Amber Stark

Member Spotlight: Matt C. Howard, PhD

Dr. Matt C. Howard

Assistant Professor, University of South Alabama

How long have you been a SIOP member?
About 10 years

What roles have you had within SIOP?
Volunteer for SIOP's Program-APA and Program-APS Committees as well as SIOP Membership Committee

Interest Area(s)
Statistics and methodology, health and well-being, personality and individual differences, and technology-enhanced training and development

What sparked your interest in I-O psychology?
Early in my undergraduate career, I was interested in math and statistics, but I didn't particularly care for my math and stats courses because they were focused on engineering applications. I was also interested in the study of people, but I didn't particularly care for my classes focused on clinical psychology. When my introduction to psychology professor told me about I-O psychology, I immediately realized that it was the ideal integration of my two primary interests. I could apply math and statistics to study and ultimately help people. I remember my professor warning me that a career path in I-O psychology would require a master’s or possibly even a PhD, but I knew that it would not be a hurdle for me. I was certainly willing to go to school longer to follow this career path.

What role do you see I-O psychology playing in the future of work?
I-O psychology can play an integral role in every aspect of the future of work. The only limitation is what I-O psychologists choose to do.

Which of the Top 10 Work Trends for 2022 do you most strongly relate to and how can I-O psychology practitioners, educators, and students impact this trend?
As someone who studies technology-enhanced training and development, I am always interested in how new technologies can benefit learning and education. There are a lot of interesting developments in virtual reality and augmented reality for training and development (and beyond); however, those making these devices are not always aware of modern research and practice on learning and education. For this reason, it is essential for I-O psychologists to become more involved with technology-oriented fields of study, such as human–computer interaction, to guide the proper creation and application of these technologies. This would require I-O psychologists to read and publish in technology-oriented outlets rather than the outlets that we typically publish.

What advice would you give to students or early practitioners?
Ask everyone for advice, but only listen to some. I have made sure to ask anyone possible for career guidance (and still do), but I also recognize that I shouldn't follow all advice that has been given to me. If I had, I would have followed a much different career path and have been much less happy.

What is one of your favorite SIOP Annual Conference memories/highlights?
Like most everyone, I remember my first time attending the SIOP Annual Conference and seeing all the authors of works that I had been reading. I also remember the first time I did a poster presentation and had someone who I cited in the poster read it. It was quite a thrill! They were so nice and asked me a lot of softball questions. It really boosted my self-efficacy early in my career.

Please share one non-I-O-related bit of information about yourself
I enjoy all types of media—whether television, movies, novels, or poetry. My wife, Dr. Laura Vrana, is a professor of English, so she always keeps me up to date on interesting things to read. I also enjoy all types of sports and particularly all types of wrestling—whether Greco-Roman, freestyle, professional, or sumo. I once had a professional wrestling match as well as a sumo match.

Is there anything you would like to add?
I was recently recognized as an Association for Psychological Science Rising Star 2022.

Editor’s Note: The APS Rising Star designation is presented to outstanding APS members in the earliest stages of their research career post-PhD. Drawing its name from an Observer editorial series that featured exemplars of the exciting work being done by the field’s newest researchers, this designation recognizes researchers whose innovative work has already advanced the field and signals great potential for their continued contributions.

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