Meet the Member: Gerson Morales
Organization: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)
Role: Survey Statistician/Survey Methodologist
Education: PhD in International Psychology and MA in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, BA in Psychology from George Mason University
What got you interested in the field of public opinion research?
While working at the U.S. Census Bureau doing qualitative survey research, I came to realize the importance of understanding public opinion. Public opinion can have a profound impact on how people choose to report data to government organizations. Depending on the attitudes and perceptions people have towards the federal government can influence people's willingness to participate in research. Based on this, I have continued to research how people's attitudes (i.e., trust in government) can have an impact in response rates and how these attitudes can influence the accuracy of the data being collected.
What work are you proudest of?
It is really difficult to think of one particular work I am most proud of. For example, I am proud of the work done at the U.S. Census to improve language questions in surveys so that the Latino population is represented well. I am also proud of the work I did for my PhD dissertation where I was able to understand how Costa Ricans can influence the success of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. However, the work I can be most proud of is when I had the opportunity to work for the International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights organization that focuses on helping human trafficked victims and violence against women and children. While working for IJM, I was able to help improve their aftercare program evaluation (programs geared towards rehabilitating survivors from their trauma), which helps measure the progress of survivors rehabilitating from various forms of violence and exploitation.
What keeps you coming back to AAPOR?
I think it is a combination of the long lasting connections I have developed over the years and the ongoing impressive research that is constantly being produced.
Do you have a favorite memory from AAPOR?
A favorite memory of mine is watching my friends and colleagues sing at karaoke in New Orleans. The city’s environment plus karaoke made for a really fun night.
Did you learn anything new or start a hobby during COVID-19?
I have been able to start and finish several small home projects, like redoing my deck and redoing my kitchen. Although, I am not sure how good I am since it takes me forever to finish these projects :-D.