Every month, the Gorilla support team put together several hours of live webinar broadcast, help out over a hundred different researchers, and run a range of workshops with our keenest users to tweak and refine the range of new tools we have on the horizon. It’s a busy time, but we’ve managed to find a few minutes with them to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to keep the Gorilla engine running!
The support team are a well-oiled machine: Hannah runs the support desk, answering queries from our users, Catriona manages all of our documentation, samples and Open Materials, Klaudia runs our Early Access scheme for upcoming tools, and Will runs our development operations.
How did you join Gorilla?
Hannah: I joined Gorilla straight out of my undergraduate degree. I was immediately gripped by the concept of being able to do behavioural research online — no more fussing about with individual programs for each task, the logistics of in person testing, and, finally, the chance to get a representative sample. How could that change psychological research? Now, 3 years on, both our tools and our team have grown, and I’m still excited by the possibilities!
Klaudia: I used Gorilla when working as a Research Assistant in addition to doing my master’s degree. I valued the tools for being efficient and user friendly, and I loved the help I received from the Support Team at the time. When I was looking for a full-time position after graduating, I knew I would like to work for Gorilla so I got in touch and asked them if I could join!
Catriona: After two postdocs, I started to realise academia wasn’t for me. I decided to look for roles in industry that involved my favourite parts of research (problem-solving, using my technical skills, communicating complicated things in an easily understandable way). I had used Gorilla for my research and I had worked for a small company before my PhD, so when a position came up, I decided to apply!
Will: My PhD funding was for three years only (with no option for obtaining more) so when savings started to run dry in the middle of my fourth year, I knew I needed more than bar work to make it through. A friend mentioned to Jo and Nick at Cauldron that I was looking for work and “knew how to code”. They agreed to take me on for a couple of weeks to see how it went — nearly six years later and I’m still here. So I guess I did something right!
What is your favourite part of the job?
Catriona: I love creating new samples and tutorials for our users. It’s all the fun of experiment design without any of the pressure to publish the results!
Klaudia: Being directly involved in helping researchers to launch their studies and therefore contributing to progress in behavioural science — it’s interesting and gives me enormous satisfaction!
Will: As most of my time is spent with the development team, the support desk gives me an opportunity to see first hand the things users are having difficulties with. This then informs our development work, so we can make the tools simpler/more intuitive in the future.
Hannah: I get to work in psychology, and spend my whole day problem solving research methods questions, and helping others achieve their goals. Every day brings new puzzles to solve, and some cool research to learn about. My colleagues have quickly become awesome friends. Honestly, dream job!
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Will: Sometimes a user will want to do something that really isn’t possible in the online environment. Even when you know you’ve exhausted all other options, saying “This isn’t possible at the moment” is still really hard. It motivates us to always be innovating, to stay on top of the latest development in the online world. One day, we’ll be able to “actually, you’re in luck…”
Hannah: Sometimes, our users need help taking a vague description of a research paradigm, and transforming that into something you can think about screen by screen — only then can I start to help them with using our tools! Gorilla can do so much, so it’s always rough on the rare occasions that we find something it can’t do. Our list of new features to add is never-ending — we love being able to say yes!
Klaudia: Having to understand complicated design and advising on advanced features — it keeps me stimulated and helps me grow though!
Catriona: Finding the clearest and most intuitive way to explain features to our users. It can be a multi-stage, trial-and-error process, but when you help someone reach a point of understanding, it’s very rewarding!
What do you love about our users?
Klaudia: That they come from such various backgrounds, doing lots of cool research and you get to support them in that process. Also that they are kind and generous in showing their gratitude — that really encourages you to do your best at work!
Will: Our users are innovating just as much as we are. Seeing the way people combine different things together (in a way I couldn’t have envisaged) and the innovative research they’re making possible online… it just continues to be an inspiration.
Catriona: They used to be my colleagues and students, so I understand their struggles! They’re under a lot of pressure but they still have the drive and passion to do research that increases our understanding of the world, which is really admirable.
Hannah: Almost every one of them is absolutely lovely. It’s great to be part of this amazing research community. Everyone gets stressed by tech, especially close to deadlines. Being able to help out? Priceless!
What is your favourite random fact?
Hannah: Just one? Sea otters have pockets for their favourite rocks. Snakes are born with a small tooth to help them escape the egg, it drops off after they hatch (not all snakes, some snakes are live at birth). Whoops. Two facts. Sue me!
Klaudia: Penguins spend a long time searching through piles of pebbles to find the smoothest, most perfect ones. They then present the perfect pebble to their love interests to attract and communicate their intentions for starting a family. Adorable! 🐧
Catriona: In the Greek version of the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song, ‘SquarePants’ is not mentioned until the last line. This is because ‘SquarePants’ in Greek has 8 syllables (Tetragonopantelonis)!
Will: One of the first mods that came out for Skyrim (ten years ago?!?!) replaced all of the spiders with bears. It’s good to know that other people dislike spiders as much as I do!
Interested in joining the team?
We’re often on the lookout for smart, helpful people who like Science, Technology and Getting Things Done to join our team — if that sounds like you, check out any current vacancies on our careers page: https://gorilla.sc/careers/