Psychology Professor Jolynn Pek elected to prestigious society

Jolynn Pek

York University Professor Jolynn Pek in the Faculty of Health’s Department of Psychology was recently elected as a member of the Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology (SMEP).

This small elective society of 65 regular members was founded in 1960 by Raymond B. Catell to facilitate high-level research, as well as intensive interaction among members. Members are chosen on the basis of experimental, substantive work, and not of virtuosity in statistical ideas.

According to Catell, the founding of SMEP was a direct and deliberate movement to get experimenters to think in multivariate terms.

As a not-for-profit organization, SMEP is also dedicated to the promotion of multivariate statistical approaches in psychology. The organization has supported educational activities at a variety of levels of development, for undergraduate students, graduate students and professionals.

“Being elected into SMEP is a high honour for me and I expect that being part of this society will be a highlight of my career,” said Pek. “As a graduate student, I was fortunate to attend a number of SMEP conference meetings, which were inspirational in terms of the high level of intellectual discussions and research. Important is their focus on the interplay between theoretical work and methodological rigour, which promotes good science. Indeed, a major line of my research program on uncertainty quantification was motivated by some early discussions at SMEP, and I expect my research to be enhanced by having discussions with such esteemed scholars in the future.”

Not only does the society promote psychological science grounded in advanced methodology, she said, it also promotes the teaching of multivariate statistical approaches in psychology, especially in terms of promoting diversity in the community of quantitative psychologists.

Pek is a quantitative methodologist whose research is motivated by promoting sound methodological practice in scientific discovery. She primarily works with latent variable models, which were designed to accurately measure unobservable constructs like intelligence or math ability. Her research aims to help investigators decide how sure they can be that their results are right.

Pek also works on bridging the gap between methodologists and applied researchers by developing novel and simple ways of obtaining and visualizing statistical results.

Pek was the recipient of the Early Researcher Award (2016) and the Dean’s Health Research Catalyst Award (2013).