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 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:


Elizabeth Whitmore – Class of 2015

Elizabeth is heading off to graduate school to get her PhD in pharmacology. This is her specific interest, but her career goal is to become a professor and researcher. Assisting in the Reading and Comprehension Lab has allowed her to learn the important basics of conducting research and how to properly and ethically deal with human participants. She has also been a Teacher’s Aide for Dr. Stiegler-Balfour. This has allowed her to see everything that is involved with being a professor. All of this experience has prepared her for graduate school and she has an interview lined up already.

Abby Lachance, Psychology Major – Class of 2017

Abby is a sophomore at the University of New England. She is from Princeton, Massachusetts. Abby is exploring her options when it comes to career opportunities. She is considering the option of going into family therapy and researching various aspects of the family dynamic. 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 first year student here at UNE. She is from Dalton, Massachusetts. At the moment, Zoe is undecided regarding her career path, however, she has interest in working as a Clinical Psychologist and/or doing research with people suffering from eating disorders or addiction. The reason Zoe decided to work in the Reading Comprehension and Cognition lab is because working in a lab setting seemed like a great way for her to learn more about the research process and gain experience in the field of psychology. Zoe also mentioned how joining the lab is a great way to expand her interest in psychology. “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.”

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

Jessi is a senior at the University of New England. Her hometown is Epsom, New Hampshire. After pursuing 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 learning and memory, 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 junior 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:

Benjamin Katz – Psychology major, 2017

Emily Boulton – Psychology major, 2016

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