Prospective Graduate Student Information

​Welcome! Here are a few resources that you will find helpful while evaluating your fit with our lab:

 

You can also read answers to some FAQ below.

1. What about GRE scores? 

GRE scores are optional and you can use your discretion in submitting them. GRE scores are not necessary to have a compelling application and, in fact, many of my top applicants don't submit them. In my view, high scores can be meaningful, but low scores are much less so. This is because the GRE can:

  • reflect stereotype threat (Gaither et al., 2015) or systematic bias in the test items (Anastasi, Lamer, & Weisbuch, 2016; Gonzalez-Espada, 2009);

  • be confounded with test anxiety or training;

  • create unnecessary financial burden; 

  • take valuable time away from gaining lab experience; 

  • reveal socioeconomic differences among applicants who may have less access to expensive GRE prep courses, who may have fewer financial resources to re-take the test, or who have to limit the number of schools they can apply to because it is costly to send the GRE scores.  Success on the GRE can be coached and accounting for SES differences mitigates or substantially reduces differences in scores by race (Penncock-Roman, 1994). 

These specific biases can put certain populations - especially applicants from underrepresented or marginalized groups - at a disadvantage.  ​Thus, a high score communicates your aptitude, but a low score is much less meaningful.  Submit what documents support you as a strong candidate.  That is what I will evaluate.  Some lab principal investigators (PIs) do not consider GRE scores at all, but that too may limit applicants who do not have access to extensive research opportunities during their undergraduate career.  The important thing to know is that I take a thoughtful and holistic approach to evaluate applications and will assess all available components (e.g., GPA, research experience, letters of recommendation, GRE).  If you think you are a good fit for the research we do in the lab, apply! 

Members of underrepresented groups (e.g., POC; Indigenous; first-gen; LGBTQ+) are encouraged to apply!

Note that the college will waive application fees for members of the following historically underrepresented groups: Native American, Asian American, African American, and Hispanic/Chicano/Latinx. Please let me know if you qualify for this fee waiver before you pay for your application so I can file the necessary paperwork with our Area head. It will be a fee waiver, not a reimbursement.

 

2. Should I email to indicate interest in applying?

Yes! This is a norm in the field, but not one that all students know about while they are applying.  You should feel free to email me to indicate your interest in applying to the lab, but this step is not required: slamer@utk.edu

3. What kinds of software skills do I need to succeed in your lab?

We use lots of different software programs in the lab: fast-dm (for diffusion modelling), R (for statistical analysis), Python and MatLab (for study programming), premiere and photoshop (for video and photo editing of stimuli), Javascript (for customizing Qualtrics surveys), and others. I recognize that many of these skills are stereotypically gendered (e.g., coding and math) or require expensive software you may not have had access to in your career thus far (e.g., MatLab and Adobe). Therefore, while experience with any is welcome and valuable, you will receive training on all necessary software as a graduate student and should not let inexperience with a particular program stop you from applying! 

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