RA Q&A with Nicholas Latimer from the Social Health Laboratory

Throughout his undergraduate degree, Nicholas has been a part of various research groups – including the Sexuality & Well-Being Lab, Lifestyle Research Team, and is currently working at the  Social Health Lab, led by Dr. Frances Chen. The Social Health Lab explores the obstacles people face when making friends and the health consequences of loneliness and interpersonal conflict. They work towards developing interventions to promote social connection, with the goal of making a positive impact on people’s health and well-being.

Nicholas works as a Study Coordinator for the Teen Health Development and the Simulated Online Interview studies at the lab. In his position, he corresponds with participants, schedules study sessions, train RAs, track data progress, and more. Outside of work and school, you can find Nicholas spending his time outdoors, whether it’s camping, hiking, rock climbing, or simply enjoying the amazing beaches here in BC!

What motivated you to apply to work as an RA at the Social Health Lab?

I first heard about the Social Health Lab in Dr. Chen’s statistics course. She mentioned a study that they were doing that was relevant to our course. A month later, I attended the UBC Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference as a volunteer and met an RA who was conducting their honors thesis at the Social Health Lab. I was intrigued after hearing more about the study and thought the lab would be a good fit for me. I initially started as a volunteer and was offered the opportunity to work as a Study Coordinator later on. Since then, I have been helping with the management of  multiple studies!

What intrigues you about research at this lab in particular?

I’m most motivated when interacting with others, so having the opportunity to manage the communications with participants is something that I find more engaging than most research-related tasks. With that said, managing the backend of studies can be fulfilling–knowing that you have something to contribute, whether that  be an entire study or managing important duties like recruitment, analyses, or even presentations that tie everything together.

Do you have advice for other students who want to get involved in research?

Don’t feel restricted to research in psychology for your first lab experience! There are a lot of options that can add to your experience outside of psychology. This way, you will get exposure to more diverse topics and lab cultures. You can use this experience to get involved with a topic in psychology that sparks your interests.

What is your favourite part of working as an RA?

Working as a Study Coordinator, I take pride in the studies that I am involved in. Getting to follow the progress of a study after the time and hours you put into a project can be super fulfilling! On top of this, the working environment also allows me to develop strong skills that will be useful towards my future, whether it be for work or academics. 

How do you see this field of research changing in the next few months or years?

There are a number of groups out there who are eager to support more accessible psychology research positions, specifically for undergraduate students. In the next few years, I hope for more accessibility and space to allow many more students to have the opportunity to gain valuable skills from working in various research positions.