Angela Aristidou: Space Travel, Simulation, and Corporate Mergers

Blog - Angela Aristidou: Space Travel, Simulation, and Corporate Mergers

Ten years ago, Angela Aristidou was working on a project at the NASA Biomedical Research Institute. Angela’s role was to help design virtual simulations for astronauts to cope with depression and conflict management issues in space. “We tested it and it worked.” That’s how Angela got hooked on simulation.

At the conclusion of her project with NASA, Angela began researching simulation centers online and found the Center for Medical Simulation (CMS). She was encouraged by a peer to email Jeff Cooper, Executive Director Emeritus of the Center for Medical Simulation, and arrange a meeting. The two scheduled a meeting at CMS and by the end of it, Jeff had made Angela a job offer.

Angela finished her Master’s in Technology and Innovation in Education at Harvard University and her role at CMS offered her the opportunity to work in simulation-based education. Angela’s primary project was to initiate the development of a long-distance, blended learning format for classes offered at CMS. Angela was involved in the development of the business plan for the program and the design of the actual course. Her work laid the foundation for the Debriefing Assessment for Simulation in Healthcare (DASH) webinar and Online Debriefing Refresher Course offered at CMS.

Angela describes her time at CMS as “career defining.” Jenny Rudolph, who, at the time was a principal faculty member and is now the Executive Director of CMS, became Angela’s mentor. Angela knew that she loved research, specifically hands-on research with lots of human interaction, and Jenny helped her explore possible career paths and PhD options. Angela ultimately decided on a doctorate program in Management Studies.

Today, Dr. Angela Aristidou is an Assistant Professor of Organization Studies at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. She stays in touch with both Jeff Cooper and Jenny Rudolph, and recently stopped by CMS for a visit after presenting at the Harvard Relational Coordination Consortium. Although the simulation center has moved from Cambridge to Charlestown, Angela still feels like she’s visiting a familiar place: “the character has stayed the same, you can still feel the warmth, the fact that people really care about what they do.”

Angela reminisces about her time at CMS; from being “thrown” into simulated scenarios to leading the efforts of rolling out online course offerings. Currently, she’s working on publishing the results of a research study about the organizational conflicts involved in the merger of two services. In response to her findings, she offered customized workshops for employees of the newly merged organization.

“I want to make a difference with my research. I want to get my findings out there and help other people improve their organizations and their organizational life based on my findings. It sounds ambitious but that’s really what I want to do.”

A proponent of interprofessional collaboration, Angela hopes to use the skills that she learned in her studies at CMS to help organizations around the world.

“I want to continue to collaborate across boundaries, I don’t think any one discipline can make a difference on its own. I’m based in a business school and I see that without collaboration with the medical school, health policy or government, we can’t tackle the big issues.”