What is it Like to Train in the SageLab?

I prefer a close supervision style, consisting of weekly one-on-one meetings with students to review progress towards goals and discuss challenges therein, biweekly lab meetings to manage our research program as a group, and near-daily contact with students via email. Student work is given top priority, with every effort made to turn around student work within 48 hours.

The Sagelab is equipped with testing systems for assessment of: 1) genital vasocongestion using vaginal, clitoral, and penile plethysmography, and thermographic imaging; 2) contiguous self-report of sexual response; 3) biometric signals (e.g., heart rate); and 4) visual attention using a Tobii remote eye-tracker. Depending on their research projects, students become expert in all stages of system application, including use with human subjects, data acquisition techniques, data preparation and analysis. Students also gain experience with cognitive assessment methods, and video/image editing software to prepare experimental stimuli. Collaborations with researchers at Queen’s, like Mark Sabbagh, can include training in EEG, involving high-density electrode placement, online monitoring of artifacts, general digital signal-processing skills, characterization of EEG spectral power, statistical analysis of event-related potentials, and source localization of brain electrical signals.

I work directly with students on all stages of research dissemination, including data interpretation, preparation of podium/poster presentations, and all steps of publishing manuscripts in academic journals. Graduate students are expected to publish at least one journal article per year. UG students frequently publish their UG thesis (e.g., Timmers & Chivers, 2013). students attend national and international conferences (2/yr) to present (frequently as award-winners). Graduate students also assist with preparation of grant applications for internal competitions. Senior graduate and postgraduate students also receive media training to broaden their knowledge translation capacity. At the end of every academic year, we have a Sagelab research day, where students at all levels, from third year lab students to Dr. Chivers, present their work to the lab.

Students assume leadership of their projects very early in their training, from ordering supplies and small equipment (e.g., transducers), to managing a research budget and leading a research team. With my guidance, graduate students manage teams of undergraduate students assigned to their projects; they also assist in supervision of honours theses, directed laboratory students, and research assistants. Graduate students are also encouraged to seek leadership roles in the academic and general communities.

I train students in peer review of manuscripts, conference submissions, and grants by working alongside them, coaching them through the process and reviewing their work. Students are socialized in to a culture of an engaged, supportive, and positive team approach in my lab. They are encouraged to provide feedback on each others’ work, both written and oral, learning how to give and receive constructive criticism.

I actively introduce my students to colleagues at conferences and, in my own presentations, highlight their contributions to the research by name and photo. Students quickly connect with their academic community, both nationally and internationally, and emerge from graduate school with a well-developed international network.

Demand for specialized training in sexuality research has grown significantly, resulting in an increased demand for the training of students with the unique training opportunities. Students will be well-equipped to collaborate, consult, and train with others involved in a wide array of research programs, including sexual science, psychophysiology, cognitive neuroscience, behavioural neuroendocrinology, evolutionary science, medicine, and clinical psychology, and would prepare students to seek careers in academic, industry, and applied health settings, implementing a gender-based perspective in these settings.

Of my graduated MSc students, three are PhD candidates at Queen's, one is in private practice here in Kingston, and one is an adjunct professor at Humber College. One former PhD student is now an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, another is in private practice, and another is a postdoctoral fellow at Dalhousie University.

Of the 26 honour’s thesis students I have trained, the majority went on to graduate school in clinical psychology, social work, counselling, social/personality psychology, or community psychology, and others have pursued law school, or are currently working as research assistants and associates.

Sagelab students have accrued an impressive list of awards and fellowships: 11 best student presentations/manuscript prizes; 4 NSERC summer studentships; 11 tricouncil fellowships at MSc, PhD, and PDF levels; 13 provincial graduate fellowships; 4 graduate level prizes for highest academic standing; 5 awards for academic excellence.