What does your research focus on?
The focus of my research is on developmental factors that influence memory for traumatic life events and trauma-related psychopathology.
What drew you to this line of research and why is it exciting to you?
My professional interest in memory developed during my second year at Reed College while working under the mentorship of Dr. Daniel Reisberg. Dr. Reisberg and I worked on a project in collaboration with the Portland police bureau that was designed to examine local policy concerning procedures used to obtain eyewitness identifications. The project began at the height of widespread national attention on the use of DNA evidence to exonerate individuals wrongly convicted of crimes, oftentimes based on eyewitness testimony. It was during this project that I began to develop an appreciation of the fundamental role that memory plays in our everyday lives, and to broaden my understanding of the cognitive and social factors that contribute to the malleability of memory. The project was also my first exposure to the way social science research can impact the legal system and eventually improve the well-being of individuals. To this day, I continue to be inspired by the application of science to legal and policy issues.
Who were/are your mentors or scientific influences?
I have had the great privilege of working with many wonderful mentors who have contributed immeasurably to my professional development. I owe my deepest gratitude to my doctoral advisor, Dr. Gail Goodman, for her unwavering support and dedication to my training. Gail is one of the sharpest and most creative minds in developmental science, and it was a true honor to work under her direction. In addition to sharing with me her wealth of knowledge about the field, Gail taught me about the process of applying developmental research to legal and policy issues concerning child welfare. Through her persistent and rigorous approach to research, Gail set a unique example of determination, grace, and good humor that will continue to guide me throughout my career.
Dr. David Rubin has also strongly influenced my professional development. During my post-doctoral training at Duke, I have learned a great deal from David about research at the interface of cognitive and clinical psychology. In particular, working with David has expanded my knowledge of theoretical models of autobiographical memory that can be used to predict differences in individuals’ reactions to traumatic life events. David has also been a consistent reminder of the power of intellectual curiosity, and of how privileged we are as scientists to have the opportunity to pursue research questions that we are intrinsically motivated to answer.
Other scientists who significantly influenced my understanding of psychology in general, and of developmental science in particular, include Daniel Reisberg, Jennifer Henderlong Corpus, Phil Shaver, and Ilene Siegler. I am deeply indebted to each of these individuals for the time and resources they devoted to my training.
What’s your future research agenda?
My research will continue to examine the role of autobiographical memory in individuals’ reactions to traumatic experiences, as well as developmental factors that shape the course of trauma-related psychopathology. By extending my research to include older adults during my post-doctoral training at Duke’s Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, I have begun to pursue this line of research from a lifespan development perspective. In my future work, I will continue to use a life course approach to examine mechanisms that promote trauma-related psychopathology. In particular, my work will focus on how the content and phenomenological characteristics of memories of traumatic events experienced throughout the life course relate to the persistence of negative post-traumatic outcomes. I also plan to further investigate individual difference factors, such as attachment and personality traits, which leave some individuals vulnerable and others resistant to the deleterious consequences of trauma exposure.
What publication are you most proud of?
Ogle, C. M., Rubin, D. C., & Siegler, I. C. (in press). The impact of the developmental timing of trauma exposure on PTSD symptoms and psychosocial functioning among older adults. Developmental Psychology.
The research included in this paper represents the integration of my doctoral training on the impact of childhood trauma on memory with my post-doctoral research concerning the long-term consequences of traumatic events encountered throughout the life course. The paper is in many ways a reflection of the time and effort that my mentors devoted to my professional development.