In these uncertain days of the pandemic, Smith-Kettlewell’s postdoctoral program continues to flourish with new fellows joining us from around the world to bring their expertise to research at SKERI.
Since the pandemic began, we have welcomed two new fellows into our community – Dr. Haydée Garcia Lázaro, who joined Dr. Santani Teng’s laboratory last fall, and Dr. Catherine Agathos who has joined Dr. Natela Shanidze’s laboratory shortly after the new year. Both scientists are global citizens and no strangers to moving across the world – experience that has no doubt helped them start this newest chapter in their academic careers. They have been enthusiastically welcomed into the SKERI family, and continue to receive support from their mentors and SKERI community at large.
Haydée joins us from Germany, where she completed her Ph.D at the Otto-von-Guericke University, in Magdeburg. There, she researched attention and reward processes in humans, and refined her expertise in electrophysiological techniques such as EEG and MEG. Through her professional network, she heard about a call for a postdoctoral position in a project focused on echolocation and electrophysiology (EEG). She was interested in the project and was already familiar with the fantastic work done by Dr. Teng. She was invited to visit the Institute and the city early in 2020, but the pandemic complicated matters. She decided to move to San Francisco without having visited, but based on extensive conversations with Dr. Teng, she was very confident that SKERI and the Teng Lab would be the right place for the next step in her career. Haydée is currently working on several projects that investigate reverberant auditory perception. Put another way, Haydée would like to understand how the brain decides what is the source of a sound and what is the background when confronted with input from a noisy environment, and whether blind people do a better job on this type of task.
Catherine joins us from France, where she completed her prior postdoctoral training at Sorbonne University, in Paris. Her main interest is in how humans interact with their environment across the adult lifespan and she has been studying how visual perception, postural, and locomotor control are linked. While studying for her Ph.D., she focused on how age-related visual dependence influences older adults’ spatial orientation, body stabilization, and motion. For her postdoc at the Vision Institute in Paris, she expanded these research themes to the field of spatial cognition and navigation, particularly in Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). At Smith-Kettlewell, she is therefore very excited to study how central field loss affects older adults’ interaction with their environment. More specifically, she plans to examine visual-vestibular interactions for perception and locomotor tasks.
Although both of these scientists’ ideal research involves testing participants in person, they have both been working on contingency plans, as they wait excitedly for the vaccination program to be deployed so that data collection can resume like in the 'old times' (pre-pandemic).