BJ Rye

Associate Professor and Researcher

Dr. BJ Rye is an associate professor and researcher in the Psychology Department at St. Jerome’s University, federated with the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology and specializes in studying attitudes toward sexual minorities and controversial sexual topics such as abortion. Through her research, she aims to increase understanding and acceptance of these groups and topics.

Dr. Rye discovered her passion for social psychology during her time at St. Thomas University and Western University, which has led her to incorporate quantitative methodology and statistical processes into her research. In addition to conducting and publishing research, she also teaches courses related to sexuality and presents her findings at conferences. She considers mentoring students a significant part of her job and derives satisfaction from helping them develop their research skills and achieve their goals.

Despite the demanding nature of academic research, Dr. Rye considers it a “labor of love.” Her work has been published in numerous academic publications, and she takes pride in her ability to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in her field.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

As a professor, my job is multifaceted and consists of teaching, research, and service. A typical day involves juggling various tasks across these areas and prioritizing self-care. Teaching is a significant aspect of my day, which includes not only delivering lectures but also preparing course materials, meeting with students, and assessing their progress through grading assignments or tests. Research is another crucial component, and it involves a complex set of tasks such as literature reviews, experimental design, ethics applications, data collection, analysis, and write-up. I also engage in service, which ranges from university committee work to peer reviewing for academic journals or serving as an expert for a community organization.

To be productive, I have found it helpful to work on tasks before they become urgent, and I make a point of focusing on one task at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is also essential for productivity, which includes taking breaks, moving or stretching frequently, and ensuring that I eat well.

Overall, being a professor involves a wide range of tasks that require background preparation, time management, and self-care, and finding a balance among these factors is key to being productive.

How do you bring ideas to life?

To bring ideas to life, I am often inspired by my reading, whether it’s a popular piece, a news article, or a scientific journal paper. If I come across a question that can be answered with data, I might utilize a pre-existing data set or design a new study to address it. Collaborating with colleagues is another way I bring ideas to fruition, as it allows us to combine our skill sets to tackle problems and create new projects. I also find joy in helping students create a thesis from scratch and guiding them to draw connections between various academic materials. Overall, bringing ideas to life and teaching others how to do so is a rewarding experience for me.

What’s one trend that excites you?

In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on evidence-based decision-making, particularly in fields such as medicine, public policy, and environmental science. This means that decisions are being made based on scientific data and research, rather than personal beliefs or opinions. As a result, the ability to provide sources and evidence to support your claims has become increasingly important.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

As an academic, I believe that effectively managing my time is crucial to my productivity. This involves planning and organizing how much time I spend on different tasks by setting clear goals, prioritizing activities, and breaking down large projects into smaller, more manageable parts.

To achieve this, I make a conscious effort to use my time efficiently, avoid procrastination, and stay focused. I often create a daily to-do list that includes small, achievable goals. I also plan my week based on the urgency and importance of tasks and consider the amount of energy each task requires. For instance, I avoid scheduling back-to-back meetings as they can be too draining. Additionally, I find that focusing on one activity at a time, rather than multitasking, helps me stay on track and maintain my concentration.

Above all, I recognize the importance of taking regular breaks and maintaining a healthy diet to ensure that I am well-rested and energized. By incorporating these habits into my routine, I am able to manage my time effectively and achieve my academic goals.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Talk to people. Talking to people and keeping the conversation going is essential to building relationships and cultivating a healthy and engaging workplace. Whether it’s with students, staff, or colleagues, meaningful conversations can lead to novel ideas, fresh perspectives, and opportunities. By being open to hearing what others have to say, we can learn new perspectives and build connections.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?

One thing that I believe to be true, but with which many people seem to disagree, is that life is inherently unfair and unjust. Many individuals hold onto the belief in a just world, assuming that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. However, this is just not the case. This belief often underlies the “blaming the victim” phenomenon. Often, life does not play out according to any sense of fairness or justice, and people can find themselves in difficult situations despite their best efforts to lead a virtuous life. It can be difficult to accept this reality –that life is unfair– but acknowledging it can allow us to better understand and navigate the world around us

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Prioritizing your own well-being by getting adequate sleep, eating a nutritious diet, and engaging in regular exercise are essential habits to maintain as an academic. These practices are vital for establishing boundaries, managing stress, and maintaining mental and physical health. Use your strengths and motivations to your advantage in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Plus, I make my bed every day; that’s a good habit!

