Since choosing to study neuroscience as an undergraduate, I have been fascinated with the way in which complex behaviors, including memory, creativity, and emotion can emerge from the activity of neurons in the brain. This interest led me towards my current research, which uses electrophysiological techniques to investigate the activity of neural networks in the medial temporal lobe and how this activity correlates with memory formation. Especially interesting to me is the way that ensembles of neurons in the brain can coordinate their activity in ways that might facilitate certain cellular processes, such as synaptic plasticity or the release of neurotransmitters, in order to affect widespread changes in the mind or in behavior. My current research goal is to contribute to a more thorough understanding of the basic processes underlying normal memory function. Hopefully, this will improve our ability to characterize irregular neural activity in humans exhibiting symptoms of memory loss, ultimately paving the way for improved diagnostics and therapies to treat these disorders.
Currently I am recording the activity of neurons in the primate entorhinal cortex to discover how these neurons represent visual space. For example, I am looking into whether the neural representation of visual space shifts along with an image that has shifted its location on a screen. Answering this question about the frame of reference of these neurons is a basic first step in understanding how primate brain structures, first known for their role in memory, also map space.
Currently, my research examines the factors that guide free viewing behavior. Specifically, I look at how visual salience guides behavior during the viewing of novel scenes and then how memory modulates this behavior during the repeated viewing of these scenes. In general I am interested in computational modeling, data analysis, and electrophysiology.
In 2006 I started working in the Buffalo lab as a research technician at the Yerkes Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Ga. Over the next few years I worked on a variety of different projects including evaluating monkeyâs preference for viewing faces, designing a task of contextual learning and exploring cognitive impairments in early Parkinsonâs disease in both monkeys and humans. I am thrilled to continue my research career as the lab manager in our new location at the University of Washington Primate Center in Seattle and have already developed a love for Rotunda rice crispy treats with fruit loops!
Since Graduating from the University of Washington with a B.S. in Psychology in 2009, I have worked in a number of positions at both the Primate Center and the Department of Comparative Medicine. My primary focus is animal behavior and training, and I particularly enjoy working with non-human primates in neuroscience. Prior to 2009 I worked as a Sign Language Interpreter specializing in medical and Deaf-Blind interpreting.
For a year before graduating from University of Washington with a BS in Neurobiology, I studied as a 499 student in the Buffalo lab. I now spend my gap years before graduate school happily employed by the same, accumulating employable skills and wisps of sciencey wisdom oft as I can.