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Featured Postdoc: Robert Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.

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Robert Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. is a post-doctoral fellow at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. He first became interested in the field of psychiatric and behavioral genetics while earning his undergraduate degree at Goucher College, where he was intrigued by individual differences in cognitive ability. These interests led him to earn his PhD in personality, individual differences, and behavioral genetics at the University of Minnesota. During his time there, he developed a strong interest in methodology. Therefore, upon graduating, he obtained his current post-doctoral position at VIPBG to gain additional training as a quantitative methodologist.

Dr. Kirkpatrick’s current research interests primarily involve combining structural equation modeling with genome-wide genotypic data. His other research interests include psychometrics and the improvement of phenotyping, modeling data dependence and estimating variance components with multivariate non-Gaussian data, and substance use pathology.

“Without the instruments and accumulated knowledge of the natural sciences, … humans are trapped in a cognitive prison. They invent ingenious speculations and myths about the origin of the confining waters, of the sun and the sky and the stars above, and the meaning of their own existence. But they are wrong, always wrong, because the world is too remote from ordinary experience to be merely imagined.” – E. O. Wilson

During his time at VIPBG, Dr. Kirkpatrick has proven himself to be a particularly exceptional fellow. Remarkably, he has twelve first-authored and co-authored publications and is an essential member of the development team for OpenMx, an R package used for fitting structural equation models. He has also taught at several statistical workshops and is committed to assisting graduate students, other post-docs, and faculty with methodological help whenever needed. For these efforts and accomplishments, Dr. Kirkpatrick was recently awarded the 2015 Lindon J. Eaves Award for Excellence in Post-Doctoral Research.

When he is not working, Dr. Kirkpatrick enjoys reading books and browsing the web.

Article by Elizabeth Long.

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