Name: Melissa Day

Where you work:The University of Queensland, as a Senior Lecturer within the School of Psychology.

How long have you been working in the social sciences?

I graduated with my Ph.D. in 2013 and commenced a research post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Washington on pain psychology. I transitioned into an academic position in early 2014, and have been involved in research and teaching since that time.

What does your work week look like?

It depends really on what time of year you ask me as it varies quite a bit. Semester 1 this year I was focused on teaching my courses , so I coordinated and delivered my large undergraduate psychopathology course and post-graduate rehabilitation psychology course. So at that time most of my work week was teaching and service-oriented, including supervision of honours, masters and PhD students, and work on some trials, publications and grant applications in the gaps in between. The need  to rapidly transition all courses into online delivery mode due to COVID-19 was an exercise in flexibility and adaptability for myself and students alike, but we got there!

This semester though I am mostly focused on research. I am running research projects, doing a lot of writing, as well as continuing my service roles and supervising and mentoring the students working with me on research projects.

What’s your current focus?

I have several large randomised controlled trials my collaborators and I are in the process of running within the United States that are focused on testing the efficacy and mechanisms of psychological treatments for chronic pain. One of these trials was recently completed and we are in the process of analysing that data – that project tested mindfulness meditation vs hypnosis vs pain education for chronic pain within Veterans.

Our other trials are testing tele-health delivered interventions for people with chronic low back pain, and pain and fatigue within multiple sclerosis.

Of course, we are also grant writing and hope to commence another future trial here in Australia soon as well.

What do you like most about the type of work you do?

I am lucky as I love my job and I especially value the variety in my days that it gives me. I have the most wonderful group of research collaborators and colleagues as well as students whom I supervise. For me, the people make a workplace and I am very fortunate to have found my academic home at UQ. I also really value being able to teach and mentor the next generation of psychologists, I feel that my research makes a difference to people’s lives who are living with chronic pain.

What’s the weirdest fact you’ve come across in your research? Well it was not in my research per se, but a colleague stopped by my office one day and she told me that the weight of all the worms in the world outweighed the weight of all the humans. And sure enough, a biomass study published in PNAS did find that!

What can you be found doing outside of work? 

Living in Queensland means we have the most amazing national parks and beaches right in our backyard, so I definitely enjoy making the most of visiting those on weekends. I also got a little French Bulldog puppy in January right before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. He is a little clown and usually is right by my side for most things I do: he was delighted with the whole working from home situation!

What is the one thing you cannot resist? Ice cream. I definitely can’t resist ice cream.

Favourite joke? Or Favourite meal? Did I mention ice cream? I do also love The Far Side.