LSU Psychology Assistant Professor Receives Prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award

July 19, 2022   
Photo of Dr. Don Zhang

Dr. Don Zhang, National Science Foundation CAREER Award Recipient

Photo Credit: LSU
BATON ROUGE – The National Science Foundation, or NSF, has awarded LSU Department of Psychology Assistant Professor Don Zhang its most prestigious grant for early-career faculty who exhibit potential to serve as academic role models in research and education. Zhang conducts research in the field of industrial and organizational psychology. This highly competitive grant supports an individual’s research helping build a firm foundation for a lifetime of research and academic leadership. 
“We congratulate Dr. Zhang on this exceptional honor and his tremendous accomplishment,” said LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences Dean Troy Blanchard. “This is a testament to Dr. Zhang’s cutting-edge research and the impact he has already made in the field of industrial and organizational psychology.” 
Zhang’s NSF CAREER Award will further his research on how risk-takers at work impact organizations. In the workplace, risk takers are typically thought of as reckless and irresponsible. Multiple corporate catastrophes, such as the financial crisis of 2008 and Enron scandal, can be attributed – in part – to employees and leaders who took excessive risks. However, risk taking is also essential for innovation, courage and the fight against social injustice. 
“For these reasons, risk takers at work can be a liability and asset and it’s critical that we understand how to leverage employees’ appetite for risks toward virtue rather than malice,” Zhang said.
Zhang’s goal is to provide organizations with a valid measure of workplace risk taking to help their assessment and selection efforts. He aims to reach organizations with high-risk occupations, such as the chemical and manufacturing industries, to understand how to prevent safety incidences due to reckless risk taking.
With the support of this five-year $430,000 grant, Zhang will develop a workplace situational judgment test to assess risk propensity relative to the population as well as vocational guidance based on their level of risk tolerance. The instrument he will develop will be available to researchers, industry professionals and the general public.
Zhang is currently a co-principal investigator on the NSF-funded Louis Stokes Center for Promotion of Academic Careers, or LS-PAC MODELS, at LSU. LS-PAC MODELS is a data-driven center of excellence dedicated to broadening participation in the STEM professoriate through mentoring, networking and professional development.
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Contact Sarah Keller
LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences 
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