Beyond CULPA: Ken Light, poker playing psychologist

Beyond CULPA: Ken Light, poker playing psychologist

 

 
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COURTESY OF KEN LIGHT

 

Dr. Ken Light has taught at Barnard for four years. You may recognize his name if you’ve ever been on a psychology lab waiting list. Light teaches both the the Intro to Experimental Psychology Lab and the Psych of Learning Lab.

Outside of the lab, Light plays poker (he’s been featured on NBC’s Poker After Dark) and also brews his own beer, plays guitar, and sings.

 

 
 

Freaking out about being undecided?

It wasn’t until Dr. Light’s senior year at Ramapo College, that he found his calling, in cognitive neuroscience. He began as a biochem major, and then switched to psychology midway through his first year. So have no fear if you still have no idea what to do with your life.

Why psychology is worth the wait...

According to Light, psychology is still a discipline in which neophyte students have the opportunity to “push the edges a little bit and find something unique and, at times, something interesting to follow up on afterwards…”

If you’re having trouble nabbing a spot in one of the Intro Labs, Dr. Light recommends another strategy:

Intro Lab, I wouldn’t try more than two semesters, if you fail that go to one of the topical labs instead, it’s not going to be too far over your head and you’re more likely to get in, and … you’ll see two completely different aspects of psychology.

The only thing to note however, is that if you take one of the topical labs like Developmental,PersonalityPerception, or Cognitive, you’ll need to take the corresponding lecture too. That’s 4.5 credits in total.

How to make the most of your science (or really any general education) requirement

For incoming students, Light says it’s important “not to become too married to the idea of a major.”

I encourage my Intro Lab students to really dive into being a scientist for the semester, because if you go off and do something with an English major or an art major … you’re never going to have that opportunity again, so why squander it?

Light’s advice on stress

Light says it’s important to have a wide range of interests to keep one’s “perspective diverse”—remember he’s a poker-playing, guitar-strumming, beer-brewing doctor of psych.

Light also advises that, although it’s counterintuitive, it’s better “if you spread yourself a little wider … in the end, it’s more beneficial, because you’re a more balanced person for it.”

Light’s advice for outgoing seniors

He believes he’s found a secret to being happy in a job: Take the good parts with the bad. Maybe it’s easier said than done and lil cheesy, but try it. It puts a nice swing on things, especially when you hear it this way:

“A long time ago I took on the perspective that every job, every career has something that you don’t like, something … to get through … my perspective is, that’s what I get paid to do. Everything else I do, I love to do …”

Marisa Brown is a junior at Barnard College majoring in English. Her interests include: Washington Irving, John Mulaney, and chocolate chip cookies. Beyond CULPA runs weekly every Wednesday. Click here for last week’s installation.