32: Christina B. Gee, PhD – Associate Professor Recalls the Significant People, and Experiences, which Led Her to a Career in Psychology

As a high school student at the Bronx High School of Science, Dr. Christina B. Gee remembers being focused primarily on math and science because they didn’t offer any psychology classes. She recalls that her interest in psychology only came after she started college at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. In this podcast interview, Dr. Christina B. Gee shares her academic and professional journey by discussing the fortunate events that led her to become aware of, and interested in, the field of psychology. In addition to discussing how she searched for psychology graduate programs in Illinois, and why she chose the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her master’s and PhD in clinical/community psychology, Dr. Gee also shares the significant experiences and people that helped shape her life and the direction of her research. Throughout our discussion, Dr. Gee offers her thoughts, experiences, and advice regarding topics important to graduate students including finding the right internship and things to consider when searching for an internship, research and lab experience and how to find these opportunities, and how to decide if you are truly interested in research before applying to PhD programs. She also offers advice to those who are not sure what psychology career path to take (e.g., academic path or practitioner path). During her last year at Cornell, Dr. Gee realized that she wanted to attend graduate school and she also realized that she didn’t have any research experience, so she began volunteering in a developmental psychology lab. She wanted to get more experience to be competitive for graduate school so she began cold emailing many different professors in New York, mostly NYU, to see if she could volunteer or work in their labs. She recalls that most of them never returned her emails, fortunately she got lucky and one of them did reply to her email. Professor Mary O’Brien, who was in the clinical psychology program, focused on the influence of marital conflict on child adjustment. Dr. Gee states “it was just very lucky for me that I got linked up with this lab and that really shaped the direction of my research for years to come.” Dr. Gee is now the Principal Investigator of a research laboratory at GW called the Diverse Family Relationships Lab where they work on a lot of different types of projects. The Lab “is interested in relationship process and adjustment for couples, parents, and families who are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, and socio-economic status.” Some of the research studies the group has already completed include an Asian American Help-Seeking Study and Young Parents Study. They are currently working on the Unified Parenting Project which is “a study of coparenting processes in non-cohabiting parents. This study is also piloting the Coparenting Check-up, which is a free two-session assessment of how parents work together to support each other in raising their child.” As an Associate Professor in the Clinical/Community Psychology program in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at The George Washington University, she explains why students should consider attending their program if they “really want to attend a clinical program that doesn’t just give lip service to diversity” because “diversity is really infused into all aspects of our program.” One thing that you may not know about Dr. Christina B. Gee is that she grew up in a restaurant family. Her father worked in the restaurant industry from the time he was a teenager until his late 40’s. In fact, both her mom and dad are really great cooks. Because of this, she really loves to cook and admits “I probably spend about 50% of my free time thinking about food, planning to cook, or actually cooking.” She says, “our vacations are typically planned around finding the best foods, and it’s really a plus that our sons are foodies as well.” Connect with Christina B.

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