NSF 2015 Reviews

Well, I didn’t get an NSF graduate fellowship this year, but I did get useful feedback from reviewers. I’ll do better next time!

Reviewer 1:

Overall Assessment of Intellectual Merit: Excellent

Ms. Reuter has a 3.7 GPA from Univ. Wisconsin Madison. She has a dual degree in Spanish and Cognitive Psychology. She was a research technician for three years (Harvard) prior to enrolling at Princeton’s Developmental Psychology program. She has given 5-6 talks and poster presentations but as yet does not have publications. Her letters are laudatory and all speak to the enormous amount of work she can accomplish (so a little surprising there are no publications). As for the proposal however, the hypothesis to be tested is that the quantity and quality of infants’ language input affects both verbal and nonverbal prediction skills, which in turn affect language outcomes. She hypothesizes that an inability to predict has adverse consequences to language development, leading to smaller vocabularies. Why this might be so is not fully explained however, nor is why receiving more verbal input from parents would affect a child’s performance on these tasks. She will test 60 infants from different socioeconomic groups using verbal and nonverbal prediction tasks to assess predictive skills in these children. However, although she plans to analyze caregiver language input, this alone seems insufficient to link predicative skill to caregiver language exposure. It would seem the critical kind of input would be caregiver language which gives the child practice at prediction.

Overall Assessment of Broader Impacts: Excellent

Ms Reuter served as chair of the community service committee Psychology Club and as a psychology tutor. She was a member of a Teaching Academy summer institute where she collaborated with faculty to design ‘small learning communities’ to support first generation college students. She writes that she “enjoyed creating engaging instruction methods, like teaching neuropsychology via dodgeball. Not only did my students learn about synapses, receptors, and re-uptake, I dare say they actually liked it.” For this, she was the first undergraduate to receive an honored instructor award from the University. In another initiative she also volunteered with Aspira (Aspire), an intervention to address an achievement gap in K-12 students. She worked with school staff to create college exploration workshops, including fieldtrips to local campuses, ACT/SAT preparation, and funding information. Given this exemplary track record of outreach thus far, there is little doubt that in the future, in addition to her research work, Ms. Reuter will continue teaching and mentoring in a variety of contexts.

Summary Comments: This candidate has excellent credentials, letters and a fabulous history of outreach. Enthusiasm is slightly mitigated by a proposal that does not clearly explain the logic of the hypothesis.

Reviewer 2:

Overall Assessment of Intellectual Merit: Very Good

The applicant has strong prior academic preparation and performance and several first author presentations. The applicant shows the ability to plan and conduct research and has strong and varied research and professional experience in the area of language and language processing. Letters are strong and the proposed activities (examining an underlying mechanisms accounting for link between language input and experiences) appear to be well-reasoned based on sound rationale.

Overall Assessment of Broader Impacts: Very Good

Broader impacts strengths include the applicant’s discussion of engagement of teaching; take on administrative roles, volunteering in an achievement gap intervention. The applicant also mentions first generation outreach, designing learning communities, co-authoring instructional guidebooks, all of which are commendable.

Summary Comments: The applicant proposes to examine the mediating role of predictive processing in link between language input and language outcomes. The applicant could be clearer about how the socioeconomic disparities referred to in the application are relevant with regard to the broader impacts of the work. The applicant could also provide a little more detail regarding the broader impacts of the proposed research in the research plan.

Reviewer 3:

Overall Assessment of Intellectual Merit: Very Good

The applicant has an outstanding research background including pre-doc role as Lab Manager at Harvard. The research statement could be further strengthened as to present a more developed research plan. The applicant’s future goals could be further elucidated.

Overall Assessment of Broader Impacts: Excellent

The goals of the research plan are highly relevant and the applicant has an excellent range of BI activities: teaching, administrative, outreach, STEM and under-represented.

Summary Comments:  In summary, there is good support for IM being in the Very Good range and BI in the Excellent range.

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