Elisa Torres

Elisa Torres

Elisa Torres

When are you graduating?

Spring 2023

Describe your dissertation, thesis, or capstone (if you completed one):

My dissertation explored the temporal and multilevel dynamics of emergent states in multiteam systems (MTSs). MTSs are multilevel organizational forms that consist of two or more interdependent teams who must collaborate to accomplish a shared mission, while also managing the completion of team-level objectives. An emergent state is a property of a collective that manifests from the interaction of the collective's members (e.g., teams and MTSs). I captured these dynamics by pairing two complementary methodologies. First, I captured qualitative and operational data from several military academy sailing squadrons from when they formed to when they disbanded. Then using the theoretical insights that I gained from the sailing squadrons, I developed a computational model of emergent states in MTSs to examine whether the mechanisms that I believed were at play in the unfolding of emergent states in MTSs were plausible. Findings from this work presented a more nuanced way of thinking about emergent states in MTSs and offered guidance for future empirical studies to incorporate both temporal and multilevel aspects within these complex organizational systems.

How did you choose your specific area of study?

I entered undergrad at Eastern Michigan University with the intention of working as a project manager in the banking industry, so I declared business management as my major. Yet, I found myself attracted to the psychology courses, so much so that I ended up double majoring in psychology during my junior year. It was not until the end of junior year, when my organizational behavior professor introduced himself as an organizational psychologist that I realized there was a field that converged these two disciplines. In this class, I connected with the topics of work motivation, leadership, and team dynamics which fueled my passion for learning all I could about these areas. This led me to the McNair Scholars program which afforded me the opportunity to gain research experience and prepare me for my upcoming academic journey in the new field I had just learned about: industrial and organizational psychology.

How did your academic experiences in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences impact you?

I had such varied academic experiences in CHSS that positively impacted the scholar I am today. I had the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning activities that provided me the experience to apply the concepts I was learning and skills obtained in a real-world setting. Additionally, working with a diverse set of faculty, students, and peers, provided me with a rich and diverse education that has prepared me to become an informed, engaged citizen equipped to contribute to society in meaningful ways.

Of which accomplishment(s) during your time at Mason are you most proud?

My most memorable accomplishments pertain to playing a small role in helping some of the students I taught pursue their dreams of pursuing graduate education. Making those one-on-one connections will stay with me for a lifetime.

Are there faculty or staff members who made a difference during your Mason career?

I would not be at Mason if it were not for my advisor, mentor, and collaborator, Dr. Stephen Zaccaro. He has contributed greatly to the scholar I am today, providing a space for me in his research lab to flourish and expand my skill set. I am grateful for his guidance and support throughout this journey (and even a pandemic!). I am also thankful for the guidance Dr. Seth Kaplan provided me on the various projects we worked on together. Lastly, the impact that Dr. David Wallace has made on my life is long-lasting. As a fellow Mason IO psych alumni, he opened the door to valuable opportunities at the US Naval Academy and supported my dissertation -- he will be greatly missed.

What advice would you give to an incoming cohort of graduate students?

Two things: 1) if you are experiencing imposter syndrome feelings, you are not alone -- reach out to your peers, mentors, family, etc. to get advice and support, and 2) take advantage of all the educational and financial resources provided to you as graduate students at Mason and through the various professional organizations.

What are your current career plans following graduation? What are your long-term career goals?

Having started my independent consulting firm, Movidas Universal, I am currently pursuing a career as an independent consultant working on a variety of different strategic workforce planning and talent development projects with various federal government agencies and local governments. While I am still charting out my long-term career plan, my North Star in regard to my professional work is to ensure that I am making positive contributions to society through the work I produce.