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Newsletter | Winter 2021 | South Central MIRECC

Meet the SC MIRECC Researcher: Jamie Tock, PhD, New Orleans Anchor Site

Dr. Jamie Tock
Dr. Jamie Tock

Please tell us a bit about your educational and career background.
Growing up, my parents would gift me a yearly copy of the “Guinness Book of World Records” and I was enthralled by the potential for people to perform feats beyond what is thought of as humanly possible. A story about Monsieur Mangetout (i.e. Mr. Eat-Everything) stuck with me. He started eating small metal objects and worked up to eating an entire Cessna airplane between 1978 and 1980. Given that I wasn’t interested in eating airplanes, I enrolled in an undergraduate psychology program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. I emphasized courses in the study of exceptional human performance. I received my PhD in cognitive psychology with a focus on the study of expert performance and statistical theory at Florida State University (FSU). I have completed research articles on deliberate practice theory and work with colleagues in mental health and other fields. I also work full-time for the Quantitative Methodology and Innovation Center at FSU.

What do you like about doing research with Veterans?
Although my work on statistical and expert performance theories has satiated my academic interest, working on projects related to Veterans who have endured traumatic experiences and those who have attempted or died by suicide has more gravity. These efforts have given me a greater appreciation of the hardships and sacrifices endured by military personnel. It has challenged me to ensure the accuracy and precision of my work as my analytical findings can have crucial implications for benefitting the day-to-day lives of Veterans. Additionally, both of my parents are Veterans and they are more interested in my research on Veterans than my writings about statistics jargon and diagrams. Recently, my dad helped me categorize different weapon types and ammunition for an ongoing research project. Unsolicited, he gave me the history of those weapons and detail about their origins, each of the wars in which they have been used, and Clint Eastwood’s favorite gun in Two Mules for Sister Sara (the Winchester Carbine rifle). Incidentally, this added about 20 minutes to my workday, but ultimately added to my appreciation of the skills and knowledge they acquired in the military.

Do you have any ongoing or upcoming studies or projects that you want to highlight?
I am working on three projects related to suicide with a data analytic approach called network analysis. Network analysis is an exploratory tool to examine simple and complex relations between variables for a topic. For example, I am working on a project that involves looking at the importance of variables such as intimate partner problems, depression, and alcohol use, and how strongly these variables relate to one another.

How will you use your SC MIRECC affiliation to grow your research career?
To get the most out of the datasets I have analyzed for the SC MIRECC, I have pushed myself to learn new methods such as managing large data sets and expanding my ability to compose machine learning models. Such methods are becoming more prominent in the social sciences and possessing these skills will allow me to be at the forefront of research methodology in our field. Second, along with other researchers affiliated with the SC MIRECC, I have co-authored several published and working manuscripts in addition to two grant applications that were recently submitted. Going forward, I hope to use my skills and knowledge to serve as a methodologist on grants and other projects with the SC MIRECC and pursue a full-time position as a methodologist.

What would your dream research study be if funding weren’t an issue?
I would begin by granting myself forty million dollars for performing my work (just kidding…mostly). I would focus on the quality of widely used self-report scales in mental health and other fields (e.g. PCL-5). Many of these scales have yet to be comprehensively reexamined and issues with the validity of such scales often lead to inaccurate conclusions. I would perform data analysis on these scales and aggregate the findings to make a general commentary on the status of self-report scales in the social sciences.

Is there anything that I haven’t asked that you would like our readers to know about you or your work?
I am obsessed with the New Orleans Pelicans basketball team. Since I have lived in New Orleans, I have attended many of their games (pre-COVID). Relatedly, I have combined my data analysis and statistics skills with my interest in basketball and started a few projects that examine the skill and value of basketball players and their impact on winning games.

How can people get in touch with you if they have questions?
Feel free to contact me at or if you have any questions or you are interested in collaborating on any SC MIRECC-related research or data management projects.

Last updated: January 21, 2021