Dr. Emily Sandoz is one of our 2021 Outstanding Master’s Mentor Award recipients. This award is presented by the Graduate School to members of the graduate faculty with an exceptional record of fostering the academic and professional development of graduate students, particularly for graduate students in our master’s degree programs.
Sandoz is the Emma Louise LeBlanc Burguieres/BORSF Endowed Professor of Social Sciences and serves as the graduate coordinator for the psychology M.S. degree program.
As a graduate coordinator, she develops a professional working relationship with all incoming students. Most importantly, says Abbey Warren, current M.S. in psychology student, “she invites each and every student to share their hopes, dreams, and fears about the program and about their own individual futures with her in an effort to understand how much support each student requires to excel.”
“She communicates clearly about expectations for graduate students and emphasizes the human in everyone along the way.”
Making Space for the Extraordinary
“In class, Dr. Sandoz demonstrates and teaches her students how to think critically about their own academic research and writing. However, she also creates an atmosphere for personal growth and the development of professional skills,” Warren says.
Sandoz joined the Department of Psychology in 2010. Since then, she has taught nine graduate-level courses, including a thesis preparation class taken by all first-year graduate students, and both practicum and pre-practicum courses designed to help students build clinical skills.
She is also the Director of the Louisiana Contextual Science Research Group and Editor-Elect of the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science.
“I care deeply about making spaces around me where people can do extraordinary things. One
place where I’m fortunate enough to really practice that caring is in the context of mentoring my
research lab,” Sandoz says.
“The support of the lab means that people are willing to try out new skills or ideas, even at the risk of being wrong. My lab welcomes remote affiliate members from all over the world (e.g., California, Boston, India, Paraguay), each at a different place in their career. We begin weekly lab meetings by checking in with a partner on goals and progress, then checking in with the larger group, sharing both the needs we have from the lab, and the resources we have to offer. We treat each other with exceptional compassion, and are quite generous with our resources.”
The leadership that she provides “creates a lab culture that subscribes to the same principles of human equity and connection that Dr. Sandoz exemplifies each day,” says Warren.
Students and faculty receive “opportunities to meet, collaborate, and form unique mentor-mentee relationships that perpetuate exciting new research ideas and thesis projects,” she says.
Centering Meaningful Work
Sandoz is the author of twenty-two peer-reviewed journal articles, nine book chapters, and three books, in addition to six manuscripts currently in revision or under review. She has also produced a high volume of conference presentations, and has presented numerous papers, symposia, workshops, and panel presentations.
“Many of these presentations involve graduate students as co-authors; indeed, she regularly encourages her thesis students to take the lead in organizing and chairing symposia,” says Dr. Amy Brown, associate professor and department head of Psychology.
In one-on-one thesis meetings, Sandoz effectively guides her students by offering advice, resources, ideas, and collaborative working sessions.
“Each of these contributions enable her students to gain confidence in their own ability to write, think, and resource appropriately. In this way, she also enables her students to gain confidence in themselves as academics, as researchers, and even as mentors to others,” says Warren.
Sandoz emphasizes the importance of centering meaning while guiding graduate student research.
“Behavioral research with humans is terribly difficult work, especially for new researchers. Further, much of our research deals with subject matters that are quite tragic. There are all sorts of difficult, tragic topics that my students could study, but I challenge them to pick something meaningful to them. That way, on the day that their data are corrupted, or their paper is rejected, or they are passed up for the offer they were counting on, there is something bigger at play,” she says.