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Alicia Vallorani

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Alicia Vallorani

Alicia Vallorani just finished her second year of the Developmental Psychology Ph.D. program. Her research interest centers on the development of social engagement in childhood, and the neural processes underlying the development of social engagement. Her mentors are Drs. Koraly Pérez-Edgar and Kristin Buss.

Alicia received her Bachelor of Arts from Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, in 2011 with a major in Psychology. She received her Master of Science in Experimental Psychology from Western Illinois University in 2016. As a graduate student, Alicia has had an unusually productive two years. She works in three labs: the Cognition, Affect, and Temperament Lab (CAT Lab), the Emotion Development Lab (EDL), and the Child Attention Lab (CAL). Alicia's projects examine how temperamental profiles during infancy predict social engagement during early childhood and how attention tethers infants and children to developmental trajectories leading to social anxiety. Additionally, Alicia manages the CAT Lab website and serves as President of the Penn State AXONS, a student neuroscience group. She has received several awards, including a Linda B. Strumpf Liberal Arts Centennial Graduate Scholar Award for promise in research related to child development.

The Strumpf Scholar Award will allow Alicia to focus on her two lines of research by enabling her to dedicate her summers to furthering her training and by providing ample opportunities to collaborate with mentors both at Penn State and other universities. She plans to expand her training in longitudinal data analysis and neuroimaging techniques. She expects to learn how to use latent transition analysis (LTA) to assess affect-biased attention across time, and she will seek training opportunities in fMRI data collection, processing, and analysis, as well as training in mobile eye-tracking data collection and processing. Alicia is working on an NIMH NRSA graduate research grant proposal that will focus on imaging training. Additionally, she expects to apply for the Social, Life, and Engineering Sciences Center Dissertation Award, which would provide her with 40 fully covered scanning hours. Alicia is greatly honored to receive the Strumpf Scholar Award and is grateful for the opportunity it will provide her to continue developing a program of research that will greatly enhance her training as a developmental scientist.