After completing her undergraduate degree in neuroscience, Sarah Karalunus worked at a treatment center for children with emotional and behavioral regulation difficulties. Fueled by a deep commitment to help, Sarah entered the child-clinical doctoral program at Penn State with the goal of applying her neuroscience interests to a career focused on clinical research and treatment for children experiencing neurodevelopmental disorders. Her graduate research with Dr. Cynthia Huang-Pollock focused on clarifying the nature of cognitive impairments in ADHD. Sarah valued the opportunities provided to her at the Child Study Center (CSC), including the use of research facilities, the capacity to work with Families Interested in Research Studies (FIRSt), and funding from the Friends of the CSC that allowed her to present at national conferences. Sarah also had a unique opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Joel Nigg, Professor at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and the CSC’s 2009 Lois Bloom lecturer. During his visit to present the lecture, Dr. Nigg met with Dr. Huang-Pollock and her graduate students. Sarah received more than advice and feedback related to her dissertation project; Dr. Nigg offered Sarah one of his own datasets to use to supplement her dissertation research. This meeting established the foundation for ongoing research collaboration. After completing a clinical internship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Sarah went on to complete a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Nigg. She was then hired at OHSU as an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience. In addition to her own NIH-funded research program, which takes a multi-method approach to characterizing the basic cognitive and psychological processes contributing to childhood ADHD and to understanding how these processes differ between individuals with the disorder, Sarah also continues to be a co-investigator on several of Dr. Nigg’s projects. Reflecting the potential of Sarah’s research to inform interventions for ADHD and improve our ability to match children to the best treatments, she received a prestigious dissertation grant, a post-doctoral fellowship award, and an early career training award from the National Institute of Mental Health.
We are confident Sarah will be very successful and wish her well as she continues with the exciting next steps in her career!