Principal Investigator:

Dr. 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 the impact of reading expository text on an e-reader (compared to a print copy) on comprehension for readers of varying skill levels.  The goal of this research is to determine whether readers engage in different cognitive processes when they read on a screen such as an iPad or a computer compared to when they are reading print text.

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, I have been living in the US for more than 15 years and my husband and I have made the coast of Maine our home. We have two sons, Liam and Mason, and love to travel, bake and take walks on the beach.

Undergraduate Research Assistants:



Madison Kenny, Psychology Major – Class of 2020

Madison is a freshman at the University of New England. She is from Hamilton, Massachusetts. Madison is majoring in Psychology and minoring in philosophy. Madison is unsure about her desired career at this point; however, she is interested in the Psychology of Personality. She hopes to attend graduate school and one day get her Doctorate in Psychology. Madison began working at the Reading Comprehension and Cognition Lab to expand her knowledge of cognitive studies as well as the research process. “Being able to do research in the field that I find so fascinating this early on in my education is an incredible opportunity, and I am very thankful. It is also very exciting to see the possible strides that I could be here to witness in this field.”

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Ellie Leighton, Psychology Major – Class of 2019

Ellie is a sophomore at the University of New England. She is from Brewer, Maine. She is majoring in psychology, with a minor in mental health rehabilitation technician certification. Her goal is to one day get a masters degree with a focus in post traumatic stress disorder to work with veterans recovering from duty. Ellie chose to work in the Reading Comprehension and Cognition Lab to get a closer look on the mind and to gain experience in the research field. She hopes to use this lab to gain experience as well as professional skills that she will need in her future. “I never realized how interesting cognition could be until I joined the lab. It truly has completely changed my perspective on research.”


Emily Vasseur, Psychology and Elementary Education major – Class of 2017

Emily is a senior at the University of New England. She is from Fayston, Vermont. At this point in time, she is looking into many different careers. Her dream would be to go to graduate school for clinical psychology in order to become a Child Psychologist. Emily began working in the Reading Comprehension and Cognition Lab in order to get a better look at the research process. She also wishes to gain valuable insight into the field of cognitive psychology in order to support both of her majors. “I am incredibly thankful to be given an opportunity that most students don’t get to experience until graduate school. It’s exciting to know that I may be involved in some great leaps in the field of cognitive research.”

Abby LaChance, Psychology Major – Class of 2017
Abby is a senior at the University of New England. She is from Rindge, New Hampshire. Abby is exploring her options when it comes to career opportunities. She is considering the option of going into work with victims of domestic abuse and getting her MSW. Abby chose to work in the Reading Comprehension and Cognition lab to better her understanding of the research process as well as explore possible options for conducting her own research. This lab will also help her to narrow her focus on what discipline she hopes to look into when pursuing her masters degree. “The opportunity to be involved in a research study is incredible and I can’t wait to explore the research field more! I am excited to contribute to the work my fellow lab assistants have built up.”

Zoe Roberts, Psychology Major – Class of 2018
Zoe is a senior at UNE. She is from Dalton, Massachusetts. At the moment, Zoe is undecided regarding her career path, however, she has interests in clinical psychology and law. The Reading Comprehension and Cognition Lab has helped her explore her interests in research. Working in the RCC Lab has given Zoe the opportunity to broaden her interests in psychology. She hopes that the skills she develops working in the lab will help her in her future endeavors, whatever they may be. “Thinking about how the research we’re working on could potentially change lives is so inspiring and I’m so excited to be working in the field that I love.”


Research Assistant Alumni:

Emily Boulton – Psychology major, 2016

LiWen Chen – Psychology major, 2011

Kaylyn Dorsey – Psychology major, 2015

April Deemer – Psychology major, 2012

Lauren Hayden – Psychology major, 2016

Jessica Hering – Occupational Therapy major, 2015

Benjamin Katz – Psychology major, 2017

Alyssa Paquin – Psychology major, 2015

Julia Rich – Psychology & English major, 2012

Tiffany Shahin – Neuroscience major, 2013

Hadleigh Smith – Elementary Education major, 2013

Andrea Taatjes – Psychology major, 2013

Heather Tatsak – Psychology major, 2013

Elizabeth Whitmore – Medical Biology major, 2015

Mike Wilson – Psychology major, 2013

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