My interest in human behavior and perception dates back to my undergraduate studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I participated in the Art and Technology Studies program. The courses I took in computer visualization, robotics, physical computing, and human computer interaction have provided me with valuable technical skills applicable to designing and executing psychological research experiments. I developed further creative problem solving and critical thinking skills as a student at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute in the Integrated Electronic Arts master’s program. At Rensselear I developed projects in the area of human environmental interaction, and wrote my master’s thesis on the topic of cybernetics. A project entitled ‘Pilot Project’, a real time EEG controlled robotic armature gained the attention of Dr. Petr Janata at the University of California, who invited me to join his research laboratory in November of 2007 as a Junior Research Specialist.

 My position at the Janata Laboratory was funded through the Templeton Advanced Research Program (TARP) for a research study entitled “Music, Spirituality, Religion and the Human Brain”. The projects I worked on for the TARP study included a suite of software tools written for detecting body movement of participants, such as music evoked finger tapping, head bobbing, or body swaying in digital video taken during experiments. The rhythmic movement software, written in Max MSP, used a technique called “blob tracking” to detect areas of difference between pixels within the video frame. During this time, I had been asked to consider recruitment to the UC Davis Perception and Cognition graduate program, which is why my GRE scores are dated from 2008. I instead decided to accept a position at Dr. Scott Frey’s laboratory at the University of Oregon in August of 2009 as Laboratory Coordinator.

 The position offered to me by Scott Frey at the Human Neuroimaging and TMS laboratory provided training specific to data preprocessing and analysis, in addition to responsibilities for the technical operations of the laboratory. I have been given the opportunity to preprocess and analyze, under the guidance of Dr. Frey, the fMRI data for a project collected at Shiners Children Hospital at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. The data set was acquired from patients with unique congenital brain lesions, and presents substantial challenges for image processing and registration.

 When Dr. Frey moved to the University of Missouri I was offered a position as a Senior Research Laboratory Technician. The position has provided me with extensive training to further develop my expertise. While working with post-doctoral researchers, I design and construct custom electronic apparatuses for research experiments, write and test software for the control of experiments and presentation of stimuli, and maintain and develop the computational environment needed to support the research being conducted. I am working under Dr. Marc Hansen on the development of research with human haptics and robotic actuation. Dr. Hansen has presented two posters at the 2010 and 2011 Society for Neuroscience meetings on this topic and a manuscript of this work is in the process of being submitted for publication.

 I have chosen to pursue graduate training at the University of Missouri because I see an opportunity to work with excellent faculty in the psychological sciences department as well as work collaboratively with faculty in the engineering and medical schools. It is my intent to pursue a career as a professional researcher with specialization in stroke and amputee patient populations, in an academic or clinical research facility. My goal for a Phd. thesis is to advance our understanding of the neural basis for human motor control, and to gain valuable skills for the designing, executing, and analysis of fMRI research studies.