Featured Member Profile: Helen Harton

Welcome to another installment of our featured member profiles, where we will continue to introduce you to our members—individuals who work to advance ethical research on a daily basis. Please read on to learn more about their professional experiences, how membership helps them connect to a larger community, and what goes on behind the scenes in their lives!

Today we’d like to introduce you to Helen Harton, institutional review board (IRB) chair and professor of psychology at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA.

When and why did you join the field?
Several years ago I was invited to be on a committee which focused on improving the IRB process at my university. I then went on to join the IRB, and I now hold the position of IRB chair. I feel strongly about helping to facilitate research for faculty and students, while ensuring that the process is ethical for participants. 

What is your favorite part of your job?
When I review a protocol and make suggestions to improve a study (sometimes I’ll give optional advice based on my experience that the researcher can take or leave) and the principal investigator seems to appreciate the suggestions.

What’s your after-hours guilty pleasure?
I’m not sure this is an “after-hours guilty pleasure,” but in addition to being an IRB chair, professor of psychology, and graduate coordinator in psychology, I also teach belly dance classes and perform alone and with my troupe around the area.

Why did you join PRIM&R?
For the great resources!

What is your favorite member benefit?
I’ve found the conferences to be really helpful.

What would you say to someone who is considering PRIM&R membership?
I would recommend that people join PRIM&R to find out more about best practices and what other IRBs are doing.

What do you believe is a key challenge facing the field of research ethics?
I think a key challenge is going to be increasing researcher interest in various types of internet data collection (including some that probably haven’t even been invented yet). 

Thank you for being part of the membership community and sharing your story, Helen. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a member, please visit our website today.