Recently, Abbey Research welcomed Dr. Erin Hinson to our team as our Vice President of Research Development. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Queen’s University Belfast, Erin brings with her nearly a decade of experience in researching conflict resolution and creative outlets for trauma. These have direct applications to our clients and we are thrilled to have her wisdom. Additionally, she also happens to be one of my very best friends, and shares my vision for serving as widely as we can. I wanted to take this opportunity for our clients and readers to get to know Erin a bit, so I asked (read: forced) her to answer a few questions.
KD: This is all so exciting and hopeful. Can you talk a little about why you wanted to come on board full time?
EH: Thanks, Kristen! I am delighted to be joining the staff at Abbey Research in a full-time capacity and I am very excited about the growth potential for the company. When you first proposed the idea of becoming full-time, I wasn’t quite sure this was the direction I wanted to take my career. However, the more I thought about the work I have been doing for Abbey as a consultant, the more excited I got about the potential to continue on this path. What it comes down to is that I love solving problems and helping people, which are concepts at the core of Abbey’s work.
We know each other really well, and have collaborated on professional and academic projects in the past, so it seemed like a natural progression to move into this role. I cannot wait to bring our level of experience (and hilarious wit) to issues facing our clients and dig deep into some key conversations happening in society (with our awesome blogs and videos). I really believe in Abbey’s innovative vision of helping small businesses and nonprofits and on a personal level feel very fortunate to continue doing work that I am passionate about!
KD: Speaking of passion for research, what’s been your history with that? What sort of projects have you worked on before?
EH: Well, any research worth their salt loves to talk about their work, so thanks for asking! I first discovered my passion for research during my senior year of college at the University of Pittsburgh (10 years ago). While discussing ideas for my senior research project with my advisor we struggled to find a topic within Italian Renaissance painting (a VERY well researched area of scholarship). When we landed on a topic (an obscure fresco cycle by Andrea Mantegna and his depictions of non-Roman centric architecture - because I know you were asking) (KD: those are words, I’m sure, that mean something to someone…), I was energized by the idea of answering a question someone hadn’t asked yet.
This key concept has fueled my love of research and helped me select graduate projects which sought to understand how people see themselves, and how their perceptions impact their behavior in certain spaces. For my graduate work, I traveled to and lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where I was located for 6 years, up until December 2016. In this locale, I worked on projects involving youth work, social work, women’s experiences, and capacity building through conflict transformation and restorative justice models. My largest research project, my PhD thesis, examined the artwork and craft production of political prisoners in Northern Ireland. Within these projects I have focused on conflict resolution, trauma, identity formation, art and personal expression, creativity and resistance, imprisonment, and methods of social control. I continue to be fascinated with how people work and why, as an anthropologist I am trained to study people and cultures, and as a historian, trained to study these patterns over time. All combined, I see a great potential to incorporate this skill set to best serve our clients!
KD: I hesitate to let our Philly-based clients know we have a traitor in our midst, but you do love the Pens and Steelers. We should probably be up front about that. What other stuff occupies your non-research time?
EH: Yes, well, I do love all things Pittsburgh, which I have always thought is a sign of my excellent taste and keen intelligence. (KD: *eye roll*) My non-research time is usually crafted around what sport season it is, I do love to root for the Penguins, and am super psyched about our chance to three-peat as Stanley Cup Champions (I really did have to bring it up) (KD: did you though?). I also brought a love for rugby back from my time in Ireland and the UK. I have always had a profound love of music, and I listen/sing to it everyday.
I am also an avid reader and film buff, most of my down time these days is spent binging Netflix shows or going to our local super-hip theater which shows classic movies and serves craft beer. Second only to my love of hockey, is my love for travel. My family were big into road trips since I was a child, and instilled in me a desire for adventures and explorations (always accompanied by great road trip music). I try to visit new cities or countries each year, and will try any kind of food at least once. Learning about other people and cultures, through all these forums, only makes me a better person and researcher.
KD: And, most importantly, what house are you sorted into and why?
EH: Perhaps the most important question of this blog, and maybe my life. Our friendship was forged with many bonds, but one of the strongest may be our abiding devotion to Harry Potter. We have recently discussed the fact that people’s houses should be considered on a spectrum, few people are 100% Gryffindor or Slytherin. However, since that is not possible, I will proudly declare I have been (and always will be) sorted into Ravenclaw. Though we didn’t get many great Ravenclaw’s in the book or film series, I have always strongly identified with the house’s motto “Wit beyond measure, is man’s greatest treasure” (save for the gendered language, of course).
Members of the house are usually known for their wit and wisdom, two characteristics that I value and aspire to. I think I am sorted into this house because I am careful, a bit shy, analytical and curious, loyal and dedicated. Ravenclaw’s are bookish and in my opinion make great academics and researchers. Always striving for new wisdom and insights, and curious to try new methods or approaches (or foods), I know my inner Ravenclaw will complement your strong Gryffindorian (a new word?) tendencies.
KD: Aye, and as a Gryffindor, I know the value of having Ravenclaw friends. Our bravery needs to be countered with thoroughness, which is why having a Gryffindor and a Ravenclaw heading up a consultancy research business is absolutely PERFECT.
Thanks, Erin, for taking time to answer the questions so our clients can get a better insight into our work. If any of you have any questions for Erin or for myself, don’t hesitate to contact us.