, and you actually teach in that area as well. So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go ahead and share my screen here and I’m going to show one thing for everybody and, hopefully, you see this master’s degree Programs Law and Behavioral Science, and the one that I’m talking about is obviously the one on the left the Master of Science in Forensic Psychology online. And if you actually click on there, it actually gives you a little bit more information on this program. So, tell me a little bit how you got involved and how you came up with this idea of coming up with this program in the first place and then how did you develop the curriculum?
Tess
(00:15:22)
Yeah, let me start by saying I was not the first one to come up with this idea of bringing these together, and I wasn’t the one that like was the architect of this program. I was, I was involved from the beginning and you know, I’m very involved in the program now, but sharing credit where credit is due, this field of psychology law was established back in 1962 I think, and has been and really, Hugo Münsterberg wrote a book in 1910 about the expert witness on the stand, you know, so there’s been writings about it and people, um, people working on this for a while and, you know, I when I applied to Graduate School back in 2005 or, I’m aging myself but when I, when I did there were already many programs available at that time and that had been around for a while so our program is new, newer, but we’re by no means the first to have done something like this. Our Master’s in forensics, Forensic Psychology program is newer, so those kinds of things weren’t around when I was applying for Graduate School, um PhD programs where they were integrating the two, and maybe there were some forensic psych master’s programs, but I wasn’t aware of them at the time and I wasn’t aware of a podcast like this that could have helped me find them. But our program, so I came here in 2015 and before I came here there were a few other faculty members who were part of our Law and Behavioral Science Initiative who were already here. And Nick Schweitzer is the main one who’s kind of grand vision this whole program was, and he started here, I think in 2007, and so he wanted to create a PhD program and just given the pressures on Universities, you have to be really smart about how you set these things up, so he wanted to create a whole suite of programs where we could, you know, involve students all along the different life stages, you know so, so we have bachelor’s programs in forensics. Well, there there’s a BS and a BA in psychology with a forensic major, I guess within the psychology major and then we have these master’s programs including the Master’s in Forensic Psychology Online and then we have PhD program and then we also have we’re starting to offer continuing education credits beyond the PhD level. So, kind of you know, trying to offer things across the lifespan. In terms of the master’s program, I can answer any questions about that.
Bradley
(00:17:51)
OK well I, I had the feeling that you had a lot of information on the master’s program as well. I, I wanted to clarify one thing. I’m going to go ahead and share the screen and I’m going to show on our website, all of the degree programs offered at ASU and so for the prospective student or graduate students already looking for a doctorate program, I wanted to share this screen with you. This is just our Arizona State Page and, as you can see, it’s just the Arizona Master’s in Psychology Degree Programs and Resources, we separate them out into our master’s programs and then our doctorate programs and as you can see ASU in the middle here has three master’s programs. We’ve already talked a little bit about the Master of Science in Forensic Psychology. Also have Master of Science in Psychology. And then you also have Applied Behavior, Behavior Analysis and then for your doctorate programs you have two of them here and actually it gets a little interesting ’cause when you go to this website for the PhD in Psychology there are six basic areas and that you can emphasize or, or focus on. So, can you talk a little bit more about the PhD in Psychology and then we’re going to transition and give you a couple of minutes to talk about the doctoral program in Law and Psychology.
Tess
(00:19:12)
Yes, I’m sorry, did you? Did you say you talk about the master’s first then the doctoral one?
Bradley
(00:19:16)
Yep, Yep.
Tess
(00:19:18)
Yep, so the master’s degree program. As you can see, there’s at least three, if not four versions of master’s programs here at ASU. So, the ones that we operate from my school that I’m involved in include the two master’s programs there. the Master’s in Forensic Psychology and the General Psychology Master’s Program. We also have a ground which is, it says on-campus here. MS in Psychology on campus and these, these are all operated out of my school with a core group of faculty members in Psychology and in Psychology and Law. So, it kind of just depends on, you know if you’re interested in going Graduate School, what you want to do. These are, I would say the on-campus program is a more traditional master’s program is designed to be um, a Doctoral preparation type of program so it’s very small. You know we, I think we admit 6 to 12 students a year and it’s designed to help people fill in gaps in their background or training or get a little more research experience and so on before going on to a doctoral program. And it’s very successful so, you know, we, we, we train students who are bright and who want to go on to Graduate School to PhD Level Graduate School in psychology, but who weren’t successful their first application round, or you know, whatever the case might be, so they come, and they can do this on ground research intensive master’s program with us. Then separately, we have much larger online programs. We have this general master’s degree in Psychology online and then we have the master’s degree in Forensic Psychology online and these are large programs. They have grown quite quickly; they’ve only been around for a couple of years. And there, I’ll start with the Forensic Psych program, and that is designed, it’s not, it’s not a license eligible program, which is a really important point that I want to make so you cannot come to our master’s program in forensic psychology and become licensed in psychology, so you wouldn’t be able to do clinical practice, you couldn’t actually testify in court, you couldn’t do assessments. And that’s just critically important for people to understand. Um, it is designed to teach you about the field and to teach you about the different career pathways that you could have moving forward with this degree. And I don’t know what the percentages of students that we serve who are already working in the field, who are coming into, you know, earn their next credential or whatnot, but I think that’s a lot of our students. I know, I know, a lot of them are coming straight out of undergraduate programs as well. But I’ve surveyed students. You know, in my in my Spring course this past spring, I asked I had 250 students in this large graduate class, and I asked them what are you? What are you currently doing for work? If you’re working and I can actually, I could share it, but I don’t have it pulled up, but it was just I was just like blown away by what people were already doing and I wanted to share that with the rest of the class and with anybody who will listen to me talk about it because I think it’s so interesting. Just kind of the variety of things that you could go on and do with a bachelor’s or master’s level degree in psychology or forensic psychology. So, all of these positions that people were already doing are things that it seems counter-intuitive to say, here’s things that people are doing in this program already as things you could do at the end of the program. But I think it’s really interesting to keep people’s awareness of what kind of jobs are out there. You know. So, once they do get a degree like this, OK, I have an online degree in forensic psychology which, I don’t think it says online on the transcript, but you know, I have this degree in forensic psychology so what do I do with it if I’m not licensed? There’s a ton of things you can do with it. You can, you know, there’s mitigation specialists, there’s, there’s all kinds of opportunities in the military if you’re already in the military, you’re moving into, you know, military. All kinds of opportunities in police settings and in criminal justice settings, in treatment settings where you know you might not be offering clinical services, but there’s a lot of things you can do that are adjacent to that. And if you’re really interested in this law and psychology area, there’s many many, many many types of jobs that one could move into.
Bradley
(00:23:30)
I’m glad you covered that because one of my other questions that I have written down is what kind of jobs could you do? And you mentioned that you actually asked a lot of students what they’re currently doing. Would you mind sharing that with us later on? And so, I can actually include that on the website and so prospective students could actually look at that and oh my gosh, I didn’t even realize you could do something like that.
Tess
(00:23:51)
I think it’s really helpful, so you know when you’re, I remember when I had my degree in psychology from undergrad, I took a year off in between I had gotten married and didn’t really know what I was doing, like I have said, never know what I’m doing. And you know wanted to get a job and try and save up some money before I applied for grad school and I didn’t even know where, what to search for? You know, like I was searching psychology jobs and you just get so much stuff when you know this seems so loosely relevant, so yes, I think the takeaway from that is 1) There are a ton of things you can do with a psychology degree that may or may not be seem so related to their degree, but you have a lot of skills and competences, and it’s a hub discipline, you know, so you know all of these things that are relevant to so many different jobs. Um, but then I, so the reason, sorry I got onto this tangent was because I think having a list like this of OK, here’s some forensic psychology or correctional psychology relevant jobs that people without a license with a master’s or bachelor’s degree in psychology can do. If you’re interested in this intersection of law and psychology. It’s a list, it’s a two-page list of all kinds of different things that you know, OK, if I’m going to sit down on Indeed.com or something and start looking for a job, I’m going to look up…Are there any mitigation specialists in my area? Are there, you know? Can I be a case manager? Can I be a probation officer? All of these different things that are, that are relevant to the field that you can do. I think it’s just helpful for the job search.
