Lynette Hoelter, Assistant Research Scientist
Assistant Research Scientist
How long have you been at ICPSR, and what different positions have you held here (if any)? Where were you before coming here, and what were some of the factors that led you to come to ICPSR?
I have been at ICPSR since August 2006. I started as a Research Investigator and was hired to work primarily on the Integrated Fertility Survey Series (the proposal for which was still under review at that time) and help with writing other proposals. Shortly after I started, I teamed up with Linda Detterman and Dieter Burrell to develop teaching materials based on ICPSR data in response to faculty requests. I love teaching, as well as learning and talking about good teaching practices, so I jumped in with both feet and the Online Learning Center was born. Around the same time, other proposals for educational materials were submitted and soon there was a critical mass of related projects so the Instructional Resources unit was made official and I was made Director of Instructional Resources. Since then, I have also changed research titles to Assistant Research Scientist.
Before coming to ICPSR, I was in the Family and Demography group, which is made of researchers in both the Survey Research Center and the Population Studies Center at the Institute for Social Research. In that role, I worked on the National Survey of Family Growth, and helped with writing grant proposals and conducted research about the effects of social context on marriage and family life in Nepal.
What are your current research interests/job duties?
My job duties and research interests cover a range of things. My primary job is "anything related to undergraduate education." I oversee the Online Learning Center and am the project manager for TeachingWithData.org and our project to define quantitative literacy in the social sciences and assess the impact of data-driven exercises in building students' quantitative literacy skills. Additionally, I am the primary research faculty mentor to students in the Summer Internship Program. Besides those main tasks, I work on a Research Ethics project that is based in the Program in Biomedical Sciences, the Integrated Fertility Survey Series, proposals for new projects related to undergraduate education, and give campus and conference presentations about ICPSR's resources.
The focus on undergraduate education has led me into the worlds of quantitative literacy, effective teaching strategies, and educational assessment — all of which have become research interests as well. I also try to keep up with two of my sociology interests: The process and results of relationship dissolution (e.g. divorce) and research methodology. I love thinking about research issues, whether quantitative or qualitative, such as figuring out the right methodology to study a particular research question or keeping up on research on conducting surveys.
How has ICPSR influenced your career?
ICPSR has given me an opportunity to combine two passions (teaching and research), in a unique way. I get to remain involved in discussions and think creatively about teaching even though I don't get into the classroom as much as I might like. Additionally, working here has given me an eye into a part of the research process that not many researchers get to (want to) think about — preserving and disseminating data. I have also been challenged to think about what is best for a variety of different social science data users and I think that will be an added benefit no matter what the next steps on my career journey might be.