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Dr. Davina Quichocho Defends her Dissertation

Dr. Davina Quichocho (left) and Dr. Mallroy Lucier-Greer (right)
19 July 2022
Written By
Military REACH Project Manager
Interview conducted by Hannah Stearns, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Dr. Davina Quichocho (pronounced Key-chu-chu) has served as a Military REACH Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) since fall 2017. She’s been a vital member of our team, and her experiences as a military child allowed her to bring a unique perspective to our meetings, discussions, and products. The primary tasks she worked on for Military REACH were Translating Research Into Action (TRIP) Reports, Research Reports, and Research In Action articles. During her time with our team, she was also a core member of the TRIP Efficacy Study team and a mentor to our other students.

Dr. Quichocho recently defended her dissertation titled, “Translating and Applying Recent Research on Military Family Life: A Preliminary Examination of the Efficacy of Mobile-Application-Based Professional Development for Military Human and Family Service Professionals,” and she accepted a faculty position at Purdue University in their Human Development and Family Studies Department.

We connected with her to reflect on her time as a GRA with Military REACH and to learn more about her experiences:

1. What advice can you share with future students when selecting a major professor?

Find a good research match for yourself, because a Ph.D. degree almost always involves participation in research. It is important to look at a professor’s academic resume and to make sure they are studying something that interests you because you will likely have to write a dissertation on the subject.

Learn about their mentorship style. There are some people who go into a Ph.D. program who know how to manage their time well and like creating their own goals, so they may only need to meet with their professor once a month to stay on track. I do much better meeting more regularly. Dr. Greer and I have a standing appointment every week, and at the end of every meeting, we create actionable next steps. In between those meetings, I can send her an email regarding my progress, and she always responds quickly.

Learn where your potential professor is in their career. Will they be going on a sabbatical in the next few years? Will that throw off your plans if they do that?

Finances are also something to consider. If the professor you want to work with does not have the funding to support you in the program, it is crucial to know whether that is a deal-breaker for you or not.

2. What skills were you able to hone during your assistantship?

There are many skills I have been able to hone…

I learned how to work on a multidisciplinary team where everyone has different knowledge and skillsets.

I have always been interested in studying military families, but some of the other Graduate Research Assistants are researching related topics that I do not know much about, so I learned to work well with others despite differences we may have in varying areas.

I learned to give constructive feedback in a supportive way because the last thing you want to do is demoralize your teammates.

I learned how to critique research intelligently. When you first start critiquing research it is easy to only look for what is being done wrong, but when you work with someone like Dr. Greer who regularly conducts research, she is good at looking for the effort to get to the key takeaways of the study. There is no such thing as perfect research, so being able to pull the implications from the findings is key. I have made great improvements in taking findings and translating those into implications for both families and professionals.

3. How did your role as a Graduate Research Assistant with Military REACH change over time?

I followed Dr. Greer from Florida State University to Auburn University, and the Military REACH grant was something Dr. Greer achieved in the first couple of weeks of being here. She is incredible. In the beginning stages of my assistantship, much of my role was dreaming big with her about Military REACH, from the design of the TRIP Report to how we wanted the website to look and function. Website development is not my area of expertise, but one thing I love about this team is that everyone gets invited to do things they are good at, but they also get invited to challenge themselves and create a space to grow.

Once we had the foundation for the website, I started to help Dr. Greer come up with our report card to score military family research articles. That was a very iterative process because research is such a mixture of science and art. Then, I began to write TRIP Reports, which is basically taking an article and summarizing the important details into two pages of information. I also helped with larger research reports by browsing the literature for pieces that could be useful in writing these reports.

Later in my graduate years, I helped with the work of the TRIP Efficacy Study to test the effectiveness of our products on the Military REACH website. The study was geared toward helping professionals, and we sent them various TRIP Reports, they viewed them in an app and then completed different surveys throughout the duration of the study.

Finally, I moved from writing TRIP reports to helping review them for accuracy and conciseness. I enjoyed that because I read the great work from the students and went in to polish it up. I brought fresh eyes to the report, and I brought my experience and skills because I have written about 50 TRIP reports!

4. What’s been your favorite project to assist on with Military REACH?

I really enjoyed the TRIP Efficacy Study. It was so well organized and executed by our research team. I got to see first-hand how our research question turned into a study and then finally saw the answers to our question. I am fortunate to have gotten to see the project through from start to finish because some studies take decades to complete like Army STARRS; it was a very rewarding experience.

5. When you first started researching military families did anything surprise you, especially since you grew up in a military family?

Looking at the research done for military families helped me reflect on my previous experiences. Something that has come up several different times is that the mental health of the civilian spouse in a military family is so important for the well-being of the whole family. Reading into this made me grow a deeper appreciation for my mom, she was my civilian parent. She was coping well with the stressors of military life which enabled our family to build resiliency. This was not surprising to read, but it gave me a wider perspective and greater appreciation for my mom.

6. Congratulations on your new faculty role at Purdue University! What will this role entail?

I will be a Clinical Professor in the Human Development and Family Studies program at Purdue University with a heavy focus on teaching. Being able to teach is what I am most excited about because the courses will be focused on application. I really enjoy thinking about implications and how you apply knowledge, so teaching in that realm will enable me to further build that skill. For instance, I will be teaching a course there that is called “Skills for Helping Professionals” where students will be learning things like making empathetic statements, validating clients, and identifying needs. All those things relate directly to writing implications for TRIP reports.
The goal of mentoring students is to provide them with the skills and tools so they can excel in their future careers. Dr. Quichocho has been an asset to our team, and we will miss her positive energy around the lab, but we are proud of her accomplishments, and her future students are in the best of hands!
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