Q&A with Ingrid Guerra-Lopez, New Interim Dean of the Graduate School

Dr. Ingrid Guerra-Lopez joined Wayne State University’s Graduate School on February 13 as the Interim Dean. She will guide the school as a formal search for a permanent dean goes underway. Below are a few things to help you get to know Dean Guerra-Lopez.

Q: How long have you been at Wayne State, and what are some of the roles and experiences you have had here?

I joined Wayne State University as an assistant professor in Learning Design and Technology in 2005 and was then promoted to associate professor in 2008, and later to professor in 2015.  Through the years, I have enjoyed the opportunity to develop interdisciplinary collaborations with colleagues across the university in various research and training grants funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, Department of Education, Skillman Foundation, and Chrysler, among others.

I have served as Chair of the College of Education (COE) General Assembly and Executive Committee, as well as served on other COE committees including the Tenure and Promotion Committee and the Doctoral Standards Committee.  At the university level, I have served on the Appointment, Promotion and Tenure Committee; Strategic Implementation Committee; WSU Centers and Institutes Advisory Committee; Strategic Planning Budget Committee; and Junior Faculty Presidential Advisory Board.  

Q: What led you to choose a career in education?

I have always seen education as a fundamental driver for growth and development at the individual, institutional, and societal level.  Our minds are at the core of all achievements and societal advances, from making significant health discoveries, industrial innovations, engineering marvels, and striving for a safe and just society.   My undergraduate degree in psychology gave me an important foundation, but I ultimately decided to pursue my masters and PhD in instructional systems design because I saw that as a means to help me shape the systems, dynamics, and structures that influence learning and performance in a variety of contexts and levels. 

Q: What are your research interests and why?

My research interests focus on a set of interrelated processes for supporting effective learning and performance improvement initiatives.  This includes participatory needs assessment approaches that engage a cross-section of stakeholders (for example, potential employers, government, and other relevant community partners) in defining expected long-term outcomes and needs.  This is critical to the success and sustainability of learning programs because it ensures that training content and methods are shaped by long-term goals and societal needs.  One area of application for this line of research involves transdisciplinary training systems because of their inherent aim to train individuals to work with a cross section of stakeholders to address societal problems.

My research is also focused on improving the transfer of skills from learning contexts to performance environments through performance analysis and evaluation.  We use various performance analysis techniques to identify the performance cues, tools, and consequences that must be integrated to support skills practice in performance contexts.   This allows us to design performance monitoring and evaluation frameworks that generate relevant and timely feedback and provide various pathways for improving performance at the individual and program level.

Q: What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

As Interim Dean, my aim is to ensure that the Graduate School continues to provide the strategic value it contributes to WSU.   This value is generated through the various Graduate School initiatives and efforts that support the advancement of academic excellence in graduate and postdoctoral education and that cultivate a supportive environment for research, scholarly activities, and other creative endeavors of a diverse body of graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate faculty members.

Q: What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?

I am a CrossFitter.   I have always enjoyed competitive sports and found CrossFit over five years ago.  I love the comradery of the CrossFit community, everyone supports each other as they learn and eventually become able to do things they did not think they could ever do.   That’s the part I love most—getting over the fear of trying and failing, and then proving to yourself that practice and perseverance pays off.

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