Bradley
(00:25:17)
Yeah, definitely I. I believe that’s definitely helpful for people. If you had something like that, maybe you, you would have turned out a little different and gone a different path. If you had some of that information available for you so…At what point, if you can recall when you were working on your bachelor’s, at what point did you know that you wanted to continue your studies and go on for a master’s? Did it just, all of a sudden dawn on you or did somebody have a great impact during your undergrad and that made you think about continuing your education? Or did you always know you were going to go bachelor’s, master’s, and then doctorate?
Tess
(00:25:54)
Um, I always wanted to, but never, I always feel like I wasn’t done with school like I, you know, I loved school all the way through and have always been kind of a nerdy kid. You know, I liked reading, liked my homework, and just enjoyed what I was learning. So, I just I, I was never at a point where I wanted the learning to stop. I definitely got burned out. You know, when I was a senior in college, I was done for a while, was done taking exams, done cramming like just wanted to take a break. So, I did take a break but I, I knew I felt like I wasn’t done. You know I could have been done. I ended up getting a job at a forensic hospital and working as a psych technician at the bachelor’s level and really enjoyed that work, but I ended up getting, we don’t have to go into that, but I had a negative experience at the hospital, and you know, just wanted to be in a more professional position where I felt like I was more protected from some of the more harsher stuff about working in those kinds of settings. And, um yeah, I, I always wanted to go forward, didn’t know if it would happen. I also learned when I was in college and looking for when I was on the market looking for graduate programs that you don’t have to get a master’s degree before you go into a PhD program. I did not know that. I also didn’t know that you don’t have to pay for PhD programs for some of them. Depending on which kind of program you go to. So, I think that was really useful information to learn at that point. So now I talk to students and a lot of students don’t know this still, so I talk to students when they’re talking about, you know, should I, should I apply to master’s program? Should I plan to PhD programs? and we had this conversation where you can go the master’s route, but you don’t have to. You could go the PhD route depending on who you are as a student and what your goals are and what you want to do at the end of it. And it’s the analogy is like the associates and bachelor’s route. So, you can go straight into college into a bachelor’s program and proceed all the way through and get a bachelor’s program without having kind of stopped along the way to get an associate’s degree. But you can. You can get an associate’s degree 1st and then continue on to a bachelor’s degree. It’s the same kind of thing at the master’s and PhD level, so at a lot of the PhD, especially at research universities, I think you apply straight into the PhD program and you might get a master’s along the way. That’s how mine was. I applied to a PhD program and I got a Master’s in Passing it was called so I did graduate, I do have a master’s degree but, but that is not a program that you can apply to. It’s not a standalone program that you can get into and then continuing, continue on to the PhD. Different programs are set up differently so, for instance, our Criminal, Criminal Justice and Criminology PhD and master’s programs here at the University I know, well, I don’t know this for sure, but I’m like 98% sure that you can’t apply to the PhD program that for that kind of program you have to apply to the master’s program and then move on to the PhD. If you know it’s a kind of a selection process, it’s a much larger pool of master students and then it gets smaller as people move on to the competitive PhD application process so it depends on the types of programs that you’re applying for, but I can say in psychology that the, the norm is that if you’re going to a, a PhD program that you that most students typically haven’t gone the master’s route first, although now, I don’t know what’s changing something is changing in the market, but now I see a lot more applications in the PhD program with students who already have a Master’s degree. It’s definitely not required, but you can do that, but you don’t have to do that, right?
Bradley
(00:29:37)
Well, I’m glad that you brought that up, because a lot of students, especially in undergrad, do not know that and they do not know that you can just apply for the PhD, but it does really come down to the University and its program and how they structure it. And so, I advise everybody to reach out to that program, that chair, that director and ask about that and what’s available ’cause that’s a bigger point to bring up to perspective students. You mentioned that you did apply for the PhD program, and for those who are listening Dr. Neal actually applied to the University of Alabama and went on and received her Master’s in Passing and then received her doctorate and your focus there was clinical psychology, but you also had a concentration in psychology and law, and then you also had a quantitative minor so tell me a little bit more about what…how did you decide on a) applying to the University of Alabama and what other schools did you apply to? And you don’t need to name them, but how did you decide to apply to the schools that you applied to? And then, what were some of the important characteristics of the program and/or University that made you apply to them?
Tess
(00:30:55)
Yeah, so earlier on you mentioned Division 41 of APA, this American Psychology Law Society. They were, that organization is how I found the programs that I wanted to apply for. So, once I decided that I was going to apply for Psychology Law PhD programs, I decided in part because of this organization, but then once I knew I used the organization as a resource. They, this is a, it’s a professional society. It has I don’t know exactly, maybe 3000, maybe 4000 members, people all over the world, but mostly largely American and then there are kind of parallel organizations. There’s one in New Zealand and Australia called ANS Apple, which is a cool name. There’s an EPL. There’s a European version of it, and these are in and there’s a Canadian version and British and you know all over the place. And these are all professionals who are interested in the intersection of psychology and law, or psychiatry and law, but depends on kind of which organization. But anyway, so Division 41 is the American Psychology Law Society Division 41 of the American Psychological Association, and they meet annually. They have a convention, just like lots of other professional organizations do, and it’s so much fun so you can go to this annual convention and you can hear about all the latest research in psychology and law and network with people at different universities. And you know, students and professors who are all interested in the same thing that you might be interested in, if that’s what you know, if you wanted to pursue a path like this. And there’s clinicians who go here, who are doing kind of forensic psychology or correctional psychology with human people, you know, with mental illness or mental health at the center of what they do. But then there’s also a lot of experimentalists who are in, you know, they don’t, they’re not trained clinically, they, they may care about mental health and mental illness, but that’s not what their research focus is, you know they might be studying emotion as it’s, as it relates to how attorneys are perceived, or developmentally, you know how children might testify in court effectively so there’s all these different ways that, all the different sub disciplines of psychology can be applied to the legal setting, so it’s really kind of interesting to go to this conference and hear all these people and learn about what they’re doing. So, I had done my undergraduate thesis at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with, I didn’t even tell this story, this is a good story, let me back up. I went to a little seminar I had to do, it was a one credit thing for psychology majors, and you know it was like what you need to know about being a psychology major. And this was maybe my sophomore year, I don’t remember exactly, but I learned for the first time ever in that seminar. If you want to go to Graduate School in psychology, you need research experience. And I didn’t even know what that meant. I didn’t know what research experience was, I had no idea how to get research experience, but I thought maybe I wanted to go to grad school in psychology, and so I was, you know, trying to hedge my bets and proceed with English and psychology and you know didn’t know what the hell I was doing, sorry, I didn’t know what I was doing and went knocking on faculty members doors to ask if I could get involved with research and the, most people weren’t in their offices, or I don’t think anybody turned me down, but you know, just wasn’t successfully finding anybody who was open to research experiences, but there was one faculty member in his office and I knocked on the door, you know, he said, come in and I asked, you know, I, I learned that I’m supposed to get research experience. Do you have any openings? And he was like actually, yes, you know. So just so happened that I caught him at the right point in time. And now on the other side of that I understand how, how tough that can be, you know, especially at a large University like ASU, we have so many students who want to get research experience. And I love doing research with students and I do as much as I can to mentor and engage in research projects with students. But it’s like the scale of the University is just, it’s really hard to meet everybody where they are and get them the experiences that they need so you know professors are constantly trying to match people with anybody who has an opening in their lab or whatever research you know, somebody’s collecting data and we can, we can engage more students, you know we, we coordinate and try and get people into labs. But I, so on this side I know I have had to say no to so many students that I would love to be able to work with, so I know again that that was another point of luck where I found somebody who had an opening who was willing to work with me and he happened to be a psychology law scholar. So, in part I learned about the intersection of psychology and law from him and his work. So, I ended up doing my, I had to do a master’s thesis or, sorry, an undergraduate thesis for the Honors Program and I ended up working with him. He was my advisor for that, and it was on a very psychology law topic. It was within his research wheelhouse. It was an eyewitness…juror perceptions of eyewitnesses. Um, and so you know it was a cognitive psychology with law kind of project. So that’s how I kind of bumbled my way into research. Um, I forgot where we were in the story ’cause I…
Bradley
(00:36:08)
I was asking you, yeah, I was asking you basically how did you decide on the University of Alabama and part of it was APA kind of directed you there and then this experience with that story that you just talked about.
