Eli Labinger is a fourth-year psychology major who works as a Student Assistant in Special Collections and University Archives at the UCR Library.
Labinger grew up in West Hollywood, California as the younger of two sons. His mother is a first grade teacher and his father is a wholesale bookseller.
UC Riverside was an easy choice to make for Labinger because he wanted to stay close to home for college, but also wanted to attend a research university. “When I first visited, I really loved it. It has a very intimate feeling about it,” he said. “It was just a really good fit for me.”
Working at the library also turned out to be a great fit for Labinger. “There’s a lot to love about this job,” he said. “It’s really the anticipation of working with new things or in new areas every day keeps me interested and excited. There’s always something new to experience here.”
One of his favorite work-related memories comes from a 2016 event for the Chancellor’s Associates. “Donors who were visiting the library stopped by Special Collections,” Labinger explained. “We had seven or eight display tables set up around the reading room. Each table had things representing a specific area, and I got to present on The Lord of the Rings as representative of the fantasy literature collection. That was cool.”
His interest in fantasy literature helped to establish a friendship with Science Fiction Librarian Jacqueline “JJ” Jacobson. “I have talked a lot with JJ especially about The Lord of the Rings,” he said. “That’s sort of my outside interest.”
Aside from his work at the library, Labinger also works in a research laboratory in UCR's Department of Psychology. “I’m working on a project right now for the Chancellor’s Research Fellowship,” he said. “Psychology is a really new field and there’s a lot of research out there but there’s so much to be done. There are a lot of important discoveries yet to be made. I think that global change is going to stem from research.”
He feels most passionate about research that focuses on children and adolescents. “It’s such rapid growth period, and by the time we learn new things about these people, the people we’re studying grow up and grow out of our findings. A lot of things become out of date really quickly. There can’t be too much research with younger people.”
Between classes and working at both the library and the psychology lab, Labinger has little spare time for other hobbies. “I haven’t been able to do all the things I like to do, like read for pleasure.”
After graduation, Labinger will be moving to Portland, Oregon, to complete his PhD at Portland State University’s applied developmental psychology program. As a graduate student, he will be assisting Dr. Andrew Mashburn in his research, which includes assessing the effectiveness of early interventions for improving school readiness in preschoolers moving to kindergarten.
“I am especially interested in understanding the types of children and families for whom such interventions work best, and in using this information to find programs that work for all students and that have lasting positive effects,” Labinger said.