Doctoral student lands National Cancer Institute fellowship

January 23, 2013 | Research, UToday, — Languages, Literature and Social Sciences
By Casey Cheap

Stephanie Fowler, an experimental psychology doctoral student, recently beat out 280 applicants nationwide to win her position in the Cancer Prevention and Control Fellowship Program with the National Cancer Institute.



Dr. Andrew Geers, UT professor of psychology and Fowler’s adviser, said she is a special student and sets herself apart from others in many ways.

“In my view, a key factor here was the strong research and quantitative skills Stephanie has gained at UT,” Geers said. “Stephanie is a tremendously talented researcher and is poised to be one of the leading cancer prevention researchers in the entire nation.”

Fowler found the fellowship through a research organization called the Social Personality and Health Network. To get the position, Fowler went head to head with talented researchers from Harvard, UCLA and Ohio State University.

Her research has been concentrated on the psychosocial factors that increase the engagement of beneficial health behaviors, and she has published eight peer-reviewed manuscripts, with six more manuscripts under review with scientific journals.

“The first year of the fellowship will serve as a bridge providing a common language between my research approach in experimental psychology with the research approach from other disciplines,” Fowler said. “I will be engaged in public health training; then from the second year on, I will be applying my skills to cancer prevention research.”

Fowler will complete the first of her four-year postdoctoral training at either Johns Hopkins University or Harvard University, and spend the remainder of her time in Washington, D.C.

After her fellowship, she plans on continuing her research on cancer prevention and health promotion behavior, preferably in the government or an academic setting.

Fowler said that she focused intently on preparation for the interview, a strategy she took with her into the lengthy application process.

“As with anything that you want to be good at in life, practice is key,” Fowler said. “I knew my interview panel would consist of 12 researchers and doctors at the National Cancer Institute, so before the interview, my colleagues practiced a mock interview session where I practiced crafting my answers. I also looked up the members of the interview committee so I was familiar with their research areas, which helped me anticipate the types of questions they would ask.”

Fowler said seeing those familiar cues when she got into the interview room and her work preparing led to her successful interview and subsequent job offer. With so much riding on the fellowship, she said she worked hard to ensure that the interview process went as successfully as possible.

“It is a real team effort,” Fowler said. “You are only as strong as the teammates who are helping you and are standing behind you. I certainly credit my family, colleagues and especially my adviser for setting the bar high and expecting nothing but top performance.”

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