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Jessica S

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Columbia University


effects of stress/poverty on development, early childhood education, infant brain development, preschool interventions, developmental psychology


I am a PhD Student in Developmental Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. My interests are in studying the effects of early adversity on children's brain and behavior - specifically their socioemotional skills and brain development. I am also interested in the ability of early interventions to ameliorate these effects. I received my Bachelors in 2017 from Muhlenberg College, where I studied depression in women. After college, I worked as a Lab Manager at Indiana University where I studied the associations between sleep and adjustment in toddlerhood. Then, I moved to the Big Apple and became a Research Assistant at NYU. There, I studied the effects of an early childhood socioemotional intervention in high-poverty preschools in NYC. All of these experiences sparked my passion for the research process and my scientific interests. In my free time, I love to cook, paint, and enjoy the sites of NYC!

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.

Writing a scientific review

In this project, you will write a scientific review-style paper on a topic of your choice. Topics could range anywhere within developmental psychology, from “important markers of infant development” to “the effect of childhood poverty on adolescent behavior”. This process will teach you how to find, access, and critically analyze existing scientific literature and how to assemble primary literature into a scientific review. You will gain skills in writing and editing, as well as an in-depth knowledge of your chosen research topic.

How do early experiences shape later functioning?

In the field of psychology, we seek to explain human behavior. With this project, we will unpack a burning question through a mechanism of your choosing (i.e. podcast, blog post, paper, etc). Potential questions include: What role does nature vs nurture play in explaining our behaviors? How do early caregiving experiences impact our life course? Can experiences shape our body's biochemical functioning?

How to conduct a research study

This is my area of expertise! Whatever your interests may be, I can help you learn how to design the ideal experiment to test your ideas. You'll learn about the scientific process, read past research on your topic, and ultimately design your own study. This is an excellent way to learn how good research is conducted, and to learn more about your specific interests.

Teaching experience

I worked with teens in an after-school program for low-income students. I developed a social-justice based book club and youth mentorship program with them.


Work experience

NYU (2018 - 2020)
Research Assistant
Indiana University (2017 - 2018)
Lab Manager


Muhlenberg College
BA Bachelor of Arts (2017)
Columbia University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Developmental Psychology

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