The Second Century Initiative (2CI) brought more than 80 leading scholars and researchers across a diverse array of disciplines; its successor program, the Next Generation Program, continues to do so. Each faculty member has provided the university with their unique perspectives and leadership in their fields. Their work moves forward important and innovative research and scholarship, while lifting the reputation of Georgia State University and its colleges/schools for work addressing the challenges of the 21st century.
This article is part of a series highlighting individual faculty members and their perspectives through a question-and-answer format. Dr. Jessica Turner is a professor in the Department of Psychology.
Q:Can you tell me briefly about your research and scholarship?
A: I’m a cognitive neuroscientist who collaborates with clinicians for the purposes of studying neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders. My main interests are mind-brain relationships, both structural and functional.
Q: What first interested you in your field?
A: I was very lucky to be allowed to play with MRI scanners in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Realizing I could see a mind without hurting them is what really interested me. I could see the neuroactivity that correlated with internal experience non-invasively and I was hooked.
Q: What did you find attractive about Georgia State?
A: Georgia State was actually very attractive because it was a school in a good size city but not a massive metropolis. It was a school that had strong interactions with other universities nearby and it encouraged collaborations across departments. So, there was a lot of energy at Georgia State and there was a sense of trying to improve and do more that I hadn’t seen in a lot of universities in many years.
Q: What sort of collaborations have you been able to form at Georgia State?
A: I’ve collaborated with people in computer science. We were working on some machine learning approaches to various research questions. I’ve been collaborating, more recently, with a geneticist in the Neuroscience Institute. We’ve been trying to look at fly models of some of the disorders. I’ve been collaborating with faculty here at Georgia State, working into moving into new questions and new disorders in psychology.
Q: What new developments do you foresee with your research and scholarship in the future?
A: I think we’re at a point now where large-scale neuroimaging questions and research are becoming easier to do and are becoming more common. So, I’m expecting my work to become more networked so that the data I collect can be shared with other people and their research can be shared with me and we can work together to answer questions on a scale that we couldn’t answer before. If you’re looking for an effect that you can see with 30 subjects, that’s going to be a large effect. If you’re looking for these very nuanced questions where you have lots of mediating variables and you’re really trying to capture the complexities of the brain networks that you think are underlying some of these disorders, you’re going to need a lot of subjects and you really can’t do that.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to mention?
A: I will say one thing that I’ve appreciated about Georgia State is a sense of camaraderie and support among the faculty. I hadn’t done a lot of teaching or mentoring before I got to Georgia State and the faculty have been really supportive with helping me translate my ideas into the classroom so that I can teach effectively and providing input on mentoring graduate students.