Featured Postdoc: Joshua Pritikin, Ph.D.

Josh Pritikin, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, working with Dr. Michael Neale, Ph.D. His primary research interest and background is in software development. At VIPBG, Dr. Pritikin helps to improve OpenMx. This started when he was a graduate student studying quantitative psychology at the University of Virginia. A current project of his specifically focuses on how to run structural equation modeling using cloud computing services. This would aid researchers because it would allow for faster computing of large datasets (i.e., fMRI data).

Before going to graduate school, Dr. Pritikin spent eight years working in New York as a software developer for financial companies. Eventually he realized that he wanted to find a field where he could combine his talent for software development with his longtime interests in psychology. This brought him to UVa and eventually VIPBG. In addition to his aforementioned work on OpenMx, Dr. Pritikin also researchers flow, which is the feeling a person gets when they are immersed in a task. This feeling can include timelessness and is akin to meditation. He recently finished collecting data on the intersection of flow and physical activity in a group of undergraduate students and is excited to begin writing up the results soon.

Outside of work, Dr. Pritikin enjoys cooking and creating recipes with his daughter. His grandfather, Nathan Pritikin, was one of the first individuals to figure out how to reverse heart disease using diet. This is something that Dr. Pritikin is passionate about, as he has amassed dozens of heart-healthy, tasty recipes over the years. “You could say that it’s an open research area,” he adds. His favorite recipe is an “amazing” one for hot chocolate. Additionally, he assists his daughter with honing her own interests. Together they explore 3D modeling, animation, and music education.

Dr. Pritikin does not have a favorite quote but he does have a favorite book: “Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work” by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal.


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