I grew up in a small town in Alabama with every intention of being a veterinarian. I took Intro Psych at my local community college because I was still in high school, and it was one of the few classes that didn't have any prerequisites. Two classes in, I was hooked. I was also taking (high school) biology at the time and decided that I needed to find a way to combine the two. That led me to Oxford College and then Emory University to study Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. While at Oxford and then Emory, I dabbled in every type of research I could get my hands on, spending most of my time studying predictors of conversion to psychosis in at-risk adolescents. This sounds glamorous, but it really just involved coding hundreds of hours of muted videos for barely-detectible abnormal movements.
During and right after undergrad, I worked at a child psychiatrist's office as a Clinical Research Coordinator for several studies testing the efficacy of psychiatric medications in children and adolescents with autism, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia. During this time, I also volunteered at Dad's Garage Theatre Company, dabbled in professional wrestling and mixed martial arts fighting, "acted" in a mocumentary about women's professional wrestling, and spent a week as a human puppet for XPT at the Center for Puppetry Arts.
Applying to graduate school, I knew that I wanted to study psychopathology, but my time in clinical practice showed me that I had absolutely no desire to work directly with clients. That led me to the University of Florida, where I discovered the field of Developmental Psychopathology. I was able to dual-focus for my degree, studying both Developmental Psychology and Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. Despite loathing statistics as an undergrad, I also found that I loved graduate-level statistics and research methods. Eight advanced statistics courses later, I had earned a certificate in Research Design and Analysis. My dissertation used data from the Add Health Study to assess the effects of pubertal timing and peer relationships on depression and deviant behaviors in adolescence and early adulthood.
Having spent my entire life in the Deep South, I decided it was time to learn how to drive in the snow, so I took a Visiting Assistant Professor position at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota and taught there for two years. I then spent two years teaching at Lyon College in Arkansas before finally setting down roots at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana.