2015 NSF Graduate Research Fellow Megan Finsaas

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Finsaas

Megan Finsaas

Megan Finsaas

Grad program: Clinical Psychology
Undergrad: BA in Psychology, Bethel University
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Advisor: Dan Klein

How does it feel to earn an NSF GRF?
Amazing! The more I think about the doors that it can open for me in the future, by allowing me more time for my research and through the opportunities provided by NSF, the more grateful I am to have received the award. It’s also given me more confidence in my research abilities.

What will you research and how might it benefit the world?
My research is grounded in the differential susceptibility theory, which asserts that people have varying levels of sensitivity to positive and negative environmental influences, and that these influences can in turn have varying degrees of negative and positive effects on later outcomes. I plan to examine the interaction between positive and negative early life experiences (stressful live events and parenting) and genetic differences in predicting neurophysiological responses to emotional stimuli, which represent an index of motivational systems. My research on motivational systems could provide a framework for the development of interventions and identify individuals who would benefit most from the interventions.

What sparked your interest in your research, or science in general?
Hearing my parents’ unique stories about growing up overseas made me interested in the ways that early experiences can interact with motivational systems, or tendencies to be oriented toward appetitive experiences versus avoidance of threatening ones, to predict positive or negative outcomes.

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