Joanna Weaver, PhD, joined the College of Science Psychology Department this fall as an assistant professor. Dr. Weaver received her PhD at the State University of New York — Albany and is currently completing research on social cognition.
Why did you choose to apply to work at Northeastern University?
I applied to work at Northeastern because of its dynamic approach to undergraduate education. I was confident that the co-op program would give students a positive feedback loop offering them real-world experiences on which to make educational decisions for their program of study and then studies that would feed their workplace skill development. Additionally, the combined majors and forward-looking interdisciplinarity generally break down some of the traditional ivory tower environment, linking what students learn across their classes and departments. It’s a cutting-edge and exciting place to teach.
What areas of research are you focused on or have focused on in the past?
I am wrapping up a study on social cognition in preschool-age children. I examined young children’s moral reasoning about how to treat a peer based on differences in modeled teacher behavior. More broadly, my research focuses on psychosocial and cognitive factors that affect children’s learning and development in educational settings.
What are you currently working on?
I am preparing for a conference this fall, where I will present the results of a study that I ran in the spring, measuring the effect of analogous reasoning on adolescents’ decision-making about social contacts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Are you actively part of any labs or have plans to join/start a lab at Northeastern?
I will not start a lab, per se, but I am applying for a funding opportunity with the ManyNumbers research collaborative. If granted, this will enable me to research math cognition with young children “in the field” – for example, at Northeastern’s children’s center or in local daycares, community centers, or schools. I would welcome undergraduate research assistants’ participation in this project.
What excites you the most about continuing your career at Northeastern?
Working with college students keeps me engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning. I look forward to growing as a teacher and continuing to hone my pedagogical skills. My impression of Northeastern students thus far is that they are vocal, energetic participants in class who will teach me a great deal about their generation’s interests and priorities. In turn, I hope to equip them with a strong background in psychological knowledge and scientific literacy skills. In addition, they have a lifetime of interactions with information and other people ahead of them, which psychology can help them navigate intelligently.
What do you hope to get out of your time as a College of Science faculty member?
I hope to join a community of colleagues who care about teaching and research and with whom I can collaborate and share interests. I feel lucky to have achieved a career where I can spend my time in academic pursuits surrounded by bright, inquisitive students and faculty.
What courses are offering this semester, and which are you most excited to teach?
I am teaching one section of Developmental Psychology and two sections of Foundations of Psychology. I am most excited to teach Developmental because it is an in-depth treatment of a subfield in which I have doctoral training and research experience. Students typically enjoy Developmental Psychology because it gives them insight into their own and others’ maturation processes and developmental trajectories. They can find personal connections to the material and better understand environmental and biological influences on who they have come to be.
What is a fun fact our community should know about you?
I used to play in a samba batucada in the city where I am from. Our band performed regularly for Brazilian Carnaval celebrations, clubs, and world music venues.