I’m queer and I’m a PI in developmental cognitive neuroscience. //
While coming of age as a sexual minority, I faced unique social challenges—from social exclusion, to targeted harassment from peers. Fortunately, my family, teachers, and close friends provided me with the positive, accepting environment I needed to focus on excelling in academia. But I have understood for a long time that not everyone is so lucky, and this understanding has motivated what I do in STEM. My research utilizes cognitive neuroscience methods—such as brain imaging—to explore the impact of social experiences on the developing brain. In my research, we’re finding that the adolescent brain is more attuned to social inputs than previously thought. In short, adolescence—the time when many youth come to identify as LGBTQIA—is a highly critical period for shaping social-emotional health, and neuroscience is showing us the why and the how of that equation.