Tess
(00:36:21)
So, because in part because of his influence, I found their website. This American Psychology Law website and they have a really active student organization, one of the best, they won some awards from APA, so they do a really nice job of engaging students and helping them find resources for moving forward in this field and whatnot. So, they also have a resource, kind of like what you what you put together here with all of the programs in, that are available in psychology and law in any version of that intersection at the bachelor’s level, at the master’s level, at the PhD level, at the postdoc level, and they, it’s just an incredible resource, so that’s where…that is the resource I used. I just basically applied to almost all of the clinical psychology programs (link) that had some forensic or law involvement. I also had applied to a couple JD/PhD programs there. There are several programs that offer dual degrees in law school and a PhD program. And then, like I said, I was accepted to one place. I went to the place where I was accepted. I was very happy to go there, and you know, loved my experience there.
Bradley
(00:37:28)
Well, you spent some time there. From your Vita, it actually shows from oh, 2007 you received your Master of Arts and then to 2012. So, a good five to six years at the University of Alabama. Do you have any fond memories, if you could select one or two from the University of Alabama and your experiences there?
Tess
(00:37:49)
Oh yeah, lots of fun memories, but I like, like I told you about my background, I come from, you know, kind of a blue-collar type military background and we’re big football fans or my family is. And so, I, I went to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which has a big kind of football culture and got to go to games there and just kind of engage in that culture which I enjoyed. And then in Graduate School at the University of Alabama, I started before Nick Saban is the coach there and he’s a very winning coach and it started kind of that, that dynasty started when I was there and so just being involved from the beginning of this very winning football team and all of the culture that goes along with that. There’s bad things about it but there was plenty of fun things about it and I definitely look back on that pretty fondly.
Bradley
(00:38:35)
So basically, the top three things that I kind of summarize for you, the influencers…undergrad who gave you that opportunity to do your first research, APA and the guidance that they provided and I should say to the audience that if you’re not familiar with the APA find them on the Internet because they have all these different divisions and as we talked about, Tess, Dr. Neal was talking about the Psych Law Society Division 41, if you go to that website, each of the different divisions actually provide, what are we about, and then news and updates and other resources. So, if you’re interested in a certain area, go ahead, and go to the APA website and then find that particular division and then that will give you some guidance as well. And then the third thing that influenced you was football, it sounds like, so you really got caught up in that football. Starting that program out there as well, but after we’ve talked about your undergrad and your master’s and your doctorate a little bit, can you offer some advice for those seeking a master’s or doctorate? Kind of? What would you like to have known back then, and what would you share with prospective students now?
Tess
(00:39:44)
Um, I would say it, there’s so many caveats, so it depends on who you are and what your background is and what you want to do. So, I can, I guess I can only speak from my own background and experience. I, again, didn’t know what I was doing, but could have gotten myself into a situation where I ended up with a lot more debt than, um, then I then I realized how bad it could be. So maybe things are going to be changing here in the United States, but for now there are a lot of programs out there that are very expensive that are for, you know, for profit institutions at the master’s level and at the bachelor’s, sorry at the well, yeah, at all of the levels, but especially when you look at Graduate School, I think so. I think it’s worth you and anybody who’s interested in further education and psychology, looking at how expensive these programs are and what the what the outcomes are for students who graduate from these programs. So, I just I, I know from being involved in the field that there are so many people who end up at the end of their graduate training with huge, huge bills of debt that they may never be able to pay back, just given that the amount of money you can make as a psychologist is maybe not enough to pay back some of these huge mountains of debt from these big programs that are, especially at for profit universities. And that can happen at the master’s level and at the PhD level. Most, so yeah, I would say be wary of that. Another thing to look for is if you’re going the clinical route, if you’re applying to clinical society or PhD programs is look at whether the program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), and there’s now a new accrediting body called PCSAS, which is a psychological science accreditation body, but they have parity in the states that are offering it, they have parity with APA. That’s kind of beside the point. That’s more for people who are interested in the science of psychology of clinical psychology. But, if that’s you, you can look at their website pcsas.org, maybe, but it’s the psychological science clinical, I don’t know something like that, I can share it or help you find it if you need to, but APA is the bigger one and the more traditional one, so you don’t want to go to a program that’s not accredited. A clinical program that’s not accredited by the APA. You will end up having, struggling to get licensure wherever you are no matter what state you’re in, and you know you couldn’t be hired by the federal government like a position at the VA or something like that without an APA accredited degree program. Then I would also note that most master’s programs are not, they won’t, they don’t waive tuition. You know these are master’s programs are largely tuition generators for universities that’s, I’m saying this in a in a way that’s kind of crappy, I don’t mean it like that, I mean that all college programs are tuition generators for universities and help support the salaries of the professors who teach the classes, you know, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s an economy, right? So, it has to charge tuition in order to support to support, to exist in the first place. But there are lots of variations on that where, especially students from backgrounds where they don’t have money that they’re going to be able to pay for you know, programs that cost a lot. There’s all kinds of scholarships and supportive things that you can apply for to fill in those gaps where things are going to get expensive. Definitely at the master’s level, there’s scholarships involved, APA is a really good resource on this as well, so if you end up going to a master’s program that’s fairly expensive, you can search for scholarships and other elements of support that can help you pay for them. In addition to that, like I mentioned before, a lot of the PhD programs don’t cost money. I did not know this. I even, you know, even I went to a graduate program where my tuition was, it’s not…waived is not quite the right word, but they have, they have a different model in place for some of these PhD programs. So, at the University of Alabama where I went where a lot of other clinical programs are, if you work through the program for part of your, yeah, I mean you have to get clinical hours anyway, so like I was working at the state hospital in this program that was set up by the University I was working at the State Forensic hospital providing services under supervision, so helping these organizations with their workload, but also they were paying the University for this, and so, again, it was a type of economy. But this meant that the University was able to pay for my tuition, so I did end up coming out of Graduate School with some debt, but nothing like would have happened if I were at a for profit institution. So, I would say look for, if you’re applying to master’s or PhD level programs, ask around, find out you know what the tuition is, how the graduates are succeeding or not from those programs, you know, on average, what kind of jobs are there? Are they getting on average? What are the salaries that they’re making? Are they going to be capable of paying back the debt that they’re going to incur by going to those programs? Um, and, and look for scholarships and things like this that can help support. And then one other thing I would mention is that like our master’s programs, especially the on-ground program but also the, the online versions we, we’ve set them up so that yes, there you know there’s tuition involved, but we also have all kinds of opportunities to recoup some of that cost so there are positions for course assistants which are basically TA’s or teaching assistants that help with all of these classes so you get to work with professors. If you’re in the online program, you can work with professors to help teach some of the classes that you’ve already taught before. You’re not teaching them, but you’re helping the professor manage the course basically and that comes with a stipend that can help pay for the tuition and the same thing with the ground program so if you were to come to the more intensive, research intensive ground program, we have a statistics and methods lab that helps support a lot of the, the online and in person programs, but it’s, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a lab where students work where they offer services to help students who are struggling with statistics or whatever in any of any of their courses, and those are paid positions, some of which come with a tuition waiver. So even at the master’s level you know you could, you could, you could find, um, support that might help with some of some of the cost involved in Graduate School. It’s, it’s so hard to find some of this stuff because it’s not, it’s not, it’s not that, it’s not transparent, it’s just not, I don’t know what resources you can look forward to, to find out those things, but I think maybe with some of the program directors you know if you if you if you ask about things like that, you might be able to, to find out if those opportunities are available.
