Division 53 | Past Columns - Cari McCarty

Past Columns - Cari McCarty
Cari McCarty, Ph.D., University of Washington

Cari McCarty, Ph.D.,
Research Associate Professor in Pediatrics
University of Washington

1. What is your current occupation?

Ans - I am a Research Associate Professor in Pediatrics at the University of Washington.

2. What do you do?

Ans - I mainly conduct research focused on prevention and understanding adolescent risk for depression, substance use, and mental health problems.  A second role within my position is training leaders in the field of adolescent health.

3. How did you learn about your job? 

Ans - Word of mouth! My Division Head had been thinking about hiring a research psychologist for a long time, and my name came up as a potential local candidate, as I was doing a postdoc  at UW at the time.  Networking really is important in our careers!  The position was later nationally advertised, as well, through the APA Monitor.

4. How have you navigated your career? As in, what was the process that you took to get to your current position?

Ans - I wrote a K-01 grant which provided critical research funding during my early years on faculty, and allowed me to receive additional training and mentorship.  (Shout out to Dr. Elizabeth McCauley, who has been an extremely valuable mentor in helping me navigate my career).  In the early years, I also wrote a mission statement to define my professional goals, and I have tried to use that as a gauge for helping me discern when to say yes and when to say no to opportunities that come my way.

5. Are you a member of Division 53?  If so, how has being a member of Division 53 been helpful to you?

Ans - Yes.  I am an active member, and I also served as Member at Large for Education and Standards from 2008-2010.  I feel that involvement in this organization has greatly expanded my professional network, and I have learned quite a bit from the newsletters, conferences, working meetings, listserv activities, and leading initiatives within the Division.

6. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job? Why?

Ans - I am the Lead Psychology Faculty for the UW Leadership and Education in Adolescent Health program.  As part of this work, I work with multidisciplinary fellows as they gain leadership skills and develop individualized projects to advance adolescent health.  I have also worked with a core group of faculty at UW to develop the program, create curriculum, and steer the vision for this work.  It has been really fun to build a new program from the ground up, and work so closely with fellows from a variety of educational backgrounds.  I also really enjoy the collaborative process of grant writing in small teams.  It can be intense at times, but it is interesting to see my ideas take a different shape and grow into new research questions because of the involvement of others.

7. What is a tough aspect of your job?  How have you handled it?

Ans - My position is largely supported by grant funding (soft money), and the funding climate as of late has been challenging.  I have met this challenge by broadening my scope to consider opportunities beyond traditional NIH mechanisms, and by fostering strong collaborations at my research institute.

8. What is one thing that you wish you had known as a graduate student or post-doc/early career psychologist that would have helped you navigate your career?

Ans - It is important to remember that there are multiple pathways and opportunities that develop over time, and that each of us will have our own unique route to success.  Teaming with others should be embraced as a way to enhance your work and move your career goals forward.

9. What advice would you give to students (including undergrads and grads) who may be interested in doing what you do?

Ans - Stay true to your own mission, while at the same time developing a network with others in your community and/or university who have shared overlapping professional goals.  And to be successful in research requires great perseverance, so never give up, just press on and innovate.

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