Professor Profile: Lisa Molix promotes student engagement through her roles on campus

Michael Chen, Associate News Editor

Elana Bush | Photography Editor

While many professors are rarely seen outside their classrooms and offices, Professor Lisa Molix breaks this mold. From dinners at Bruff to attendance at events around campus, Molix is easily found, sometimes accompanied by her husband and two children.

In an academic capacity, however, Molix serves as an associate professor of psychology, teaching classes such as Introduction to Social Psychology, Experimental Social Psychology and Intergroup Relations. After graduating with a Ph.D. of Psychological Science from the University of Missouri in 2007, Molix sought an occupation that combined her love for science and a love for engagement.

“Being a theatre kid in middle and high schools, teaching came naturally to me because it allows me to present information in a way that is engaging.” Molix said. “To decide to be an academic it was an easy decision. This is my bag. Students are my people. Thinking about this critically, changing the science, is an easier fit to me than in applied settings. I am more in the knowledge creation side of a thinker than the knowledge application side of a thinker.”

Molix is also involved with numerous research projects in the School of Science and Engineering. An altruist, Molix performs research on intergroup relations and attempts to improve the well-being of marginalized people. She runs several community service projects with her graduate and honors students, most of which examine the interactions of marginalized communities.

“Currently, we are centering on mostly on-campus studies and some international or natural crowdsourcing projects, such as QualTrax,” Molix said. “Basically, it is about trying to better understand how people feel in intergroup interactions.”

After being at Tulane for several years, Molix broadened her scope of on-campus activities by becoming Resident Professor of the Barbara Greenbaum House. The Residential Faculty Mentor program, according to Tulane’s Academic Engagement department, works on promoting full-time faculty engagement with undergraduate students in residence halls, which inspires them to learn more about the world around them. Molix’s excitement to participate in this program, however, stems from her undergraduate college years.

“I was an RA in college, and I really enjoyed it. I always knew people were integrating their academic faculty life with the residence halls for academic engagement for students,” Molix said. “I thought this position would allow me to get the best of both experiences — the fun that I had as an RA with my academic life. It has given me a lot of group activities, which are time-consuming, but I think it is worth it.”

Through her positions as a professor and a residence hall mentor, Molix is a strong advocate for faculty-student engagement and hopes to improve the breadth of programs like these.

“I do talk to students about homesickness, time management, juggling too much, and their niche on campus,” Molix said. “I also talk to people who have concerns with depression, which can be part of the student experience. I think having somebody in the halls … is really helpful in finding people discover their fit.”

This type of engagement is what encourages Molix to connect with her students more, claiming that she is able to understand more about the actions that her students take and vice versa.

“Engaging with people in this way may make you seem more approachable, and I am really comfortable with that,” Molix said.

Outside of her role as a teacher and mentor, Molix enjoys hiking in the mountains, something that she is missing in Louisiana. Regardless, Molix enjoys the mild climate of New Orleans and going to the city’s various community-centric festivals.

“There is a laid-back attitude in this city,” Molix said. “I like the diversity of the city so my kids can have interactions with different kinds of people. I feel like there’s something for most types of people here if you look for it.”

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