Bradley
(00:46:49)
Yeah, that’s what I found when I was working on master’s and doctorate is it wasn’t really advertised that you could actually go out and offset some of the tuition. And when I was going through, you know, I was a TA or a Teaching Assistant and that helped offset it. I got the stipend, and it went towards my tuition and then, every school may call it different, you know something different…a teaching fellow a TA or, you know, they might actually say that it’s a grant…it’s an in-house grant or a fellowship, anything like that. So yeah, all of the audience should definitely keep that in mind and we actually have some suggestions on our website of how you can offset some of the tuition. What I liked about the ASU websites for these programs, I didn’t look at all the programs obviously, but the, the related programs is they actually are pretty upfront about hey total number of classes, total number of credit hours needed for this program, and then you can actually talk to an advisor or chair and find out a little bit more and then find out the cost per credit. But yeah, to your point, there are all these opportunities and you just have to ask around. And that’s where an advocate such as yourself, now that you’ve gone through that struggle, you take that, I could see in your in your nonverbal and your facial features when you were describing I’d have to turn away some of these, you know, students that wanted to have that research and that experience. So that’s the key is just to ask around and network and then eventually luck may come your way and you might find that opportunity, the timing is right, just like what you experienced in your undergrad with the Bachelors. So, thank you for sharing all that, very good advice to our students and prospective students as well. And now you’re at ASU, Arizona State University. Kind of tell us how you ended up there after you received your doctorate.
Tess
(00:48:46)
So, if you end up in a clinical psychology PhD program, there is an internship you have to do at the end of that, that is, it’s a one year of intensive Training where you have to get like 2000 hours of supervised which is full time like 50 weeks a year at 8 hours a week of supervised experience of clinical training. And there’s a whole process, it’s a, it’s a whole process and so you know you mentioned that I was at Alabama until 2012. That last year before you can get your PhD, you have to do an internship wherever you match, which is, it’s a, it’s a medical model, the dental schools do this, medical schools do this. There’s this match process you have to match somewhere across the country and then get your one year of experience and then you can get your PhD. Um, so that’s another thing to look for. I guess if you’re applying to clinical programs, what is their match rate for internship? ’cause there are some programs that if they have a crappy match rate and, and you can’t get placed in your internship, you can’t earn your degree. That’s gotten a lot better. There was a real imbalance when I was going through back in 2011. Now it’s better, but anyway, it’s still something worth paying attention to. So, I ended up at the University of Massachusetts Medical School for that year of internship and that was in part because it was one of the internships available that offered some forensic forensically relevant training. So, I was able to do some forensic, forensic relevant work, work with friends, forensic patients, and clients in the state hospital there as part of my internship. Then they had a, part of the reason I applied for that internship also was because they had a postdoc program that was separate from their internship program, but it was at the same place. Like I had mentioned before, I was married, I really was trying to apply for opportunities where I wasn’t going to keep moving my family, so I applied for that internship then stayed. I was lucky enough to get into the postdoc, for the second year, so we lived in Massachusetts for two years there. And the postdoc was a very specific forensic psychology postdoc. The model in psychology for clinical psychology programs is it’s generalist training at the core, so they don’t, you can’t specialize, there are no APA accredited doctoral programs in forensic psychology because it’s a specialization. So, just like with medical school, you go to medical school first to be a general practitioner basically, and then you specialize in residency into whatever kind of doctor you want to be. The model is similar in psychology, so you have to become a clinical psychologist or counseling psychologist, but this basic foundation first and then you can build on top of that with whatever you can be a health psychologist or a forensic psychologist or sports psychologist or whatever. Actually, I don’t know how the sport model works, but definitely with health and forensic I know for sure you have to get your, your general training first and then your specialty on top of that. So, I wanted to do a forensic specific postdoc, so I went ahead and did that in that helps with licensure too, so you have to have a certain number of hours postdoc level before you can apply successfully for licensure in most states. So, I wanted to get those hours out of the way, and I wasn’t sure at that point if I was going to be practicing forensic psychologist somewhere or if I was going to try to end up in the in the academic environment. Had I had this next opportunity that happened after that come along, I probably would have stayed in probably at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where they have a really interesting training program there that forensically relevant training program, and I probably would have stayed there. But there was a postdoc, another postdoc that came along. It was a National Science Foundation two-year research postdoc and it happened to be headquartered at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where my family lived. My dad retired in the Air Force from the Air Force there in Omaha, which is about an hour from Lincoln and my husband and I were ready to, you know, start having children and I wanted to go home. But like I mentioned before, I’m military background so I don’t really have a home but that was like as close to home as possible with family around. So, I applied for this research postdoc, in part, because I was interested in the content of what I would be doing, but also because of the surrounding opportunities within that I could be back by family and, you know, go from there. So, I was I was, able to somehow, was selected for that postdoc and that was a great experience. It was two years of research time, so I wasn’t, I didn’t have to do any clinical hours, wasn’t helping you know, servicing any clients or anything at that point. And just had two years basically to work on research. And it was specific to something that was a little bit outside my field. It was not forensic relevant, but it was related enough that, you know I could, I could justify applying and then was, was successful in that. And then you know kind of continued on two pathways at that point. But was able to publish quite a bit and get a lot of grant writing experience with a collaborative team there where we, you know, we were going after big standard, but relatively large pockets of NSF funding, which turns out, is key if you want to end up in academic settings, especially in psychology, you’ve got to learn how to write grants and you better be successful probably if you want to stick around in academia. So, in that case I probably also would have stayed there at that it was at the postdoc, was at a public policy center associated with the University, which was a really cool job, and I would have loved to stay there and kind of do contract relevant research. You know we were working on one project was, um, how can you know how the recycling organization of the city wanted to know how psychology could be used for messaging to help people recycle more. And that’s the kind of thing that the public policy center was doing, it was very, kind of, applied research, but I was really interested in it and would have been happy to stick around there. But it was a soft money position, which means that you have to fund your own salary, so you have to go after contracts or grants or whatever to pull in money that’s going to support your position. And I just repeatedly failed. I could not get grants at that, I mean it turned out that I was like building the pipeline and like was revising and resubmitting and eventually it worked out successfully, but at that point it wasn’t working out successfully and I was like, well, I better find a job where my salary isn’t entirely dependent on my ability to pull in this money that I was not successfully pulling in at that point. So, I decided to go on the academic job market because, as a as a University professor, part of your salary is paid for by your own grant activity, so some of it is soft money if you pull in money from federal government or whatever sources you can support part of your salary, but part of it is tuition. So, I knew if I could start teaching again that, you know I could, I could sustain a family if it was part of my salary was hard money, so it was tied to money that I didn’t have to generate myself. So, I went on the academic job market and I applied, I think to around 60 places and had a handful of interviews and had two job offers and one of which was ASU, which was, it was just the right fit, you know so, people talk about fit a lot at the PhD application level and at the job, yeah, the academic market level. And it is the truth at both the PhD application level and at the job market level that there is an oversupply of candidates and an undersupply of positions and so, you know, you could be very well-qualified, maybe more qualified than some of the people who get into these positions, but there is this “fit” thing that turns out to be fairly important, so University, I’m sorry, Arizona State University was already on this pathway. They were trying to create something they were trying to create this law behavioral science initiative; they were looking for somebody who, who could help move that vision forward, and I happened to be the right person with the right skill set and the right training. You know they want they, they were a group of social psychologists interested in psychology and law and they needed a clinical psychologist with law Interests who didn’t want to, not that I didn’t want to, who wanted to be, who wanted a research career instead of a clinical career and who you know who could go after, who could help with Grant writing and who could teach some of these classes and, you know, be a good teacher and I happened to have that kind of skill set, so it was the right time, the right place again. And now it has worked out and, so far, I’m very happy to be here.
Bradley
(00:57:17)
Well, that’s a good summary of the story. I see it on your vita, and since you’ve been at ASU, you’ve been an Interim Area Liaison, Law and Psychology, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and that was in the fall of 2019. And then you got involved as an Interim Director for a year in 2019, and then now you’re a Graduate Faculty Member in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Department of Psychology. So, I know when I was going through school, some of the professors did fall into different departments and multiple departments, but it’s I think it’s becoming more of a…more common nowadays than it was in the past. In the past it was always, you’re in this department, you stay there, and you let other people do their, their own thing. Now it’s actually beneficial for both the professors, the school, and the students. If you actually are going over into different programs.
