FAU Broward Campuses - Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Brett Laursen

Friday, Jul 01, 2022
Dr. Brett Laursen

Professor | Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Dr. Brett Laursen is a Psychology Professor at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. He has taught at Florida Atlantic University since 1991. Originally, Psychology wasn’t Dr. Laursen’s calling. "I'm not much of a psychologist," Dr. Laursen said. "As an undergraduate, I switched into Psychology at the last minute from Education."

Dr. Laursen’s interest in studying and teaching psychology was because of the difference it makes for future generations.

"I find psychology attractive because I can advance the interests of children through rigorous scientific study," Dr. Laursen explained. "Developmental psychologists make a difference in the lives of children because our empirical research informs parents, teachers, journalists, practitioners, and policy makers."

Dr. Laursen showed his love for teaching Developmental Psychology.

"Developmental psychology has become extraordinarily rigorous," Dr. Laursen said. "I take great pleasure in explaining to students not just what we know, but why it is important, and how we came to know it. Developmental psychology has always competed with other, dubious mediums, as a source of information about children."

Dr. Laursen spoke about some of his current studies.

"We just finished collecting data on a 3-year longitudinal study funded by the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Students in grades 3-7 identified changes in friends and changes in behaviors in school, to better understand who is friends with whom and how influence is apportioned within their relationships," Dr. Laursen said, "I'm also working with a team in Vilnius, Lithuania. We are in the midst of a 3-year project funded by the Lithuanian Research Council which examines the role of parents in the friendship relations of children."

He spoke about his fondest memories throughout the years as a professor.

"I take great pride in the accomplishments of my graduate students. Hooding a new Ph.D. is a special event," Dr. Laursen said. "I always attend because they are special days for students and their families. Many of my graduate students have gone on to successful careers in academia. We stay in touch. Every year at a scientific conference I host a dinner with current and former graduate students and collaborators."

He spoke about the impact of getting letters from past students.

"I sometimes receive nice thank-you letters and emails from students at the end of the semester or, on occasion, years later," Dr. Laursen said. "They reflect on my class, what they learned, my teaching style, whatever. To students reading this interview, if you enjoyed your class, tell your professor. It will make their week!"

Dr. Laursen gave some advice for future prospective psychology students.

"Taking extra math and statistics courses is a foolproof way to make yourself marketable, particularly if you pair these courses with high-level training in Excel," Dr. Laursen said. Students think psychology is all about people, but they forget it is also a science. Critical thinking skills and the ability to solve problems with numbers are two abilities that set psychology majors apart from others."

Dr. Laursen spoke about his time as the Editor-In-Chief for the International Journal of Behavior Development.

"I'm in my final year at the journal, having spent 9 years as editor in chief and, prior to that, 6 years as the founding editor of the methods and measures section of the journal," Dr. Laursen said. Most journals in my field are very North American focused. The International Journal of Behavioral Development is different. Our editorial team hails from 5 continents and we publish work from scholars all over the world… Most journals in my field are very North American focused. The International Journal of Behavioral Development is different. Our editorial team hails from 5 continents and we publish work from scholars all over the world."

When he’s not busy working as a professor or as an editor in chief he spends his free time doing the other stuff he loves most.

"I like to travel to see new places and visit family members and friends. When I'm traveling, I enjoy hiking outdoors," Dr. Laursen said. "I particularly enjoy mushroom picking, something I only do in the company of people who know what they are doing. At home I paddleboard each weekend. Disc golf is another outdoor activity that makes me happy. Time spent outdoors is best concluded with another indulgence, Visiting a craft brewery."

Dr. Laursen wasn’t in warm weather his whole life as he was born in Lincoln, Nebraska but currently lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.