Thank you for visiting! I hope to keep this updated with current research in a way that is accessible to all, regardless of their experience with science and neuroscience. Enjoy! Let me know if you have specific questions or ideas.
My research interests
I am a developmental cognitive neuroscientist interested in identifying how infants, children, and adults learn and think about other people. My research focuses on the development and function of the social brain in typical and atypical populations (e.g., autism). Primarily, I target aspects of social perception (e.g., emotions, biological motion perception, face processing). I use a variety of brain imaging techniques, including electroencephlography (EEG), event-related potentials (ERP), eye tracking, functional magnetic resonsance imaging (fMRI), and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).
My research philosophy is that we do our best science in collaboration with other scientists and clinicians, so I really enjoy working closely with researchers outside my field. Since my goal is to understand how individuals grow, I do my best to implement new statistical and research methods (e.g., multilevel modeling, structural equation modeling) that truly capture individual differences.
Currently at the University of Washington
I am working as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Raphael Bernier and Dr. Sara Jane Webb at the University of Washington, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Our project uses a "genetics-first" approach to detect subtypes of children with autism using neuroimaging and behavioral techniques. Other projects explore how brain patterns (e.g., N170 component, EEG frequencies, topographic coherence) emerge and stabilize over development. I am also working with Dr. Jessica Sommerville and Jacqueline Pospisil on a projects targeting infant brain patterns related to fairness expectations.
Dr. Bernier and I recorded some videos where you can learn more about our research. Check them out on the resource page!
The Origin Story
After graduating from the University of Chicago (AB '05) in Human Development, I worked as a milieu (daily life) therapist at a pediatric residential treatment center. Each child struggled with different emotional and/or psychiatric problems, and it was rewarding to help in little and big ways. I wanted to learn more about how the brain works to see if we could ease those struggles.
I spent 3 years working with Dr. Kevin Pelphrey, currently the Director of the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (AND) Initiative at George Washington University. We researched the social development of young children with and without autism using fMRI primarily.
My graduate work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was guided by Dr. Dennis Molfese (Director of the Developmental Brain Lab & Center for Brain, Biology, & Behavior) and Dr. Anne Schutte (Director of the Spatial Memory and Cognition lab). Our research used EEG/ERP to test brain activity in newborn babies, infants, toddlers, children, adolescents, and adults. We studied a variety of topics (including social cognition, emotion regulation, memory, attention, and sleep) in different populations, including pre-term infants and individuals with traumatic brain injury.
In May 2014, I completed my dissertation on a study of infant social brain development. This project implemented several brain-behavior tools, including ERP, eye-tracking, and computational models.