Assistant Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Hometown: Sterling Heights, Michigan (a Detroit suburb)
Educational background: B.S. in Psychology, Central Michigan University, 1999; Ph.D. in Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 2017.
Previous position: Prior to my graduate training I was a financial advisor at Ameriprise Financial, working in North Carolina and Hawaii.
How did you get into your field of research?
I originally gained experience working in various neuroscience labs studying Huntington’s disease and fetal alcohol syndrome. After taking a social psychology class, I decided I wanted to use our knowledge of the brain to understand social and health behaviors. Luckily, I found an advisor who had a similar vision.
What attracted you to UW-Madison?
The opportunity to conduct interdisciplinary research really attracted me to UW-Madison. Although the local beer scene is a nice bonus.
What was your first visit to campus like?
My first visit to campus was for my job talk. Aside from being cold, I had a great time meeting everyone in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. I also loved the atmosphere — nothing beats a Big Ten campus!
What’s your favorite place on campus?
I have only spent a couple of days on campus over the summer, but I’m fairly certain the Union Terrace is going to be my favorite place.
Does your work relate in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how.
My research focuses on understanding the neurocognitive mechanisms associated with social influence and persuasive health messages delivered through mass media in order to better understand subsequent behavior. The goal of this research is to understand how we can promote healthy behaviors, which I believe relates to the Wisconsin Idea.
What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties?
Information from the brain has not only been successful in predicting health behaviors within our sample participants but has also been successful in predicting health behaviors at the population level.
Hobbies or other interests?
I love to travel and just about any activity that is outdoors. I’m looking forward to taking my new paddle board out on Lake Mendota!