top of page
at Penn State University
Principal Investigator, Laboratory of Developmental Neuroscience
Associate Professor of Psychology,
Penn State University
I got my undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science and Masters Degree in psychology at Occidental College and went on to get my PhD in Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh under Dr. Charles Perfetti. I did my postdoctoral training under Dr. Beatriz Luna at the University of Pittsburgh and under Dr. Marlene Behrmann at Carnegie Mellon University.
Read More >
My primary program of research is concerned with identifying and understanding how people on the autism spectrum process and interpret social signals (e.g., faces). I am particularly focused on elucidating biologically-based mechanisms underlying social behaviors like face recognition as well as social communication skills more broadly. To carry out this research, I use a mixture of psychophysical (i.e., eye-tracking), evidence synthesis (i.e., meta-analysis), and intervention approaches to understand these processes (and their change over time) across multiple levels of analysis. Infused throughout my work is a strong focus on statistically rigorous methodology, including multilevel modeling, hidden Markov modeling, and Bayesian inference.
PhD Student, Cognitive Psychology
M.A., University of Colorado
BS, University of Maryland
Before coming to Penn State, I earned a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience. I was drawn to the lab due to my interests in understanding facial processing systems and individual differences in recognition proficiency. In particular, I plan to study how processing systems change over development and interact with the environment and context children are in to produce individual differences. I am currently working on a project looking at facial recognition in young adults.
BS, University of Richmond
I am a Neuroscience graduate student in the lab currently working on the FREA project, as well as my own thesis. Prior to coming to Penn State, I completed a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Psychology and a concentration in Neuroscience at the University of Richmond. After graduation, I worked at the Faison Center for Autism as a Teaching Assistant and decided to continue my education and pursue research in this field. Currently, I am focusing on sex differences in complex and basic emotion recognition in typically developing young adults with varying degrees of autism-like traits
M.A Experimental Psychology, Saint Joseph's University
B.A Neuroscience, University of Mount Union
I graduated from the University of Mount Union with a bachelor’s in neuroscience in 2019. My research was primarily focused on behavioral differences in individuals with autism spectrum disorder, with a specific focus on sex differences. I recently graduated from Saint Joseph’s University with a master’s in Experimental Psychology. There, I researched sex differences in social and emotional insight in adolescents, with a focus on individuals with autism spectrum disorder. My interest in continuing my research in autism with a focus on biological components such as eye tracking and fMRI drew me to the Scherf Lab. I am currently working on a project looking at differences in face processing in adolescents with and without autism using fMRI, and I also assist with the SAGA project. I am honored to be a part of the LDN and excited for what the next five years hold!
Full-Time Staff Members
MA, New York University
Prior to joining the Scherf Lab, I earned my Psychology MA from New York University. My past experience with eye-tracking software and inpatient work with autistic adolescents led me to discover the SAGA study. I now serve as the project’s primary coordinator. When this study is complete, I plan on using the skills I’m acquiring to pursue a PhD in neuroscience focusing on perceptual development.
BS, Virginia Commonwealth University
I recently graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BS in Biology. During my undergraduate career, I was part of the Bridges to the Baccalaureate program — an NIH-funded biomedical research internship for underrepresented and disabled students. I was drawn to the LDN because I have been interested in exploring the psychological side of scientific research, and I hope to use the knowledge that I gain here to peruse a PhD in Human Genetics with an MS in Genetic Counseling, with an ultimate goal of becoming a genetic counselor.
BS, Franklin and Marshall College
I am a recent graduate from Franklin & Marshall College with a major in Psychology and minor in Environmental Studies. I am from the DC area and have previous research experience at Children's Hospital in DC with Neuropsychologist Dr. Karin Walsh. Much of my undergrad research was focused on children on the Autism spectrum, and how contact with nature could be therapeutic for them. I intend to apply for PhD programs in clinical or developmental psychology in the next couple of years to further explore my interests in social health, particularly in kids and kids with developmental disorders. I am looking forward to working in the LDN with our amazing participants and team!
BS, Virginia Tech
I am a Virginia Tech graduate with a BS in Neuroscience. Prior to joining LDN, I worked as a post-baccalaureate researcher at NIH under the late Dr. Leslie G Ungerleider and former post-doc Jessica Taubert, now research fellow at The University of Queensland. My previous research consisted of visual processing of face and body expression recognition using fMRI and behavioral assessments. My current research with LDN will be focused on MRI imaging analysis with the DASH project. My future goals are to apply my data analytic skills and years of MRI and behavior research experience to a PhD program.
Undergraduate Research Assistants
I am a Junior pursuing a B.S. degree in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience and Kinesiology. I first joined LDN as a sophomore and have been fortunate enough to work on the SAGA project since then. I look forward to developing more research-related skills and learning about the human mind. After college, I plan to attend graduate school to pursue my interests in neuropsychology or health and human development.
I am a junior in the College of Liberal Arts with a major in psychology. I have been with LDN for a few months now and I have greatly enjoyed not only the experience but the knowledge I have gained as well. I can’t wait to further my knowledge and continue to work with great people and families. After completing my degree at Penn State I plan on working for the government in a behavioral science unit and potentially get my masters degree in behavioral studies.
I am a junior in the College of Liberal Arts studying Psychology (Neuroscience Option) and minoring in biology. I am a new addition to the Lab of Developmental Neuroscience and cannot wait to learn more about the developing brain. After Penn State, I plan to attend graduate school to become a clinical psychologist or a PA in psychiatry.
Chaia Flegenheimer, Ph.D.
Elisabeth Wythe, Ph.D.
Graduate Students Rotations
Jennifer Legault, Ph.D.
Pan Liu, Ph.D.
Junqiang (Jacob) Dai. Ph.D.
Natalie Motta-Mena, Ph.D.
Giorgia Picci, Ph.D.
Undergraduate Research Assistants
bottom of page