Student Spotlight: Dmitry Tsukerman

Degree: Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Behavior

Expected graduation: 2020

Hometown: Brea, CA

Why did you choose the School of Social Ecology?

The School of Social Ecology is in the vanguard of a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to science. This translates to a Psychology and Social Behavior department that strongly encourages and provides opportunities for students to conduct research both with different faculty and across different areas of study (such as health and emotion). Aside from the advantage of exploring diverse research avenues, this approach also allows us graduate students to benefit from the academic, professional, and personal mentorship of multiple faculty members.

How did you grow interested in your current field of study?

While exploring thesis topics for my prior Master’s degree (in clinical psychology), I became inspired by a young man with a physical disability who was thriving despite his physical challenges. I wanted to better understand what personal and environmental factors contribute to more successful adaptation to serious life challenges. This quickly developed into my research thesis studying coping and wellbeing in people with physical disabilities. Since then, my research interests have grown to a more general exploration of people’s emotional adjustment to stress. 

What has been your most memorable or significant experience so far at UCI?

Rather than a single experience, I find great joy and satisfaction in seeing the success of the PSB students who I have helped mentor. PSB faculty Dr. Joanne Zinger has developed a tremendous post-baccalaureate program within our department with the goal of helping students to develop viable candidacy for graduate study in psychology. I have had the fortunate opportunity to work closely with many of these students as an assistant in this program for the past two years. After witnessing the students’ hard work and progress, seeing their graduate school acceptance letters rolling in has been among the most fulfilling experiences at UCI.

How do you envision your degree from UCI opening doors for you or benefitting your career?

Earning a Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Behavior at UCI will afford me the opportunity to pursue several of my career goals as I continue to explore and develop my professional interests. I believe that the strong emphasis on diverse real-world applications of our research training in PSB can translate into a career both in academia or in other settings such as organizations providing services and care for people with physical disabilities or other life challenges.