Marisa Lytle is a third-year graduate student in the Developmental Psychology program at Penn State. Her primary research interest is in the psychology and psychophysiology of peer interactions and emotion regulation. Her primary mentor is Dr. Koraly Pérez-Edgar.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and Child Development summa cum laude in 2017 from Vanderbilt University where she worked in Dr. Mark Wallace’s Multisensory Research Laboratory. After graduation, Marisa worked in one of the leading developmental neuroimaging laboratories in the country, Dr. James Booth’s Brain Development Lab at Vanderbilt. Over the course of three years, she continued her research and data collection training, developed her skills and technical expertise, and first-authored five published datasets. Marisa decided to apply to Penn State’s Developmental Psychology graduate program after attending a presentation by Dr. Koraly Pérez-Edgar and realizing Dr. Pérez-Edgar’s expertise made an excellent fit for her training and research goals. As a graduate student, Marisa’s research has focused on examining the role of the environment in altering the relations between biological regulatory mechanisms and socioemotional behavior in infancy. For her master’s thesis, she led a project investigating the role of neighborhood context on resting levels and reactivity of the parasympathetic nervous system across infancy. Results from her research indicated that neighborhood may play a role in infant parasympathetic nervous system development beyond maternal depression and that other potential mediating or moderating factors should be explored. Marisa has presented her work at national and international conferences and has received several prestigious awards, including the Enhanced Graduate Scholar Award from Penn State and a Student Member/Travel/Abstract Award for the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology. Marisa also served as the Psychology Department’s Graduate Assistant in charge of the NextGen Psych Scholars Program, a virtual graduate student-led mentorship program for underrepresented undergraduates and post-baccalaureates interested in applying to psychology PhD programs.
As a Strumpf Scholar awardee, Marisa plans to use the funding to protect her time for completing ongoing and future projects related to child development and to directly support collection of new data. The award will also provide Marisa with the opportunity to visit Dr. Jennifer MacCormack at the University of Virginia, one of the current leaders in the field of interoceptive science. The Strumpf Scholar Award will be an integral part of helping Marisa achieve her future goal to conduct research on child development funded by federal agents.