My research interests focus on the neurodevelopmental outcomes of children born preterm. Under the mentorship of Dr. Papile, I investigated outcomes of school aged children born preterm with peri-interventricular hemorrhage. Subsequent, in a multi-center grant with
Dr. Watterberg, I began to study object permanence as a measure of early working memory in toddlers born very low birth weight (VLBW). In collaboration with the NIH Neonatal Research Network, I expanded my research using a larger cohort of children born extremely preterm, investigating the impact of early working memory and cultural diversity on developmental outcome in toddlers. I developed an ancillary study in collaboration with the NIH/NRN SUPPORT trial to examine early working memory skills in children born VLBW at 18-22 months, compared to their executive functioning skills at 6 years.
In collaboration with Dr. Ohls, I have expanded my research through the BRITE study, to measure the longitudinal development of children born preterm at 18 to 22 months, with subsequent evaluations at 3 to 4 years and 6 years. This was the first longitudinal study to examine the effects of Erythropoietin Stimulating Agents (ESAs) on the early executive functioning skills in children born preterm. The results of this study are now being analyzed. I will collaborate with Dr. Ohls and the BRITE research time to present and publish our findings in the coming year.
Another area of research that continues to interest me involves early self-regulation and emotional-regulation during infancy. My work with Dr. Stephens and Dr. Bakhireva studying a cohort of infants with alcohol exposure is an ongoing study that evaluates these children at 18-22 months looking at biomarkers of alcohol exposure. Working with Dr. Handal, in the department of Public Health, we assessed a cohort of infants exposed to pesticides in Ecuador. We used the Still Face Paradigm to look at self-regulation skills in Ecuadorian infants, which resulted in a recent publication. In addition to this study, I published a number of research papers that looked at various aspects of parent-infant dyadic relationships and the development of emotional-regulation skills in infancy. A new study in collaboration with Dr. Carmen Herrera will allow me to expand my research in self-regulation into the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). We are planning measure heart-rate variability in parent-infant dyads as a marker of stress reactivity. Dr Herrera and I received a grant to purchase equipment that measures dyadic heart rate in neonates and their parents. We hope to find ways to reduce stress reactivity in both the parents and their critically ill infant.
Over the past few years, I had the opportunity to facilitate a number of the medical students blocks. Together with Dr. Fuller, I mentored the class on Diversity of the Human Experience. I used problem-based learning, teaching medical students how to integrate medical information, while recognizing the unintentional biases that may occur in medicine. Dr. Fuller and I will begin teaching the Doctoring 6 class this fall. This fall I will also teach a class in clinical reasoning skills with first year medical students, an area of learning I find very important as it provides learning skills that can be assimilated in future patient care. As a mentor of students, from undergraduates to neonatal fellows, I have found this work extremely rewarding. I hope to expand my mentoring utilizing the various datasets that I have gathered collaborating on numerous different studies.