Research Interests

I am interested in how individual differences in personality influence the ways in which people approach and interact with concepts and ideas. I am particularly interested in developmental issues that arise as children transition through the educational system and gain knowledge and beliefs about how the world works. I hope that this work can inform the discussion of how to best help children achieve to their full potential. To accomplish this goal, I am exploring the dynamic relation between children and their learning environment, and how the unique characteristics of the individual child influence personal, academic, and social growth over time. I use a variety of methods to explore these topics including structural equation modeling, longitudinal data analysis, and behavior genetics. In an effort to broaden my methodological and theoretical background, I spent two years as a NICHD Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA pre-doctoral trainee through the Population Research Center. This experience gave me advanced theoretical and methodological training in population-level processes that I plan to integrate with traditional psychological approaches in my ongoing research. Currently, I am working on project that simulates the interconnection between genetic influences and environmental experiences. Researchers typically like simple explanations for problems, but real-life is highly complicated with many dependent processes all unfolding across development. By using a simulation approach, I am attempting to meet this complexity head-on to identify likely combinations of ways that genes and environments can work together and independently to influence psychological development. Beyond this project, I have several streams of research focused on child personality development: what makes up a “trait” and how can we understand the way that sub-traits are all mutually reinforcing one another across development? what mechanisms drive personality development? what role to genes, life experiences, and randomness play in maturation?