University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor Morela Hernandez has a passion for behavioral research. It’s this passion that led the associate professor in leadership and organizational behavior and academic director of the Behavioral Research at Darden (BRAD) Lab to develop a new project: the Behavioral Research for Society (BRS) Lab.
The BRS Lab will answer such burning questions as “How do leaders formulate a system in which the long-term viability of not only the organization but the society in which they exist is an important factor in their decision making?” and “How do you train someone to make the type of decisions that are not just self-based but other-oriented?” The lab will bring together behavioral research experts and business practitioners to study:
- Diversity and the correction of racial and gender biases in society,
- Sustainability and the development of sustainable decision-making, and
- Health and the practices of mindfulness and compassion.
When talking about the new BRS Lab in a news release, Hernandez explained that it was about being able to have a more significant impact. “I wanted the ability to take the research that I do and have a greater impact on individuals outside the academic environment,” she said. “I thought Darden would offer an opportunity to directly communicate in a much broader way with the individuals who could put this into practice. And I can say it’s happened in a very positive way.”
To help make this possible, Hernandez worked with Dean Scott Beardsley to obtain $2.2 million in startup funding from UVA’s Strategy Investment Fund. The money will be used to build the BRS Lab and to make it self-sustaining. The end goal is to create a project that will further UVA’s position as a leader in behavioral science research. “That’s the driving force behind the idea of interdisciplinary collaboration,” Hernandez explained. “I wake up every morning thinking: How do we strengthen and increase our research culture at Darden, and how can others on grounds contribute to those efforts? How can we help each other?”
In the end, the BRS Lab will serve as a center for research development across schools at UVA. Already, the BRAD Lab supports 100 researchers, and the hope is that the BRS Lab will expand their reach to even more scholars who want to use behavioral science to take on social issues.
To learn more about the new BRS Lab, visit the school website.