Kate Walsh – Information for Prospective Graduate Students

Dr. Kate Walsh – Information for Prospective Graduate Students

Website: https://pivotlab.psych.wisc.edu/

Current research: My research program includes a variety of studies that address the prevention or response to sexual and gender-based violence. We recently completed data collection for a daily diary study of alcohol and sexual behavior and hope to build on this work in the coming years by better understanding the proximal predictors of sexual aggression and victimization, particularly in the context of heavy alcohol use so applicants who are interested in prevention programming focused on these topics would be a good fit. Another line of work addresses brief interventions for recent sexual assault survivors seeking medical care. We are just beginning a study to tailor an intervention to address posttraumatic stress disorder and opioid misuse risk among recent sexual assault survivors that will involve partnering with a network of sexual assault nursing programs across the country. A third line of research focuses on improving access to post-assault care and post-assault care experiences themselves, particularly for survivors of color, LGBTQ+ survivors, and survivors living in poverty.

Communication Prior to Applying: It is my lab’s policy to not have video calls/meetings with prospective students prior to the application process. I also don’t privilege or prioritize applications from prospective students who have contacted me prior to applying. This is for reasons of fairness – in particular to ensure that I’m able to read every application that I receive with an open mind and from the same initial starting point.  That said, if there are questions about my research or lab that you have that would be helpful to have answered as you prepare your application, I’m certainly happy to answer them. Just send me an email.  And if you have questions about completing/submitting the UW Madison Psychology Department application itself, the best person to contact is our graduate coordinator, kbelt@psych.wisc.edu.

Areas I’m Willing to Advise Students in: I am happy to advise students with interests in Clinical Psychology, particularly trauma/posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders. My interdisciplinary research program also has Social and Developmental components so I could supervise research that dovetails with these areas. I also am jointly appointed in the UW Gender & Women’s Studies department and take a strong feminist psychology approach to my science and thus can supervise students with interests that span psychology and gender studies.

How I Evaluate Applicants:

Like all faculty members in the Psychology Department, I evaluate prospective graduate students in a holistic manner. I therefore consider all the possible ways in which students’ applications materials can demonstrate excellence and a strong likelihood to thrive in the graduate program and in my lab.  As such, the information below should be treated as general rules of thumb rather than a highly proscriptive “checklist” of attributes that candidates must have to be considered for admittance to my lab.

  • Academic preparation: Students with strong academic preparation in psychology courses and particularly in research methods and statistics tend to be most competitive for my lab. We employ a variety of different methodologies and analytic approaches so it can be helpful to have this background to build upon when entering graduate school.
  • Research preparation: The most successful applicants to my lab typically have previous research experience. Many, for example, have been research assistants in a psychology lab (or a related field). It is not uncommon for competitive applicants to clinical psychology programs to have spent 1-2 years as a research assistant prior to applying. More competitive applicants have typically also conducted some type of independent research such as a senior thesis or a summer independent research project, etc.
  • Motivation/drive: I am seeking highly motivated, collaborative, social-justice oriented graduate students who want to contribute to a supportive and collegial lab and conduct high-quality, community-engaged, and impactful clinical research.
  • Personal statement: I evaluate personal statements carefully to understand how your interests connect to mine and what you hope to explore/study in graduate school. These statements should tell me what motivates you personally and what specific research questions you plan to answer in graduate school. I want to get a sense for whether I can support your career and training goals via my current and ongoing research.
  • Other: Students who have worked or volunteered in gender-based violence prevention or response settings tend to be more competitive for my lab than those who have not spent time in these settings. My community-engaged research program requires team members to have the ability to connect with community partners and conduct research with survivors in trauma-informed ways.

Other Information for Prospective Applicants: My research program draws on multiple disciplines including psychology, epidemiology, neurobiology, and gender studies, and I collaborate with faculty across campus who address issues of gender-based violence through policy, social work, and sociology lenses. I strongly encourage my graduate students to familiarize themselves with multi-disciplinary collaborative approaches to understanding and preventing gender-based violence by attending monthly meetings of the UW-Madison Sexual Violence Research Initiative.