Vanessa Bohns

Professor, Management Sciences

Vanessa Bohns was attracted to Waterloo Engineering by its unique management sciences department.          
“I thought it was amazing that there was a department in engineering that is so interdisciplinary and connected to the people-side of getting out your ideas,” says the new management sciences professor.

Bohns, who has a PhD in psychology from Columbia University, joined Waterloo Engineering in July 2011 after spending three years as a faculty member at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.  Among her research interests are organizational behaviour, social influence and perspective-taking.

A paper she wrote with Tory Higgins of Columbia University on personalities within task-oriented teams is featured this month in Social Cognition, the official journal of the International Social Cognition Network. Bohns found that while people are often happier partnering on a project with someone who is similar, it often doesn’t result in fresh ideas.

“Teams that are able to capitalize on having members with diverse strategies for getting things done find ways to ‘divide and conquer’ the work so that each individual has his or her own independent role in the task and it is a role he or she enjoys.”     
Bohns is spending the fall 2011 term doing research. Next year she will make use of her behavioural research background when she beings teaching the research methods course for management sciences graduate students and the organizational behaviour course for the department’s undergraduate students.

“One thing I love about behavioural research is that people tend to have a lot of their own intuitions about the phenomena I study,” she says.  “I’m especially excited to hear the intuitions of engineering students who will be able to relate these concepts to their own experiences in their co-op terms and class projects.”