In what field was your PhD? How did you arrive at this specialization?
My Ph.D. is in cognitive psychology--specifically, in psycholinguistics.
In particular, my Ph.D. work focused on the cognitive mechanisms of second language acquisition. As a freshman in college, I originally was planning to become a secondary school English and Spanish teacher. When I discovered that research could reveal the reasons why people learned languages effectively, in turn informing pedagogical techniques used in the classroom, I was hooked!
What is your current research project?
Most of my postdoctoral work focuses on the neural bases of communication in autism spectrum disorder. In particular, I've been investigating the neural correlates of temporal synchrony between gesture and speech. Recently, I've returned to my roots to investigate the cognitive bases of speech and gesture processing, focusing in particular on gesture's effect on memory for speech.
Tell us about a great experience or opportunity you’ve had in the past year.
Over the past six months, I've had the pleasure of working with Scott Fraundorf, an assistant professor in the Psychology Department. Aside from being a talented researcher and teacher, Scott is a great mentor and a kind and generous person. He's a wonderful junior faculty role model who I hope to emulate after taking the next step in my professional life.
What do you hope the next step in your career path will be?
I'm currently on the market for a faculty job in communication sciences and disorders at a research university. I feel that my professional background and interests suit me well for this discipline, and I plan to conduct applied research on language processing that will benefit people with communication impairments.
If not a scientist, what would you be?
Probably a K-12 teacher specializing in English and foreign languages. In an alternate universe, I would own a restaurant or be a professional food critic, since I love to cook and eat!