PhD Candidate, Department of Psychology
My interest in research and nonhuman primates was piqued on my first day of college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I was taking a seminar with renowned primatologist Dr. Chuck Snowdon and he posed a question to the class: What differentiates humans and nonhuman primates? For half an hour, we peppered him with our responses—fashion, language, romantic relationships, parental care. When we ran out of ideas, he addressed each in turn, citing examples of orangutans self-adorning, Kanzi the bonobo signing and communicating with a lexigram, titi monkey pair bonding, and gorilla mothers carrying, defending, and nurturing their infants for years.
Due in large part to this early interest in primates and their sociality and behavior, I joined Dr. Allyson Bennett’s lab, where I worked with an aging population of rhesus macaques on motor and cognitive tasks in order to examine age-related declines related to early life experience. For my senior honors thesis work, I focused on another aspect of development and explored how early lateral biases are influenced by maternal handedness and infant nursing side preferences. During this time, I secured several grants to support my independent research and conference attendance and presented my research at departmental, university, and national levels.
After graduating with my B.S. in Psychology with a minor in French, I received an Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to complete a 2-year postbaccalaureate fellowship in the Laboratory of Neuropsychology. In my first year, I worked for Dr. Mortimer Mishkin’s laboratory on a project investigating pharmacological manipulation of memory formation in rhesus macaques. Following Dr. Mishkin’s retirement, I worked for Dr. Betsy Murray’s laboratory on projects investigating the role of the amygdala in memory, the role of the anterior cingulate cortex in social decision-making, and methods for estimating the size and area of excitotoxic lesions in the brain. Both my undergraduate research and my time at NIH convinced me that I wanted to study sociality—especially how and why individuals form relationships, and how these relationships shape the rest of their lives.
As a graduate student, I am broadly interested in the relationship between sleep and sociality, particularly in the context of close social relationships like romantic partnerships and parent/child dyads. More specifically, I am interested in how sleep changes depending on who an individual is sleeping with and their relationship to each other. For my dissertation research, I am working with monogamous nonhuman primates to learn how sleep changes across the early period of a new relationship and how sleep changes with the addition or removal of an established social partner.
In my spare time, you can find me hiking in the mountains or on the coast, playing with my dog, or picking up a new crafting hobby.
If you are curious about my research or interested in our research opportunities, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.