My name is Saif Mehyar, and I’m a senior international student originally from Jordan and Palestine. I decided to come to UNC after attending an international high school because I knew UNC was a place with plenty of opportunities to make an impact and explore new interests. I started off as a Business major and then added a Psychology major my sophomore year after taking a psychology class and volunteering in a research lab. From my experiences in multiple labs, I gained a better understanding of what interests me in psychology, and I decided to pursue the Gil Internship program to deepen my knowledge of research methods and applied psychology in a professional setting.
I currently work at Innovation Research and Training (iRT) as a clinical intern under Dr. Allison Schmidt. iRT is a behavioral research firm dedicated to improving social, psychological, and physical health in local communities. The current project I’m working on is iRT’s Drugged Driving Resources project which seeks to provide educational resources to prevention professionals in order to decrease incidents of drugged driving throughout the United States. Unlike drunk driving, drugged driving is an increasingly common phenomenon whereby drivers experience impairment from drugs ranging from marijuana, OTC medication, and prescription drugs rather than alcohol. Since this is a new but growing problem, a lot of exciting research is being done in this area to try and understand the reasons for why people engage in drugged driving as well as how to effectively stop the phenomenon.
At iRT, I have been fortunate enough to be able to combine my interests in both business and psychology to take on a variety of tasks in the short time I’ve been working at the firm. On the business side, I’ve been analyzing consumer research surveys and performing data analyses to better understand customer satisfaction with iRT’s products. I’ve also been writing reports which include data visualizations to try and understand trends and the needs of different customer segments. On the psychology side, I’ve been conducting extensive research into various aspects of drugged driving such as the effects that different drugs can have on driving abilities, how marijuana legalization will affect road safety, and the most effective ways to educate drivers about the dangers of illicit and prescribed drugs. I’m fortunate to have taken many psychology classes early in my undergraduate career that have helped me tremendously in my current position—such as research methods, introductory statistics, and psychology electives that have given me skills in research dissemination and summarization. I’m incredibly grateful to Dr. Buzinksi, Molly Corrigan, and the Psychology department at UNC for giving me the opportunity to gain real-world skills in a professional setting, as well as Dr. Allison Schmidt for being such a supportive and inspiring mentor.