I grew up in the Northern Virginia suburbs adjacent to Washington, D.C. I have always been interested in the natural world, but my fascination with science began in earnest after reading the book, Koko’s Kitten, about a gorilla who had been taught use American Sign Language. I was fascinated and inspired: I, too, wanted to communicate with apes and find out how they thought.
My interest in science crystallized during my time at Thomas Jefferson High School for science and technology. Through their mentorship program, I was able to get my first taste of science working with a researcher at the National Institutes of Mental Health on the role of acetocholine receptors in Schizophrenia.
In college at Emory University, I finally realized my dream of studying ape communication. For my honors thesis I studied the hemispheric specialization of emotional and learned vocalizations of Chimpanzees at the Yerkes Regional Primate research center.
At Emory, I also took two classes that have shaped my current research interests and future career goals. Human Social Neuroscience exposed me to neuroimaging methodologies for studying social behavior and Psychological Anthropology opened my eyes to cultural diversity in cognition.
Both classes were extremely interesting to me, but neither fully integrated both biological and cultural information. These classes and my training in cross-cultural anthropology and neuroscience have inspired me to pursue a research program aimed at exploring the bidirectional interactions between cultural experience and the brain.
I began this work at UCLA where I completed my Ph.D. in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program and the FPR-UCLA Center for Culture Brain and Development. My dissertation focuses on the neural underpinnings of cultural imitative learning.
Now I’m living in Boulder, CO with my husband Neil Losin and Boston terrier Hugo. I am postdoctoral researcher in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab of Tor Wager. In this new position I am integrating two new domains into my research: multivariate neuroimaging analysis methods, which I hope will allow me to establish closer connections between sociocultural behavioral and brain mechanisms, and applications to human health, which I hope will allow my work to have a greater societal impact.