Tess
(00:58:11)
Yeah, I meant to actually mention that before when you were showing that list of the master’s programs and the doctoral programs and ASU is a very large University with lots of Departments, lots of interdisciplinary schools and Departments, so it gets very confusing. There are actually 6 units at ASU that offer different degrees in psychology, so it’s a, it’s a…there is order in the chaos, but it can appear fairly chaotic. So, the there is a Department of Psychology at ASU and it’s, it’s on a different campus in Phoenix. And we, you know, our law and psychology programs aren’t part of that Department, which is confusing. So, I know, you know, when you’re when you’re outside the University looking in trying to figure out if you want to apply here it can be confusing. We are friendly, it’s not like we don’t like each other, it’s just that we, you know, it’s, it’s different colleges and different, it’s just it’s just organizationally and structurally different, even though we’re at the same University. We have the same president, we have the same vision, you know, all of us are here with this explicit mandate from our president, which I think is great to not just do research for research sake, but to do research that is useful and beneficial to humanity and to our local environment here. So, we are tasked with making life better for Arizonans and for, you know, Americans and, and the world. You know do research that’s going to actually make a difference in people’s lives. And so, I really appreciate being part of ASU and, and having a president who’s pushing forward this kind of more applied mandate to do work this relevant. I also wanted to mention that the other master’s program that was on the list, the Applied Behavioral Analysis Program, I’m pretty sure that that is a licensed eligible program, so if you know if, if you’re, if you’re interested in psychology and think you might want to apply to ASU, that is a program that has a more kind of direct pathway to a professional, um, licensed type job outcome but it would have to be in applied behavioral analysis so it’s a very specific type of job outcome. There is also there’s a master’s degree in counseling psychology here at ASU and, at one point, I think they were a licensed eligible program. I don’t know all the details of that program, but I know that there is this…another program at ASU that is, that’s offering a psychology degree.
Bradley
(01:00:40)
Yeah, and we, we did see that as well and that is more on the counseling route is and so we do have some students that are actually interested in psychology and/or becoming a counselor or therapist and so that’s why, in my introduction I always say “or related field” because those are some related fields and you’re exactly right, based on the ASU website, the Master’s in Applied Behavioral Analysis is one program that allows you to go for your certification and, once certified, be eligible for state licensing so that is, that is correct. I wanted to share the screen again. I didn’t do this at the very beginning, but I wanted to show the audience, and for those who are listening, she is part of…the director, she’s actually the Director of the Clinical and Legal Judgment Lab. And if you’re watching this on our website or you’re listening to it, the website is very unique in that it gives some lab updates and one of the predominant focused areas on the top that I saw right away is Arizona State University Law and Behavioral Science Initiative, so the, the Lab is part of that initiative and can you tell us more about that initiative and I’ll bring up that, that website for the initiative as well. So, tell us a little bit more about that.
Tess
(01:02:01)
Yeah so, like I said, this group of us, we’re not in the Psychology Department, so the psychology Department kind of has a more traditional discipline specific focus. This group is a more interdisciplinary group, so we’re headquartered in a school called the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, which is a crazy long name with the weird acronym, ASU has all kinds of things like this. But the idea is that we are in interdisciplinary group, so we’re not specific to psychology, we’re not specific to law, we’re not specific to criminology, but we have all of those elements built within this group. So, this is, like I mentioned also ASU is a huge place, we have like I think more faculty than any other University. It’s just huge. OK, it’s a huge school with many, many, many, many students. I also think we have the largest student body if you, if you include our undergraduate students, it’s just huge. But within all of that size and scale it allows us to find each other at this place, and so there’s a whole bunch of psychology law faculty members at ASU and this initiative pulls them together across all kinds of different colleges and schools and says we are, we are alike, we are alike in the sense that we’re all interested in this application of psychology and/or the intersection of psychology and law. But some of us are in this new College of interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, some people are in the law school, some people are in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, some people are in the psychology Department. So, we’re all over the place an yet we all are really interested in this intersection, so we created, together, several degree programs which are part of this initiative, so our bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral degrees are part of this initiative, but also just a cohesive research structure and culture for ourselves where we’re collaborating on grants together, writing papers together, pulling students into our, into our research circles, you know we sometimes have joint lab meetings with each other where we have students in different programs who come in and join these research teams or, you know I do a lot of professional development with my lab, so you know we have these CV writing days where we, everybody brings their CV in and we pass them around and everybody gets ideas from each other about how you should structure CVs and resumes and what should be on there and what, what they might be forgetting or, you know, what font type they like or whatever. We have graduate application days where when people are applying for Graduate School, they can bring in their drafts of their personal statements and we’ll, we’ll all read them and pass them around and give feedback and, you know, so we, we try to do things like that as well. But yeah, this whole group is just it’s, I think there are 14 tenured or tenure track faculty members who are part of this in all kinds of different schools and programs, but we’re together are offering these degree programs and trying to move the science of law and psychology forward.
Bradley
(01:04:59)
Well, it sounds like it’s very student focused and, and very application focused as well instead of just science. So, I also notice that the ASU Law and Behavioral Science Initiative won the 2020 President’s Award for Innovation…congratulations, first of all on that. As I understand you were one of the eight founding members and you kind of went into what, what the shared focus is for not only the founding members, but all the faculty members that are involved in this initiative, I’m going to go ahead and share my screen again and share that website that actually gives a little bit more information on this and it actually is the ASU Law and Behavioral Science Initiative wins 2020 President’s Award for Innovation. And, of course, we’re going to share some of these websites on our website when we post this podcast as well, but it’s, it’s very impressive to see that this was just in three years’ time. Your group was able to bring this up to that level where the president actually decided on awarding you this award for innovation and this website, if you can see it on online, for those of you who are listening, it’s just talking about some of the background, who was involved and then it actually lists the founding members down here and, of course, you see Dr. Tess Neal down here with the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the New College, one of the three as I mentioned before, and then it tells you a little bit more about its founding and some other information, so that’s great work I, I like seeing stuff like this because, as you know, our website is focused on helping graduate students and future graduate students, and this is one of those ways that you do help and even, even sharing CVs, let’s share and, and give ideas. Back when I was going to school, we didn’t really do that, you kind of did that by yourself and then you went into your professor and your advisor and got that. Well, you get one opinion, this way you’re getting many different views and opinions as well, so I like that you’re doing that. You mentioned earlier about grant writing, and I know that I kind of gave you a heads up that, very impressive grant writing, I did see…you talked about fails as well, and I’m not calling you a failure in grant writing, but I did see the ones where you didn’t get the grant and so it just shows to our audience that you keep trying. And that’s a learning, you know, stepping stool and stepping tool and, and going forward you even have, I think two or three that are still active, and I should mention that one of them you’re actually sharing on Twitter recently and I’m going to kind of share this screen because this is kind of a call for participation and you’re actually utilizing some of the NSF award for this. While I’m bringing this up, I think, you’re nodding your head, you know which one I’m talking about? Tell me about this grant and, and what the goal here is on your Twitter feed here. Hopefully, you can see this I, I think you can, Yep.
