Background

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Conquer Chiari Research Center at the University of Akron under the direction of Dr. Francis Loth. My work at the CCRC involves examining the structural, cognitive, emotional, and physiological implications of Chiari Malformation Syndrome in an attempt to improve the diagnosis of the condition as well as enhance the lives of those living with CM. My work also involves coordinating with researchers at the University of Akron as well as the Cleveland Clinic and University of Michigan in the areas of mechanical and biomedical engineering, genetics, biology, neuroscience, and medicine to more fully comprehend the etiology and prognosis of CM.

I received my bachelors degree in Psychology from The Ohio State University in 2011 while becoming involved in research focusing on auditory speech perception & psychometric scale construction. I subsequently entered the Adult Development and Aging doctoral program at the University of Akron under the advisement of Dr. Phil Allen. At UA, I engaged in coursework and research with a strong focus on the cognitive and neurophysiological consequences of normal aging. My research interests grew to include the development of human attention & perception, sensory integration, cognitive training, neuroimaging, and neural electrophysiology.

 

Expertise

Chiari malformation syndrome - Chiari Malformation Syndrome is characterized by a structural deformation of the cerebellum. Individuals with Chiari experience a multitude of symptoms including dizziness, vision problems, headaches, and problems with balance and coordination. My work in Chiari malformation addresses the cognitive deficits that individuals with Chiari may face. Recently, we have expanded our investigation into the potential deficits of Chiari to include functional activity of the brain through EEG and structural damage of neural communication pathways through diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).

Cognitive aging - As a part of the my graduate training, I have had coursework in the normative aging of attention, perception, memory, and language systems. This coursework was further supplemented through my work in the UA Cognitive Aging Laboratory that has focused on age group differences in written word recognition, threat perception, and the context integration in working memory. Check out the cognitive aging page for more information on the lab!

Quantitative analysis - I have received extensive training in univariate and multivariate approaches to data analysis including coursework in ANOVA, hierarchical regression, factor analysis, random effects modeling, and structural equation modeling. I have also developed expertise in the area of nonparametric analysis, including both group comparison and regression techniques, and approaches to quantitative meta-analysis.

Neural electrophysiology - Neural electrophysiology through the analysis of EEG forms allow for unique insight into neural activity that underlies human performance. For the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 academic years, I have acted as coordinator the EEG branch of the UA Cognitive Aging Laboratory. My EEG work has focused predominantly on time-domain event-related potentials (ERP). However, recent investigations have expanded upon the traditional ERP method to include frequency domain and time-frequency approaches. 

 

Previous Positions

Doctoral student researcher, Conquer Chiari Research Center, The University of Akron - As a doctoral student, I worked on three projects at the CCRC. The first project resulted in the first published study of the cognitive effects of Chiari Malformation Syndrome  that incorporated empirically validated cognitive measures. The second project, still ongoing, has three primary goals: 1) to identify additional cognitive effects of CM using a standard neuropsychological battery, 2) to explore cognitive and emotional effects of CM using direct measures of neurophysiological functioning using electroencephalogragphy, and 3) to gauge the structural impact of CM on the primary communication pathways of brain using diffusion tensor imaging.

Lab coordinator and doctoral student researcher, Cognitive Aging Laboratory, The University of Akron - Research primarily focused on identifying cross-sectional age group differences in attention, emotion perception, working memory, & the influence of sensory degradation on cognitive performance utilizing behavioral and electrophysiological indices of performance. I also provided oversight over scheduling and participant enrollment in the cognitive and and EEG branches of the laboratory. 

  Research in the speech lab addresses the following question: How does the mind of a listener translate the acoustic energy emanating from a talker's mouth into the words intended by the talker? Projects focus on how listeners' knowledge of their language (phonological, lexical) and the surrounding sentence context (semantic, prosodic) are used to aid recognition. Most recently, we have been examining how listeners recognize phonological variants (i.e., alternative pronunciations) of spoken words. Acoustic and phonological analyses of speech in the Buckeye Speech Corpus are used to inform these experiments.

 

Research in the speech lab addresses the following question: How does the mind of a listener translate the acoustic energy emanating from a talker's mouth into the words intended by the talker? Projects focus on how listeners' knowledge of their language (phonological, lexical) and the surrounding sentence context (semantic, prosodic) are used to aid recognition. Most recently, we have been examining how listeners recognize phonological variants (i.e., alternative pronunciations) of spoken words. Acoustic and phonological analyses of speech in the Buckeye Speech Corpus are used to inform these experiments.

Research assistant, Language Perception Laboratory, The Ohio State University - As an undergraduate research assistant at OSU, my work in the lab primarily focused on auditory speech perception under the direction of Dr. Mark Pitt. Further information from the lab's website can be found by clicking on the image above!

 

Research assistant, Psychometrics Laboratory, The Ohio State University - My work in the psychometrics focused on psychometric properties related to scale construction & validation under the direction of Dr. Nancy Betz & Dr. Thomas E. Nygren. Additional information about the type of work conducted in the lab can be found at Dr. Betz's website or Dr. Nygren's website.