Jennifer Lodi-Smith, PhD Assistant Professor
I grew up in Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia and completed a psychology and philosophy double major as well as a M.A. in experimental psychology at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. From there I went to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign for my Ph.D. in personality psychology followed by a post-doc at the Center for Vital Longevity at the University of Texas at Dallas where I directed an intervention research program designed to promote healthy neurocognitive aging by teaching older adults how to quilt and do digital photography!
My teaching interests include personality psychology, psychology of aging, psychology of religion, and psychobiography. One of my goals as a professor is to prepare students for life in graduate school and give them the best skills possible. Because of this, as a student in my class, you won’t spend a lot of time reading a textbook. Instead, I’ll talk about what a textbook would tell you while you read primary source peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. This helps you learn more about some of the latest research as well as citation classics in the field while honing skills in the critical evaluation of research. In addition, a large part of my teaching has a strong focus on quantitative and methodological training. That said, I am the daughter of a storyteller and I have a passion for what people’s stories can tell us about them and about the validity of science theory. I try to merge the quantitative and the qualitative in both my teaching and in my research to gain a holistic picture of individual identity.
My program of research focuses on the patterns, mechanisms, and outcomes of identity change across the lifespan. This is happens in three ways in my lab:
- Basic research on archival data analysis: Current basic research projects in my lab include using existing data to look at personality and cognitive function in older adults as well as identity certainty in a longitudinal sample of adults age 18-89.
- Narrative research examining individual difference in life stories: Narrative research projects include work with two time points of over 200 life story interviews from adults aged 18-89 collected 5 years apart (the first data of its kind anywhere in the world) and students narratives of their religious identity development.
- Applied research: I am currently working on developing a program of research to examine how real world experiences such as study abroad impact identity over time.
Please get in touch if you would like to get involved in any of these lines of research!
Outside of the office, the most important thing to me is my family. I have a fantastic husband, a wonderful son, and a very supportive and fun extended family. We are all very active and try to be outdoors as much as possible running, riding horses, or just going to a park or on a walk.