I have always been driven by curiosity and the need to understand the world around me. Even as a child, I was fascinated by the idea of biological evolution and still have grade-school projects on the evolution of humans, anthropology and archaeology, and related topics.
By the time I entered college, I had become intrigued by clinical psychology and psychiatry, and wondered how I could combine this interest with my interest in genetics and evolutionary biology. I came across a review of E. O. Wilson’s Sociobiology, which provided a direction. The direction was made concrete when I read about a field called “behavior genetics.” I contacted a distinguished behavior-genetics researcher at my university and began working in his laboratory studying learned behavior in invertebrates.
I was accepted into a doctoral program and continued working in this laboratory on the genetics and evolution of Drosophila. I also studied the misuse of the biological and psychological sciences by those promoting systemic and scientific racism.
Later, as a postdoctoral researcher, I investigated the biological and cognitive correlates of schizophrenia, which eventually led to a second postdoctoral position in clinical psychology. I left this position after one year, however, to take a full-time position teaching psychology at a college in Scottsdale, Arizona.
I had discovered in graduate school that I loved to teach others what I was learning, and that teaching was perhaps the best way to develop a deep understanding of the material. Teaching also helped me to acquire the skills needed to communicate clearly and effectively fundamental concepts, principles, and theories at a level appropriate for students and the general public. I have taught a broad range of courses across the biological and psychological sciences (please see my curriculum vitae).
Over the years, I presented at many scientific and educational conferences, which taught me how to present information in ways appropriate to very different audiences.
Beginning around 2000, I started to develop instructional material online for students, other psychology instructors, and the general public in websites and social media. On one website, I published an online textbook; and on other websites, I published readings and lessons for students and the general public. Some lessons focused on critical thinking in psychology. And I developed tests used to assess the effectiveness of these interventions in improving critical thinking skills in my students.
I honed my management skills in several quasi-administrative positions (e.g., academic division chair, academic department chair, faculty senate president). I also held leadership positions in which I was responsible for curriculum development and course articulation with colleges and universities in Arizona and nationally.
Altogether, these experiences make me uniquely qualified to be a highly effective medical communicator.
Dr. Jeffry Ricker, Ph.D
Dr. Ricker CV
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Dr. Jeff Ricker, Ph.D