Tess
(01:08:02)
Yeah, so this this is a project where we’re recruiting, right now, licensed psychologists, and it’s a, it’s an NSF funded project, the, the National Science Foundation funds basic research, so they also want some use and applied relevance, but it has to be, if you’re going to get NSF funding, you have to be moving science forward in a way that’s it’s, it is in a more basic way. So, the basic part of this particular project is when I, you know when we first started, I was talking about my interest in expert judgment and whether people can be objective and the conditions under which people can be objective and if they’re not objective, what can we do to reduce the bias in their judgments? That’s what this project is about. So yeah, so we’re, in this, in this, we’re examining whether we can measure bias, whether we can induce bias, and then whether we can measure it, and how aware people are of whether they were biased by this particular thing we’re doing in the context that we think might bias their judgment. And then we also are offering to, as an incentive to try and recruit people, we’re offering free continuing education credits. So, if once you are a licensed psychologist in, I think almost every state you have to get a certain number of continuing education hours to maintain your license. So here in Arizona I have to get, I think, 60 CE credits every two years to maintain my license. So, and most of these CEs you have to pay for them and so this is our, our way of trying to recruit psychologists say, hey come do this project as part of it to make it eligible for CE we had to, we programmed it so that once they do the experiment, at the end we give them, we piped in feedback based on their responses to give them specific feedback to their own judgment process about whether they showed evidence of bias where it was. We weren’t able to program in other peoples, like the average, but we when we publish will be able to kind of aggregate all that information but, so for this, they just get information about their own judgment processes and then at the end there’s a didactic a more like training element where I videotaped myself talking about different, different ways in which expert’s judgment processes might be biased. What people can do to try and mitigate those biases, so if they, if they do that, if they do the experimental portion where they have to, it’s a mock case, where they, have to like read through the police records and the background of what happened with this alleged crime and the mental health history of the, the person accused and then integrate all that information into their judgment. Get that feedback and then watch these videos. If they do all that then they get some free continuing education credits, so hopefully we’re going to have enough participants to be able to analyze this data and write up a paper about him.
Bradley
(01:10:52)
Well, I wish you good luck and we’ll do our part as well. I’ll share this website and then give a little bit more information on our website after we post this online as well. So, here’s the call to all licensed psychologists, doesn’t matter where you are, you don’t have to be in the same state. Here’s one way to get some of those continuing education credits, and it sounds actually interesting to me because it kind of gives me a little…Oh, before I, before I switch, I noticed that I think recently you changed your picture and this picture actually looks very similar to let’s see if I get the right one here…it is, where is it? Where is it? Not that one, I think I missed it right somewhere. Oh, here’s another one…very similar to your LinkedIn picture. If you look at those, so I don’t know if that was on purpose but very similar to your LinkedIn picture as well. But there’s, there’s the call to all psychologists and will share that as well. One of the things that we did mention earlier in the show was your most recent post on your Clinical and Judgment Lab, Legal Judgment Lab was an update from June 2020, and you were interviewed for some assessment evidence in NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast, which actually looked at the evidence in the Fred Clay case. Here’s my notes, I listened to it like 2 times. The thing that I got from it, I’m going to share what I got from it and then I want you to share what you would like our audience to get from that experiment as well. So, I wrote down blind identification procedures, race, ingroup versus outgroup, hypnosis, and the Rorschach test was used during the juvenile transfer hearing. And because he didn’t show any remorse, they actually thought that that was, you know, reason enough to actually convict him. Police pressure, some assumptions, and then, of course, we talked about some of the witnesses and what they, how they were led during the questioning. What else kind of comes to mind? I’m not sure the last time, if you remember this, but that’s what I took from it…is a lot of the old ways and techniques and assessments and leading the, the witness, even though they’re not on the stand, but still leading some of the people with their questioning. Now we’re finding out that, that is unfair, and it actually doesn’t reveal the truth. So, kind of give me a summary of what you took from your involvement with that Clay, with that Fred Clay case.
Tess
(01:13:34)
I was just interviewed for that podcast because of some research I had done that was relevant, but I think his case it’s very sad, but also very interesting case. And he’s one of many people who have been exonerated as actually innocent after having been falsely convicted of a crime. There’s a whole, whole website, an organization called the Innocence Project, where they track all of these people and they also have been involved in, in bringing some of these cases to resolution where they’re actually helping people get exonerated and he I think he’s one of the people who have been involved with this Innocence Project. But the Innocence Project and this case is, it is such a distillation of all of these different, I mean the way you just introduced the case in the notes that you took, there’s like 25 different psychology and law research areas that you mentioned. You know that there are scholars studying every single one of these ways that this case went wrong and cases like his go wrong, like how is it possible that somebody can get wrongly convicted? There are many ways and there are scholars studying all of these different pathways that, through which people accidentally get falsely convicted. It seems like it couldn’t happen. Seems ridiculous to even imagine the possibility, but it does happen, and it has happened many times, hundreds of times probably. I mean, we know of hundreds of times it has happened. There have probably been many more than hundreds of times. We also know that there are people have been executed who actually didn’t do the crime, you know, but the way the system is set up in the way humans reach their decisions and the way, you know, other people are involved in how somebody makes a decision. There’s just so much rich psychology questions involved that if we could figure out how things work, we can solve these problems and make sure that people aren’t falsely convicted. My particular, I didn’t have a role in the case, but I had a role, a tiny role in the podcast. I had done some work that was published earlier this year on psychological assessments in legal settings, so we know from this work that we did that the court system judges and attorneys are, they’re supposed to screen out so-called “junk science” from the court, so that evidence that is brought into court should be credible, it should be good evidence that should be scientifically sound if it’s scientifically based, it shouldn’t be pseudoscience. But we know that judges and attorneys are not trained in science typically, and so they have a hard time recognizing science versus pseudoscience, and historically, unfortunately, there’s been a lot of pseudoscience type of information allowed into court that then has become part of this body of cases that involves false convictions and whatnot. So, forensic science, a lot of forensic science methods, turns out, are based on kind of shoddy science or pseudoscience, and are not actually based in science. That’s another thing we’re involved in an ASU, but we don’t have time to get into that. But my one particular project was on psychological assessment, so you know, when a clinician doesn’t, does a diagnostic assessment of a person and uses some kind of test like an IQ test, or Rorschach to measure some trait or capacity of the individual that they’re, they’re assessing and then if they bring that evidence into court and testify about him, one would hope that, that evidence and those tests that they’re bringing into court are scientifically sound that you know their psychometrically and technically sound instruments. Turns out that that’s not the case. There’s a whole lot of junk being brought into court by psychologists and that the court is not screening it out. So, part of our project was just kind of shining a light on the fact that there’s some shoddy science happening with psychological assessments, in particular, and that the courts aren’t screening them out. So, we’re trying to help psychologists figure out how to pick better tests that they have more scientific integrity and help the court figure out how to challenge it, and exclude it, and recognize it, when it’s not a good method.
Bradley
(01:17:36)
Yeah, and what I found interesting is that the number one thing that kept coming back to me was he was actually locked inside a house while this murder took place and he was at home in foster care with, and the foster mother actually locked everybody inside the house. And I remember a part in the podcast where, well, how did the attorneys explain that? Oh, they said, well, he probably opened up a window and he probably got out and then came back and closed the window after he committed the murder. And so, there was no physical evidence that he actually did it, it was all based on these interview techniques. They even relied on that Rorschach test, and you know, that’s, that’s one of the things that’s been around for a long time in psychology, but more and more studies are finding that you can’t rely on that or the hypnosis as well was the other one that came up. So, I definitely find that that case was interesting. I’ll give that website and provide that website on the, on our website as well so if people are interested in finding out more about the Fred Clay case, I can incorporate that as well.
Tess
(01:18:49)
One more quick thing about that. The Rorschach, in particular, I think it’s just fascinating because if you don’t know the Rorschach is, it’s a series of inkblots, so it’s just you know, piece of paper basically where there was ink put on it, and they smooshed it together and pulled it out. So, there’s standard inkblots now that happened and now that you know they use this set of these inkblots. And the idea is, is that the clinician can like show the person being evaluated this inkblot and say tell me what this looks like to you or some variation on that, and then whatever the person says about what that looks like to them, the clinician then interprets and says OK, well, based on what you said that means X or Y or Z about who you are as a person. Um, and as you can see, there’s all kinds of room for subjectivity and individual differences among the clinicians who they are and what their background is and how they’re going to interpret whatever a given person says. Which again is like very linked to my interest in OK, OK, are these people really good at their jobs, these clinicians are they objective, can you interchange clinicians with two different clinicians who heard the same answer from a person responding to the Rorschach interpret it the same way? There has, there, there is some body of evidence for the Rorschach where you know they’re trying to standardize it and make it more scientifically credible, but my own perspective on that at this point is that that kind of information is really useful in a treatment setting, so you know if you go to a therapist and they’re trying to help you deal with some baggage that you have from earlier on in your life. That could be really helpful for finding out what that is and dealing with it, but not so much for like, OK, how do you know, this person’s life hangs in the balance. Let’s use this very subjective tool and interpret what it means about this person, I just, I don’t think it belongs in the court, but it’s the number two of all the time…it’s like the number two used tool in the court.
