I’m Mark Powers, Research Associate Professor of Psychology, and This is How I Work


I am the Director of Trauma Research at Baylor University Medical Center and a Research Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. I am broadly interested in the nature, causes, and treatment of anxiety and related disorders. I have a particular focus on identifying maintenance factors in posttraumatic stress disorder to direct prevention and treatment innovations.

Location: Dallas & Austin TX

Current Gig: Director of Trauma Research, Baylor University Medical Center & Research Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin

One word/phrase that describes your work style: Success follows passion! If you are not excited about your work, how can you expect anyone else to be?

Current computer/mobile device: iMac, iPhone

What apps/tools/software can you not live without? Macbook Pro, SugarSync, Comprehensive Meta-Analysis, Multiple screens for my desktop computer

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack? Focus on projects that accomplish multiple goals at the same time.

What’s your workspace set up like? 27-inch iMac with 3 screens in front of me, an iMac on an adjustable standing desk to the right, and a large wipe board on the wall


How do you keep track of things you need to do (any to-do-list apps)? I maintain a to do document and a list on the wipe board with headings: Grants, Publications, Projects, Reviews, Classes, and Conferences.

Besides your phone or computer, what gadget can’t you live without, and why? Although only peripherally related to work productivity – a step counter (currently a Garmin Forerunner 920XT that tracks steps, swimming, running, and cycling).

What everyday thing can you do better than most people? What’s your secret? Staying positive…. I believe in the power of a positive environment. I fail at this sometimes but try to get back to it quickly when I do.

What do you listen to while you work? I use noise canceling headphones and listen to a combination of classical, rock, and EDM (electronic dance music). Standing listening to EDM music is best for mindless tasks like answering simple emails and administrative tasks. Seated listening to classical music is best for creative tasks that are cognitively demanding.

What are you currently reading? I am not currently reading anything non-work related. However, I think it is relevant to add here something that I doubt any others on this blog will admit to. Most academics will likely say there are no TVs in their houses and if there are they certainly are not tuned in to anything other than educational content. However, I would like to represent the substantial minority by admitting that my wife and I watch reality TV together.

How do you recharge? I try to remember to be an octopus (a metaphor we often use with children but I like it as well). I strive to develop at least eight different areas of my life. For example, in graduate school I played the drums, practiced mixed martial arts, regularly went wake boarding, enjoyed my coursework, dated until I met my wife, read philosophy, learned to cook, and played piano. The advantage of the octopus is that when any one arm is weak you have 7 more and the blow is not as hard to take. This way I tend to keep things in perspective. Right now my favorite “octopus arm” is that we travel regularly somewhere we have never been. Novel context reminds me what is important in my life.

How do you balance your work life and your home/family life? Routine – the more I follow one the better both get and neither are neglected.

What’s your sleep routine like? People cannot fully control when they fall asleep so all I do is set my alarm for the same time everyday. My earliest day is 5am so I get up at 5 every day. After a few days of this my body started naturally sending me to bed around 9 or 10. That said, there are fairly regular violations of this schedule due to external circumstances and when that happens I ignore it and just start over again.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “If a man loves what he does he cannot help but be great at it” – Nietzsche (Loosely translated)

I believe there is a place for strategy in science but I equally value the pursuit of passion and yes I am going to say it, thinking outside the box.

A history of science professor in my graduate program told us that science largely follows two paths. One is linear and largely follows from reading articles and meeting collaborators. The other is analogous to punctuated equilibrium. These are the discoveries in science we all know of and seem to have come from nowhere. There are two predictors of how these major discoveries come to be. First, the scientist was usually young. Second, the discovery was usually made in a field other than the one they were initially investigating. Why is this the case? A strong possibility is that they are both proxies for thinking differently than everyone in the field. Young scientists are not yet trained to think the same as everyone in the field. My takeaway here is to always respect your own path and passion while not letting fear govern decisions. Go to your fears and weaknesses, for that is where our genius lies.

Also, a favorite quote of mine is from “The Office”: “Don’t be an idiot. Changed my life. Whenever I’m about to do something, I think, would an idiot do that? And if they would, I do not do that thing.”


Mark Powers


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