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

Becoming a professor of psychology wasn’t my initial ambition. I stumbled upon this path because I found a passion for social psychology and academic work involving statistics and analyzing numerical data. The ability to use numbers to address complex psychological questions and explore the factors that influence human behavior gives me a great sense of achievement. I feel fortunate that my academic journey led me to this fulfilling career.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

One strategy that has significantly helped me grow as an academic is networking and building professional relationships. By talking to and cooperating with colleagues, inside as well as outside of my field, I have been able to expand my knowledge and perspectives. In particular, I have found that talking to people about their research and sharing my own has been a valuable way to gain insights and new ideas. This has allowed me to keep an open mind about possibilities and consider new approaches to my own research. Working on interdisciplinary teams has allowed me to expand my academic horizons. Overall, I believe that networking and building professional relationships is an essential strategy for anyone looking to grow and succeed in academia.

What is one failure in your career,  how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

One failure experience that is very common in academia is having a manuscript rejected. When a paper is rejected, it can be a frustrating and demotivating experience for any academic. However, it is important to remember that rejection is not personal and happens to everyone.

To overcome this failure, it is important to use the feedback received from the peer reviewers as an opportunity to improve and fine-tune the manuscript. It is essential to keep a positive attitude and not let rejection define your self-worth. Some academics may get discouraged after experiencing rejection and give up on publishing altogether, but this is not a productive approach. In short, using rejection as an opportunity to learn and grow is essential in academia. By taking feedback constructively and making the necessary improvements, academics can increase their chances of success and ultimately achieve their publishing goals

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

In line with my emphasis on effective organization and time management, I would like to offer a potential business idea to your readers: the establishment of an efficiency agency. This agency would provide assessment services to help organizations identify areas where they can increase efficiency and cut costs without necessarily having to cut jobs. By restructuring from the top down and improving communication and collaboration between departments, organizations can streamline their operations and improve their services. By improving efficiency, everyone benefits.

The healthcare system is just one example of a sector that could benefit from consulting with an efficiency agency. By identifying areas of waste and inefficiency and finding ways to reorganize and streamline processes, it is possible to improve outcomes without necessarily increasing budgets or cutting jobs. This approach could be applied to many other sectors as well. The key is to have an objective assessment of current processes and a plan to implement changes that will improve efficiency and reduce waste.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I have been using SPSS for over three decades, and I find it to be an exceptional tool for data analysis. One of the major advantages of SPSS is that it supports both drop-down menus and syntax, which allows me to conduct complex statistical analyses quickly and efficiently. Moreover, SPSS comes with extensive support documentation that helps to clarify the various processes. Although IBM releases yearly updates to keep the tool up-to-date, the downside of SPSS is that it is quite expensive. Today, many people use a free statistical program called R instead.

In addition to SPSS, I use Corel WordPerfect for word processing, which I prefer relative to Microsoft Word. In my experience, WordPerfect is a more potent tool than Word, for example, offering a function called Reveal Codes that Word lacks. With Reveal Codes, I can quickly identify and rectify formatting errors by viewing the underlying commands within a document. Moreover, I find creating and manipulating tables in WordPerfect to be superior to Word, which is crucial in producing statistical tables for psychological manuscripts. However, WordPerfect is not as widely adopted as Word, which forces me to switch to Word when collaborating with others.

In summary, using statistical analyses and word-processing software enables me to work more efficiently and effectively as a psychological researcher.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?

I am currently reading “A World of Curiosities” by Louise Penny. I’ve been following the series since it started and I find the mystery set in Eastern Quebec to be both interesting and fascinating. What’s more, the descriptions of food in Penny’s book are always a delight. Reading this book helps me take a break from the heavy subjects that I usually have to read in my field and gives me a chance to relax and unwind.

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

My favorite quote is: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” by historian Evelyn Beatrice Hall, who was writing about the philosophy of Voltaire. This quote highlights one of the fundamental principles of democracy. It emphasizes the importance of tolerating and accepting different opinions in society. In a democratic system, it is essential to recognize that people hold diverse opinions and beliefs, and we must respect their right to express them even if we disagree with that opinion.

It is disheartening to see that many individuals, including university students and professors, are self-censoring their opinions due to fear of social backlash. This fear of social pillorying stifles freedom of expression and open dialogue, which are vital to the university system and a healthy democratic society. As a society, we must promote a culture of respect and tolerance for diverse opinions and encourage open discussions to foster mutual understanding and growth.

Key learnings:

  • Set goals and keep to boundaries.
  • Collaborate with others.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Never stop learning.