Bradley
(01:20:39)
Right, and that’s interesting. You mentioned earlier about junk science, and I think you got involved and you mentioned some previous work. That’s why you were involved in this NPR podcast. I think the one that I found was the one that appeared in Psychological Science in the Public Interest and it was entitled “Psychological assessments in legal contexts: Are courts keeping ‘junk science’ out of the courtroom?” I think that’s the one that you’re referencing, so I’ll keep that on our website as well. The other thing that I wanted to bring up for the audience is you know, you, you’ve had a lot of input on some of the courses, some of the programs, the lab itself, but soon after you received your doctorate within three or four years, you were actually recognized by the Association for Psychological Science as a “Rising Star” and so tell me about what that means, and I’ll bring that website up here, but tell me how did you feel when you actually were advised and told that you, you made the list? And did you have to submit your name or did somebody else, tell me a little bit about that procedure?
Tess
(01:21:49)
Yeah, and the Association for Psychological Science is a kind of sister organization to the American Psychological Association. APA and APS used to be the same thing, and then in the late 1980s they kind of split off and APA is the more practice-oriented, relevant organization and APS is the more scientific-relevant organization, but they’re still, they’re two very large organizations in psychology. So, APS, a few years ago, started doing this where they were recognizing what they called “Rising Stars” in the field and now there’s a lot of people who have been recognized as “Rising Stars” and, and all over the world, so APS is not specific to America. So, you know there’s scholars in early career scholars in psychology all over the world who are doing really kind of interesting or innovative work in psychology. And this is just a way for APS to recognize that and highlight the work of these early career scholars. Help them find each other, help others find them. It’s kind of a neat thing that they do and I’m pretty sure I did have to apply for it, but also, I think you had to have letters of recommendation. I don’t remember now, but there definitely was a process involved and I know they award this to several people each year, maybe, maybe 20 or 30 people each year, so it’s a good number of people now who have been recognized as, as kind of “Rising Stars” in the field.
Bradley
(01:23:17)
Yeah, well congratulations. I mean it’s, it’s nice to be recognized and included on this list, and you’re exactly right, when I was scrolling through a lot of these, many of them are out of the United States, you know. So, I think they take any applicants and consider them from anybody in the world as well so congratulations on getting that achievement in that award as well. I did want to bring up another thing you have been involved in and actually the school, ASU is involved in, and I’m going to say, PLuS Alliance Research Fellow. I don’t know if they just say P-L-U-S or PLuS, but I’m going to bring that up as well. Tell me a little bit about what you know about the PLuS Alliance Research Fellow.
Tess
(01:24:04)
Yeah, so the PLuS Alliance is a, it’s an alliance between three universities on three different continents. And it was, it’s kind of a vision cooked up by the presidents of the three universities, so it involves Arizona State University, the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia and Kings College, London and the, the idea is that these three universities will use their resources and talent…the faculty and students involved in the universities…to try and solve some of the grand challenges of the world. So grand challenges are big, hard, almost intractable problems that are facing humanity. So, can we leverage the capacities of these universities together to try and tackle some of these big problems? So, some of what we’re doing in the PLuS Alliance Research related, so these are some of the big grand challenges that they’re trying to, you know, encourage, and there’s some incentives involved for faculty from these three universities to find each other. There’s pockets of money involved, so if you find each other and you target one of these issues, you know social justice topic or a sustainability topic or global health you can, you can work together on solving some of these grand challenges, but there’s also education-related grand challenges so I know the, the PLuS Alliance is very interested in trying to educate the population, right, the more people we can get college educated, the better for society I think is the vision of these University leaders, and so they’re, they’re moving into Africa. I know they’re partnering with a bunch of universities in Africa to try and offer online education at scale to as many people as, you know, want to be involved in college education. So, I, I don’t know all the details about how that’s unfolding, but I know that that’s part of the mission of this group. They want to help share education with the world. We also are trying to map together some of the programs in the different universities to get students an opportunity to take classes with students in other countries. So, for instance, with our master’s in forensic psychology at ASU, there is a similar program at UNSW in Sydney and we’re working to try and create pathways where students in our program can take courses in their program, they can take courses in our program and they can network with each other and, maybe, we’re working toward trying to figure out a way where they could actually a few students, depending on you know, however we set up the application process, could actually go to the other countries and engage more, more richly with the culture of the other place. I also think Kings College has something going on with forensic psychology, but I don’t, I don’t know enough about it yet, I think one of my tasks actually as a PLuS Fellow, is to try and figure out how to pull these, pull these three universities together, so I will be working on that in the next year.
Bradley
(01:27:02)
OK, well, well good. I know that I found it interesting. Any kind of collaboration, especially overseas, I always find interesting. When I was finishing my undergrad, I did participate in what was called the Wisconsin in Scotland program and so I actually traveled over into, into Scotland and, and traveled while I was there for a few months as well. So, I always find that interesting personally. I do have a few more questions. One of them is getting back to the grant writing. I know that you had some success in getting it. Some other, I don’t want to call them failures, just they weren’t awarded to you, but you kept moving forward. And as I said, you’re still utilizing some of that, and on that Twitter calling all licensed psychologists. Do you have any advice now that you’ve been doing grant writing for some time? Any advice for other professors or early professors in their career who have little or no experience in grant writing? What kind of advice would you offer them?
Tess
(01:27:59)
Um, one is, yeah, just this idea that it’s unlikely, anybody is unlikely, especially with NSF to be funded the first round. So, to know that you’re probably going to have to revise and resubmit to take that feedback from the reviewers and incorporate it to revise your application. Also, there’s a lot of trainings out there now for how to be, how to be strategic is not quite the right word, but it’s similar to that where like they call it “grantspersonship” or “grantsmanship” where you know, when it’s you know, what it looks like to be successful as a grant writer. So, one of those things involves going to, you know, figuring out how, if you’re applying to NSF, what’s NSF’s mission? What are they trying to do in the world? Like what you know what? What do they want to do with their money? And then you know, figuring out where you might fall within their organizational structures. They have all kinds of different programs and things that they fund different disciplines, different interdisciplinary areas. So, you have to do some homework to figure out where you would fall in the organization where your work might be funded. That’s true of any grants, any agency, so NIH the National Institutes of Health, NIJ the National Institute of Justice. There’s a lot of these kind of big federal funding agencies where you would have to do that kind of homework to figure out where you might be fundable. And then read their, any of these agencies, read their, their advice to applicants so they publish, like, documents where they say OK, here’s how you apply for a grant to us, here’s what you need to have in your grant, and you need to read those things. You know their technical and boring, but if you don’t read them, you’re not going to, you’re not going to learn how to be successful with, with those agencies. There’s also, I mean, I just keep talking about the federal agencies, but there’s also all kinds of philanthropes another, other ways of finding research funding dollars. There, and there are, like at ASU there, we have various different ways of searching. I can’t think of the word I’m looking for, but like you can go there, and you can search, you can say OK, what are all the different grant opportunities available to me like given my research area or whatever, so you know there’s these algorithms that will combine results for you so you can figure out, oh, you know, I’ve never heard of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Oh, OK, yeah, I see how this might be, how they might fund my work or whatever so they can help you find places where you might apply.
Bradley
01:30:30)
Sure, we’re almost done. I appreciate you hanging in there. I do have two other questions for you. One of them, I just wanted to highlight that you did receive the Saleem Shah Early Career Award in 2016 and this is where I actually saw, or remember seeing, that other picture that looked very similar to your Twitter picture right here. So, this is the one where you receive that early career award for contributions to psychology and law. So, this picture is very similar to…that one as well. So, I like both of them, but I, I just wanted to…how did you, is this another one where you applied? Or somebody made a recommendation? A lot of times awards are, you know, where you apply versus somebody else recommends you. Tell me a little bit about this.
