I am a Project Coordinator in the lab with a total of four years of undergraduate research experience, the last 12 months of which have been in LDN. During my undergraduate career, I studied Psychology (B.A.) with a focus in atypical development, and children and adolescents with disabilities. My academic interests include behavioral modifications for individuals diagnosed with autism and other disabilites, language and communication development, and understanding typical vs. atypical development of social interactions and behavior in individuals. Prior to being a Project Manager in LDN, I was an undergraduate student-athlete at Penn State (University Park), where I also earned the four-year starting pitching position on the women’s softball team as a walk-on.
I am an assistant project coordinator in the lab with two years of experience. I also oversee the Child Attention and Learning Lab directed by Dr. Cynthia Huang-Pollock. During my undergraduate career, I attended Penn State and graduated with B.A.s in Psychology, Criminology, and Sociology. As an undergraduate, I was a campus and athletic tour guide for Undergraduate Admissions, a teaching assistant in the Department of Criminology, and an undergraduate research assistant. Currently, I am pursing a Master’s degree in Higher Education with focuses on Institutional Research and Applied Statistics. My current academic interests include the influence of race and culture on the diagnosis of ADHD, autism, and other childhood disorders.
Assistant Project Coordinator for SAGA (Social Games for Adolescents with Autism) email@example.com
I am a senior, majoring in Psychology with a Neuroscience focus. I have recently been hired to work as an assistant project manager on the SAGA autism project. I have been interested in studying the autism spectrum since I was very young. I joined the Lab of Developmental Neuroscience to gain exposure to what neuroscience research is like and continue learning about developmental psychology topics. In addition to undergraduate research, I am also an on campus resident assistant and a physics learning-assistant. In the future I plan to attend medical school and to be able to continue to conduct research and practice medicine in the neurological field.
Programmer for SAGA (Social Games for Adolescents with Autism)
I have 20+ years’ experience designing and developing games, interactive projects and animation for a variety of industries, including education, health care, entertainment, and fine arts. As a consultant I’ve developed projects for clients such as WNET/PBS, WebMD, Scholastic, Weekly Reader, and Children’s National Medical Center. Previously I worked as a game artist and developer for Sierra Online and Viacom game studios. I have an MFA in Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BS in Computer Science from the University of Maryland.
My interests lie in measuring and understanding the organization of neural networks. Specifically, I focus on the impact of individual differences in face recognition on the face processing network. During my undergraduate career, I began work in face detection and processing, motion detection, and signal detection. As a graduate student, my training shifted to learning and employing multimodal neuroimaging methods, specifically functional and structural MRI. My current projects involve understanding the range of individual differences in face recognition and their underlying neural networks, as well as determining the formations of these networks over development.
Former NSF Graduate Fellow
I am a sixth year Ph.D. student in the developmental area at PSU. Prior to joining Suzy’s lab, I received a B.A. in Psychology and Women’s Studies from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Currently, I am pursuing two lines of research that both uniquely interrogate the developmental processes underlying face recognition behaviors and social information processing more broadly. First, I am investigating the role developmental tasks and processes (e.g., pubertal development) play in the development and emergence of biases in face recognition in children, adolescents, and adults. In parallel, I am examining differences in the neural circuitry supporting face and object processing in individuals with autism and typically developing individuals (TD) during adolescence.
I am a third year Ph.D. student in the developmental area at PSU (as of Fall 2017). Currently, I am focusing on using multi-level neuroimaging methods to explore how puberty influences the development of the neural mechanisms underlying face processing in adolescence, and how this newly emerging neural profile might potentially predict current or later social development. I am also interested in applying this theoretical approach to studying the neural manifestation of social processing in atypical populations, such as those with autism. My core research interest also includes understanding how environmental factors contribute to neural differences in face processing.
Before joining Suzy’s lab, my research focused on employing statistical modeling (multilevel and Bayesian) to assess neuropsychological test performance in older adults and adults with Alzheimer’s disease. My master’s thesis examined how autistic traits influence social motivation and attention during neuropsychological assessment. Currently, I am working on a project in Suzy’s lab that aims to improve face processing (as measured with eye-tracking technology) in adolescents diagnosed with autism by implementing a computer-based intervention. Finally, I am interested in utilizing neuroimaging methods such as functional MRI (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to study brain-behavior relationships in typically-developing individuals and children with autism.
Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a senior majoring in Psychology with minors in Education Policy and African-American Studies, in hopes of entering a Developmental Psychology program after college. My academic research interests include autism spectrum disorder, language development, and sexual development and behavior in adolescents. I joined the Lab of Developmental Neuroscience because I wanted to gain experience working directly with children diagnosed with autism, and to further my understanding on how research is conducted.
Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a senior in the Eberly College of Science, majoring in Biology with a focus in Neuroscience, accompanied by a minor in Psychology. My specific academic interests include the study of the development of brain regions involved in processes such as face processing and how deficits in the functioning of these areas are implicated in psychiatric disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. After completing my undergraduate degree at Penn State, I hope to continue my education by attending medical school.
Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a junior majoring in Psychology with a specialty in Neuroscience and a minor in Biology. I am interested in studying brain development and how facial processing changes through adolescence. I joined the Lab of Developmental Neuroscience to get experience working in a laboratory setting and testing with subjects. After completing my undergraduate degree I plan to attend graduate school.
Natalie V. Motta-Mena
Graduate Student Rotations