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SIOP Award Winners: Meet a Small Grant Winner: Aashna Waiwood, Tammy Allen, and Mark Poteet

Liberty J. Munson

As part of our ongoing series to provide visibility into what it takes to earn a SIOP award or grant, we highlight a diverse class of award winners in each edition of TIP. We hope that this insight encourages you to consider applying for a SIOP award or grant because you are probably doing something amazing that can and should be recognized by your peers in I-O psychology!

This quarter, we are highlighting one of the winners of the Small Grant Awards: Aashna Waiwood, Tammy Allen, and Mark Poteet.

Why did you apply?

We had applied in order to help make possible this broader project examining the postpartum return to work (part of which constitutes my thesis study), which would have been a bit on the ambitious side to attempt without funding!


Share a little bit about who you are and what you do.

My name is Aashna, and I am a third-year graduate student in the I-O psych doctoral program at the University of South Florida! My research interests are primarily in understanding the dynamics of the overlap of work and family domains, particularly how work influences engagement in health behaviors, parenthood experiences, and employees’ children. My advisor is Dr. Tammy Allen, also one of the coauthors on this project and a distinguished faculty member here at USF. Dr. Mark Poteet, president of Organizational Research & Solutions, is the other coauthor. It’s a really great group, and my coauthors bring a tremendous amount of work–family-related expertise and applied experience between the two of them!


Describe the research/work that you did that resulted in this award. What led to your idea?

To summarize briefly, this study longitudinally examines the retransition to work after having a child and collects data from women starting in their later stages of pregnancy through to 6 months after the return to work. The aims are to examine a variety of family-friendly work resources and how they might contribute to levels of work–family conflict, engagement in health behaviors such as sleep and physical activity, and various work outcomes like successful retransition, job performance, and turnover. I can’t say there was any particular “aha” moment, but it was striking how little research there is on the postpartum return to work, given the uniquely high turnover rate in this population and what a stereotypically difficult period this is!


What do you see as the lasting/unique contribution of this work to our discipline? How can it be used to drive changes in organizations, the employee experience, and so on?

Because this study examines many no- or low-cost and easy-to-implement work resources, hopefully this work can provide actionable evidence for the types of interventions that are most critical to undertake to improve the experiences of women returning to work postpartum. In addition, my aim is to draw more of a spotlight on the experience of retransitioning to work after having a child so that, hopefully, this becomes a more studied area and population.


What’s a fun fact about yourself (something that people may not know)?

Aashna is the mom to over 30 plants in her home.

Mark is an avid cyclist, triathlete, and two-time Iron Man finisher.

Tammy is an amateur photographer trying to rely less on autofocus.


What piece of advice would you give to someone new to I-O psychology? (If you knew then what you know now…)

I-O psych is a small world; it feels like you’re only a few degrees of separation from any given SIOP member. So don’t be afraid to reach out to any I-O psychologists that you know, and use their expertise and connections to better understand what you want to do, what programs to apply to, and what research area you want to focus on!


About the author:

Liberty Munson is currently the director of Psychometrics for the Microsoft Technical Certification program in the Worldwide Learning organization. She is responsible for ensuring the validity and reliability of Microsoft’s certification and professional programs. Her passion is for finding innovative solutions to business challenges that balance the science of assessment design and development with the realities of budget, time, and schedule constraints. Most recently, she has been presenting on the future of testing and how technology can change the way we assess skills.

Liberty loves to bake, hike, backpack, and camp with her husband, Scott, and miniature schnauzer, Apex. If she’s not at work, you’ll find her enjoying the great outdoors or in her kitchen tweaking some recipe just to see what happens.

Her advice to someone new to I-O psychology?

Statistics, statistics, statistics—knowing data analytic techniques will open A LOT of doors in this field and beyond!

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