Amanda Schweder Guyer '95
In a nutshell, what’s the nature of your work?
My work focuses on identifying patterns of neural and behavioral responses to facial stimuli (e.g., expressing different emotions) and reward stimuli (e.g., monetary cues). I compare these processes in adults and adolescents, and among adolescents with anxiety disorders as well as those at risk for developing them. The goal is to learn what triggers the onset of these disorders and try to identify early in development those individuals at greatest risk for developing anxiety.
What have been some defining moments of your career?
Being awarded a career development grant by the NIMH to conduct my research. Also the papers I’ve published that focus on adolescents at risk for anxiety due to their early life temperaments. We found that measures of shyness collected in very early childhood may relate to differing patterns of neural activation measured in adolescence.
What developments in your field will have the greatest impact on the careers of students in the sciences?
I was trained in developmental psychology, but my field has been moving in the direction of using neuroscience to better understand development. I think that will change the coursework and research opportunities available for Skidmore students.
What advice would you offer Skidmore students in the sciences?
Take courses in as many different areas as possible, because what you learn in one can transfer in unforeseen ways. And find mentors who can help you determine the career options available for science majors.
Amanda was a psychology major at Skidmore College. She is a researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health in Rockville, Maryland. This profile originally appeared in Scope Quarterly Winter 2008.