Morse Scholars

Current Morse Scholars

Desia Bacon, MS

Curriculum Vitae

My work centers on how infants learn language and how they utilize perceptual and social cues in their environment to facilitate that learning. In one line of research I am working to understand how social information is linked with language and objects, and how infants use this ubiquitous source of information in language learning. Understanding how and when infants begin to harness social category information in language processing will provide a new view into the timing of these developmental processes. I plan to extend this work to individuals with developmental disabilities, allowing us to assess how minimally verbal and non-verbal children use these cues during online language processing.

Another line of research investigates the role color plays in the way infants build their semantic representations to aid in identifying familiar objects, as well as learning about novel objects.

Home Department: Psychology 

Major Professor: Jenny Saffran, PhD 

Disciplines that I pull from in my research include: Psychology, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Linguistics, Sociology, Education

Articles That Influenced My Research:  

Perry, L. K., & Saffran, J. R. (2017). Is a Pink Cow Still a Cow? Individual Differences in Toddlers’ Vocabulary Knowledge and Lexical Representations. Cognitive science41(4), 1090–1105.

Kinzler, K.D., Shutts, K. and Correll, J. (2010), Priorities in social categories. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 40: 581-592.

Borovsky, A., & Creel, S. C. (2014). Children and adults integrate talker and verb information in online processing. Developmental psychology50(5), 1600–1613.

Dudley-Marling, C., & Lucas, K. (2009). Pathologizing the Language and Culture of Poor Children. Language Arts, 86 (5), 362-370.

Lee-James, R., & Washington, J. A. (2018) Language Skills of Bidialectal and Bilingual Children. Topics in Language Disorders, 38 (1), 5-26.

Robbie Dembo, PhD

Curriculum Vitae

I am currently a T32 postdoctoral fellow in the Lifespan Family Research lab at the Waisman Center. My research agenda is broadly concerned with identifying compensatory resources that support the well-being of parents of children with developmental disabilities over the life course. The goal of this line of work is to better understand the social (e.g., egocentric networks) and psychological (e.g., coping styles) factors that facilitate resilience under conditions of chronic caregiving stress. I also have a strong interest in using research to promote racial/ethnic and socioeconomic equity in the context of intellectual and developmental disabilities, specifically in relation to health services and outcomes.

Postdoctoral Training Mentors: Marsha Mailick, PhD, and Leann Smith DaWalt, PhD

Disciplines that I pull from in my research: Sociology, Social Psychology, Network Science, Human Development and Family Studies, and Gerontology

Articles that influenced my research:

Berkman, L. F., Glass, T., Brissette, I., & Seeman, T. E. (2000). From social integration to health: Durkheim in the new millennium. Social science & medicine (1982)51(6), 843–857.

Kahn, R. L., & Antonucci, T. C. (1980). Convoys over the life course: Attachment, roles, and social support. In P. B. Baltes & O. Brim (Eds.), Life-span development and behavior (Vol. 3, pp. 254–283). Academies Press.

Borgatti, S. P., & Halgin, D. S. (2011). On Network Theory. Organization Science, 22(5), 1168–1181.

Seltzer, M. M., Floyd, F., Song, J., Greenberg, J., & Hong, J. (2011). Midlife and aging parents of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities: impacts of lifelong parenting. American journal on intellectual and developmental disabilities116(6), 479–499.

Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. S. (1985). If it changes it must be a process: study of emotion and coping during three stages of a college examination. Journal of personality and social psychology48(1), 150–170.

Marissa DiPiero

Curriculum Vitae

My research aims to advance knowledge about how the infant brain develops to support healthy child development. I am particularly interested in early environmental and neurobehavioral factors that shape this development, especially those occurring within the first two years of life. Outlining details about the neurodevelopmental patterns subserving healthy child development is not only critical for understanding processes of normative development, but is also necessary for elucidating deviant patterns of neurodevelopment foundational to the emergence of intellectual, behavioral, and psychiatric disorders. My work utilizes a multi-modal panel of neural, behavioral, and biospecimen markers to gain a holistic view of human brain development.

