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Dr. Susan Mohammed conducts NSF-funded research exploring the adoption of human-robot teams into the construction site

Dr. Susan Mohammed (Co-Principal investigator), along with architectural engineers (Robert Leicht, Principal Investigator, Alan Wagner, Co-Principal Investigator, Bryan Franz, Co-Principal Investigator) and I/O Psychologist Marissa Shuffler (Co-Principal Investigator), will investigate how to integrate robots into predominantly human-centric construction work teams. This research is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation over the next three years across three universities (Penn State, Florida State, and Clemson). In the article, she explains her role in the project:

"We will specifically investigate the degree to which human trade works are 'on the same page' regarding the capabilities, coordination patterns and perceptions of robots in team dynamics, which has major implications for construction crew safety, efficiency and effectiveness..."

Click here to read more about Dr. Mohammed's research. Congrats!

Dr. Susan Mohammed receives NSF funding for engineering teams research

Dr. Susan Mohammed recently received an National Science Foundation (NSF) grant entitled “Longitudinal Exploration of Engineering Design Team Performance in Relation to Team Composition, Climate, and Communication Patterns” to study engineering design teams. She serves as a co-principal investigator on this 3-year interdisciplinary project along with Dr. Scarlett Miller (Penn State, Engineering Design and Industrial Engineering, Principal Investigator) and Dr. Kathryn Jablokow (Penn State, Engineering Design and Mechanical Engineering, Co-Principal Investigator). Click here to read more about their research. Congrats Susan!

Dr. Alicia Grandey's Keynote Address at WAOP

Dr. Alicia Grandey will be the keynote speaker at the Work And Organizational Psychology (WAOP) conference in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in November 2019. Click here for more details. Congrats Alicia!

PSU at SIOP 2019

Earlier this month, our program traveled to National Harbor, MD for the 34th Annual Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology conference! There were several items on the conference program that involved research from PSU I/O students and faculty. We also held our annual alumni reception, where we were able to honor Rick Jacobs for his 40 years of service to the program! See below for pictures taken throughout our time there!

Dr. Kisha Jones interviewed by US. News and World Report and Women's Wear Daily on Chief Diversity Officers

Dr. Kisha Jones was interviewed for two recent news articles on the how some organizations have begun to create Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) positions. One thing she discusses in the U.S. News and World Report article "How Diversity Officers Change Corporate Culture", is some of the challenges that CDOs are up against:

With movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, diversity dominates today's headlines. That these efforts are controversial hints at the pushback diversity officers sometimes face from "people who are resistant to diversity" and "people who feel like they aren't represented in the diversity initiatives," Jones says.

Workers and managers who aren't necessarily opposed to diversity may still find it uncomfortable to talk about, having grown accustomed to "colorblind models" of operating that experts consider to be outdated, Jones says.

In the Women's Wear Daily article "On Staff: Diversity and Inclusion Chiefs--the Hot New Fashion Accessory", the discussion focuses on whether CDOs are implemented in response to consumer backlash towards fashion companies that (unintentionally?) sell products considered to be insensitive and/or offensive. In this article, she discusses what having CDO signals to employees and customers as well as the potential effectiveness of the role:

“I think there’s a lot of tension around diversity — whether racial diversity, gender diversity — that is at the forefront so people are thinking about it and companies realize that these are things that are spilling over into the workforce, too,” she said.

Jones said in the past, some companies had this role in a vice president’s position, but adding it to the c-suite or making it a leader role like at H&M “creates some accountability because someone in that role will have to report to the ceo” and is a move by the board to demonstrate it is taking the issue seriously.

“Just the presence of that [position] sends a signal that diversity is something they’re taking seriously,” Jones said. “We need some time to see how people are able to function in that role and what they’re able to accomplish, but I think that it’s a great start. It’s important.”

Click the links above to check out the full articles. Congrats Kisha!

Dr. Scott Highhouse's Visit to PSU I/O Program

In mid-October, our program hosted Dr. Scott Highhouse, Professor of Psychology and Ohio Eminent Scholar at Bowling Green State University for a visit. He presented a talk entitled:

Intersection of Industrial-Organizational Psychology with Judgment and Decision Making: A Personal Account

Here are some pictures from his visit:


Thank you for coming out Scott, we enjoyed having you!

Dr. Alicia Grandey's work featured on "WorkLife with Adam Grant" and Wisconsin Public Radio

Dr. Alicia Grandey's research was featured on WorkLife with Adam Grant (Episode 5, 4/4/2018, link:
and Wisconsin Public Radio (4/6/2018, link:
Feel free to check these programs out!

Dr. Alicia Grandey and program alum Dr. Lawrence Houston receive media attention

Dr. Alicia Grandey recently wrote an article for The Conversation  entitled  “Black employees in the service industry pay an emotional tax at work,” based on a study with PSU IO program alum Dr. Lawrence Houston. Their research has gotten attention in as well as The Salon, the San Francisco Chronicle and Philadelphia Inquirer. Congrats Alicia!

Gordon Sayre conducting research in Switzerland

Gordon Sayre won the ThinkSwiss Scholarship, permitting him to work in Switzerland with Dr. Laurenz Meier over the summer of 2018. Congrats!

Dr. Susan Mohammed Interviewed by New York Magazine Blog

Dr. Susan Mohammed was recently interviewed by New York Magazine's blog, Science of Us, regarding her opinion on a commonly used method of bringing groups of people together for the first time, icebreakers. Apparently, they can be ineffective if not done properly.

“Icebreakers are generally a first step and they can be valuable in … getting people to know each other,” she says. “But in terms of group cohesion or deep levels of trust or psychological safety or an open climate, it’s just not going to be enough.”

In this interview, she offers strategies for making icebreakers more effective.

And one way to make people a little more engaged, Mohammed says, is to outline right off the bat what they’ll be doing, explain the goal of the icebreaker — are they there to build trust? learn something new about a person? figure out roles for a team? — and to reiterate those same points again once it’s all done.


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