Natasha de la Rosa-Rivera, 2019 CRF Graduate Student Grant Writing Program Member Receives NIH Funding

Improving the Diagnosis and Treatment of Memory Disorders in Aging and Alzheimer's 

Natasha de la Rosa-RiveraNatasha M. de la Rosa-Rivera, a 4th year Ph.D. candidate in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program, and 2019 CRF Graduate Student Grant Writers Program member was recently named as a recipient of an NIH dissertation award (R36) to complete and further her research. Receiving this award will allow Natasha to test her overarching hypothesis that brain regions contribute to a cognitive task – be it perceptual or mnemonic – according to the representations they contain. 

Fall 2021 Newsletter

lacrosse players practice by Tobin Hall

Catch up with the latest PBS news including spotlights on our talented students, faculty, and alumni!

Read full issue

Features include:

  • Using behavioral activation therapy as a treatment for depression
  • Alumni Profile: Ibrahim Dahlstrom-Hakki ‘08PhD, Senior Research Scientist at TERC
  • Songbird neurons for advanced cognition mirror the physiology of mammalian counterparts
  • PBS mentors promising students during summer programs
  • Spotlight on Alumni:
    • Jane Studeny Oliveira '13, PsyD, Pediatric Neuropsychologist at Boston Neuropsychological Services
    • Patrick McGonigal '16, MA, Doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology and Masters of Legal Studies (MLS) Student at the University of Nebraska Lincoln

Also check out additional Research Highlights, Awards and Updates, and PBS faculty and students In the Media!

A Qualitative Investigation of the Impact of COVID-19 on Emergency Medicine Physicians’ Emotional Experiences and Coping

doctors hands using stethoscope

UMass Amherst graduates and current PhD students of the Affect and Social Cognition Lab directed by Linda Isbell have authored a new paper in press at the Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians. This project is part of the grant "Emotional Influences on Diagnostic Error in Emergency Medicine: An Experimental Approach to Understand Diagnostic Failure and Facilitate Improvement for Patients with and without Mental Illness" funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Authors: Welsh, Margaux; Chimowitz, Hannah; Nanavati, Janvi; Huff, Nathan R., & Isbell, Linda M.

Study objective: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency medicine providers in the United States have faced unprecedented challenges, risks, and uncertainty while caring for patients in an already vulnerable healthcare system. As such, the pandemic has exacerbated high levels of negative emotions and burnout among emergency medicine providers, but little systematic qualitative work has documented these phenomena. The purpose of this qualitative investigation was to study ED physicians’ emotional experiences in response to COVID-19 and the coping strategies that they employed to navigate the pandemic.

Clark University and UMass Amherst “Teachers and Adopted Children” Survey:  Key Findings, Topline Results, and Recommendations

university logos

Abbie Goldberg (Clark University) and Harold Grotevant (UMass Amherst), in collaboration with the Rudd Adoption Research Program, launched a survey of teachers’ experiences with adopted children April 6 2021 – May 15, 2021. Responses were gathered from 207 K-12 teachers,  paraprofessionals, and other school professionals, including elementary school teachers, secondary school teachers , special education teachers, and programming/support staff (e.g., afterschool program teacher; librarian). A broad representation of grade levels and subject matter areas was achieved; over 40 responses were received from teachers at each grade level, K-12. Primary focus was teachers’ experiences with and perspectives on adopted children and families, but the survey also addressed COVID-19-related stressors and concerns.

Using behavioral activation therapy as a treatment for depression

couples walk and run over a city bridge

A diagnosis of depression can make those who suffer from the disorder feel lethargic, reluctant to participate in activities that once brought them pleasure, or feel unable to take action to better their situation. Behavioral activation (BA) is a method of psychotherapy that helps people get re-engaged in their life by reducing depression, enabling individuals to live more in the present moment, and increasing their overall enjoyment of life.

First recipients of the Feldman-Vorwerk Internship Award announced

Patricia Cole
Patricia Cole
Shelby Casimir
Shelby Casimir

I am pleased to share information on the first recipients of the Feldman-Vorwerk Internship Award. Your generosity helps our engaged, curious, and creative students thrive as they pursue their degrees and prepare to lead in academia, government, healthcare, and industry.

In a time of societal transformation brought on by a global pandemic, advances in technology, and other challenges, support from the Feldman-Vorwerk Internship Award helps to ensure the next generation of scientists and leaders will be well prepared to make contributions to their professions and communities.

Ibrahim Dahlstrom-Hakki ‘08PhD

Alumni Spotlight
Ibrahim Dahlstrom-Hakki
Ibrahim Dahlstrom-Hakki

Making STEM education more accessible and effective for diverse learners

A Senior Research Scientist at TERC, Ibrahim Dahlstrom-Hakki develops alternative approaches to mainstream education that benefit neurodiverse learners. He designs innovative curricula and assessments utilizing neurocognitive tools, game-based learning, and even virtual reality. He also shares his educational knowledge through professional development workshops for teachers, improving the accessibility of STEM education for students with disabilities.

PBS mentors promising students during summer programs

Each summer, PBS department members mentor students, helping them perform specialized research projects. The William Lee Science Impact Program (Lee SIP) is a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program designed to expand and broaden participation in undergraduate research. Lee SIP scholars are mentored directly by research faculty, work within a research team, and participate in professional development workshops.

The Summer Pre-College Research Intensives place high-achieving high school students in professional working labs alongside distinguished faculty, graduate and undergraduate students. Participants gain valuable UMass experience and complete a research project of their own. Check out these posters from some of our talented student researchers, summing up their awesome projects!


Sari Saint-Hilaire and Alexis Edozie posing with their posters
L-r: Alexis Edozie (Mathematics and Statistics) and Sari Saint-Hilaire (PBS)

Sari Saint-Hilaire

Evaluating Correlations Between Riskiness, Risk-Assessment, and Risk-Taking Measures Across Different Pubertal Ages

Individual Differences in Development Lab directed by Kirby Deater-Deckard

Click to enlarge poster

Daniel Anderson Comments on the Aesthetic of Nickelodeon

double dare gameshow contestants runningIn the 1970s, the term “couch potato” had become a popular buzzword when describing kids zoning out in front of the TV. According to Daniel Anderson, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the prevailing thought was that kids were turning their minds off and being sucked into “a really effective kaleidoscope.” Over the next decade, however, Anderson pushed back against that general theory, studying the way preschoolers up through preteens watched and interacted with television. “When you get to older kids watching Nickelodeon game shows, if there was another kid in the room, they’d be constantly discussing what was going on,” Anderson says. “In ways that are not unlike adults, they’d be talking about the content and speculating about characters and so on.”