Home Department: Neuroscience Training Program

Major Professor: Doug Dean III, PhD

Disciplines that I pull from in my research: Neuroscience, Psychology, Medical Physics, Immunology, Neonatology, and Computer Science

Articles That Influenced My Research:  

Dean, D. C., 3rd, O’Muircheartaigh, J., Dirks, H., Travers, B. G., Adluru, N., Alexander, A. L., & Deoni, S. (2016). Mapping an index of the myelin g-ratio in infants using magnetic resonance imaging. NeuroImage132, 225–237.

Ouyang, M., Dubois, J., Yu, Q., Mukherjee, P., & Huang, H. (2019). Delineation of early brain development from fetuses to infants with diffusion MRI and beyond. NeuroImage185, 836–850.

Nazeri, A., Mulsant, B. H., Rajji, T. K., Levesque, M. L., Pipitone, J., Stefanik, L., Shahab, S., Roostaei, T., Wheeler, A. L., Chavez, S., & Voineskos, A. N. (2017). Gray Matter Neuritic Microstructure Deficits in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. Biological psychiatry82(10), 726–736.

Van den Bergh, B., van den Heuvel, M. I., Lahti, M., Braeken, M., de Rooij, S. R., Entringer, S., Hoyer, D., Roseboom, T., Räikkönen, K., King, S., & Schwab, M. (2020). Prenatal developmental origins of behavior and mental health: The influence of maternal stress in pregnancy. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews117, 26–64.

Estes, M. L., & McAllister, A. K. (2016). Maternal immune activation: Implications for neuropsychiatric disorders. Science (New York, N.Y.)353(6301), 772–777.

Allan, J. L., McMinn, D., & Daly, M. (2016). A Bidirectional Relationship between Executive Function and Health Behavior: Evidence, Implications, and Future Directions. Frontiers in neuroscience10, 386.

Libby Hladik, OTR/L

Curriculum Vitae

My research promotes child and family health and well-being through engagement in meaningful occupations with children with autism and sensory processing disorders, adolescents and young adults with intellectual disabilities, and infants as risk of developmental disorders.  I work from my foundation in Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science with a particular interest in community engagement and family-centered interventions. My research uses a stakeholder engaged approach and often includes components of community based participatory research (CBPR). My current projects include:

  • Research engagement on health research priorities for people with intellectual disability
  • Evaluation of accessibility for cultural institutions for families with children with autism
  • Qualitative investigation of mother’s experiences of parent-mediated feeding therapy for children with autism and feeding challenges
  • A program evaluation for alternative education for pregnant and parenting teens in high school

In addition to research, I have a strong interest in interdisciplinary clinician training with a focus on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.

Home Department: Kinesiology: Occupational Science

Major Professor: Karla Ausderau, PhD, OTR/L

Disciplines that I pull from in my research: Occupational Science, Occupational Therapy, Human Development and Family Studies, Developmental Psychology, Public Health, Education and Sociology

Articles That Influenced My Research:  

Durocher, E., Gibson, B. E., & Rappolt, S. (2014). Occupational Justice: A Conceptual Review. Journal of Occupational Science, 21(4), 418–430.

Hasselkus, B. (2006). The World of Everyday Occupation: Real People, Real Lives. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy : Official Publication of the American Occupational Therapy Association, 60, 627–640.

Krahn, G. L., & Fox, M. H. (2014). Health Disparities of Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: What Do We Know? What Do We Do? Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 27(5), 431–446.

Sheridan, S., Schrandt, S., Forsythe, L., Hilliard, T. S., & Paez, K. A. (2017). The PCORI Engagement Rubric: Promising Practices for Partnering in Research. Annals of Family Medicine, 15(2), 165–170.

