About Me

Vanessa Cao

Doctoral Student | University of Rochester

Born and bred in central Pennsylvania, in 2015 I attended The Pennsylvania State University and pursued a B.S. in Neurobiology with a minor in psychology. During my undergraduate career, I worked as an RA and lab manager for Dr. Amy Marshall in the Relationships and Stress Research Lab, delving into the underlying mechanisms of aggression in relationships. The lab also explored how stress related trauma, specifically PTSD, affected perpetration of intimate partner violence as well as its effects on parent-child relationships.

Following my graduation from Penn State in 2018, I decided to continue gaining more experience within the psychological science field and was selected as a Research Coordinator for the ABC Research Group at Penn State’s College of Medicine; here, the lab focuses predominantly on the development of externalizing behaviors in children, including ADHD, ODD, and/or CD. My experiences have been ample with the ABC Research Group as I gained experiences in neuroimaging (EEG, fMRI), child assessment, and running clinical trials, expanded my quantitative analysis skills through continuous exposure to SPSS and R, and developed a keen interest in aggression and callous unemotional traits in children.

Beginning Fall 2020, I started my PhD journey pursuing a doctoral degree in Developmental Science with a focus in Quantitative Methods at The University of Rochester under Dr. Patrick Davies. I am particularly interested in role of family adversity, trauma related experiences, and maltreatment within racially and economically diverse populations with an interest in the impact they have on relationships (parent-parent, parent-child, child-peer) and child socio-emotional development. More specifically, my current research program explores the development of callous and aggressive behaviors in children and their neurophysiological underpinnings while integrating advanced quantitative modeling. In my free time, I can often be found cooking, trying new foods, traveling, taking selfies with my pets, or white water rafting and kayaking.

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