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Faculty Focus: Laura Fuller, PhD

Date: Monday, August 20, 2018

Laura Fuller, PhDWhat is your hometown?

Iowa City, Iowa

How/when did you become interested in science and/or medicine?

Between my father’s work as a professor in the dental college, my whole family’s strong interest in science and nature, and some of the enrichment projects I was able to do in school, I developed a strong interest in science at an early age. When I was in junior high I got to work in a lab with recombinant DNA; in college I started out pre-med but switched to psychology, which I have never regretted; after college I worked in a neuroscience lab that was doing schizophrenia research using an animal model, and I performed surgeries to place electrodes in a certain place in the animal’s hippocampus, I gathered data on auditory  “gating,” and also performed the histology on these animals. So the short answer is there are many reasons for my interest…

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?


How or why did you choose to join the faculty at the University of Iowa?

To take on new challenges and also because of the great reputation of the University. I hadworked many years as a child psychologist and taken on many teaching and leadership roles as well as doing thousands of hours of clinical work, and joining the faculty seemed like a perfect way to take advantage of my previous experiences and learn some new things as well.

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

I have wished that I’d had the presence of a strong mentor over the years. Instead, I’ve learned from a variety of people and experiences. Once I got to UIHC I did get some great mentoring, which is part of the program for all new faculty in our department.

How do you see your faculty role impacting medicine and/or science?

Primarily I believe that I am impacting the future of medicine and science through my teaching activities with child psychiatry fellows, psychology graduate students, general psychiatry residents, undergraduates and medical students.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?

The identification of evidence-based therapies for treatment of various psychiatric conditions. When I was in graduate school the literature on this was just coming out, and now it is widely accepted that certain treatments are known to be effective for specific conditions.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

For females in particular, I would like to say, “Don’t be afraid to ask for things and to negotiate.” During my first year at UIHC I took part in a book group for female faculty members. We read a book called Women Don’t Ask that had a huge impact on me. I learned a lot through discussing that book with junior and senior faculty members and trying some new things in my own life as a result.

In what ways are you engaged in professional activities outside the University (i.e. population based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/ expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagement off campus, etc.)??

I have served on the executive council of the Iowa Psychological Association (IPA) since 2013 and have given talks at conferences sponsored by IPA. Since its inception, I have also served on the board of Lives in the Balance, a non-profit organization started by Dr. Ross Greene for the purpose of disseminating information on non-adversarial, non-punitive interventions for children with challenging behavior. In the past I have mentored two “little sisters” through Big Brothers/Big Sisters—they are now both in their mid to late 20s and we are still in touch.

What are some of your outside (personal) interests?

I enjoy many outdoor activities including running, hiking, skiing (both kinds), canoeing, and bicycling. I enjoy reading and cooking, as well as spending time with family. Another thing I love to do is travel. I just got back from a 2 week trip to Northern Spain with my sisters and a friend. We were traveling and bicycling in the region of Catalonia. While we were there, a historic vote for independence happened, and we were able to witness some of the ensuing excitement firsthand.