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Naomi S

- Research Program Mentor

MD/PhD candidate at Ludwig Maximilians Universität München (University of Munich)


developmental psychology, early cognitive development, early language acquisition, gesture and communication, theater and performance studies


Hello! I'm a Master's level psychologist focusing on speech/gesture and developmental psychology, a theater-maker, and a current MD/PhD student! I am passionate about the social applications of the arts, designing holistic models of care, and increasing accessibility to physical and mental health care. My research experiences thus far have focused on improving care outcomes for frequently hospitalized patients, the function of gesture in early language development in hearing and non-hearing children, the representation of expert knowledge through AI, and the interplay of gesture and susceptibility to optical illusion. I also love plants, books, and vintage clothes and I'm a passionate home baker.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

What can songbirds teach us about premature infants?

As medicine advances, more and more preterm babies survive. The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), although life-saving, may contribute to some of the cognitive deficits we see later in life in children born prematurely. Research with songbirds suggests that the sensory input of the early environment may directly alter the brain's ability to learn - maybe the bright lights and loud noises of the NICU are impairing babies' normal brain development in a similar way.

Languages I know

German, native proficiency. French, intermediate.

Teaching experience

I was a freelance tutor for middle school students for years, and always enjoy training new research assistants at my lab!


Work experience

University of Chicago Booth School of Business (2021 - 2023)
Research Assistant, Center for Applied AI
Imerman Angels (2021 - 2021)
Bilingual Cancer Intake and Support Intern
The University of Chicago Department of Psychology (2019 - 2021)
Research Assistant, Susan Goldin-Meadow Laboratory
University of Chicago Medicine (2019 - 2019)
Research Intern, Comprehensive Care Program


University of Chicago
BA Bachelor of Arts
Psychology; Theater and Performance Studies
University of Chicago
MA Master of Arts
Social Sciences, concentration in Psychology
Ludwig Maximilians Universität München (University of Munich)
MD/PhD Doctor of Medicine and of Philosophy candidate

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