Tribute - Pablo Andrés Mora (1971-2012)
Psychologist was generous mentor, family man
Pablo Mora had a passion for research and teaching. He was thoughtful, supportive and generous with his time and knowledge with students and colleagues. He had an incisive, dry sense of humor and was an avowed "foodie" who knew all the best restaurants.
He was devoted to his family and doted on his eight-year-old daughter, Amelia.
Dr. Mora, an assistant professor of psychology at UT Arlington since 2009, died in October 2012 at age 41.
The void left by his passing is a large one for family, friends and colleagues.
"All of us in the College of Science are deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. Mora," Dean of Science Pamela Jansma said. "He was a brilliant professor and truly cared about his students."
Jeff Gagne, an assistant professor of psychology, met Dr. Mora in 2011 upon coming to campus for an interview. Gagne said Dr. Mora went out of his way to make him feel welcome.
"He was very informative, honest and kind," Gagne said. "At the time, I thought that maybe this was part of the recruitment process, but I now know that this was just Pablo being Pablo."
Gagne said Dr. Mora was a role model to him as a teacher and as a father.
"In our talks, he often urged me to take the student's perspective, to consider diverse backgrounds and world views, and to provide meaningful opportunities for all, from freshman to late-stage doctoral students," Gagne said. "I know how hard he worked with his students both in the lab and in the classroom. Pablo is also a role model for me as a father. He loved Amelia with all of his heart and every time we spoke he mentioned her. It was clear how proud he was of her and how much he looked forward to spending time with her."
Dr. Mora was born in Santiago, Chile on July 17, 1971 and received a degree in Psychology from the University of Chile in 1996. He came to the United States on a Fulbright Scholarship and earned an M.S. (1999) and a Ph.D. (2002) from Rutgers University, where he also worked in the Center for the Study of Health Beliefs and Behavior at the university's Institute for Health under professor Howard Leventhal.
"His English on arrival was somewhat labored, but his statistical skills were not," Leventhal said. "He consumed six or eight statistics courses in multiple departments and was the go-to guy for graduate students and faculty. The chapters of our center's statistical textbook opened with a simple instruction: 'See Pablo'. The instruction worked, as Pablo's incredible skills were combined with a generous and helping nature."
After earning his Ph.D., he returned to Chile, where he worked for two years as a researcher and adjunct professor at a Santiago university. He then returned to Rutgers' Institute of Health, where he spent the next four years as a research associate before coming to UT Arlington as a visiting assistant professor in 2008. He was hired full-time the following year.
Dr. Mora's research interests focused on the relationship of illness cognitions and illness-specific affective responses to illness behavior and illness self-management. He studied how emotional factors influence people's perceptions and reports of physical symptoms.
Among the projects on which Dr. Mora collaborated was a study examining psychosocial factors associated with postpartum depression among inner-city women, and a project focusing on understanding how cultural factors impact chronic illness management and health outcomes.
Survivors include his wife, Nia Parson; daughter, Amelia; brothers, Mario Alberto Mora and Mario Pedro Mora; and sisters, Gloria Mora, Leonor Mora and Sandra Mora.