Emma Libersky

Curriculum Vitae

I study language acquisition in bilingual children born preterm. I am interested in the role of parent input in successful language outcomes, as well as the role of domain general cognitive processes in word learning. In another line of work, I investigate the impact of speech disfluencies on word learning across the lifespan, in populations born full term. I’m interested in how bilinguals and monolinguals are impacted by disfluencies produced in native and non-native accents, and how disfluencies pattern with other features of spontaneous speech, like codeswitches. 

Home Department: Communication Sciences and Disorders

Major Professor: Margarita Kaushanskaya, PhD

Disciplines that I pull from in my research: Communication Sciences and Disorders, Psychology, Linguistics

Articles That Influenced My Research:  

Buac, M., Tauzin-Larché, A., Weisberg, E., & Kaushanskaya, M. (2019). Effect of speaker certainty on novel word learning in monolingual and bilingual children. Bilingualism, 22(4), 883–895.

Adams, K. A., Marchman, V. A., Loi, E. C., Ashland, M. D., Fernald, A., & Feldman, H. M. (2018). Caregiver Talk and Medical Risk as Predictors of Language Outcomes in Full Term and Preterm Toddlers. Child Development, 89(5), 1674–1690.

Hirsh-Pasek, K., Adamson, L. B., Bakeman, R., Owen, M. T., Golinkoff, R. M., Pace, A., Yust, P. K. S., & Suma, K. (2015). The Contribution of Early Communication Quality to Low-Income Children’s Language Success. Psychological Science, 26(7), 1071–1083.

Weisleder, A., & Fernald, A. (2013). Talking to Children Matters: Early Language Experience Strengthens Processing and Builds Vocabulary. Psychological Science, 24(11), 2143–2152.

Bosker, H. R., Quené, H., Sanders, T., & de Jong, N. H. (2014). Native ’um’s elicit prediction of low-frequency referents, but non-native ’um’s do not. Journal of Memory and Language, 75, 104–116.

Olivia Surgent
Olivia Surgent

Curriculum Vitae

My research focuses broadly on sensorimotor integration in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I am particularly interested in the neural mechanisms of motor modulation in response to sensory feedback from the environment and how these mechanisms may be different in individuals with ASD compared to those with typical development or other developmental disorders. In order to further characterize these neural mechanisms of sensorimotor integration, I am to use behavioral measures of sensory and motor function along with innovative structural and functional neuroimaging techniques.

Home Department: Neuroscience (Neuroscience Training Program)

Major Professors: Brittany Travers, PhD and Brendon Nacewicz, MD, PhD

Disciplines that I pull from in my research include: Neuroscience, Psychology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Computer Science.

Articles that influenced my research:

Cascio, C. J., Woynaroski, T., Baranek, G. T., & Wallace, M. T. (2016). Toward an interdisciplinary approach to understanding sensory function in autism spectrum disorder. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research9(9), 920–925.

Nacewicz, B. M., Angelos, L., Dalton, K. M., Fischer, R., Anderle, M. J., Alexander, A. L., & Davidson, R. J. (2012). Reliable non-invasive measurement of human neurochemistry using proton spectroscopy with an anatomically defined amygdala-specific voxel. NeuroImage59(3), 2548–2559.

Robertson, C. E., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2017). Sensory perception in autism. Nature reviews. Neuroscience18(11), 671–684.

Travers, B. G., Bigler, E. D., Tromp, d., Adluru, N., Destiche, D., Samsin, D., Froehlich, A., Prigge, M. D., Duffield, T. C., Lange, N., Alexander, A. L., & Lainhart, J. E. (2015). Brainstem White Matter Predicts Individual Differences in Manual Motor Difficulties and Symptom Severity in Autism. Journal of autism and developmental disorders45(9), 3030–3040.

Morse Scholars Reunion 2018

Morse Scholars Reunion 2018

Morse Scholars Reunion - 2018