APS Member Spotlights provide the opportunity to get to know individual members of the APS community and their varied experiences, career paths, and accomplishments. They share how they entered the field and highlights of their work as well as significant experiences with APS and other members that have influenced their careers.
We want to hear from you and recognize our members in the pain community. If you would like to share your story with your fellow members, please email Meghan McLaughlin.
Dr. Jessica Fales is an assistant professor at Washington State University (WSU) in Vancouver, WA. Dr. Fales completed her PhD in 2012 at the University of Maine, where she received dual training in developmental and clinical psychology. Following a clinical internship at Oregon Health and Science University in 2011-2012, she pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at Seattle Children’s Research Institute under the mentorship of Dr. Tonya Palermo. During this time, she became immersed in pediatric chronic pain research. During her fellowship, Dr. Fales’s work on the peer relationships of youth with chronic pain was supported by the American Pain Society’s Future Leaders in Pain Research grant. After completion of her postgraduate training, she obtained a tenure-track position at WSU combining her interest in teaching and passion for research. Her focus is on psychosocial risk and protective factors for children with chronic pain and individual and family-based cognitive behavioral interventions for pain.
What is the most rewarding endeavor you have achieved?
Signing the contract for my tenure-track faculty position at WSU was a major career milestone, and it is extremely rewarding to work for an institution that shares my commitment to research, teaching, and service. Given the grim state of the academic job market, securing this position felt a bit like lassoing a unicorn. Now that I’ve caught it, I never want to let it go! I remain grateful every day for my wonderful colleagues, my bright students, and the substantial support my university provides for my development.
What were the pivotal decisions that have contributed to your successes?
There’s a lot to be said for choosing to work with people who inspire you. At every stage of my training and development, I have benefited from working with brilliant, generous, and inspiring mentors. Without a doubt, the most pivotal decision was applying for a postdoctoral research position in pediatric pain. I credit my time at Seattle Children’s with Tonya as opening a world of possibilities and helping me find my niche. Intentionally choosing to work with people who push me to think bigger and better—and who also provide opportunities to be successful—has been a key factor in my professional growth.
Tips to early career members for a career in academia?
In academia, even if you’re doing your best work (e.g., publishing in top-tier journals, securing competitive grants, and maintaining standards of excellence in the classroom), you’re going to routinely experience rejection, failure, and criticism. Early in our careers, when we haven’t had a lot of wins, these losses can be painful. In a course I teach on motivation, we talk a lot about the importance of failure experiences for meaningful growth. Each time I fall short of a challenging goal, it helps to remind myself that these ‘failures’ are really learning experiences, and I can use them to improve the quality of my work. On a more personal note, I have also found it to be important to have an enjoyable life outside of academia. Those negative experiences hurt a lot less when they’re buffered by positivity in other domains!
APS is pleased to welcome and recognize the following new members who joined in June 2017:
You may have heard about the popular trend of hashtags catching on and increasing awareness for a field or specialized group of academics. If you haven’t check out the #ActualLivingScientist or #ILookLikeASurgeon hashtags and their respective The Verge and Washington Post articles. The APS Early Career Advisory Group (ECAG) is launching a similar initiative to find the optimal social media hashtag catchphrase to increase awareness and support for pain medicine clinicians and researchers, especially the outstanding colleagues we have in this society.
To participate, submit your hashtag idea (25 characters max) by August 11. ECAG will create a poll of the top 5 hashtags for APS members to vote on.
The winner whose hashtag is chosen will be featured in APS E-News and their picture will launch the social media storm of pain research support and comradery in August. Looking forward to your ideas!