Tess
(01:31:19)
Yeah, this is the same kind of thing. This one is more, um, I don’t know if it’s more competitive than the APS one, it might be, but it’s also a smaller pool, so this is specific to the American Psychological American Psychology Law Society Division 41 of APA, and they also, it’s co-sponsored by the American Academy of Forensic Psychology. And so, they, they basically award this award to one person a year. From the entire field of psychology and law. And it’s, yeah, just recognizing somebody whose early, early career contributions to, to scholarship are notable for the field. And I do, I mean, I think that was a pretty significant award at the at the time. And still, you know, it feels like a, a fairly nice accomplishment, so it was, it was, it was pretty nice, nice to have that happen. I did apply for it, but it also involved, I had to have letters of recommendation so there is effort involved from multiple people for that to come together.
Bradley
(01:32:23)
Sure, well congratulations. Like I said earlier, I could go on and on. One final question before I get to some of the fun questions that I ask all of my guests. What are some of your future plans and goals? I know that you, you talked about the PLuS and, and helping out there a little bit more and, of course, continuing the lab and the work that you’re doing there with your students. What other things are on the horizon for you?
Tess
(01:32:50)
Um, so I mentioned earlier that I’m up for tenure this year, so I’ll find out by May or probably in May whether I’m tenured. Hopefully, that’s going to happen, but you never know. If that does happen, then I’ll move on to the next phase of an academic career. There are three ranks for academic professors, so the first is assistant professor, which is what I am now which is typically untenured and then the second rank is associate professor, which is typically tenured, which just means it’s when you’re, when you’re not tenured, it means the University is, they want you to establish yourself as an excellent scholar and teacher in the field, and you have a certain period of time, it’s like a long probationary period, it’s typically six years to develop. At ASU, the criteria is a national reputation, so if you do that then you can stay with the University and get tenure and get promoted to the associate rank. If that doesn’t happen, you know you might be doing good work, but lots of people end up not tenured, which just means OK, you move on to a different stage of your career, probably, and at another University, or like if I don’t get tenured, go on and probably start a forensic practice or something. So, if I do get tenure, then I’ll move on to the associate level and then typically I think that’s another six years or so where you try and establish, at least at ASU and international reputation. So, you got to keep plugging along and doing good science and teaching well, and you know, try and broaden your reputation in the, in the world and your impact in the world so you know, if, if I’m studying pseudoscience in the courts, then I need to also be helping the courts, for, you know, trying to educate actual attorneys and judges about this to make an actual difference, not just publishing it in some obscure journal, but getting that information to the people who could make use of it. So eventually I hope to make full professor, but that’s definitely way down the line, so we’ll see if that ever happens. I also I’m, ASU has started this Forensic Science Initiative, which is very similar to the Law and Behavioral Science Initiative in some ways, but it’s broader because it involves any discipline, really, it’s not just behavioral science, since you know there’s all kinds of stem disciplines we have geneticists, we have chemists, we have geologists, we have anthropologists, all kinds of different disciplines, but people who are from any discipline who are interested in trying to work towards solve the grand challenges of forensic science. That’s just kind of starting up, so I will be heavily involved in that and just trying to kind of move forward that vision. Yeah, and I also am starting to do more in terms of service to the field, so when you’re when you’re pre-tenure you do a lot of trying to establish your own body of work and then as you move up into the next kind of stage in your career, you can do more for the field. So, I’m now serving as an associate editor of a couple of journals and have agreed to edit a special issue of one of the journals specific to this question of psychological assessments in legal settings so right now we’re working on that, pulling together a special issue on that topic. Um, yeah, that, that’s kind of what I’m doing over the next, I mean, I have other research ideas too and I will be applying for more grants and hopefully.
Bradley
(01:36:11)
So, in other words, just a few things you’re working on, just you’re kind of busy. Yeah, so some of the questions that I ask everybody ’cause our audience likes to, to find these answers out…a good fun one is what is your favorite term, principle, or theory and why?
Tess
(01:36:28)
I am fascinated by this concept called the bias blind spot, which is this notion that people are better able to see bias in other people than they are in themselves. There’s a whole bunch of terms that are like this, there’s the Dunning Kruger Effect, which is similar that, you know, people are less able to see their own limitations and more able to see other people’s limitations, you know, unable to see when they’re messing something up or when they don’t understand something or whatever, but they can see it in other people. This kind of discrepancy between our capacity to see and understand ourselves and our role in the world, and our limitations in the world, as compared to the much more accurate view we have of other people. I think that’s just fascinating and it kind of underpins almost everything I do.
Bradley
(01:37:16)
It does sound like it underpins everything you do and it, it actually can be applied outside of law, forensics, and anything else as well. What is something new that you have learned recently? Personally, just something that you have learned that’s new.
Tess
(01:37:36)
That’s a good question. I learn new things all the time and, at the moment, I’m blanking in part because I have little kids and stay up late trying to work and so I’m not always functioning at full capacity with my brain firing. Um, I think I would say like over the past several months, I’ve learned, just given the chaos of this year with politics and the pandemic, I have learned the role and value of civic engagement and have become much more educated about politics and the importance of engaging civically, civically, locally, and beyond and have much more of a desire to be present and involved in my kind of local environment, I’ve always kept my head down and just worked, you know, and wanted to make progress in my own little area of the world, but I think if we all do that, then our big picture society isn’t going to sustain itself like there have to be, you know, they have to be people who are engaged and involved in trying to make democracy work.
Bradley
(01:38:52)
I think there is a part of our culture, you know, some of the taboo topics…finances, sex, religion and even politics, some people would include that, and I think more and more people are trying to challenge that and allowing people to feel safe in sharing their views instead of feeling attacked. One of the things when I was teaching for a long time was the idea of brainstorming and I would set up the rules for brainstorming, even though I would specifically say you do not critique you do not evaluate because as soon as you start doing that, that closes down that brainstorming, and I think the same thing holds true if you’re sharing your ideas on any of those taboo subjects especially, you know, nowadays going through COVID and then going through the election year, people are very verbose. Some of them are little quiet and you have to, you know, plead with them to get their opinion. So, I, I agree with you that it is almost a civic duty and obligation if we want to move forward as a society to share your ideas and beliefs. Is there anything else that you would like to discuss or bring up in this podcast?
Tess
(01:40:06)
Not that I can think of, although as soon as we get off, I’ll probably, probably think of something, but we’ve covered a lot of ground here, so this has been fun.
Bradley
(01:40:14)
We did and I, I appreciate you staying and holding in there. We actually did cover a lot. I’m going to give one more plug to ASU. I found this on the About ASU website and I was very impressed with this first one down here…number one in the US for Innovation, ASU ahead of MIT and Stanford. Very good accolade and recognition and even the number five position there, it says 1 of 5 in global impact in research, outreach, and stewardship, so I wanted to share that. And obviously ASU is very well known in many different areas, not only in your fields but many different fields as well. And I think you’re right, it’s gotta be in the top three or the top one in terms of vast number of people enrolled, students, graduate faculty, very high powerhouse in the industry as well. So, I wanted to thank you again sincerely for taking time out of your schedule and going back into your office and doing this interview with us. I believe our audience is really going to get a lot from this. You shared a lot of your experiences and advice and, again, I wish you the best of luck on your tenure ship and, and I’ll follow up with you later on in the year and see how you’re doing. I will, of course, follow you on Twitter and LinkedIn, so if our audience wants to find out a little bit more about you on each of those social media websites, they can find it through our website, but, Dr. Neal, I really appreciate you taking the time. I’ve learned a great deal from you and thank you for sharing your thoughts and your advice with us.
Tess
(01:41:56)
Absolutely, thank you for having me.
Bradley
(01:41:58)
Alright, have a good day.
Tess
(01:41:59)
You too bye.

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