Research & Development
What is your role and function at WPS?
As a Project Director in the Research & Development Department at WPS there is always something new to learn. Most of my time is dedicated to building assessments, which includes a range of activities like discussing the initial spark of an idea with authors, developing and refining test content, managing standardization studies, analyzing data, writing manual chapters, and on and on. Additionally, I talk directly with our customers to answer technical questions about published tests. Whether it's a new statistical method, a theory underlying the development of one of our assessments, or collaborating with other departments to make our processes more efficient, I'm always inspired to gain a deeper understanding about our business, our products, and the customers we serve.
What issues or needs are you an advocate for inside the company?
WPS has a unique and genuine company culture based on shared core values. As a former member of the Special Projects Committee, I advocate for employee issues and growing our company culture in a positive direction.
How long have you been at WPS?
I've been with WPS since 2010. During this time, I've seen WPS mature and expand at an incredible pace. New facilities, updated technology, expanding our network of products and customers; WPS is moving onward and upward. It must be all that caffeine from our in-house cafe. :)
Where are you from? Where did you grow up?
I was born in Holland but grew up in Oklahoma, where the dirt is red and the people are some of the nicest folks you'll ever meet. I've been lucky enough to travel the world and live all over the U.S. during my long trek toward a PhD. Now, I'm happy to call Los Angeles home and cultivate some West Coast roots for my family.
Three personal things about you people probably wouldn't know:
Former President Bill Clinton and I have both received the same (highly prestigious) award: Most Outstanding Musician at the University of Arkansas band camp. Yeah, I said band camp. I once slept overnight in an elevator vestibule on the streets of Italy while backpacking through Europe. All of the youth hostels were booked…go figure. I have a good ear for remembering movie quotes and accents. I do a mean Robin Leach impersonation.
What's a big obstacle you've had to overcome in your life or career?
My career had always been on the academic path, with a focus on research and teaching at the college level. Once I had kids, my perspective on life and what makes me happy changed. I wanted more time for my family but didn't want to sacrifice my research standards. I decided to take a huge leap in leaving the academic world and move my entire family out to L.A. for this really awesome job at a publishing company called WPS. One of the best decisions I ever made.
What is your personal connection to the WPS mission?
As a research psychologist, I'm passionate about understanding how the brain develops and what motivates behavior. When something goes awry during development, this understanding becomes vital in helping to make better and more efficient psychological and educational assessment tools.
What is your educational background?
BA in psychology, University of Oklahoma (Go, Sooners!); PhD in cognitive psychology, Temple University (Go, Owls!); postdoc in cognitive development, University of Chicago (Go, nerds!)
What is something you are currently studying or learning?
How to play the fiddle (like the illustrious test developer Dr. Chris Gruber).
What do you enjoy most about working at WPS?
I can honestly say that I love my job. The work is rewarding and feeds my passion for research while also directly having a positive impact on people's lives. But what really makes every day at WPS so much fun is the people; my coworkers rock.
What did you used to do before WPS?
An assortment of academic odd jobs on the path to professordom including, but not limited to: trying to get undergraduates to learn that psychology is more than the Oedipus complex; playing hide-and-seek with 3-year-olds to figure out how we learn to use landmarks to remember locations; building elaborate laboratory apparatuses with only $30 worth of materials from Home Depot; logging 10,000 hours in data analysis and manuscript writing with hopes of escaping the journal publication “revise and resubmit” vortex. Ya know, the usual.
Where can we contact you?
You can email me here