Ashland University International Collaboration Research Center

Lexi Portner

Chris Chartier, associate professor of psychology and director of the psychological science accelerator and the Ashland University International Collaboration Research Center (ICRC) has worked at AU for seven years.

Chartier has made his mark on the psychology department in the short time he has worked at the institution.

He is the founder of AU’s ICRC, and boiled down the inception of the group as,”just a couple of good bike rides, some ideas, blog post, Twitter and here we are.”

The foundation of the research center came to Chartier when he was riding his bike around Ashland.
“I was on a bike ride and I heard somebody talk about starting a research center at Georgetown and it dawned on me that research centers aren’t just handed down by God and established by decree. So I thought, hey I’m getting involved in this cool new way of research.”

“I have students who would love to do this. I’m going to propose founding a research center at the university where this is what we do, is join a bunch of these,” he said.

Chartier was getting involved in large scale collaborations in psychology by joining other people’s projects “to test the replicability and generalizability of psychological findings,” he said.

With bike ride number two, two weeks later, Chartier said he decided that Ashland should start their own massive network.

“The solar eclipse had just happened, and I was all awe inspired and thinking grandiose thoughts,” he said.

“I came back and recorded an audio memo to myself on my IPhone about building a CERN for psychological science, which is the big European physics collaborative. Then I wrote a blog post with that title and I tweeted it and then it got passed around a bunch and went nerd viral or academic viral.”

Chartier never expected what happened next.

“That was August 2017 and within a couple weeks there were over 100 labs in over 30 countries, just all over the place tons of people all excited to join and it just really took off,” he said.

To make this a reality, he knew he needed more research scholars and even was granted a scholarship fund from the provost.

“For the non-scholarship spots, just like folks typically getting involved in the research, ‘hey I want to get involved in research’ and I select those that seem really motivated and have a mind for research,” he said.

Psychology students at Ashland have always been able to participate in research, but never before on this scale.

Senior psychology major and religion minor, Savannah Lewis is one of the founding student members of AUICRC.

She said that before “it was the AUICRC (Ashland University International Collaboration Research Center), it was just Chris [Chartier] directing research. The first day of psychology 101 I went up to him and said ‘hello,’ I want to do research so the spring of my freshman year I started doing research with him.”

Her sophomore year, she was able to work with a scholar from the UK through a program called Study Swap.

“That’s basically Craigslist for research assistants,” she said. It was the first time she was the head research assistant on a project.

She was sent the audio memo from Chartier explaining the large scale collaboration he wanted to do.
She said, “yeah that sounds pretty cool” but then realized that it was not some far-fetched hypothetical because “Chris said, no we’re actually going to do it.”

“It was hard to wrap our minds around the fact that we’re the headquarters in Ashland, Ohio of an international collaborative research center,” Lewis said.

Lewis has been a member of the group since its creation and she has seen the program grow in many ways.

“It’s been really nice to see the progression of freshman year when I was the only freshman and there was only one sophomore (doing research). This year there’s four seniors and the rest are underclassmen and everyone knows what they’re doing,” she said.

The AUICRC currently has 11 students working on studies and it is growing every year Chartier said. The group is currently working on putting out more PSA (Psychological Science Accelerator) studies.

“We just released this first one on face perception and there’s five more in progress or in prep,” he said.
Lewis is one of the co-authors of the study and she said this is the largest psychological study they have ever done.

She read from the study and noted that “it’s across 11 world regions, 41 countries and there were 11,481 participants.”

She is graduating in the spring and is excited for the future of the research center and the students who are a part of it.

“It’s going to be cool because the people that are freshman, when they’re seniors they are going to have so many publications under their belt that getting into a PhD program won’t be a problem.”

Lewis is applying for graduate programs and hopes to get her PhD in social psychology, like Chartier.

“Through my years it has been so cool to get out of my comfort zone. I was the shy freshman and now I’m a senior lab coordinator and I have two publications under my belt already,” Lewis said.

She encourages students to get involved in research, “it’s so much fun, it’s going to impact your life a lot, and we’re just trying to make the psych world better.”