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:
Emily Vasseur- Class of 2017
Emily is a junior 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.”
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. Liz is currently working at the UNE Pharmacy School implementing a science education plan that will be applied to their outreach program. She’s also studying a proteoglycan via Visual Molecular Dynamics (VMD) simulations.
Abby Lachance, Psychology Major – Class of 2017
Abby is a junior 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 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 sophomore 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.”
Jessica Hering, Occupational Therapy Major/Psychology Minor – Class of 2015
Jessi has just graduated with her Bachelors degree in Health, Wellness and Occupational Studies and is now pursuing her Master’s in Occupational Therapy at the University of New England. Originally from Epsom, NH, she is eager to continue education in Maine and to explore the aging population in the greater Portland area. Her current interest is cognitive neuro-rehabilitation with the aging population and would like to explore the acute care and intensive care unit settings. As part of the Reading Comprehension and Cognitive lab for more than two years, she is also looking forward to connecting the process of learning and memory learned in the lab to her current studies as an OT student.
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