The Graduate Forum will be running a series of articles profiling the new Graduate Student Council. The GSC elections were held back on May 1st. As the new board members get underway in their positions, we’d like to take an opportunity to congratulate them on their elections and to highlight their hopes for the year ahead. Next up – new Academic Chair Rich Lopez.
Graduates students are used to pursuing their academics with a high level of specificity. This hyper-focus, which tends to foster an undeniable enthusiasm and excitement, can be captured by one famous, endearing moniker – the nerd.
“I’m a complete nerd at heart,” claims Rich Lopez, “and I think my enthusiasm stems from not being willing to draw a hard line between academic and social spheres of life.” It’s the perfect attitude for the new Academic Chair of the Graduate Student Council.
Rich grew up in New Jersey, and stayed in his home state for college. He attended Princeton University, graduating in 2009 with a degree in Psychology. After completing his bachelor’s, Rich took the long trip from Jersey to New York City, to work as a research assistant at Columbia University. The lab he worked in explored the regulation of human emotions in both healthy and clinical populations.
Rich started in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth in the fall of 2011. He notes a well-understood truth about Dartmouth’s PhD programs, saying, “I decided to come to Dartmouth because it offers the resources and opportunities of a world-class university while still maintaining a small, intimate feel.”
Rich is a rising second year PhD candidate, and he’s working with Dr. Todd Heatherton. He’s specializing in cognitive neuroscience, focusing on human appetitive behavior, like cue reactivity and self-regulation. Over the past year, Rich ran a study that, in his words, “sought to establish relationships between brain activity and eating behaviors in everyday life.”
At the GSC elections back in May, Rich was elected to the position of Academic Chair in a tight and passionate runoff. I was in attendance for those elections – it was easy to see the enthusiasm and excitement Rich would bring to the position as he walked back and forth on stage. In his campaign speech, Rich emphasized the importance of increasing the visibility of Dartmouth’s graduate programs and students and the research they’re doing. He sees his election as a means to work towards the continuation and expansion of graduate academic events on campus.
“This coming year, I see both Nerd Nite and GradTalks continuing, since I’d like to establish an expectation that these events are “staple” events that provide opportunities for grad students to share exciting research with each other (in the case of Nerd Nite), and with the wider public (via GradTalks). In addition to the expectation, I hope to foster a sense of ownership among grad students so that in the future the grad student coordinators of the events can change their form and function to best serve the graduate community and beyond.”
By facilitating events that blur the line between the social and the academic, Rich is catering to those who understand that, as graduate students, the two are truly inseparable. At this point in an academic career, our studies are influencing so much of what we do outside of the classroom, and it makes sense to find unique and fun ways to explore those connections. The Graduate Forum congratulates Rich on his election, and wishes the best for all of the incoming GSC executive board members.