University of Chicago, A.B. ('05, Human Development)
University of Nebraska, Ph.D. ('14, Developmental Psychology)
Clinical work: 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.
Social brain in autism: 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.
Social cognition in typical development: My graduate training at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was guided by Dr. Dennis Molfese (Director of the Developmental Brain Lab at the Center for Brain, Biology, & Behavior) and Dr. Anne Schutte (Director of the Spatial Memory and Cognition lab). We conducted several lines of research:
- Infant attention and language processing: We measured memory responses to speech sounds in full-term newborns at birth, as well as developmental changes as infants acquire language.
- Effects on cognition following concussion: We worked closely with UNL's Department of Athletics to evaluate long-term effects of concussion, as well tracking the ongoing recovery process.
- The infant social brain: My dissertation work targeted low- and higher-level sociocognitive integration during infancy between 6-10 months of age. At the University of Washington, I continue to work on this topic with Dr. Jessica Sommerville (Director of the Early Childhood Cognition Laboratory).
Social cognition in autism: My postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington was guided by Dr. Raphael Bernier (Director of the Bernier Lab) and Dr. Sara Jane Webb (Director of the Psychophysiology and Behavioral Systems Lab). We implement a "genetics-first" approach to detect subgroups of children with autism and a specific genetic etiology. I am currently a Research Scientist working on these same topics.