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:


Sarah Hendrix, Psychology Major – Class of 2019


Sarah is entering her senior year at UNE as a psychology major. She is from Scarborough, Maine. She plans to pursue a masters degree in clinical counseling after graduation, hoping to work with those who are struggling with mental illness. She is also interested in working with veterans who are struggling with mental health afflictions. Sarah is looking forward to working the Cognition lab in order to get first hand experience with research, which she believes will be invaluable.


Courtney Parent, Psychology Major – Class of 2019

Courtney is a junior at the University of New England. She is from the small town of Hamlin, Maine. She is majoring in psychology with a double minor in mental health rehabilitation technician certification and business administration. She hopes to earn her Ph.D in either clinical, counseling, or developmental psychology and become a Child Psychologist, while also working in academia as a college professor. Courtney wanted to work in the Reading Comprehension and Cognition Lab to gain experience in the research aspect of psychology, and to further educate herself in this field. She hopes that this experience will help her in her future endeavors. “Research is such a huge part of the grad school curriculum, so I am grateful for this opportunity to experience it beforehand. I cannot wait to explore cognitive psychology through research.”


Ellie Leighton, Psychology Major – Class of 2019

Ellie is a junior at the University of New England. She is from Brewer, Maine. She is majoring in psychology, and minoring in mental health rehabilitation technician certification and education. Her goal is to one day get a masters degree with a focus in developmental psychology to work with children with learning disabilities. Ellie began working in the  Reading Comprehension and Cognition Lab as a freshman, and hopes 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 endeavors. “I never realized how interesting cognition could be until I joined the lab. It has completely changed my perspective on research.”


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

Madison Kenny – Psychology major, 2020

Abby LaChance – Psychology major, 2017

Alyssa Paquin – Psychology major, 2015

Julia Rich – Psychology & English major, 2012

Zoe Roberts – Psychology major, 2017

Tiffany Shahin – Neuroscience major, 2013

Hadleigh Smith – Elementary Education major, 2013

Andrea Taatjes – Psychology major, 2013

Heather Tatsak – Psychology major, 2013

Emily Vassuer – Psychology and Education double major, 2017

Elizabeth Whitmore – Medical Biology major, 2015

Mike Wilson – Psychology major, 2013

Where are they now? Explore how the RCC Lab helped our Alumni get to where they are today.

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