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Meet Distinguished Professor Christopher France

As seen in Compass:

Meet Distinguished Professor Christopher France
Feb 10, 2015
By McKenzie Powell

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]rom his undeniable love for teaching to his intense desire to make the perfect bagel, Christopher France is nothing short of passionate.

Through his demonstrated contributions toward education and the fields of health psychology and behavioral medicine, it is easy to see why France, a professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, was named Ohio University’s 2014 Distinguished Professor.

The OHIO community will honor France during the Distinguished Professor Reception and Lecture on Feb. 18 in the Baker University Center Theatre and Lounge. The celebration, which is open to the public, kicks off with a reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by a program that begins at 7 p.m. The program will include a lecture by France titled, “Rolling up Our Sleeves: Working to Prepare Blood Donors for a Lifetime of Giving.”

In advance of the event, Compass sat down with France to learn a little more about his professional and personal endeavors.

Compass: How does it feel to be named a distinguished professor?

It feels good; it’s an honor. It’s exciting in that respect. It’s a bit of a responsibility as well. For example, it’s nice to be able to select a scholarship recipient every year. I’ve put a lot of thought into how I will decide who the best person will be for that.

Distinguished professors meet with the president and the provost a couple times a year to talk about issues related to research and scholarship, so that’s a responsibility as well. Overall, it’s an honor and it’s fun!

What can people expect from your upcoming lecture, and why do you feel it is important for people to attend?

The focus of the talk is going to be on the work that I’ve done regarding efforts to recruit and retain blood donors. I’m going to be talking about a whole bunch of things surrounding that, but in particular we’re going to discuss strategies that we’ve developed that are helpful for people who are interested in giving blood but maybe have a little trepidation – a little concern or anxiety. So, ways they can deal with that and help to give blood if they want to. Anybody who falls into that category, it’s particularly good for them to attend.

If you’re interested in psychology and applied psychology and how we work not just in the lab but in the real world, that’s a good reason to come as well.

What inspired you to become a professor of psychology?

Oh boy, a whole bunch of things. One of the things that’s a real important reason for me is because it’s such a flexible job, in particular being a health psychologist. There’s the opportunity to teach, do research, and work with people directly.

I learned what psychology was early on in high school, and that there are so many different things you can do in the field. I’m somebody who’s easily bored; I like to be doing a lot of different things, so that really was attractive. Also, when I started taking classes and heard about my classmates’ jobs and the ways in which they were doing things that were very beneficial to people, that was very attractive.

The clinical part alone is interesting, but again for me it’s about having the ability to do more than that. I get to train people to do what I do so the next generation of people can become professionals like this, and I think that’s an important thing to give back. Teaching at the undergraduate level, I enjoy what I do, I enjoy the research, I enjoy learning about it, and so it’s exciting for me to share that kind of knowledge with other people.

I learn a lot from teaching because I’m always asked questions that I haven’t thought about, and it forces me to think about it in new ways. It also forces me to stay as up to date as I can for the classes. There’s a whole bunch of good reasons to teach.

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