Principal Investigator:

Dr. Jennifer J. Stiegler-Balfour

Jennifer J. Stiegler-Balfour

As a researcher, I am focused on developing a deeper understanding of the cognitive processes involved in reading comprehension, memory, and learning. The ability to comprehend text and recall important facts or details – I believe – plays a critical part in the ability of an individual to succeed in the classroom and the workplace. My work assessing the dynamic relation between reading skill, text characteristics and reading strategies has been recognized by the Society for Text and Discourse in the form of the Jason Albrecht Outstanding Young Scientist Award.

The results of my research studies are providing exciting new opportunities to further explore cognition. One of my newest studies, for example, explores cognitive variables and coherence in narrative discourse in adults suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. It is my hope that the results of this study will reveal opportunities to prolong the ability of those with Alzheimer’s to understand written material.

I earned a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology as well as a M.S.T. in College Teaching from the University of New Hampshire and have been a faculty member at the University of New England since 2010. Originally from Stuttgart, Germany, my husband and I have made the coast of Maine our home. Our son Liam was born in January 2013, and we are adapting quickly to life as new parents.


Undergraduate Research Assistants:


Benjamin Katz, Psychology Major – Class of 2017

Ben is a first year student here at the University of New England. He is from Torrington, Connecticut. For a career, Ben would love to be a clinical psychologist being able to work hands on with patients. Along with that, he would like to contribute to basic research, specifically regarding memory and cognition. The reason that Ben chose the Reading Comprehension and Cognition Research Lab is because the lab would help him figure out if research is what he really wants to do as a career. “The mind’s capacity is endless and the way memory is stored and recalled really fascinates me”. Ben hopes to learn a lot, as well as obtain real world experience as he progresses in the Cognitive psychology lab.

Emily Boulton, Psychology Major – Class of 2016

Emily Boulton is a second year psychology major here at UNE. Her hometown is Manchester, New Hampshire. Back home, Emily volunteered at a nursing home all throughout high school which helped her realize that she wanted to spend her life working with an older population. Emily joined the Reading Comprehension and Cognition Research Lab because she wanted to learn more about how the mind learns information, and also how it loses that information. She wants to study and work with patients with different forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. “I’m very excited to begin my first year in the lab and hope to learn as much as I possibly can”.

Jessica Hering, Occupational Therapy Major/Psychology Minor – Class of 2015

Jessi is a junior at the University of New England. Her hometown is Epsom, New Hampshire. After pursing her Masters degree in Occupational Therapy, Jessi would like to work with the aging population and specify in neurological disorders/cognitive neurorehabilition. Jessi chose the Reading Comprehension and Cognition Research Lab because she has a growing interest in cognition as well as the aging population. Jessi has always wanted to work with research, especially involving cognitive based information. “I am hoping to see if I would enjoy doing research in the future, as well as take the information learned and apply it in my future occupation”.

Lauren Hayden, Psychology Major – Class of 2016

Lauren Hayden is a sophomore at the University of New England. She is from Chantilly, Virginia. Although Lauren isn’t positive on what she wants to do as a career, she is leaning towards either forensic psychology or working with veterans and soldiers with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Lauren chose to pursue a position as a research assistant in the Reading Comprehension and Cognition Research Lab to gain experience in the research field and broaden her horizons in the Psychology department. Due to her being unsure on where to take psychology in the future, she wants to explore different disciplines within the field to figure out what interests her the most. “There is so much to learn in terms of cognition, including memory, learning, and aging that the chance to work in the research lab really jumped at me as an opportunity I could not miss out on”.

Research Assistant Alumni:

Alyssa Paquin – Psychology major, 2015

Heather Tatsak – Psychology major, 2013

Andrea Taatjes – Psychology major, 2013

Hadleigh Smith – Elementary Education major, 2013

Kaylyn Dorsey – Psychology major, 2015

Mike Wilson – Psychology major, 2013

Julia Rich – Psychology & English major, 2012

Tiffany Shahin – Neuroscience major, 2013

April Deemer – Psychology major, 2012

LiWen Chen – Psychology major, 2011