By Yeymy Garcia
Features and Lifestyle Editor
The most common error in newspapers is one you would think would be the easiest to avoid: the spelling of names. Just ask Dr. Mark Carrier who, not once but twice, this newspaper has gotten wrong.
So, we felt he deserved his own feature story. Of course, there’s much more to Dr. Carrier than the Bulletin butchering his name.
Just consider why his name was even in the paper. The first time, Dr. Carrier was named one of the three CSUDH faculty members awarded the 2018-19 Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award for his collective research and mentorship of students. He was joined by Dr. Nancy Cheever, chair of the communications department, and Dr. Larry Rosen, an emeritus psychology professor.
And two issues ago, he was in the paper for winning the 2019 Excellence in Service award. (He also received the outstanding professor award in 2011).
Carrier, who has his own website, www.drmarkcarrier.com, earned his bachelor’s (1988) and master’s (1993) in cognitive science, and a doctorate in experimental psychology (1994), all at the University of California, San Diego. This year is his 21st year teaching at CSUDH. As an active researcher for over 25 years, he has published academic articles and shared his research with “60 Minutes” and with Katie Couric and Steve Aoki.
University research plays a critical role in everything from technological innovation and understanding cultural differences, to a better understanding of how things work like, in Carrier’s case, the human brain. According to his bio on the CSUDH website, Carrier’s research specializes in the psychology of technology, cognitive psychology, and critical thinking.
What does that mean in more relatable terms? He is fascinated by the connection of technology and the human brain, particularly in the digital age. It is one of the reasons that he, Cheever and Rosen began the George Marsh Cognitive Laboratory in 2008, a campus research facility with a heavy focus on how technology impacts the human brain, and vice versa.
But while that part of Carrier’s work earned him the prestigious award in faculty innovation and leadership, it’s his work in numerous behind-the-scenes roles during his time at CSUDH that earned him his most recent award, excellence in service. This includes participating as a member of the university’s first strategic planning committee, serving as coordinator of CSUDH’s student research day for three years, and his work in keeping the university accredited.
“[Accreditation] is something that is so important for the university, but it’s something that [we] do and most of the students don’t even know about it,” Dr. Carrier said.
As campus director of assessment the past four years, Dr. Carrier works with the various campus departments on assessing the quality of learning in all majors measuring how well students are learning and vital information the university needs to get accredited.
The university gets accredited every 10 years and it takes several years for professors like Dr. Carrier to collect reports and data about the campus, evaluate it, and put it together into one compact report to share with the accrediting agency. Everything is reported, said Dr. Carrier, from faculty salaries and the school’s ethnic makeup to student enrollment, and off-campus reputation.
“If we are not accredited, then students can’t get financial aid from the government,” Dr. Carrier said.
While Dr. Carrier works to help keep the university serving on a larger scale, he also focuses on working with them individually. He helps runs Student Research Day, an annual event where students have the opportunity to present their research in front of a panel, as well as mentoring students. He has worked to broaden Student Research Day by including a section for art students, who where not included before his involvement.
“That’s one of the things I was proud of doing,” said Dr. Carrier. “I worked really hard to get students involved more than before.”
Research has been a driving focus of Carrier’s professional life since he first became interested in how technology affects human behavior while in graduate school. He didn’t start studying it formally until he arrived at CSUDH and met Dr. Rosen, who was already researching the topic.
The GMAC Lab welcomes students from all majors, but only 12 are currently recruited because it is difficult to mentor many students under four mentors, he said. Dr. Carrier says he fears he won’t be as effective if he takes on more students.
“I would love to be able to expand,” Dr. Carrier said. “It’s just so hard to take one student and do a good job at mentoring because it’s total commitment and I worry that I would water down my effectiveness if I took on a whole bunch of students.”
Despite his concerns, one of Dr. Carrier’s mentees, Andrew Luu, a psychology major, had nothing but nice things to say about his mentor.
“Dr. Carrier is one of the greatest minds I have had the fortune of meeting,” said Luu. “He’s supportive, considerate, and kind. He’s also really funny, but in [a professional] way.”
Since the GMAC Lab cannot take more students, Dr. Carrier says one of his goals is to figure out how the psychology department can get more students involved in research as a whole. Just like CSUDH provided the tools that ignited a deeper interest in research for him, he wants to do the same for students.