Jed Elison, Ph.D. is a graduate of our Developmental Psychology program in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. He is now a McKnight Land-Grant Assistant Professor in the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. He also has a joint appointment with the Department of Pediatrics and is a member of the training faculty for the Graduate Program in Neuroscience.
In his current role, Dr. Elison conducts research, teaches undergraduate and graduate courses, mentors students and postdoctoral scholars, and is involved in service to the field, community, and the university. Of his research, Dr. Elison says, “I conduct research on infant/toddler brain development using MRI technology, social-cognitive development, and efforts to improve early identification of autism. In my spare time, I have been building a tablet-based eye tracking system in order to bring our research to hard-to reach communities, evaluating how toddlers play with robots, and generally thinking about measurement.” In addition to this important research, Dr. Elison teaches a core graduate seminar on cognitive processes and an undergraduate course on infancy. He shares, “I get to welcome graduate students to the graduate student experience, as all first year students take my core graduate seminar. Fostering curiosity and learning from the students are among the most rewarding aspects of my job.”
When it came to choosing a graduate school, Dr. Elison picked Carolina to work with one of his faculty advisors, Dr. Steve Reznick. “He delivered as a mentor in ways that I couldn’t have imagined when I agreed to come to Carolina. In the beginning, I think I simply wanted to say ‘I do developmental cognitive neuroscience research’ because it sounded impressive. Steve transformed this nascent motivation into actionable training goals. He also facilitated the collaborations that would afford the research experiences necessary for me to anchor the developmental cognitive neuroscience line of inquiry with substance. The funny thing is that when people ask me what I do now, I simply say, I am a developmentalist.”
Dr. Elison’s graduate training at UNC Chapel Hill laid an important foundation for his current position. “The opportunities afforded to me as a graduate student shaped me into the academic scientist I have become,” shares Dr. Elison. “While there was some broadening and refining that took place during my postdoctoral years at the California Institute of Technology, the bulk of my current research stems from ideas that germinated as a graduate student. The rich intellectual community, interdisciplinary research training, and expectation of scientific rigor provided a foundation from which to grow as a researcher and scholar.”